The business world is full of gurus and coaches telling you that to be successful, you have to rise to the top, get noticed and create 6-figures businesses.
This type of business model (perhaps the opposite of a minimalist business) teaches aspiring business owners to strive for ridiculous income goals, instead of their happiness. It also guides them towards a life filled with excessive pressure, at the expense of their values.
So what if you intend to create a minimalist business instead? What does that even mean? In this article I’ll outline what a minimalist business is, how I’ve ingrained it into mine and how you can for yours.
What is a minimalist business?
“Minimalism is a mindset rather than a blind purge. If something is useful or pleasurable, you keep it. If it’s not, then you consider scrapping it.” – Paul Jarvis
Put simply, a minimalist business makes sure every decision, piece of software and process is useful, or enjoyable. If not, it’s removed to make room for the things that are.
Something akin to the slow business movement, a minimalist business focuses on conscious choices that benefit the business and the people working in it. It’s uncomplicated, intentional and simple in the best sense of the word.
Why a minimalist business is important
The most powerful thing you can do with your business is to create something that’s 100% true to your vision.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up all the advice out there offered by online coaches. Many of which is about growth and increasing revenue to high levels at the expense of your time and attention.
If instead, you were to craft an intentional business based on putting the value you bring to people’s lives first. You would then create something which not only sells itself but makes a real difference to the lives of your customers.
Minimalism is about reducing the additional unnecessary ‘stuff’ you don’t use or enjoy. This can be applied to more than just the things in your life, and in terms of business, this can apply to any of the following, including the:
- Devices you use
- Software you pay for
- Systems you’ve implemented
- Number of products/services you offer
- Number of social media platforms you’re on
- Processes you use to talk to customers
- Amount of time you spend on certain tasks
How wonderful would it be to create a simple business? With minimal overheads, you only use the software and processes you absolutely need and help make your life easier. You spend your precious time on tasks which give you something in return. You’re clear on your audience, you know exactly how to serve them and create tools and resources they will use and love.
It’s this last paragraph which has lead me to create a plan for my intent to create a minimalist business of my own. The business in question is this one, Limit Breaker.
How I intend to create a minimalist business
I’m part-way through my journey to creating a minimalist business and I’m going to tell you right now, it’s not easy. Making sure that each decision you make and each item you add to your to-do list is intentional, is hard.
To explain my process, I’m breaking it down into stages:
Define the intention of my minimalist business
Stage one of my process was to define the intention for my minimalist business. This is the most important stage because if you don’t get clear on why you want to start a business in the first place, then it’s incredibly easy to get lost along the way.
For this stage, I made sure to write down the reason why Limit Breaker exists, the problem it’s solving and how I can bring about a solution. This was entirely people-focused and aligned with my values.
This ‘intention’ became so important to me that I created a page on the Limit Breaker website to outline it as a reminder.
Understand my audience
You’ll see this point in many marketing articles – understand your audience. But most of the time, this advice is only surface-level. Understanding where your audience hangs out online, their generic problems and goals is one thing. But to truly understand your audience, it takes a little bit more than that.
I contact my audience directly and ask them questions. I also have an email series which asks subscribers to reply and talk to me in almost every email.
There’s only so much feedback you can get from Instagram posts and comment sections. But when you send a personal email or DM to someone in your audience (or someone who you’d like to be in your audience), you truly get to know them.
To break it down further, my plan has been the following:
- Email members of my list directly to get to know them.
- Spend more time directly messaging people than ‘liking’ their work.
- Interact with Facebook groups, other forums and communities to have real conversations.
Alongside this, I’m keeping a note of the language my audience uses through messages, tweets and in-person to make sure that when I’m writing or creating, I’m directly talking to them.
Outline my deliverable/s
Deliverables are the ‘things’ I want to offer my audience, this can be free or paid-for. One thing’s for certain, to run a business, it has to be sustainable. I want to be able to work full-time helping make the maximum difference to my audiences’ lives. I can’t do this if Limit Breaker isn’t financially viable.
However, one of my main priorities is to make sure that anything I ‘sell’ is providing maximum value. For this reason, my priority is to create one paid-for ‘item’ which will be Limit Breaker’s sole ‘product’. This way, I can focus all my energy into making sure it’s the best possible product it can be.
This will then be backed by providing the most information-rich articles I can possibly produce for free.
Keep it simple and then add if needed
This is where it gets hard. For a minimalist business to work, you need to keep it simple. If you have 5 products, 3 email opt-ins, 6 pieces of software you pay for each month and you’re on every social media platform going – it becomes unsustainable very quickly.
The idea of a minimalist business is to take your big idea (because I know it’s big) and pare it back to it’s the simplest form. After all, Facebook didn’t start at the size it is today. Heck, even Amazon started as an online book shop.
My plan is to take my larger idea and strip it back to its simplest form. I’ll remove any need for software, completely reduce overheads and minimise to make sure that my time spent on it, is beneficial to create the best possible ‘product’ I can.
By working this way, you not only produce your offer faster, but you can also make sure it’s actually something your audience wants, without spending too much time and money on it. Although at this stage, you would hopefully know your audience well enough, that your offer should be a hit.
Then, once the ball starts rolling, you can improve and add as you go, but only if your audience asks for it! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in bells and whistles, but most of the time these don’t actually add much value. Your audience is interested in the value you can give them, that’s all.
Work out where to spend my time
I know it’s hard to resist the allure of every social media platform. I also know it’s easy to get wrapped up in email funnels, opt-in freebies or even writing regular blog posts. But if you didn’t read any resources online telling you to do these things, would you actually do them?
For a minimalist business to work, it’s important to be incredibly strict with your time. After all, it’s the only thing you can’t get back.
It’s absolutely okay to be on every social media platform if they all, honestly, give you something in return. I’m talking about something significant here. Clients/customers, website visitors who stick around, important connections, enjoyment etc. If they don’t give you any of these in return, then it might be worth re-considering the time you spend on them.
The same goes for the processes you use to turn website visitors into customers. You may have been told to create an opt-in freebie and then a funnel, and then two weeks of emails before converting them to a customer. But has this actually worked for you? If you could make this much simpler, remove the time spent writing these sales emails and instead directly contact your list on a personal level, would you?
Your time is more important than you think. Spending it on things that don’t give you anything in return is not worth it.
Re-think my processes and software
Lastly, we move onto money. Specifically looking at where your money is spent.
Pieces of software that supposedly make your life easier, could actually be making it harder. If you use a complicated email package with automation, but you don’t use the automation, what’s the point?
Or if you pay for project management software, but you only use it once a month and you have to explain to your clients how to use it every time, are you overdoing it?
Even if you don’t pay for these things, the time you spend managing and keeping track of every piece of software you use could be time spent elsewhere.
Creating a minimalist business is difficult but worth the energy. The business I’m creating will take time to mould and develop. But because I’m intentional every step of the way, I can make sure that I’m making better decisions, putting people first and staying true to the reason why I started in the first place.
Featured photograph by Nicole Honeywill
If you were to start shaping your business into a minimalist one today, what would you change?