Business Minimalism: the new way I’m doing business
A couple of weeks back, I took an impromptu holiday from my business.
Before my week away I was feeling like that crazy emoji face on your phone – you know the one – where the eyes are bulging and the tongue is kinda hanging out of the crazy mouth.
While I was making great money, I wasn’t happy. I felt uninspired, under-valued and I was just barely, only keeping up.
I am still recovering from burnout and believe me, my body tells me pretty damn fast if I’ve taken on too much. A few niggly health issues returned and I knew I was walking down a path I did not want to be on.
So I took a break.
And I went back to the list of core values on my wall – freedom, community, minimalism, healthy/ compassionate living and personal expansion.
My core values keep me anchored and in alignment. I knew, because of how I was feeling, there was a mis-match between my values and the way I was showing up in my life and biz.
On that week’s break, I saw clearly how much I was over-complicating things and I decided it was time to overlay my love for simplicity and minimalism onto my biz.
Here’s what I did:
#1: Turn off notifications
Starting with something simple, I turned off all notifications on my phone. And not just social media notifications. I turned off text messages and Whatsapp messages, too (You can do that by going into the settings in your phone).
Every time a message would come through (and there were a lot!), I’d instantly feel anxiety pulse through my body.
Now I have sweet sweet phone relief!
Yes, it does mean I need to check my messages but that’s a good thing! I dedicate time each day to do that, rather than being at the mercy of every little ding or vibration.
Also, this podcast episode on digital minimalism is awesome. Highly recommend taking a listen.
#2: What creates the most value?
Minimalism is based on the premise of doing the few things that bring you the most value and letting go of everything else.
So I did an audit of my biz. I basically took stock of what actions, systems and offerings where adding value to my biz. And when I say ‘adding value’ it’s much larger than just what is generating cash or leads for me. Just because something is generating a lot of cash doesn’t mean that it’s adding value or it’s a success. Success metrics are so much more than just money. Does it feel good to you, are you lit up by it, is it giving you a good return for how much time you’re actually putting into it?
Once I figured this out, then this informed the next steps I took…
#3: Better boundaries and expectations with clients
I started being clearer with my clients around what they could and couldn’t expect from me.
I let current clients know I now only take phone calls by appointment only.
I had let my boundaries slip with past projects, not closing them out properly and letting clients message and call me with questions long after their projects had completed. I politely explained to these clients that their projects are now over and then I gave them some options of how they could work with me going forward.
I updated my processes and contracts to make this clear on future projects.
I changed my email office hours. If you send me an email now, you’ll get a polite auto-response saying that I only respond to emails on Thursday afternoons. Of course, if something is urgent, I’m in there as soon as I can. But mostly, this relieves my mental load of worrying that people are waiting for my response because I’ve set the expectation of when I will reply.
#4: Increasing pricing or offering more premium services
I was on a mastermind call yesterday and the woman said, when we charge for our services, 50% of the total price should equate to our hourly rate and the other 50% should be for the skills, expertise and knowledge that we have learnt over many years. Think about that…
Pricing is something I’m working on, gradually, slowly.
I have started saying no to smaller paying jobs. I realised that often these jobs result in the same amount of administrative overhead as larger jobs but they pay significantly less – so my billable hourly rate takes a big hit.
I increased my hourly pricing with my longer term business clients.
I’m also now offering more premium website design packages.
I’m still getting my head around how this will work so I don’t want to give too much advice here but if you’re feeling like your pricing needs some tweaks, here’s a couple of good resources:
#5: Less offerings and less content
I scaled everything back.
My podcast courses are gone
My coaching is gone
My business services are gone
This is way less confusing for my community. I was getting referrals for things I don’t do and spending a lot of time on discovery calls and quoting for projects that never went anywhere… it left me feeling frustrated, under-valued and exhausted.
Not to mention, a lot of the work I was doing just simply wasn’t lighting me up – at all.
Now I have a set baseline package and it’s clear what I specialise in.
I’ve made it clear how much I charge which means, anyone jumping on a discovery call with me, has already considered if this matches their budget (saving us both a whole heap of time!)
I’ve emailed all my business contacts who were referring people to me and let them know this is the new way I’m working.
