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.
To learn the history of the term ‘minimalist business’, check out my what is a minimalist business article.
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 to create a minimalist business
Define the true aim of your business
If you’re starting to feel like you’re not in control of your business, its direction, or future potential, then you might not have clearly defined your goals.
For a business to stay simple, I like to use the two-goal strategy.
Your business should have one primary goal (which is practical) and one secondary (which is emotional), that’s it.
Your primary goal should be focused on the practicalities of your business.
For example, making a certain income goal, acquiring a specific number of clients, or selling a specific number of products.
So ask yourself…
- What do you want your life to look like? And how does your business slot into that life?
- If you want to earn a certain amount per year, how many clients would you need to take on?
- Or how many sales would you need to make?
- If it’s a lot, then how much time and energy would you be spending working to reach that target?
There’s no right or wrong answer here because everyone is different.
If however, you’re prone to getting distracted by big numbers and taking on more work for the sake of profit, you could put a cap on these numbers.
- For example, you could put a limit on the number of clients you help per month.
- Or the number of sales you want of your products.
This way you stay in control of your time and can focus more on helping a smaller number of people.
The Minimalists do a great job of this with their private podcast on Patreon. They’ve set a limit to the number of people they’ll have in their private community.
In their own words, The Minimalists say they limit their community to 6,000 people because 6,000 is ‘enough’.
The secondary goal, however, is more emotion-based and usually focuses on why or how you help people with your products or services.
This doesn’t have to be some massive overarching goal or mission, it can be simple and focus on the day-to-day of your business.
In his book Anything You Want, Derek Sivers talks about how he never had a master plan or vision for his business CD Baby.
“…don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.”Anything You Want, Derek Sivers
He did however have a smaller goal, one that was simple:
“…I always saw CD Baby as a service for the musicians. It wasn’t about distributing the music or whatever, I was just trying to help these musician clients in any way I could.”Derek Sivers, Music Tech Fest (MTF)
This customer-focused goal allowed him to make decisions that would benefit his customers first, keeping them top of mind.
Which in turn, naturally increased his profits.
So while your first goal will keep you on track financially, your secondary goal will keep you on track in terms of your business values and putting your clients and your customers first.
Defining both of these will help you in the next sections, so keep them in mind.
The simple business audit
Here’s where we get to work because it’s time to do a simple business audit.
So with your goals in mind, we’re going to take a look at each aspect of your business and see if they’re moving you towards your goals, or away from them.
We’re also going to look at if these things take away your time and energy.
I’ve put together a free simple business audit so you can follow along.
Who you’re helping
Okay, first thing’s first, let’s take a look at who you’re helping. In other words, your target client/s, customers, or audience.
- Ask yourself if you’ve defined your target audience well enough.
- Is it too broad? In other words, is it stretching you thin in terms of ideas, products, and sales?
- Or is your target just not working anymore?
- Do you have to spend a lot of time managing them, or convincing them to work with you, or finding them in the first place?
What you’re selling
Next, we’ll look at the products or services you sell.
- How many products or services do you have?
- How much time, energy and money does it take to maintain, improve and market all of these?
- Are they all working? Do they actually make sales, or help your customers and clients?
In a study done by Harvard Business Review, they found something they’ve called ‘decision simplicity’ is key in driving sales.
One of the key ways to achieve this is to give customers fewer options when buying from you.
Not only will this allow you to reduce your workload and subsequently improve existing products, but in return, it will have a positive impact on sales.
How you then market these products and services is likely one of the biggest areas of your business where you find your time and energy being sucked away from you – especially if you’re anything like me.
This section deserves a post entirely on its own, which I’ll be publishing soon.
Your strategies and systems
Depending on the type of business you run, you likely have your own strategies and systems which rule your day-to-day business.
This could be anything from your client onboarding process, to how you do product updates.
You know the systems you have in place, even if they’re unorganised.
- Do you think these systems or strategies are overcomplicated?
- Do they help you achieve your primary and secondary goals, or do they get in the way?
- Is there a need for them in the first place?
- Or do they need simplifying and paring back to free up some time?
The tools you use
Tools and systems can go hand in hand and you’re probably using a lot of them.
A lot of tools from communication methods, to productivity tools, project management software, and marketing services make it seem as though you’ll save time by using them, but this isn’t always the case.
In his book Company of One, Paul Jarvis says that:
“Often we try to be simpler and end up more complicated. We add more tools, more software, more devices to the mix to make things easier, without testing or questioning how easy they’ll be to use on a daily basis.”Company of One, Paul Jarvis
Write down the tools you currently use, whether you pay for them or not, and then ask yourself.
- Are they too complicated for you to use?
- Are they too complicated for your clients or customers?
- Do you actually need them to reach your goals?
- Use them enough to justify the cost or time you spend using them?
- Do they honestly benefit you?
Write down the things that distract you
Sometimes the things that complicate our businesses on a day-to-day basis might be things we aren’t actually aware of.
If your work is unfocused because you always have your emails open, or your notifications on your phone, then of course the work you’re meant to prioritise is going to take longer to complete.
Write down every distraction from social media notifications to emails, clients, sales calls, and meetings.
It’s important to set boundaries around the work you do.
If you work with clients, you could set specific times of the day where you answer their questions or get in touch with them.
This way they know when they’re going to hear from you and you have greater control of your time.
If you don’t have clients, it’s still important to set boundaries.
- Set a personal schedule so you only check email once or twice a day at specific times and block it for the rest of the day.
- Or set meetings in batches so you can get them all done in a row.
By putting these boundaries in place, you’ll be able to get more done or have the time freedom to spend doing other things, rather than being on-call.
Write down the things you’d love to start doing
Simplifying your business has many benefits, but one of these is allowing yourself the freedom to be flexible and schedule in time to do things that will either advance your business or benefit you personally.
Before simplifying, you might only have had time to keep up with marketing, talking to clients, making sales, and getting through your daily to-do list.
After simplifying, you should have more time in general.
So, you might want to use that time to work on a new product, do some research or even source some training so you can upskill.
Either that or use the time outside of work to do whatever you want.
Put a minimalist business plan together
Okay so you’ve been through each aspect of your business, now what?
You might be feeling a little overwhelmed, or even excited.
After all, you’ve determined some key areas of your business you’d like to simplify and once done, you’ll have way more time and energy to dedicate to other things!
Don’t go in all guns blazing though, changing every aspect of your business all at once is a recipe for burnout.
Instead, pick 1-2 areas of your business that you can simplify each month.
Because you’re making intentionally simple choices, you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping your two goals in mind.
Then, add an event to your calendar to re-do your simple business audit every quarter. Just so you can keep on top of things.
Maintaining a simple business, believe it or not, isn’t simple.
You’ll be tempted to complicate it almost on a daily basis and some things will slip through the cracks.
So if you set a to-do to revisit the audit every few months, you’ll be able to keep on top of your simple or minimalist business with no problem at all.
Don’t forget to download the simple business checklist so you can do the audit whenever you want.
So I want to know from you in the comments, have you simplified your business?
Thinking of doing the simple business audit? I’d love to know.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase one of the books in this post through my link I may get a commission which is a great way to support this blog and my YouTube channel. If you do, thank you so much, it means the world!