“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.”
I recently read the above quote by Richard Branson and it really resonated.
One thing I have come to learn is that there is a real power in simplicity; just cutting through all the fancy words and sugar coating and getting right down to the juicy core.
Yet what I see so often (and, I must add, have experienced first hand myself) is people making their businesses and lives a whole lot more complicated that they need be.
When it comes to building your own business, the habit to over complicate stems from the assumptions many of us make in the early days of doing our “own thang”. We expect it to be hard, a challenge- and in expecting it, we self- create that very experience for ourselves.
The temptation is to think that to stay ahead of the competition, you should be offering a dazzling array of services/ products, skillfully leveraging every marketing channel that exists and engaging with the most elaborate language to really wow your customers.
Here’s the problem: It’s exhausting and your good intentions are having the opposite effect of confusing your customers and distilling your impact. (Think weak orange squash when really we want fresh orange juice )
Whatever stage you’re at in your business- whether you’re just starting out or are an experienced biz woman steering a thriving company- I strongly recommend you do regular “simplicity checks” to make sure you’re not wasting time getting stuck in Mr. Complexity’s prickly web.
Not only can simplifying be the very thing your business needs to take things to the next level financially, it will make you feel so much more in control. When you’re in control, you’ll be happier and show up as the full, bright you- and that’s when magic really starts to happen.
Below are some of the most popular areas that often need of a wake-up simplicity shot, and some top tips to start simplifying straight away….
Brand slogan and pitch
Can you succinctly summarize in just a few words what your business is about? So many get this wrong and it’s so damaging- rather than being a hook to pull customers/ clients in, they create an icy ocean of distance between them.
Get into your customers shoes and ask what is it they really want from me? What is it I’m really giving them? This is the transformation that is really driving their purchasing decision. So for example, if you’re a personal life organizer, that in itself isn’t interesting to them. But the fact that you will help them to free up an extra two evenings a week so they can spend it with their family and be a happier, more ‘present’ mum is. This transformation needs to be at the heart of your slogan and pitch- and really, that’s all you need. No extra waffle.
Here’s a tip….
To identify the transformation your business gives your clients, first clearly state the facts and features of what you do and then ask yourself ” I run my business so my customers can can do/ have what?” and keep asking the same question until you get to the heart of what you’re giving them (the transformation). You can fill out the blanks below to help you with this
I provide the services/ products of (description of services/product)______________to (description of customer)________________so they can_________________ so they can_____________(continue ‘so they can’ until you get to the heart of the transformation)
Are you spending loads of energy trying to appeal to different ‘types’ of clients and customers? Perhaps you’re scared of narrowing it down to just one group/industry because you don’t want to isolate the rest? The problem is having no clear strategy as to who you’re targeting will result in you going round and round in circles trying to speak to and please everyone, making everything a lot more labour intensive than in need be.
I always encourage clients to get really clear on their prime target customer, and focus all their efforts on speaking directly to them with their marketing and overall approach. Depending on your business you can expand and add to your client and customer base, but it’s always best to nail one niche first. This clear vision as to exactly who you’re working with makes everything, including your marketing and biz development, so much more focused and easier to manage.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking the more ‘choice’ you have for a customer the more “worthy” your business is. BIG FAT mistake.
Have you ever walked into a shop or gone online to buy something and there’s so much choice you feel overwhelmed? What happens? Let me guess- you either end up not buying or go for what you know and trust rather than taking what feels like a ‘risk’.
More than anything, clients want you to make the experience of working with them easy- and to have confidence in you. It’s better to focus your time perfecting one or two services or products and do them brilliantly well, than to have a long list of product and services options for the sake of it.
Ask yourself what services/products bring you most profit for the minimal time investment? Could you focus on just pushing those rather than splitting your attention across less profitable ones? Wouldn’t that make things so much more simple- and make serious business sense?
There is a whole host of biz development activities out there from networking, online marketing,social media, affiliate networking, Google ads, cold calling, SEO, PR etc etc……but you don’t have to do all of them. In fact not every channel is going to be right for your business.
For example, it would be inappropriate for me to cold call and sell my coaching services. However is you’re a boutique recruitment consultancy then getting on those phones is key in reaching the decision makers that will spend money with you. Identify the channels that are going to get your kind of business the highest return and nail those first rather than trying to juggle everything you ‘could’ do.
If you simplify your approach to focus on the strategies that work best for your business, you’ll accelerate the cash flow and then will be able to invest in adding other business development strategies to the mix; but then you’ll be able to hire some real pro’s to do an awesome job for you whilst you’re free to focus on what you’re really good at. This is clever optimization.
Blogs are designed to be read online and as a result, be quick and easy to read. This means getting to the essence of what you want to say and giving the reader a clear message they can walk away with. When they genuinely get something out of your blog post- learn a new strategy, gain a new insight- your value goes up in their world. You’re building their trust that you have something to say that’s of use to them which is vital to build an engaged tribe that are champions of you and what your business stands for.
Yet so many make it more difficult than it need be (I for one, have- and often still do- for prey to this trap!) They hold off until they have cultivated sentences that display flourishing literary flair, and write reams of grammatically complex sentences that might make them feel all fancy pants clever and ‘sophisticated’, but is actually alienating the reader. The result? They switch off and leave your website and check out the competition instead. Remember, don’t write to satisfy your ego, always write to fulfill your customers/ clients needs.
Here’s some tips…
Before writing a blog post, get really clear on what the purpose of the post is and what it is you want to get across and stick to the key messages.
ALWAYS space out your paragraphs, similar to how I’ve done in this blog post. It is much more welcoming and pulls the reader in, rather than a disorganised splat of words that screams chaos.
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