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How You Can Get Much More, By Doing Much Less

Michelle Dale - Thursday, October 25, 2012

Life is complicated, for some more than others. We have complex family dynamics, jobs, social interactions. Some of the complexities in life we have no control over, and some we do, like our own business, how we raise our children and the values we teach them, through to what food we consume and where we consume it. 

One thing I have learnt in life, is that the simpler things are, the more you get from them. Simple food is tastier, simple services are easier to manage, simple schedules are easier to follow and stick to, simple material requirements are less hassle and of course save money. Simple in my opinion is a guideline for a happier life.

Take This For An Example.

I’m an admirer of Gordon Ramsay, you may have heard me mention him a few times in the blog, and this is one particular ‘golden rule’ he uses to turn around struggling restaurant businesses. If you watch his kitchen nightmare series you’ll see that the failing restaurants usually have one or more of these problems:

  • Complex menus with hundreds of random dishes.
  • Cluttered, crowded decor.
  • Too many staff to not enough customers.
  • Large quantities of pre-packaged, long-life processed foods.

Excuse the pun, but for a restaurant these are all recipes for disaster.

When you keep the menu simple, the decor classic/timeless minimalist, the staff to a few good quality, enthusiastic people and the food to fresh, simple ingredients that taste great with minimal effort, that’s when things will improve, not just on the business intake, but the stress levels too.

The end of year challenge.

Is your business too complicated? We are in the last quarter of the year, heading towards the end of 2012. Imagine how much more profitable and manageable your business would be if you stripped every aspect of it back to basics, and then built it up again, but kept things simple. Would you have less tasks to complete, could you bring in more clients, could you have more time for yourself and would it make 2013 your best year yet?

Start by breaking everything down into sections:

  • Website
  • Services
  • Rates or Packages
  • Clients
  • Systems
  • Processes & Procedures
  • Team Members
  • etc…

Then take yourself away from your normal work environment – go to a cafe, bar, park – anywhere you feel relaxed and have very little distractions. Go through each one with a toothcomb asking yourself:

How can I simplify this generally?

Start brainstorming random ideas, anything that comes into your head in terms of what makes it complex or complicated and aspects or areas that could be altered or shaped.

What can I eliminate altogether?

This is always the toughest, especially if you have been doing things over and over for periods of time. The thing is we often end up doing them out of habit rather than necessity. Could you get rid of things that are a drain on time, money or other resources?

What can I automate or autopilot?

Many things these days can be automated with the help of a system or app. Wouldn’t it make more sense to pay $20 or $30 a month ongoing to automate a task which would take you a couple of hours a week, for example? For this you’ll need to do a lot of “How” research to find the solution to your automation. How can I do this, or that…? Just search for what you need help with, often times you’ll be surprised at the results, ideas and potential fixes you’ll find.

What can I delegate to someone else?

This is often the hardest thing to address, especially for online service providers, since we’re usually the ones clients delegate to. But that doesn’t mean to say we can’t do it ourselves. In fact, it would be crazy not to when we can spend more time working on our business development, and less time doing tasks that can easily be handed over to the right person so we have one less thing on our plate. Would you rather be doing admin or intaking a new client? I know what I would rather do, and I know what will have the most impact on my business. I bet you do too, if you’re really honest.

And don’t forget, nothing is set in stone, if you hire and it doesn’t work out, you’ve tried, and you’ve learnt, that in itself is a success. You may want to rethink your hiring or delegation process to get it right next time, but either way, it’s progress.

This won’t be a quick process, to do this properly you’ll need space, time and research to think about each element impartially with a focused business head on. Sometimes people, myself included, will find it tough to detach their heart from a business that they love working in and really enjoy to the point of feeling devotion towards it. This can often cause us to go above and beyond, removing the simplicity and profitability – not good, so it’s really fantastic to ground yourself and take a different perspective, a more calculating one which requires you to be honest with yourself and above all, ruthless.

The restaurants in the programme I was talking about, Kitchen Nightmares, will often recover from the depths of despair after following the ‘keep it simple’ rule that Gordon Ramsay so confidently applies during his short time working with them. The restaurants that stay in denial and refuse to simplify, and in many cases are unwilling to shift into a different gear or direction, often don’t achieve the same success.

Now that’s food for thought.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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