Startups | 2 min read

Know when to reinvent the wheel


There’s a great story about David Ogilvy’s famous Rolls Royce advertisement.

When asked where he found inspiration for the ad, he happily admitted it was a 20-year old headline he reused.

In startups, we tend to shy away from using what’s worked before. We spend months building brand new solutions to problems that someone two desks over might have already solved. It’s the classic “not invented here” syndrome – nobody wants to fix an existing Rolls Royce when they could build a new one instead.

Yet it’s often just as valuable to reuse what was successful before. Doubling down investment in what already works, and taking the time to carefully consider what to build from scratch, is a wise policy for any company that wants to be around for the long run.

Take the idea below, coined by Des in a blog post almost 2 years ago. Here’s how it has been successfully reused.

re-using content

Add up all the revenue generated by all these activities and it is significant. And each time you repackage and market ideas again, you breathe new life into them. Sometimes, real creativity comes from connecting what’s already there.

Reuse isn’t just for marketing – it applies to every team in a startup. Whether it’s pattern libraries of UI, or older code that has been tested and fixed countless times before, they’re not any worse for having been used before. In fact they’re better. Every time you reuse, you’re refining proven ideas, adding clarity over time.

There are, of course, times when you need to innovate. There are times existing patterns won’t work, or what you’re trying to achieve simply hasn’t been done before. But if you’ve got tried and tested ideas that work, reuse them. Customers aren’t paying for innovation; they’re paying for a great product experience.