A case for Simplicity in Business

  photo by Vvillamon

The world’s a pretty complicated place right now.  Politics are complicated, technology (although exciting) is complicated…business is complicated – but it doesn’t have to be.

I’m working with a couple of different clients on strategic planning and if we’re not careful it’s really easy to get bogged down into a lot of complications, to lose the message, to spend a ton of time and walk out with a plan or an idea that no one is going to really ‘get’ or be able to execute on.

Instead I propose that we consciously simplify.  Take a slow, deep breath…hold it for a few counts and then slowly let it out.  Do that again.  Focus on a simple streamlined approach in your business.

What would a simple approach do for you?  Think it would make a difference?  Here are the keys to the simple approach:  Simple is clear, simple is not easy and simple gets done.

Simple is clear

Communication is all about getting a message, an idea, from one person to another.  It’s not much of a leap to say that the more complicated the message, the less likely it is to be communicated effectively.  (ever played the ‘telephone’ game as a kid?).

On the flip side, a simple idea is quickly grasped.  It’s clear, it’s easy to share and people get it right away.

I really love this short video / article from Dan Heath and FastCompany on How to Write a Mission Statement that Doesn’t Suck!

He completely nails the complicating spiral which leads to an end statement that’s hard to understand and not effective.

Question:  Can you cut to the quick on what you do in your business and make it simple enough to put on a T-Shirt?

Simple is not easy

One of the reasons people tend to complicate things is because they don’t want to be perceived as trivial.  The reality is that the simplest ideas are usually the most effective and even though they’re simple, they’re not always easy to pull off.

Take iTunes as an example – it was built because people wanted to buy just the songs they wanted, when they wanted them.  It’s a simple idea…but to do it right required creating an entirely new business model and completely changed the music industry (and is changing software development in the App space as well).

Question:  What do your customers want that you could provide in the simplest way?

Simple gets done

The biggest drawback to complicated planning is that it’s very easy for things to get lost in all of the moving parts.  There are times when you need extremely complex plans, when you need a project management specialist and a waterfall plan that’s 1000 lines long.  But those are the plans that have a high rate of failure.

As a small business owner, you don’t have the resources or the time to handle very many failures in your business.

You need simple solutions.  You need the clarity of having no more than 5 key priorities at any given time so that everyone is clear on what is THE most important thing to get done.

You need a business plan that fits on 1 or 2 pages at the most…because that’s how things will actually get done.

Question:  What’s your key focus right now?  Can you narrow it down to a top 5?

Simple isn’t just better – for a small business owner it’s the likely difference between long term success and failure.  Do you have any examples of simple things you’re doing to move your business forward?  Share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach