December 13, 2012
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I recently read a quote by Richard Branson, Founder and chairman of Virgin Group, that resonated with me:
Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.”
Like Branson, over the years I’ve also learned that there is a real power in simplicity; simply cutting through all the fancy words and sugar coating and getting right down to the juicy core. Yet what I see often (and what I used to do myself) is business owners making their companies and lives a whole lot more complicated than necessary.
Generally, the habit to over-complicate stems from assumptions many entrepreneurs make in the early days of doing our “own thing.” We expect entrepreneurship to be hard and challenging, so in our expectations we often create that very experience for ourselves.
The temptation is: “In order to stay ahead of my competition, I should be offering a dazzling array of services and products, skillfully leveraging every marketing channel known to mankind and engaging with the most elaborate and “superfluous” language to really wow my customers.”
Yet herein lies the problem: It’s exhausting! Your good intentions often have the opposite effect of confusing customers and distilling your impact.
Whether you’ve just started a business or are in your growth stage I strongly recommend regular “simplicity checks” to make sure you’re not wasting your valuable time stuck in a web of complexity.
Not only can simplifying areas of your business be the very thing your business needs to move forward financially and regain control; when you’re in control, you’ll be happier and “show up” more passionately and energetically — that’s when the real magic starts to happen.
If you’re striving to make your business more simple, here are a few common areas to start with:
1. Brand slogan and pitch
Can you succinctly tell me in less than 60 seconds what your business is about? So many small business owners get this wrong and it’s incredibly damaging. Rather than becoming an enticing hook to pull customers in, they create an icy ocean of distance between them.
Step into your customers shoes and ask yourself: what is it they really want from me? What is it I’m really giving them?
For example: If you’re a personal life organizer, that in itself isn’t interesting to customers. But the fact that you will help them to free up an extra two evenings a week so they can spend more time with their family and be a happier, more ‘present’ mom is an attractive value proposition. This transformation needs to be at the heart of your slogan and pitch.
To identify the transformation your business gives your customers, first clearly state the facts of what you do and then ask yourself ” I run my business so my customers can can do and/or have what?” Keep asking the same question until you get to the heart of what you’re giving them (the transformation). Use the template below as a guide:
I provide services and products (description of services/product)______________to (description of customer)______________so they can______________and ______________(continue the ‘so they can’ part until you really target the heart of the transformation).
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