Does “Good, Fast, Cheap” Pan Out In The Real World?

Written by Nick Leffler | Comments Off on Does “Good, Fast, Cheap” Pan Out In The Real World? | 5 min read

When it comes to doing any type of work, the price is almost universally the most focused on.

Sometimes the conversation devolves a bit and you may hear someone mention you can have a project good, fast, and cheap but you can only choose two.

Your industry isn’t immune to that saying I’m sure. I know web design and digital marketing isn’t!

You can have a website built fast and cheap but not good. Maybe you’d like it fast and good but not cheap. Last but not least, cheap and good but not fast.

So, there are three scenarios possible. They sound good at first glance. If we dig a bit deeper into how that all works out, though, don’t take the saying too seriously, it’s trouble waiting to happen.

I’m going to break down each of the three scenarios and we’ll look at what it really means to your business.

For reference, here are the options again.

  • Fast & Cheap | NOT Good
  • Good & Cheap | NOT Fast
  • Good & Fast | NOT Cheap
Good, fast, cheap. You can only choose two. If only it was that easy. In most scenarios, you'll end up out of luck, see which ones. Click To Tweet

Yes, the saying can’t be taken literally but I also think it’s also bad as a joke and urges us towards a dangerous mindset.

Let’s take a look a bit closer at each one.

Fast & Cheap, Not Good

Is it possible? Yes.

Do you want this? No!

This seems to be the biggest red flag in the whole scenario.

Who honestly wants something that’s not good?

I would imagine that the only time this would be remotely OK is if you’re doing it yourself and the outcome doesn’t matter one bit and nobody will ever see it.

If the outcome doesn’t matter then why are you wasting the time (even if fast) and the money?

No, fast and cheap doesn’t work because having something done badly is just a waste.

As a business owner, you don’t want to be a part of this scenario in any way, from hiring to being hired fast and cheap.

Good & Cheap, Not Fast

Is it possible? No!

Do you want this? No!

I don’t know of anybody out there who’s willing to give you a discount or somehow do it for cheaper just because you don’t need it in a hurry.

In no scenario and on no planet does cheap ever lead to good no matter how long it takes.

I’ve tried my hardest to think of any scenario where good & cheap but not fast applies accurately.

My guess is that anything I agree to provide that’s good and cheap but not too fast will most likely not be that good in the end.

If a price is agreed upon that is cheap then you’re going to get just that, cheap, which never equals good. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, cheap will still never be good.

That brings us to the last scenario, good and fast but not cheap.

Good & Fast, Not Cheap

Is it possible? Yes.

Do you want this? Maybe.

Of all the scenarios here, this one is most likely to happen in reality and have a decent outcome (aside from someone being a lot poorer).

Everyone wants good, sure. Everyone also wants things fast in most cases. At the least it’s nice to have it done faster rather than slower.

It can be expensive to achieve this goal though. And I do mean expensive because it requires great (and quick) planning which isn’t easy, or cheap.

So of the three options, this is the only one that could possibly play out in a way that anybody would want it to.

What Might Work?

The only option that could possibly be desirable (though not ideal) is to throw money at the problem and get it good and fast.

If you go for fast and cheap then it’s not going to be good and nobody wants something that’s no good.

There is no reality where good and cheap ever works. It can be as slow as you want (even years) but it’ll never be good and because it takes so long it probably won’t be cheap either.

Good and fast? Sure! Why not? This could work but it will cost you a pretty penny (sunny boy!) to achieve it.

So when someone tells you that you have to choose two out of the three, that’s not accurate. You’re going to strike out in two out of those three scenarios. In the last scenario, you’ll be a lot more broke.

Last Thoughts

I know it’s a fun scenario that people say when they’re frustrated with the limitations people put on them. You know, the people who want a whole eCommerce website designed, built, content written, SEO done, and have a budget of $1,000.

I talk to a lot of potential web design and digital marketing clients who have the expectation that they can get it all somehow. I make sure I always set expectations and then point them in the right direction so they can see that other people’s work is every bit as hard as theirs.

Even saying that they can choose only two between good, fast, and cheap is too generous in most cases.

Want to have a little fun?

Check out this Fast, Good, Cheap user interface and see if you can get them all working.

My thought is that the interface should only have one enabled at any given time. There’s no possible way to have even two of the three.

Can you think of a scenario where the two that aren’t likely to work would work accurately?

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