in life

Quantity over Quality

I think we can all agree that “quality” is more important than “quantity”. That less is more. Time is scarce, and that it makes most sense to spend our valuable time on work that inspires and excites us.

Well I’m going to disagree. Sort of.

I think that quantity is incredibly important. Quantity is what builds quality. Quantity is what helps fine-tune our skills. Saying yes to (maybe) more than we should teaches us how to say “no”. It fine-tunes our approach. It establishes a niche.

Quantity helps us to discover what we’re best at, and maybe more importantly, what’s better left to someone else.

Since my company, Proof opened it’s doors in late 2010, we’ve worked with over 125 clients. You may be thinking, “Holy cow, how could you handle that much?!” – Well, there’s no question it’s been challenging. But it’s also been an incredibly rewarding learning experience, and has been invaluable to the success of our business.

We’ve learned what we’re best at. We’ve improved our approach and techniques. We’ve established processes and work-flows that allow us to work more efficiently and effectively. Our team has grown as we take on new and exciting projects. And to-date, 100% of our business has been word of mouth or referral based – which proves that doing good work pays dividends – and for a young company, getting your name out there is without a doubt one of the biggest challenges.

It’s because we’ve said “yes”, not to everything, certainly, but to maybe more than we’d like, that we’ve arrived to where we are today. It’s what shifted my mindset from one of thinking of entrepreneurship as a temporary bridge to a great nine to five, to embracing this is my lifestyle and my future. 

Quality matters. But so does quantity. If you close the door to opportunities simply because it doesn’t meet your standard of quality, you may be missing out on an amazing opportunity. An opportunity to learn. An opportunity to grow. An opportunity to try new things.

Because more CAN be better.

(Photo credit)

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  1. Interesting post Matt! One of our core tenets at Code Academy is “quality over quantity” because we have focused on getting the model for success right before scale. However, we initially hoped to only have 12 students in the first quarter, and we decided to take in 35 when we had too much demand! 

    Now did we have less quality since we decided to take three times as many as students? Probably, since we couldn’t give every student the same attention if we only had 12, but we still worked out asses off to keep the quality of the program high. 

    We now have 56 students across three classes, and will be unveiling a new evening offer next quarter, so we are continuing to ensure quality while increasing the quantity of students we take in. 

    We will never close our doors to an opportunity, as long as it doesn’t seriously hamper the quality of Code Academy.

    • Loved this story, especially because I’ve been following Code Academy (hey, can you come to DC? :). 

      There is something to be said for quality, but when people are knocking down your doors, it’s safe to say you’ve got quality nailed down and can focus on systematizing and scale.  

      • Haha thanks for the comments @kontrary:disqus , we have been very excited with the demand we have received not only from Chicago, but other places around the country and the world. Since we have people flying into Chicago for the program, we haven’t had the need (yet) to accelerate a move to other cities.

        However, as Matt states in his post, we will never say no to interesting opportunities so who knows what will happen. I love DC btw, and we actually have two CA alumni with jobs in DC right now! Definitely could get a community started there…

  2. I don’t know that I agree with the idea of quantity over quality, but certainly trying many different things is a good way to figure out what you love and what you’re good at and I think that’s what this post is getting at. Test fast and fail fast. That’s half the fun. 

    • I don’t think quantity is MORE important than quality – but quantity IS important in that it helps you to arrive at the quality you seek. As you said, “test fast and fail fast”…Testing can’t be overlooked.

  3. Bold take in asking us to defy Biblical Business SOP!  This is why I like your style.  I think your idea is worth testing. 
    To insure Quantity is quality – any company (even if it is just 1 person) needs to have an Company Handbook.  It is adjustable to growth, learning curves, and always seeking fearless/blame avoiding problem solving to stay true to your Mission!  When things hit the wall, likely – the answer IS in the company handbook to see if you are keeping to your premise OR need to adjust something that is not working in actual day to day practice.    You will improve your standard of operation into GOLD standard.  It can keep your doors open too!   A handbook makes an owner insure CONSISTENCY to make room for Quantity as you outline it. Small businesses can get stuck in Founder Syndrome when growth is happening.  If you can’t delegate to your staff to do their job tasks, is it you or them?!  Each person has to be brutally honest to test their load capacity per individual business type.  If you do have employees, and don’t trust your staff, THIS blog entry is a challenge to trust good hires for proper delegation!  Quantity becomes possible as Matt outline’s it.   “I learn from your writing!  I love the Without Pants part best of all!”, she says at 8:25 PM EDT working at her kitchen table in sweat-pants.  She adds. “I suppose I should stop and cook some dinner.” *thud*