Most of us are familiar with the minimalist concept in our personal lives, such as clearing clutter and living with fewer possessions, or curating a minimalist wardrobe – but about minimalism for companies?
Many people swear by the benefits of minimalism, including increased clarity of thought, lower stress levels, improvements in emotional outlook and even better physical health. But could these benefits be applied to a business context too?
Increasing numbers of businesses are finding that operating in a leaner way can have advantages both in terms of personal satisfaction and how your business performs. Here are six ways to start:
1. Work smarter
The idea here is not to work as hard as you can, but as smart as you can. Can you automate certain functions in your business such as time keeping, invoicing or filing? What about having an external party handle your employee wellness days and health benefits?
Can you run part or all of your business online instead of incurring the expense of having a physical store? Freeing up your time and resources for the things that add real revenue and value to your customers is the key driver to cultivating a business that’s leaner and more agile.
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2. Outsource more
Take a good look at what your business’s strengths and weakness are. Now think about outsourcing the things that you’re not so good at, whether it’s marketing, accounting or finance. While you could build these departments up in-house, the idea with a lean business is that you focus on your core strengths that set you apart from the opposition – and then let other specialised companies help you with the rest.
3. Cut down on meetings
Meetings are notorious time suckers in an office environment. As well as eroding overall productivity, they also allow less time to do actual work. It’s essential to look at how you can reduce either the number of meetings you have in a given week, or shorten them where possible.
Ask yourself and your team whether every meeting is absolutely necessary, or whether an email to the team would serve the same purpose. Then consider putting a time limit on meetings, for example a maximum of 30 minutes each. You could even consider introducing ‘stand up’ meetings, where there are no chairs in the meeting room so that attendees have to stand up and meetings inevitably become shorter.
4. Define your idea of success
Most conventional definitions of business success centre on being profitable. And while there isn’t much point in creating a business where you’re not making money, there may be other drivers that are important to you as well. For some people, business success means freedom. For others, it’s the satisfaction of doing work that they love and that makes them feel fulfilled.
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The minimalism concept says that we accumulate excess when we don’t feel “complete” – which is a direct result of not being happy with where we are or what we’re doing. Doing work that you love not only helps your business to perform better, but may contribute to an overall sense of contentment in your personal life too.
5. Realise the value of less versus more
Related to the previous point is the idea that having “less” output in your business may actually be preferable in the long run. For example, many businesses see growth and revenue as their key success factors.
While this may be true, consider the fact that higher revenue and growth also means more expenses, more resources and more capital to get there. Counterintuitively, this can mean your business becomes less nimble and dynamic. Sometimes, “enough” may be the solution – because not having more means less stress, less responsibility and a leaner company that performs better overall.
6. Learn to say no
If you say yes to everything, you’re stretched thin with your business activities, which means you have fewer resources to assign to your existing customers. Accepting everything that comes your way also often means a greater chance of being pulled away from your core competencies.
Establish a set of boundaries in terms of the type of projects you’ll say yes to – perhaps it’s a certain amount of revenue, or working with a certain level of company, or in a particular industry. Doing this means you create more value for your customers through a more focused, higher quality offering.
Taking steps to cultivate a leaner business can be an excellent way of ensuring your business stays competitive, productive, profitable. But adopting a minimalist approach also means more satisfaction and fulfilment for you as a business owner – which can have positive overall life benefits too.