Simplifying: the key to more life and more business


My computer carked it and went away to be fixed last week, and then my husband’s car broke down. In one fell swoop – OK, two – we each lost one major tool of our businesses.

It’s not easy to be down to one computer and one car, and… far out! HOW WEIRD AND FIRST-WORLDY IS IT TO ADMIT THIS? (Weird and first-worldy, that is, if you weren’t born the day before yesterday and actually remember a time when having one car and one computer was normal.) But it’s been a productive week, and we zigged and zagged with the best of them, which has made me wonder: what is, and what isn’t, essential to running a business?

Here are the two most important things I learned in my research:

1) There is no one thing that is essential to each and every business, and

2) If someone tells you that something is an absolute, unarguable, magic-bullet, must-have, then they are usually trying to sell you the aforementioned absolute, unarguable, magic-bullet must-have.

No one thing is for every business; not even my own products and services. So no one, including me, can tell you what the essentials are. You need to work them out by yourself, first by exploring, and then by beginning to drop things, one at a time, to see how their absence affects your business. It also means trying new things on for size before committing to them.

Because some things are crutches, or perhaps we’ve paid a lot of money for them, dropping them takes some courage. Plus, “Don’t quit!” is a common axiom, even though persisting with things that don’t work is common to all failed businesses. But the benefits of dropping everything except what’s most essential are almost immediate. The first benefit is that the quality of your product or service increases, and you trade being busy for being productive. That we hear “Everyone is so busy these days!” instead of “Everyone is so productive these days!” is a sad indictment of where society is at, but you can buck the trend.

You’ll also have time to do other things you really want to do, and guess what? More money to do it. Best of all, these principles apply both to business and life in general.

And that’s a great, first-worldy situation to be in.