'Less is more' — this is the idea around which the philosophy of minimalism revolves. While most of us would only recognise the term due to its upsurge in the design industry, it is actually a lifestyle that many people swear by. It is defined by The Minimalists as "a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfilment, and freedom."
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Surprisingly, this philosophy is also applicable in the business world. Just as minimalists de-clutter their lives to gain more freedom, entrepreneurs too can do the same thing with their businesses. Entrepreneurs are already minimalists in a way: they have a purpose, they're pursuing their passions and experience freedom (from conventional jobs) that most people seldom do.
This freedom can be greatly augmented if entrepreneurs follow these few practices and create a minimalist business:
If a minimalist business is what you want to create, then it should be done online. And there are several reasons for this. Online businesses are the easiest to start and require the least initial investment. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, all you need is a computer and an internet connection to have your business up and running. Offline businesses, like brick and mortar stores for example, bring with them problems of operational costs and real estate investments. With online businesses, however, a simple website and a basic marketing plan can help you land your first few customers. And due to the potential of digital marketing they're also easier to expand and market.
Another benefit of running a minimalist online business is that you can hire remote workers or even freelancers. Not only are remote workers more productive, they also take fewer sick leaves and vacation days as compared to their office-going counterparts.
When it comes to a minimalist business, 'simple is beautiful'. As an entrepreneur invested in the minimalist mindset, it should be your goal to simplify every aspect of your business. If you've hired employees, then management is the first thing you need to take care of. Eliminate all those tedious management processes and policies which cost you time. Time spent on managing people can always be better spent — you should delegate and entrust your employees with responsibility, this will help to free up your own time.
The next thing you should do is leverage technology to streamline as many tasks as possible. Use apps like Trello and Slack to improve team collaboration; use Buffer to manage your social media accounts; use IFTTT to drive condition-based actions across nearly all internet-linked services. You get the idea: tech can make your life easier, use it.
To create a successful minimalist business, your idea of how to go about building a business needs to change. Most entrepreneurs these days follow a well-worn path: get an investment from a venture capitalist - build a product, get customers, become profitable, launch an IPO or sell the company to someone else. But this strategy has yielded countless failures and its pursuit is anything but minimalist in nature.
Instead, minimalist entrepreneurs should create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for their idea and launch it before acquiring an investment. This tactic allows you to test your product in the market and make necessary corrections before you invest a lot of time and effort.
Another equally important aspect of running a minimalist business is how you define success. If you equate success with making money, then you'll never achieve it because no amount of money will ever be enough.
Instead, what you should be working towards is freedom. And this freedom is achieved by de-cluttering your business, so that only the bare necessities are left. While this may reduce your income, it will also reduce your responsibilities and worries thereby giving you more freedom to enjoy your life.
Operating a minimalist business also doesn't mean that you can never scale it. It just means that you grow your business only when it's absolutely needed and when you can clearly define the benefits of doing so. Necessity, plan and simple, is the crux of running a minimalist business.