Though these two words are synonyms, in the context of business/growth/marketing, their difference could not be more important. In business we’re led to believe that there are easy fixes. Read this book, implement this system, buy this software, listen to this podcast or speech, hire this firm, etc. All promise that if implemented, profits will grow, clouds will part and the sun will shine forever.

Wrong. All of these ‘solutions’ miss one small but key piece of information. They all approach growth as a complicated problem. On the face of things, this seems to ring true. Even small businesses need hundreds if not thousands of things to go correctly each day to function well. When you add marketing to this equation, that number grows exponentially. Because of this, owners naturally want simplification. If I just focus on this one differentiation, these 8 pillars, these 10 indicators, bla bla bla, then business will improve. Maybe, but probably not.

The reason that most of these systems consistently fail though, is because they approach the problem as if it were complicated. A complicated problem is a solvable problem. They have top-down planning, step-by-step solutions and plans (brain surgery, moon landings, etc.) People want solutions. People will pay for solutions. So it’s no wonder this misunderstanding has permeated the business climate.

However business does not exist in this fashion. Business is not complicated. It’s complex. Complex problems are filled with hundreds of parts, thousands of players in an ever-changing environment. The climate, economy and school system are just a few examples of this. What works in one place for one company at one time will likely not work for you or your business tomorrow.

Here’s the rub: There is no system or solution that can solve every business issue, make every company grow, make all your HR problems go away, etc. The variables are always changing. The marketplace is not reliably predictable. If you rely on someone else’s prediction or plan or process then you set yourself up to be screwed when the winds shift.

So how do you move forward? Take stock of how you’re going to market. How much of what you’re doing is because your competitors are doing it? How many systems are in place that are not producing like they promised? Pivot so that your company is ready to compete in a marketplace that’s complex. Not complicated. (Hint: start looking on the inside)

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