I often come across things that are too complicated – usually it’s because people are trying hard to give all information, but that doesn’t change the impact on your audience.
If it is too hard to understand the message people get bored or impatient and go elsewhere; at best, they will contact you with unnecessary questions because that’s easier than searching the website or document for answers.
‘there are limits to how much super you can contribute each year’ (my version)
is easier to read than ‘legislation states people making superannuation contributions above certain prescribed maximums that vary between the types of contributions will be penalised’ (a complex version I read).
‘In Australia, you can see an optometrist without a referral. However, you will need a referral to see an ophthalmologist.‘ (my version)
is simpler than ‘No referral is necessary in Australia to see an optometrist or if needed with an ophthalmologist (you’ll need a referral from an optometrist or from your doctor for this)’. (from a complex article written for lay people)
‘ABC provides telephone support to customers at our discretion’ (my version)
is simpler than ‘ABC will provide Telephone Support at its sole option and for as long and for such hours as it may decide Telephone Support for the Customer.’ (from a contact us page, and let’s ignore that it doesn’t even make sense and doesn’t need all those capital letters!)
* Chemical structure courtesy of BigStockPhotos
Simplicity is great – cutting back on the clutter and staying calm.
Last Friday, Susan Oakes posted about simplicity in marketing in which she listed a number of ways to judge if you are overwhelmed and need to simplify a bit. Go ahead and read the list then come back to read my post – it’s ok, I’ll wait for you!
How many things on that list resonated with you? You’re not alone as many of us are overwhelmed, on a short or long term basis.
Like many people, I find that a big list of things to do or pile of papers is overwhelming to the point that you can’t see how to fix it.
The truth is you probably can’t fix it as a whole – but if you attack bits of the pile you will see it disappear. Like I replied to Susan, I found it overwhelming to think of employing someone or outsourcing a lot of things so I just found one thing to outsource (bookkeeping as it happens) and then another and another. Each task clears a little of my load and helps me see past the pile of stuff.
I strongly believe that approaching things step by step is the best option in most cases.
By no means have I fully simplified my life and stopped any sense of overwhelm.
However, I thought I’d share a few ideas that have helped me simplify and gain some time and control back. Hopefully the list will not only help you but inspire you to share more ideas as a comment…
As well as wishing you well for the year ahead, I want to share some ideas for starting 2012 in a way that will establish a great business year. No matter what has come before, you can set some good foundations for your business (and life!) now and make your life a bit easier.
What can you get rid of – maybe there are time wasters you can stop or activities that would be better outsourced, or perhaps you offer a product or service that costs more than it brings in.
What can you simplify? A complex pricing structure may be unnecessary or perhaps there is no real need for some steps in your packing or ordering process.
Now is a great time to review last year and think about simplifying and streamlining your business
Having procedures in place saves you money and time, allows you to get more help and writing them often shows up improvements to your method. Consistency is important for many aspects of business, and procedures are the easiest way to ensure things are done consistently (as long as your team uses them anyway!)
Taking time to also standardise document codes and updating, repeated communications (think of those emails and letters you write over and over) and having clear terms and conditions will also save you time throughout the year, and probably give you a better result as well.
The financial success of your business obviously closely relates to how much profit you make from each sale so pricing is a critical balance between being acceptable to clients and generating enough profit.
When reviewing your prices, take into account new or increased costs (including flood levy, higher Victorian electricity rates and potential carbon tax impacts), competitor prices (don’t just copy them but take note of what others are doing), changes you have made (e.g. if you give greater value or have reduced costs maybe your prices need to reflect that), use of newer technology (including social media expectations and possibly updating your website for mobile access) and reasonable profit margins.
A price review can take time and it may be better introduced later (such as after the carbon tax comes into effect) but a new year is often a good time to assess things and make the necessary decisions.
Remember to look at the support activities around your business as part of your streamlining. These tasks don’t directly bring in any income so reducing the time you spend on them gives you more time to generate income, and if you outsource them they will usually be cheaper services than things like design or IT work.
Hire a cleaner once a fortnight, get a junior in once a month for filing, get bulk stationery delivered, pay someone to run errands (deposit cheques, grab stationery, buy stamps, stock up supplies, etc) once a month, and so on.
Of course, if this time of year is quiet for your business, now is also a good time to think, get creative and plan for the next 12 months. Taking a week or two now to make adjustments and plan ahead is a good investment – don’t feel you have to be outwardly productive to be a good business week.
Enjoy looking at your business in a new way, have a fantastic 2012 and use your words wisely!