For the Sake of Simplicity & Sanity

 
For the Sake of Simplicity & Sanity — What Marie Kondo can teach us about running a small business
 

Like just about everyone else in the world, recently I've been tuning into Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. And besides cringing at how much junk people collect, picking up some new folding tips and wondering how I can incorporate more long skirts into my wardrobe (jk, leggings forever), what really resonates with me is the value of less stuff and more intention.

These days you can integrate every appliance in your house, use your home security system to spy on the delivery man, and tell Alexa to turn down your thermostat from across the room. And yet we have less time than ever. In a world that champions more, bigger, faster, busier, blah.. it's refreshing to see people go the other way. It's the same reason I can't get enough of all those tiny house shows on HGTV.

Less but better. Simple but intentional.

INTEGRATIONS + SEGMENTS + ZAPS, OH MY!

This culture of more gets really tricky in business, especially with new apps and tech emerging all the time. When I started my business in 2016, I felt behind before I even started. Besides the actual necessities of starting a business, all these fancy extras kept creeping in.

NEED Typeform so I can have beautiful questionnaires for my business. I NEED If This Then That to push my instagram posts automatically to Twitter. I NEED Zapier to send potential customers to specific groups on my Mailchimp list. I NEED to segment my Mailchimp list so I know what people want to hear about and only email them about those things.

But do I? Do we really?

Now, believe me, I love automating things wherever I can to save time. My time is precious as a one-woman business and soon-to-be mamapreneur, and so is yours. This is why I created Illustrator Essentials, my Brand Guidelines Template and Balanced Branding—to save creatives and designers time while running their businesses and days with less effort and more intention.

Yes, there are absolutely times when learning shortcuts and getting fancy with your business tools can really benefit you. But there are also times when adding additional layers just makes things more complicated. And what you thought would help you level up and make life easier just adds more to your ever-growing to-do list.

EMAIL GROUPS GONE AWRY

This recently came into focus for me with my email newsletter list. Before when people would sign up, I asked them what they wanted to hear about from me and I provided options like free brand insights, Illustrator Essentials, Balanced Branding, etc etc. Whatever options they chose would add them to a fancy little newsletter segment. Then—in theory—I would email all the right people about only the things they cared about.

Pretty cool, right?

That little gem took me a while to figure out and I was pretty pleased with myself once I finally got it working. Except it didn't work—not for me.

What ended up happening is I'd get all paranoid not wanting to bother people. And after I launched something and didn't have anything else to say about it, people kept signing up to hear about it. And I just ignored them. What it really came down to was me not talking to half my subscribers because I couldn't wrap my brain around all the groups and segments and combinations.

It was all too much. I'm one just one person. And maybe this whole strategy would work well in a larger company with a dedicated copywriter and marketing team, but my business is as small as they come—just me—and I just don't have the capacity or the need to make talking to my people so complicated.

LET IT GO

So a strategy that felt so advanced and professional and noteworthy ended up not serving me well at all. I was wrong. It happens. Granted, sometimes we need these missteps to realize where the right path is for us. So channeling Marie Kondo, I thanked those email segments and I let them go. I just deleted them all. Permanently. Poof. Gone.

Taking that massive step to simplify was terrifying and cathartic all at the same time. The whole time I had all those “but what if I need them??” thoughts, but I pushed through. Constantly reminding myself, less but better. Simple but intentional. I'm feeling so much lighter now. And now I can wrap my head around communicating with my people in a way that's better for all of us.

All this to say, if you realize you were wrong about something in life or business, it's okay. If you see that something you once cherished isn't serving you anymore, it happens. Thank it and let it go.

We're all learning and growing here. Realizing your missteps helps reveal your true path. Getting rid of the wrong stuff makes more room for what matters. Simplifying is a beautiful thing, especially when it helps us save time and take back our precious sanity.


Note: This post was originally sent to my newsletter subscribers a few weeks ago. They receive all my content first, along with other exclusive goodies. If my insights resonate with you, subscribe and I'll happily pop in your inbox with posts like this one. Cheers!