IS 2017 THE YEAR TO SIMPLIFY YOUR BUSINESS?
There’s a lot of talk about making life easier–getting rid of clutter, buying less, not making things so complicated. We carry around a powerful multi-tasker that takes pictures, does our banking, keeps us on schedule, and makes phone calls. Some people are even moving to 300 square feet homes to minimize the things in their lives.Yes, simple is in. But is it time to simplify your business? The answer is probably yes. The Benefits of Simplification One of the most common examples in simplification in business is lean manufacturing or operating in a lean environment, with little excess. But simplifying can also be done by limiting your offerings as did McDonald’s. When the McDonald brothers came to Ray Kroc to buy eight milkshake makers and told him the original idea for their restaurant, Kroc wrote that it was a “…radically different kind of operation, a restaurant stripped down to the minimum of service and menu.” This was back before the McRib and salads. He went on to write, “…When I saw it working that day in 1954, I felt like some latter-day Newton who had just had an Idaho potato caromed off his skull.” When things are easy, more people will adopt them and because the learning curve is minimal people will stay with the product. Steve Jobs and crew did this in eliminating buttons, employing a swipe, and streamlining design in Apple’s i-products. Simplification is also a way to differentiate your business in a crowded market like Frontier Airlines does. They offer bare-bones airline travel for people who don’t want to pay for all the extras in their ticket. Sometimes businesses simplify pricing and require willing customers to take on some of the “cost.” Aldi grocery stores does this by not supplying free grocery bags (you can pay for them), requiring customers to bag themselves, and charging a quarter to “rent” a grocery cart to entice people to return carts to the cart corral. In return, customers get the lowest prices without cutting coupons. Ways to Simplify Your Business for Greater Return Maybe simplifying your menu or creating the new swipe isn’t a possibility for you but here are a couple of ideas for the new year. You could simplify: Who You Serve Don’t try to serve everyone. Think about a niche and how you might become the best in serving that group. It may be a lot easier to be at the top of a niche than the general market and you’ll be more valuable to that industry because you will understand them and be one of the few who does. Personalization is now an expectation of customers and specializing in a niche is a great way to accomplish that. Your Pricing You could rework pricing to service a special group just as Aldi targets the thrifty shopper. Where can you cut costs and pass the discounts on to the customer? Are there any areas where they might be willing to take on some of the work like the McDonalds brothers did with a lower price menu and no waitress service. Or you could look to changing your pricing to the other end enticing luxury buyers and bundling things together knowing that they’ll pay extra to have a one-stop shop or service, handling what they need for them. Your Technology Taking all aspects of your business to the cloud can mean a reduction in costs with better security and fewer worries over lost data. It also helps employees (and customers, if fitting) reach information from anywhere they have an Internet connection. Want more suggestions about simplifying? Try these ideas from Entrepreneur magazine. A Final Word About Simplification Often simplification cuts costs and with less moving parts there’s less to go wrong. However, when choosing how you will simplify your business, there is a difference between simplification and placing all of your eggs in one basket. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect to their audience through content for higher conversions and greater loyalty. Her articles have appeared in Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. Christina’s an introvert who loves presenting and working with groups to help improve their storytelling and content marketing, yet she feels incredibly awkward at cocktail parties.