Skip to main content

Avoid Premature Optimizations

  • Premature optimization refers to optimizing a software system's performance or resource usage too early in development before the system's requirements and design are fully understood.
  • It is generally considered a poor software engineering practice.
  • The term "premature optimization" was popularized by Donald Knuth, a renowned computer scientist, who famously said, "Premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming."
  • The main idea is to prioritize writing working code first and then optimize the performance once the system is functional and its bottlenecks are identified.
  • This approach ensures that development resources are spent effectively and that optimizations are made where they will have the most significant impact.

Do Things that Don't Scale

  • In the early stages of a startup, founders must engage in activities that don't scale to gain traction, understand their users, and provide personalized service.
  • Successful startups like Stripe and Airbnb have adopted hands-on approaches, such as recruiting users manually and focusing on small-scale growth.
  • This enables them to gain valuable insights, improve their product, and establish credibility.
  • Though these efforts may not scale, they help establish a core group of satisfied users, ultimately contributing to long-term success.
  • As the startup grows, the lessons learned during these early stages become integral to the company's culture and approach to customer service.
  • Thus, founders should be bold in doing unscalable things initially to secure rapid growth and success later on.