Being a minimalist and applying it to business has some interesting effects. It’s not all rainbows either. Minimalism in business has some overlapping aspects that link to running a LEAN business where costs are cut to the bone. Anyone who has run a business and used LEAN to reduce the number of steps to market or keep things simple will feel right at home with a minimalistic approach to business (and probably to life as well).
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to using minimalism in your business.
Do Value Simplicity
When you own fewer things, you have less to maintain, manage, and deal with. Use the same idea in your business. Reduce the number of items that the business needs to operate. Don’t leave out any essentials but unburden the business.
For instance, if you have a local copier store where you can get photocopies if you absolutely must have them, then don’t have a photocopier in the office. When it’s not there, employees go digital and find that they don’t need paper much anymore. That also means fewer (if any) filing cabinets, clearer desks, and fewer issues with confidential documents lost or mislaid.
Simplicity is not the bane of business. It can actually be the savior of it. When the business operates efficiently and in a simple manner, any complications that arise are actually easier to deal with. This is because the rest of the operation runs smoothly and employees can dive into the problem area and resolve it much faster.
Don’t Try to Do Too Much at Once
Minimalism is not about not getting a lot done. You can look back at your choices in your business in five years’ time and be reminded about the milestones that you’ve hit and the successes that you’ve had. If your business is older, then you can probably look back now and see that for yourself, but perhaps you feel that you’re trying to do too much, and everything is a mess.
The best advice on what not to do is to stop trying to do a lot. By that we mean, limit the number of projects. If you can, pick one major initiative that has the highest priority in the business and focus on that this year. It will probably be difficult to narrow down the choice to just one. However, when you focus like a laser on a single item, you see benefits. Insights come, shortcuts streamline getting to your goal, and everything pulls towards it once you gain momentum. Everyone else gets on board too.
Do Embrace Minimal Packaging
When you produce a physical product, the packaging is a pain to deal with for everyone. Amazon actually now offers hassle-free packaging to make it easier to open select products. That’s a good indication of how disgruntled customers feel about product packaging and boxes.
Minimal packaging is where you reduce the amount of fluff with a product and how it’s marketed. There’s no need to put superfluous information on the packaging if it’s not required. Branding obviously needs to be there and legal information too. Also, the barcode to make the product scannable, but beyond that, much of what is on packaging is extra information that no one really needs. A website address can be provided to look up other information if people really need to find it.
To get your product packaging in keeping with a minimalist approach, you can find more info provided here.
Don’t Loosen the Financial Reins Too Soon
The temptation when the money starts to roll in is to loosen reins on the spending. When bootstrapping the business in the early months or years, it feels painful in some ways. With the sales finally coming in at a sufficient clip, it’s easy to release the purse strings and start to spend on anything and everything.
Let’s face it, spending too much to buy a lot of extra things is not frugal or a minimalist approach. Keeping costs low makes it possible for much of the sales revenue to fall to the bottom line. It can turn into retained earnings to bolster the company’s finances for shallow years that may follow. Business is inherently unpredictable, so it’s necessary to avoid debt by having cash available as needed.
Do Avoid Being Too Minimalistic
Minimalism, like LEAN processes, can go too far. If it prevents growth in the business because the company doesn’t own the equipment to complete the project correctly or well, or it fails to invest sufficiently in other areas, then the expansion never happens.
Like the saying goes about “everything in moderation,” the same is true for minimalism. It’s all very well to aim for only 100 possessions in your personal life, but when you need five more to live happily, sticking to just one hundred doesn’t make sense. The same goes for business too.
Don’t Rule Out Alternative Business Setups
Not every business requires a physical office and employees. Sometimes, using a virtual team of remote workers or freelancers and having no physical office (or a tiny one) makes more sense. That’s especially true in the early years when revenue is likely to be lower than it will be in the latter years.
Look for success stories to model like Automattic where their entire workforce is remote. There are many businesses that have decided to avoid going to an office and employee format. Indeed, some companies with offices and employees on the payroll have decided to hire whole floors of co-working spaces and take the employees on with temporary contracts to provide flexibility over office leases and high payroll costs. This allows them to scale up and down the costs of their business to navigate the turbulent business waters better.
With business minimalism, it’s often misunderstood. For some people, they believe it just means owning fewer things. That’s only the beginning of it. Mostly, it’s more about restricting the business to one or two core goals and achieving those, rather than trying to do too much at the same time. Simplicity is key to business minimalism.