Believe it or not, this idea of simplicity in business has not always been obvious to me. When I started my first business as a health coach over ten years ago, I did alllllll the things. Seriously, I had booths at trade shows, I had a podcast, I did all the things on Facebook (groups, challenges, webinars, quote graphics, and more), I had a meetup group, I did local talks…I even printed my logo on stuff like tote bags. I listened to an online marketing podcast and tried to replicate everything it taught me, and it felt exciting to put something online and have people I had never met follow me and hire me.
A few years into my business I read this article about having a minimalist business and it put me on the path I’m on today. A path of working less, keeping things simple, and doing a few things to the best of my ability. Now I’m thoughtful about what I add to my business, and intentional about what I keep doing. More so than the content of that article was the feeling it gave me, and the permission I needed to do things differently.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or you’re feeling tight on time, it might be time to consider simplifying. As always, there is no one right way to do this, but I’d like to give you a few ideas to get you thinking about how to approach the task.
1. Go Back to First Principles
When you started your business, things were probably simpler. What would you do if you started from scratch today? What would you keep and what would you eliminate? After years in business, we keep iterating instead of building new which often adds extra complexity. This can include what you offer, the software you use, even the skills you use.
2. Revisit Your Business Model
Like the last tip, as years go by you likely just kept adding things rather than eliminating things. Look at the products and services you love delivering and where you’re most profitable, then consider ditching the other products or services that drain your focus. Is the way you’re running your business the most effective based on what you know now? Have you grown and evolved in such a way that a different business model would fit your needs better? How has the world and business landscape changed since you started your business?
3. Analyze Your Marketing
There’s a big trap in marketing where we think we have to do every strategy to be successful. This means many strategies done badly instead of a few done well. Spend some time looking at your results and see what’s working and what isn’t. Do more of what’s working and ditch what isn’t. This could also include revisiting the marketing you enjoy and that aligns with your values.
4. Revisit Your Team
Once you’ve done the previous steps it’s time to revisit who’s on your team. Do you have a team that is working on a whole bunch of stuff you decided you don’t need anymore? It might be time to lovingly part ways or revisit their job description. It’s also possible that in revisiting your business model and skills, you have some gaps. Adding people thoughtfully to your business could be a very effective way to simplify.
5. Change Your Perspective
Often, even with the simplest business, we can still feel overwhelmed. Reality changes when we give it stories and meaning. Operating from a position of leadership, confidence, and self-advocacy will feel very different than acting powerless, self-defeating, and confused. This is more complicated than just snapping your fingers and thinking differently, of course, so take it slow and go easy on yourself. You may consider finding a self-belief coach or a therapist to help you work through this step.
6. Update Your Habits
Your self-talk, reactions, and actions are all rooted in habits. If you have a habit of feeling overwhelmed, you’re more likely to feel overwhelmed. Over-complicating things is also a common habit. Break the habit by trying something new, even if it’s little, to take back your power. I talk about this as doing little experiments to help make new meaning about the world and update your beliefs. The more little successes you have, the easier the big shifts will be.
7. Know What Grounds You
We all need space and time to decompress. It’s up to you as the leader of your business to know how you feel the most refreshed and empowered. What makes you feel amazing? What helps you feel confident and like a leader? Reconnecting with these things will help you approach your business with calmer energy, which will aid you in making better decisions.
These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg, so let your creativity and intuition come through and see what comes up for you. It will almost certainly help to take 20 minutes away from the rushing and day-to-day tasks of your business to think about this question more deeply. A mindmap is my go-to tool for this kind of brainstorming.
Once you’re in a calm place, notice which of these suggestions you gravitate to. The first few are all about what you’re “doing” and the last few are more about how you’re “being”. Both are important, and they can give you clues about what you might need most in your business. Overwhelm could be a function of taking on too many things, or it could be an internal state…both can be signs that self-doubt is at play. And I can’t state this often enough: overwhelm is completely subjective. We all experience it very differently, so how we manage it will be different for everyone.
Takeaways and Next Steps:
- Having a simplified or minimalist business is not intuitive to everyone. In fact, the way we’re taught to run our businesses is quite complex. It takes intentionality to simplify and stick to it.
- Take time to think through these concepts outside of the routine of your busy day. Tap into your creativity and intuition and see what feels like the right path for you.
- Some ways to simplify involve what you’re “doing”, and some involve how you’re “being”. Consider starting with one idea from each and see what happens.
Looking for an alternative to the mainstream business advice you read online? Stephanie gives you practical guidance to do business on your own terms. No nonsense, thorough, and immediately useful, these weekly emails cut to the chase of what you really need to succeed without compromising your values or working yourself into the ground. To get articles and behind-the-scenes business insights delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to her weekly Permission Slips here.