Applying Minimalism Principles to Your Business

My Desk by tdm911 from Flickr

My Desk by tdm911 from Flickr

Earlier this year I was inspired to embark on a project of systematically cleaning out my life – one drawer, one shelf, one stack of papers at a time. I am by no means becoming one of those people who only has 100 possessions or lives in a tiny house. My goal is to de-clutter my life by getting rid of the things I don’t use or need.

I attended an interesting session at SXSW this year about minimalism and entrepreneurship. The amazing panel had lots of wonderful ideas about using minimalism when starting a business, but the many of their suggestions could be applied to any business. The main ideas focus on simplicity and freedom instead of material wealth. It inspired me to do my own research on using minimalism as a business owner. These are some of my favorite tips.

Reduce Clutter.
Do you work better when your desk is clean? Me too. I think clearer and I’m less distracted if my work area is clean. Clean your desk. Get rid of excess papers by going paperless. Simply processes. Find an organization system that works for you and use it.

Turn Off All Notifications when doing Focused Work.
If I see that I have a new email, voicemail, or notification from one of my social media accounts, I have a hard time not checking it. I do my best and most efficient work when I turn off my ringer and close my social media and email tabs on my browser. Don’t worry about missing something important. It will all be there when your work is done and you take a break. Courtney Carver had a great saying at SXSW: You run the day or the day runs you.

Get Rid of the Old.
Don’t let your office become the final resting place for old computers, equipment, books, and software. When you upgrade, get rid of your old stuff. (Don’t forget to wipe your computers’ memory first.) If there are things you just don’t use anymore (like your fax machine) get rid of it.

Reduce your Overhead.
The less you spend on your overhead, the less you have to work before turning a profit. Take a hard look at all your expenses (rent, phone, internet, office supplies, insurance, etc.) and think about what you really need to run your business.

Do what Works for You.
Ignore what everyone else is doing if it’s not working for you. Look for creative solutions to your problem. You don’t have to do exactly what your competition is doing to be competitive. Do you need a big fancy office, with fancy furniture and rented art work with a huge conference room or do you only need a small office and webcam to hold video conference meetings?  In my experience, most clients care more about results than fancy furnishings.

One of the best tips I took from the panel at SXSW was to look at all your expenses and determine if they are a need, a like, or a want. The wants can probably be cut out along with most of the likes. Focusing on your needs will keep your clutter and your expenses down, but it takes discipline to do this.

Understand the “whys” behind your business  – Why do you what you do? What’s the ultimate goal? Post these on the wall so you can keep your mind on what really matters to you instead of letting it get needlessly wrapped up in other problems.

If you want more information on minimalism, please check out The Minimalists. These guys were on the panel at SXSW. They have great energy and information to share.

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