Do Fewer Things, Better: Business Philosophy

When building a business, it can be easy to get caught up in all that your business could do. Many new business owners often find that they stretch themselves too thinly. Resulting in them doing nothing well. In the business world, it is all about execution so I have a simple mantra for you to keep in mind. Do fewer things, better.

To put this into practice. Try making a shortlist. My list looks like this.

  1. Decide on what matters the most.
  2. Say no to everything else.
  3. When something falls in the grey area, re-read #2.

Of course, that is easier said than done for most of us. I do struggle to stick to this list sometimes, but I am better. Here are some tips I learned from years of doing my best.

When making Your List, Start with a Low-Level of Abstraction. Resist the temptation to make your list really “high-level”. For a crazy example, one of the things on your priority list should not be “be successful”. What does that even mean? It is far too broad, that you would be able to rationalize almost every activity under the sun.

Try and be specific as you can so that the number of things that “fit” into a manageable number. If you find yourself taking on too much (which most business owners do), refine your filters, and move to a lower level of abstraction.

Forgive Yourself for Saying “No” to Things Not on Your “Fewer Things” List

Forgiving yourself is so important for this. If you run a marketing agency for example and you turn down a PPC project when you specialize in SEO do not feel bad about that. Spreading yourself too thin is going to end up in the worst job done in both. Respect your specialization by saying no when it is outside of your zone.

Remember that Every Time you Say “No” to Something you Might of Said “Yes” to, It Frees up Time to Focus on Other Things that Matter.

The more time you get to spend on the things that matter, the better you get at them. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you say no to some project/request/idea that would have taken “only” a few hours a month because it did not make the “few things that matter” list. And let’s say that one of the things that matter to you is being able to better communicate your message to the world, via public speaking. Those few hours you “saved” can be spent on better refining your message. More speaking gigs often leads to more people influenced. You can then look at different branding opportunities at these events, maybe branded clothing from companies like that can display your logo and help with getting the word out when you are networking.

But wait, that is not all! Not only are you able to do some more public speaking, because you are going to spend more time on it, but you are also going to get better at it. Thus, because you are getting better at it, you will get more speaking opportunities with bigger crowds. Leading to more inspiring and influencing. You are growing leverage by getting better and better at the thing that matters. And it is amazing how much better you will get, once you decide on a specialization of a few things.

Be Careful with Recurring Commitments

If you are going to say yes, every now and then to things that are not on your “things that matter most” list, be careful with any recurring commitments. A one-time deal of 4 hours is much less dangerous than a monthly recurring commitment. This can eat into your important time as a professional when you could be focusing on beating competitors for your service or product.

Ultimately, this is a matter of time management. For business owners, they need to be especially particular with their time. Their time is often already spread extremely thin because of everything they need to keep track of. So, keeping a core list of “things that matter most” can help keep business leaders on track to achieve what they set out to do. Instead of getting caught up with other unimportant stuff.