As we move into another year and everyone is busily making their New Year’s resolutions, I for one will remember an adage that has served me well over my entrepreneurial career – Less Is More.
What’s Less Is More?
Essentially it is the theory that to get more done one must do less. Seems counterintuitive for entrepreneurs who are used to wearing all the hats, often at the same time, as they juggle multiple balls – but if you think of it from a quality versus quantity perspective it makes more sense. When I spend quality time focusing on just one thing at a time I find that I do a great job at that one thing and that the other things also managed to get done.
Balance in Life Drives Experience
My first experience, before I even knew there was such a theory as Less Is More was when I was in one of my first entrepreneurial ventures more than 20 years ago. I had just bought out all of my partners to take 100% control of a financial services firm and had just had my 2nd son born. I wanted to experience what raising my sons first-hand would be like so I decided to take every Friday off. That way my wife could take some time for herself on that day and I could take care of the boys, learn their daily routine and experience them growing. This created some interesting results that I hadn’t really anticipated in my business. By taking Fridays off it forced me to delegate more responsibilities than I probably would have at that stage of business development – thereby creating my first “Less Is More” experience as the business continued to grow and I was actually doing less in it on a daily basis.
The 2nd thing I realized is that if there was a major business issue that I was dealing with then come Thursday afternoon I would park it and return to it on Monday – I didn’t try to work through it when I was on family or personal time. I soon realized however that often on Monday mornings when I switched back into work mode I had come up with a solution to the issue – that my sub-conscious had continued to work on the issue and put the pieces together that my conscious mind was missing. I soon got better at making the Thursday afternoon transition by actually wrapping a challenge around an issue or opportunity for my sub-conscious mind to deal with over the next 80 hours and hopefully present me with the solution on Monday mornings. It didn’t always work – but more often than not my best business ideas were arrived at this way. This was also my first experience of working “on” the business and not “in” the business, another definite “Less is More” benefit.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
So if taking Fridays off is good then taking a whole month off is better – right? I got to ask myself that question as my wife and I were expecting out third child and she wanted to start her Master’s in Organizational Development. The course entailed her spending a whole month away in Seattle to do the course over 3 July’s in a row (and then all of the reading, writing and correspondence work in between). So I made the commitment to take each July off to take care of our family and my employees again took on more responsibilities to manage and grow the business. Again – it was a beneficial “Less Is More” result for my family, myself and my business, as all three grew and balanced each other. Of course lots of planning and preparation went into each upcoming July, but I found that if I gave my employees the ability to make decisions themselves within the framework of our business goals, values and mission then they thrived, not only in July but year-round. Sure they made mistakes, but never the same one twice as they learnt and grew from the experiences. At the end of that 3rd year my business was recognized for its first of 3 appearances in Profit magazines “Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Canada” – not bad for a benefit from “Less is More”.
Formalizing the Less is More Experience
So as I look into my 2013 crystal ball for myself I continue to see organizing my life around creating a “Less Is More” balance. Whether it is planning out Focus Days, Free Days and Buffer Days as Dan Richards of the Strategic Coach (http://www.strategiccoach.com ) taught me 18 years ago to nurture and grow my business successes; de-cluttering the “stuff” in my house as my wife has taught me from her “FlyLady” experiences (http://flylady.net/ ); or identifying one or two key friendships to deepen rather than carry-on a shallower relationships with more “friends”, I look forward to continuing a “Less is More” attitude and hope that other entrepreneurs can achieve their own success this way in this in 2013!