Marc had built a thriving home building company in Seattle. He and his team were one of the preeminent high end builders, frequently selling homes before they even finished the construction.
But Marc was like a lot of business owners -- he wanted to get more done, faster. As a result, he watered down his company's focus on too many things and had too many partially completed projects in the works.
The core concept to remember is that less gets you more when scaling your company.
In fact, here are the three "less is more" concepts that will help you grow faster, and to sustain that growth over time.
Less Is More Concept #1: Clarity
Knowing who you serve and what they really buy from you makes a dramatic difference.
How many times have you observed a company investing time and money to provide a customer with a bell and whistle that the customer doesn't care about. Think about what it would mean for that company to instead take the savings from eliminating that portion of the product or service, and using it to create real value for their customer.
Remember, value is always in the eye of the customer. They get to decide this. This is why it's a critical first step that you and your entire team get concretely clear on what they truly care about. Their hopes... aspirations... fears... frustrations... world view.
In the picture below you'll see an example of a tool my company uses to help get clear on what matters most to our target customers. Now we are a business coaching company with our target market North American companies with sales between $1- 25 million per year who want to not only grow, but to also greatly reduce owner reliance so they can sustain that growth. This helps the company scale, or allows the owner to eventually sell for a higher price, or to even transition to owning his or her company passively.
Caption: Sample tool to clarify what your target customers really care about: their desires, aspirations, frustrations, fears, and opportunities. Use this example to help you clarify your own strategic thinking.
So what about with your company? Who is it you really serve and what do they really care about?
Less Is More Concept #2: Focus
Focus by definition means a narrowing down of your attention.
Take the example of Sasha Ablitt, owner of Ablitt's Fine Cleaners, the dominant dry cleaner in Santa Barbara, CA. When we first started working with her she had a laundry list (couldn't resist the pun) of "to do's" for her business.
One of the toughest things for her to embrace was that by focusing on fewer of those items that were likely to make a bigger impact, and actually letting go of many of the other items on the list, her business could grow.
"I own a mature second generation service business," says Ablitt. "Not only have we grown sales by 25 percent over the past two years, which is a big deal in our business, but my team is better and our systems are stronger."
This growth was in large part due to Ablitt and her team focusing on a few of her top business growth opportunities. This allowed her to cut her marginal business development tactics and reinvest the saved time and money into her best winners.
What are those "fewer, better" things for your company to focus on? Equally important, what are those less valuable "good" things that suck up resources that would be better invested elsewhere? What are 3 things you personally can add to your "stop doing" list? What are 3 things that your business can add to its stop doing list?
Less Is More Concept #3: Execution and Accountability
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits you'll company will enjoy from following this less is more strategy is that with fewer truly important things that you're focused on, execution and accountability becomes easier and more clear.
You no longer have a dozen KPIs to focus on, rather you have 2-3 metrics to obsess on improving.
You no longer have twenty projects to monitor with your direct reports, you have a short list of those few projects that they're working on that, done well, will really make a big impact on your company.
You no longer have pages of tasks cluttering your to do lists. This makes it easier for you to find blocks of time in which to focus and get meaningful chunks of work done that actually progresses your business versus just allowing you to cross a task off as complete.
The bottom line is that you don't scale a business by doing "more", you successfully scale a business by do doing a lot more of less.