Strategic Simplicity

Michelle Hunter by Michelle Hunter

Using this time to position for growth

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Recently my thoughts have shifted away from the sense of urgency created by the current situation toward my vision for the future. I’m moving from crisis management to forward-thinking… mostly because my tolerance for chronic stress is low and my personality tends to be that of a positive realist. No magical thinking or sunny outlook… but a realistic appraisal of what this time makes possible. In this challenging time, there is an opportunity for us to pivot, embrace strategic simplicity, and to move toward a refined way of doing business. This strategic approach feels right to me… and I want to share it with you.

Where do you want your business to be in 6 months? How do you want to work and who do you want to serve? What problems can you solve now that you have a little time to ponder? These are the questions I’m asking myself now.

I see this as a time to embrace and move strategically in the direction of simplicity. Time to brush off excess, get clear on what matters most, and refine systems accordingly. Are you with me? If so… keep reading. 

Where do you need to prune your business?

When I started out as a solopreneur, my operating systems were pretty lean. I served clients in a handful of ways with minimal administrative requirements and the support of just a few key digital tools. As I built a virtual team and began to scale my organization to serve more clients in a variety of ways, things got a bit more complicated.

Complexity is often a barrier to growth. Serving multiple clients creates variation not found when you serve a niche audience. Multiple offers and packages complicate both operations and accounting.  Building a team includes management tasks and leadership demands.  

You might have… 

  • Offers and packages you don’t love and try not to sell,
  • High-maintenance clients who drain your energy,
  • Redundancies on your team or overlapping skills you don’t need.

This is a time to prune away the old to make room for new growth. Gardeners understand the concept of cutting back a plant to focus lifegiving energy and increase vitality. When you cut away the unnecessary in your business you make room for healthy growth. You make room for increased profitability. You promote the resilience and sustainability you need NOW more than ever. 

How can you streamline systems in your business?

Bloat happens… especially during periods of growth. My business has grown and changed rapidly in the past few years and I’m increasingly aware of all the extra steps in our internal processes. I understand how it happened – we put quick fixes in place but never had time to go back and actually solve the root issues. The time we waste now in daily operations as a result of these fixes is actually pretty significant. Now is the perfect time to streamline. 

During this time when business is moving a bit slower, I’m taking a look at how we actually get things done. I’m cutting away the non-essential and keeping the steps that add value for my clients or empower my team to do their best work. This is my version of parting with everything that doesn’t bring joy (where joy is defined as simple, smooth operations). 

Want to do the same? Ask yourself these questions…

  • What value does this process step provide and for whom? 
  • If we needed to do this quickly, what would we skip? 
  • Is this a required step (legal or otherwise) that can’t be eliminated?

If a process step – or even an entire process – doesn’t add value, isn’t required, and could easily be eliminated in a crisis… consider removing it. Think about what would change if you made the cut. Ponder what would be possible if the time and resources used for this step were repurposed to another area of your business. Then – if it feels right – take action!

Be sure to share your reasoning with your team. Explain your thought process and communicate the new (streamlined) process clearly so there’s no confusion. You might get a little resistance because change is difficult… but you might also be surprised by the relief on people’s faces.

Pro tip → Often the leader is the last one to recognize the need for the change. 

What is important to prepare you for growth?

Do you have a vision for the future of your business? Have you clarified how you want to grow and operate three years from now? (If not, I highly recommend reading The Vision Driven Leader by Michael Hyatt so you can create a vision script for your business. The vision scripting process he laid out in that book was a game-changer for me.)

This is the best possible time for you to shift your business and align it with your vision. This crisis is a disruptor in our economy, in the marketplace, and in our society in general, creating an opportunity for us to respond in ways that point us closer to our vision. 

This is a great time to… 

  • Experiment with virtual services or remote work.
  • Create a company intranet or a digital marketing strategy.
  • Connect with your audience and expand your influence.

You can pivot your mission, beta test new products and services, or invest in developing the professional skills of your team. This is a great time to communicate your vision and collaborate with others about implementation. 

Think about how you want to show up in the market on the other side of this crisis. Think about how you want your brand to be remembered and who you want to serve. Then act accordingly… and put yourself in a position to recover rapidly as restrictions begin to lift. 

Simplicity is an incredibly empowering strategy. 

Clarity comes when we eliminate the unimportant and focus on what matters most. The resulting simplicity creates an energizing foundation for organizational growth. As a leader, you have more power in this moment than you realize… and the actions you take now will impact your organizational growth well into the future. So, shift your thinking from survival to simplicity. You’ll be glad you did. 

Burdened by a complex marketing strategy and struggling to pivot? Stop trying to do what worked before and shift to simplicity. Not sure how? Let’s talk. 

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