Why you need to simplify your business and your life

It will make you happier, more profitable and give you more free time, and this one strategy will carry on giving right through your life. The cost of working around a mess, looking for something in an overfull storage room, carrying too large a range of stock, producing small production runs makes our world busy, steals our energy and time and is often being subsidised by us at great personal cost. We all need to continually de-clutter and rationalise all elements of our lives because the human psyche seems to be hard wired to accumulate physical possessions. We also naturally build structures and processes that when not regularly upgraded and changed become institutionalised and locked in as inflexible behavior. Deconstruction is also a useful approach to simplifying your life at home and work; regardless of weather it is taking down walls in the office or closing down multiple email addresses and bank accounts or unsubscribing from a list or group. Many of our businesses and interests grow organically but they do get to a size or accumulation where they need to be freed of some of their complexity. By pulling them to pieces we can make something more efficient and better. Examples are manual booking systems/diaries in a restaurant, manual cardex for a coffee card loyalty program or internal walls that create barriers in your offices. On a larger scale the evolution of growing from being a small startup to a larger company involves many restructured processes, simplifications, changes, eliminating underperforming products to free the business to focus and grow.

What do you currently offer that is not selling well and is just not proportionately contributing?

I suggest you review all your individual product sales, if it is not selling, then stop offering it! As an absolute minimum, look at the sales of the lowest performing 20% of all the items you sell and ask the same questions of each item:

  • Does this add value to my core customers?
  • How can I increase that value?
  • What is the down side if I discontinuing this item?

Your average product has a 10 year productive life, which may seem unrealistic in our fast changing world (10% is almost certainly not enough), but what if you deleted or changed 10% of your products every year? By deleting underperforming product lines regularly you will have the capacity and agility to try new ones and stay refreshed. I suggest a good review every 6 months for most businesses produces the best results and an agile company culture. Is it time to consolidate some services and expertise in house and appoint a specialist and create a new position? Or alternatively is it time to simplify your business and have some of your products and services provided by someone else? What is very apparent in helping and working with my many clients is that simplification will be different to every business and situation and in many cases can produce quite different actions in two similar businesses. So to summarise, continually simplifying your business and life is very fluid and needs to be a living concept that is ever present and improving something somewhere. There will be many considerations that affect this process: timing, personalities, external pressures, cash flow, growth strategies, life cycle, exit strategy etc but just undertaking taking this process will be cathartic.