Time For Some Business Minimalism?

What follows is an article I actually wrote (believe it or not) in 2011. Over 11 years ago now. And I think the message is quite relevant today and thought you might find it useful. So, here we go…

There are two ways to make more money: (1) Make more money, (2) spend less.

Sounds like a life lesson passed down from our grandfather in a lecture about saving money. Of course, it is sound advice. Smart advice to apply to our business and our personal finances.

I’ve talked about minimalism before and I think there is a lot of truth to the workability of it. It is the idea of simple living, reducing the number of possessions, and increasing self-sufficiency. When you get rid of stuff in your life, you gain more time and you gain more mental energy. Many people have changed their lives for the better simply by getting rid of a lot of their stuff (to whatever degree they’re OK with).

What about applying it to our businesses?

What Got Me Thinking About This

When I published my annual blogging income report, I came right out and said that my business was leaking money. I was spending too much money. As a start, I was paying for two dedicated servers for my sites, running me a total of about $700/month. On top of that, I was spending money on my shopping cart, email list, video hosting with Amazon S3…. the list goes on.

So, it put me onto a little project of trimming some fat from my business. Over the last couple of weeks, I have centralized all of my sites onto a single server and ditched one of them. That move alone has trimmed close to $275/month from my expenses.

When I looked at my domains…. get this… I currently own 100 domains. This means I’m spending close to $900/year just on renewing domain names. Without counting, I bet all but maybe 15 of the domains aren’t even being used. I bought them “just in case”.

So, this put me onto a line of thinking regards cutting expenses and minimalism as applied to my business. It goes beyond finances. It goes into simplification and running things in a “lean and mean” fashion.

Why Now?

I’m not giving this thought because I’m running low on cash. I can afford to spend what I’ve been spending… but that doesn’t make it smart. 🙂

But, here’s the other thing…

I believe that our economy is in for some potentially tough times. Hell, we’re already there, in many circles. And, I think it is going to get worse.

Doom and gloom? No! It is just called keeping my eyes peeled and planning accordingly. When you run a lean business which is flexible, and couple that with kicking ass in all the right places and making a lot of money, you can survive anything. Economize and flourish.

How You Can Apply Business Minimalism

The whole idea here is to simplify, and in the process, trim the fat and make your business lean and flexible.

In my case, I’ve dropped a server. I’m going to get rid of some of these domains I own. Realistically, many of these “just in case” domains I have are projects I’ll never run with, so why keep the domain? I’ve also been re-evaluating the various services I subscribe to.

It isn’t only about expenses, either. What about processes? Are there things in your business that you’re doing that you could just stop? Chances are, most of us have various habits or procedures in our businesses that we could stop with no ill effects at all. Most of us have things which could be streamlined, simplified, or dropped altogether.

So, here are some ideas:

  1. Are you paying to keep any sites online which are not contributing to your business? Consider dropping them.
  2. Go paperless. The busy-work of dealing with paper and filing/shredding it is a pain in the butt. I’m now operating paperless and it makes my job easier, saves trees, and reduces office clutter.
  3. If you own a lot of domains, trim off the ones you’re likely never to use. There’s no use in stockpiling these things, really.
  4. Have excess crap in your office? Many of us keep crap in your offices. Old magazines, old computer equipment, books we never look at anymore. If you’re interested in internet marketing, perhaps you have a bunch of IM courses sitting around. Why don’t you clear out your space somewhat and get rid of this stuff? Take the time to go through those magazines and scan anything you want to reference later – then toss it! You can digitize those info products and then get rid of the physical version (or give them away). You can give a bunch of stuff to Goodwill, maybe, and take the tax writeoff. You can sell stuff on eBay.
  5. If you’re looking to expand your business with additional personnel, consider the virtual model rather than hiring employees. Whether you hire overseas or in the U.S. is completely up to you. The unfortunate fact is that our government makes it difficult and more expensive to hire employees (and they wonder why unemployment is high). I have one employee now, and I can tell you that the paperwork that goes with it is ridiculous. Trust me – go virtual. Use independent contractors.

I don’t know what your business looks like, but the idea here is simply to simplify. Your business doesn’t need to be complicated in order to grow. Keep things simple and nimble and you’re more free to expand.