How to Run a Minimalist Business
By Becky Mollenkamp, PCC
Minimalism isn’t a new concept. The idea of scaling back and living with less first gained traction in art and design of the 1960s. The pendulum swung toward more lavish living in following decades, but now many people are finding a renewed interest in the minimalist lifestyle.
I’m one of those converts (*sort of). For nearly a decade, I’ve been focusing on collecting memories rather than stuff. Each time I haul another bag off to Goodwill, I feel lighter and happier. Ridding my home of clutter not only frees up physical space—it also clears room in my mind and heart for new experiences, which bring me more joy than any handbag or knickknack ever did.
*To be clear, I’m not a perfect minimalist. While I make efforts to scale back and get rid of things I don’t need, my home isn’t stark white and my wardrobe includes far more than a perfect 33-item capsule. I think minimalism is about doing with less where it makes sense for you.
In all that time of scaling back, however, I hadn’t considered how minimalism might help my business. When I found out I was pregnant in 2015, however, I immediately knew I’d need to make some big changes to prepare for the juggle of being a business-owning mom. So, I decided to apply minimalist concepts to my work life.
Here are few changes I made that I think can help any entrepreneur (parent or not). Even if you’re not a minimalist per se, if you’re looking for ways to scale back, do less, and reduce stress, give these a try.
Dump the stuff
Look at everything sitting on your desk or crammed into your briefcase. How much of it do you actually need? Touch each item and honestly assess whether you’ve used it in the last month and if you could survive without it. Say goodbye to anything that doesn’t make life easier or happier. I’ve whittled my workspace down to a desk, laptop, microphone, external hard drive, a couple of thumb drives, and a pen and planner.
Clear mental clutter
Facebook groups, email lists, social media, and the like can be great resources, but they can also quickly lead to information overload. Analyze every list, group, and site you’ve joined and leave those that don’t provide job leads, valuable networking, or useful education. After this exercise, I stopped investing energy in Google+ and Twitter, and left a handful of Facebook groups and most email lists.
Are you one of those people who always have 20 tabs open in Chrome, an inbox with 1,000 unanswered emails, or a computer desktop littered by document icons? It’s time to clean up your act! I store everything on Google Drive (using logically labeled folders) and use Trello to organize my projects and to-do lists. Whatever tech or paper tools you prefer, the point is to find a system that provides a place for everything and helps you keep everything in its place.
Set a schedule
Simplifying your business isn’t a one-time fix. It requires constantly checking in with yourself to be sure you’re not falling back into old habits and losing focus. I set aside time on the first day of each month to review and renew my minimalist efforts. I delete old data/documents, return my inbox to zero, unsubscribe from any new unwanted emails, etc.
Just say no
This one is hard for many of us, but it’s so important to living simply and peacefully. Don’t agree to tasks that are unnecessary or that don’t fit your area of specialty. Dropping bad clients and rejecting tasks I hated not only relieved stress, it made room in my schedule for the types of clients and work I really wanted. Win-win!