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In Business, Simpler Is Better

The simpler the better. It’s one of the oldest maxims in existence, and a phrase we can all relate to. After all, who likes doing convoluted, cluttered, confused business? Clear, simple, clever is far better.

The irony is that many SMEs agree with the adage but do the opposite. In their desperation to appear more than the sum of their parts, they send mixed messages. They oversell. They try to do ten things at once. They dilute their brand.

You see it all the time, from the advertising in a shop storefront to the writing on a website. Lots of words, very little meaning. Text weighed down by adverbs. Services numbering in the dozens. Taglines that come and go like the wind.

Ultimately the consumer is left to sift through the wreckage. But consumers have short memories. The upshot? They walk away, forgetting you and never coming back.

Focus Is Key

As Steve Jobs eulogized, focus is all about saying “no”. By focusing your limited energy on a small list of goals you can achieve (whether you’re in the product game or offering a service), you’ll transform the quality of your work.

That’s tough for entrepreneurs with a go-getter attitude and the desire to take on the world. But resist the urge to do more, more, more. Your energy is precious and your time is limited. Doing too much invariably dulls your business’ shine.

Simplicity helps staff

Ask your staff to describe your business in five words or less. Are they giving different answers? That’s a problem.

Staff need to buy into your business as much as you do. But they’ll never succeed if they can’t even identify what makes you great - or the business problem you’re solving.

Why champion a scattershot vision when you can own a discernible identity?

Simplify your message to help your team pull in the same direction.

Marketing lingo is a no

The best writing gets to the point in the fewest number of words. And that’s exactly what consumers appreciate.

Your business should adopt the same principle. Don’t use acronyms, lazy adjectives and adverbs. Simply put, don’t hide behind your words. Simple writing spells confidence while passive, adverb-laden writing is a sign of the opposite. An app like Hemingway is a great way to cull the excess.

In the end, it’s not about being colloquial. It’s about being reader-friendly.

Keep refinement top of mind

Refinement is the key to simplicity. Whether you’re branding your business or generating word-of-mouth exposure, the key message should be honed razor sharp - and kept consistent.

But it’s only by reiterating your elevator pitch that you can you truly say it simply.

Let design work for you

Good brands tell a story. Nike spells empowerment (Just Do It). Apple invites rebellion (Think Different). Their brand design reiterates this message. So should yours.

Pay attention to what you want to say, then say it with the colors, fonts and logo you use. It’s all part of the streamlining process.

To get a look you like, try an app like Canva. It’s a great starter tool for people who don’t design, but know what they like. (Interestingly, its design evangelist is Greg Kawasaki. The same guy that used to work at Apple).

In the end, simpler is better. It spells confidence. And it’s surprisingly rare in business.


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