I’ve already seen a huge decrease in inquiries that don’t fit and have spent WAY less time on discovery calls.
Of course, what I’ve done here isn’t going to work for everyone and every business, so here are some other examples from clients who are simplifying their businesses, too:
I was talking to a coaching client yesterday who, last year, had quite a successful launch of her online program. Then she’d gone on to create another program and was now thinking of creating another one! We just stopped for a second and thought, hang on… why are we creating new things if you already have something that works, your audience loves AND you love to do?
Another client realised she has over 100 great blog posts in her archive. We started to wonder why she felt she had to keep creating more content. 100 blog posts, once a week – that’s content for almost two years! We created a spreadsheet with all her blog posts and a plan for repurposing those in new, creative ways.
Another client had been spending a whole heap of time and effort creating content for social media. And while she was getting okay engagement, she wasn’t building relationships or generating leads. It was leaving her very frustrated (understandably). We explored what it might look like to funnel the energy she was putting into social media into creating valuable content for her mailing list instead – for the people that actually gave away their email address to hear from her!
We’ve got to stop re-inventing the wheel or doing things just because that’s what we think we should be doing to create a successful business. Ask yourself why you’re doing something… and is that something working… could there be a smarter way…
#6: Scale back systems
I did an audit of all my software and systems. I closed out any subscriptions I was no longer using or downgraded to cheaper plans.
I deleted over 1000 disengaged subscribers from my mailing list and am saving myself about $50 a month just from this alone!
#7: Learn to do things yourself
I pretty much do a lot of the administrative / tech stuff myself in my own biz, but it’s also a pattern I’m now noticing with a lot of my clients. They are wanting to learn to do a lot of things themselves – that previously they were outsourcing.
A first you might think this kinda goes against the idea of minimalism – if I want more time and space, shouldn’t I be outsourcing? And yeah, sure, perhaps that is what you need to do.
But some of my clients desire a faster turn around, a smaller team to manage and less cash outgoings on the small things so they have more cash for the bigger projects.
Many of my clients are now asking me to set something up once, create a replicable system, and a few video tutorials so they can do it themselves in the future.
This new way of doing business also has me asking how can we make this process as simple as possible? What system can we use that would support that?
What I’m recommending more and more are systems that my clients can easily use themselves without needing to be too tech savvy.
+ Squarespace instead of WordPress for websites
+ Canva instead of the Adobe suite for graphic design
+ Teachable instead of an expensive WordPress membership site
+ Leadpages or EventBrite for online webinar registration
Am I worried I’ll do myself out of a job – nope! I love seeing my clients take responsibility for their own businesses. AND it frees me up to help them with their larger projects (the kind of stuff I really enjoy!).
And what about my income?
In complete transparency, yup, I have taken a hit in my income in the last month. It’s dropped significantly as I transition to this new way of working and let my client base know the kind of work I now do. But I was prepared for that by:
+ saving money over the last few months when my income was quite high
+ Continuing with generating my bread and butter income.
+ reducing my outgoings and being a tad more careful about where I spend my cash (this feels like a worthwhile compromise for what I gain in return)
What I have gained:
+ Time to join a mastermind and uplevel my skills
+ Ample time to plan and strategise and feel into what is right, rather than being reactive
+ More space to fully serve and be present with my premium clients
+ Space to tend to my energy and ensure I’m emitting out what I want to call back in
+ Creative insight and ideas
+ Working on a new re-sellable product to generate some passive income
+ Taking most Mondays off to spend with my new man (wink!), going on retreats with my girlfriends and visiting my family.
+ Time to write to you, connect with you and get to know you – which is something I’ve been wanting to prioritise
+ My sanity and happiness back
Will this new way of doing business work?
I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. I try to remind myself of this: everything is an experiment in business. And if this doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world – I’ll simply try something else.
What I do know – this is feeling really good and healthy.
And I do truly believe that I can have the kind of business and income that supports a life I love – I don’t believe there needs to be a trade-off between the two… that’s ultimately what I’m working towards.
Phew! If you made it to the end, well done.
Did any of this resonate? Can you apply any of this to your own business? I would love to know.
Here’s to designing our businesses in a way that supports a life we love.