Can a Minimalist Approach Work for Your Business?

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( — July 5, 2018) — Individuals and families everywhere are embracing minimalism. If you’re someone who reads regularly or is engaged on social media platforms, you’ve probably encountered references to the minimalist movement. At its core, minimalism seeks to help people think about possessions differently. Specifically, its goal is to promote things that we value the most and remove everything that distracts us from it. It is marked by purpose and intentionality.

Adopting a minimalist perspective in a capitalist society in a culture that endorses a consumer’s mentality is difficult. As a nation, we place a great deal of importance on appearances and the ownership of “stuff,” which may include designer handbags, luxury cars, nice homes, and expensive “toys” like boats. As individuals, we spend an inordinate amount of time working jobs that afford us the funds we need to purchase items that we want. The minimalist movement appears to run counter to the purpose of business since businesses do what they do to get people to buy things.

But the minimalist approach is more than that. Minimalism is really about finding freedom- freedom from fear, worry, guilt, sadness, distractions, and from being overwhelmed and overworked. As a result, minimalism, in its broadest application, forces both individuals and companies to make improvements in every aspect of existence, from the way in which we organize our day, gather resources, engage with others, develop a sense of community, and spend money. 

How, then, can the basic tenets of minimalism work for your business?

Bigger is not always better. Businesses almost always see growth as the primary indicator of success. Attracting more customers is a positive. Generating greater revenue is a win. Getting more likes is a triumph. And while all these things can be good, they also come at a cost. Attracting more customers means you spend more time dealing with customer complaints and putting customer support platforms in class.  Higher revenue means greater expenses and overall time invested in the “work” of running your business, sometimes resulting in less overall profit in spite of more revenue. More likes mean that while more people see you, some of these will be more of the wrong people who have the opportunity to take you or your business in the wrong direction.

Minimalism helps us see that sometimes “enough” is best. If I make enough money to support my daily expenses, save a little for the future, and leave me with time for people and activities I love, isn’t that the goal? Wanting “more” is likely to bring more work, more stress, more responsibility and less time for those things I want to prioritize. Minimalism can provide a path to freedom, and help us avoid blind, unsupported growth. In business, bigger is not always better and can distract us from the very reasons we started a business to begin with. Minimalism doesn’t mean staying small for the sake of being small. It means that, as a minimalist business owner, you stay small when it makes sense and only grows in areas where that growth provides value to you, your purpose, and your consumers.

Finances do not need to keep you up at night. In business, the endless juggling act of paying bills and negotiating financial responsibilities can interfere with your ability to enjoy both your personal and professional life. One of the basic ideas of minimalism is to make your work life work for you. People who run minimalist businesses become experts are getting straight to the point of making and managing money. They start by getting an investment, work hard to perfect their product or service, and then run that business with the greatest amount of automation possible so that you remain free of the worry involved. Such automation involves the use of tech tools that allow you to provide receipts, manage employee benefits, check ICO lists and investment opportunities, and deal with all of your accounts with ease. It also means that bills that are due on the same day each month can be set up with your banking institution or the company who receives them. You can also automate retirement contributions and savings account deposits. 

Additionally, minimalizing finances means that you can and should streamline your accounts.  It is rarely necessary to have multiple checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards at a myriad of banking institutions, so find a way to combine them. Once you only have one checking and one savings account, you only need to worry about one monthly statement, one username/password combination, and one account that holds the key to all of your payments. Keep only one or two credit cards that represent the best of the best with regard to rewards, limits, and general business practices. Close all the others and declutter your business financial life.

Eliminate non-essentials and use what you have. Minimalism is not about deprivation, but it is about focusing on and prioritizing what matters most.  Minimalists work with the tools they have and don’t expend unnecessary time or money on acquiring or building new ones. Using the tools available for the job means that you are relying more on your own creativity, ingenuity, and divergent thinking than anything else. Tools should never take the place of our own resourcefulness and critical thinking.

Running a business using these principles means that you will create the time and resources to intentionally focus on what matters most to you. Maybe these priorities include family, friends, free time, travel, or a hobby. Whatever you choose, a minimalist lifestyle and business platform can lead to a happier, more productive, and more fulfilling life and far more freedom than could have been imagined.

What minimalist ideals do you think are adaptable to business practices? Feel free to comment here.