By Creel Price. Creel is a Sydney-based serial entrepreneur, author and leader in Australia’s SME sector.
There is a common misconception in business that more is better, when in fact the inverse is usually true. The more you can ruthlessly cut the clutter from your business, the faster your business will grow. This is a lesson that both first-time entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners often fail to heed.
Early on in our company’s journey we wanted to appear bigger than we were to compete with our multi-national competitors. So off we set and expanded to another two city locations in quick succession. While it looked great on our business cards and letterhead, there was no sound business logic for making this naïve choice. We kept making these types of mistakes until we realised that in business less is often more. Here are seven areas in your business where you should consider some ruthless pruning, allowing you to thrive and flourish where it really counts.
1. Information: In this digital age we are bombarded with information overload. or what I’ve heard called ‘infobesity’. This white noise of information comes via media, mail, email, social media and every conversation you have. Like termites it can white ant your brain – until you become stark raving mad. The solution is to stay in control and discard as you go, only allowing in what is truly useful. Don’t attend that next incredibly informative conference until you have implemented the ideas from the last one.
2. Meetings: Meetings are an easy target for trimming, though it’s amazing how they fill our diaries as soon as we turn our backs. Don’t agree to coffee meetings without a purpose. Don’t invite a cast of thousands to a meeting. Rather, go for lean and mean. And opt for an aggressive 15 or 30-minute time slot with a clear agenda – preferably phrased as a simple, affirmative question. My pet habit has been to hold walking meetings to ensure I not only use both sides of my brain, but if the meeting turns out to be a waste of time, at least I got some exercise.
3. Marketing Material: In our eagerness to promote our products and services, we tend to overwhelm customers with too much about ourselves. Yet, like us, our customers are busy. Use just a few slides in your presentations, go for more white space in your advertising and remember that a one page proposal is more likely to be read that a 15-page dissertation.
4. Products: To win in business. the idea is not to have the widest range of products or services. Compare the exclusive menu of a five-star restaurant with the 50-meal option local diner. They often have just four choices each for entrée, main and desert. Your business is the same. Focus on just a few awesome products or services that can be clearly articulated to a niche target market - don't be afraid to alienate a customer segment.
5. Relationships: To be successful at business you need to develop deep relationships with the clients, suppliers and partners who will help your business grow. Start getting real with your prospect and client databases. ‘Likes’ aren’t clients. Be brave by removing excess suppliers and clients who are weighing you down. One of my proudest moments in business was having the courage to sack our second biggest client, an international credit card company, because they weren’t aligned with our values and took up too much of our time and attention.
6. Processes: In the name of efficiency, quality control and systemisation it is all too easy to introduce unwieldy red tape into our processes. Yet it is these laborious hoops we insist our staff, clients and suppliers jump through which make them want to run for the hills. Look for areas in your business where you can trim back unnecessary processes.