The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, January 13, 2014

Simplicity Trumps Complexity


by Mike Reid


Finding simplicity amongst complexity is an art form and the artistry in business, is to keep it simple.

What do you want to be known for?

Think of this like the top 3 or 4 things you want the world to think of when your name or industry comes up. It’s a very simple, practical guiding light for every business decision you make. Take Richard Branson. What is he known for:

- Shaking up old industries (commonly coined ‘disruptive’
- He disrupts the industry status quo and brings competition to industries with incumbents that hold the lion’s share of the market and have a history of providing poor quality service to customers.
- Championing the consumer?
- Creating fun, amazing places for people to work?
- Providing great customer service?

Every business Branson ever started (all 200+ of them) were started on these simple tenets. Consequently he is now known for these three or four things. The sheer size and complexity of the Virgin Empire is enormous, but when you boil it down to these ‘building blocks’ it’s actually remarkably simple.

What’s your mission or purpose?

Why do you do what you do? What lights you up? Where do you draw personal power, freedom and self-expression from? What two themes or values, when they intersect, reveal great purpose and higher meaning for you? These are just some of the questions one can inspect when it comes to finding purpose.

In his biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs is quoted as saying:

“I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics. Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”


He later adapted that to saying he stood at the “intersection of liberal arts and technology”. It was this metaphorical ‘space’ where he drew purpose and direction for everything he did in business – from Apple to Pixar to NEXT Computer.

Niche Thyself

In his best-selling book, “The Art of the Start“, Guy Kawasaki refers to this as the holy grail for any startup business. Niching requires you to acquire a PhD in your customer’s problems (And because its a niche, its a narrow set of problems – you just need to understand the intricacies and nuances of that set very, very well). If you’re an accountant providing all types of accounting services to all types of businesses, then your message is going to get lost. A medium-sized company turning over $20M+ with hundreds of staff is going to have a very different set of accounting problems to a solopreneur life coach turning over $100K per year. Yet if you say you target both then the message you broadcast to the marketplace through your website copy, email copy, brochures, networking and sales conversations is going to tick some boxes for both but all boxes for neither one. Instead, boil your market’s problems down to the top three or four – these become the building blocks of the message you broadcast to the marketplace.

The key takeaway here is, for everything that ‘fronts’ the marketplace – keep it simple. This predominantly comes down to your sales and marketing. Behind the scenes of any business there are complexities to deal with – granted – but don’t take them to market with you. Keeping your message clear and simple has massive benefits:

1. It keeps you going. When things get tough, if your message is clear and simple, then it lets you see the forest for the trees when the day-to-day bogs you down?

2. It provides greater cut-through with your customers. People resonate with you more. If you can demonstrate you understand your clients better than they understand themselves, they immediately listen to what you have to say and are more likely to buy your products or take your advice as a result?

3. It’s easier to attract clients. Simplicity promotes share-ability. A simple message is far more shareable than a contrived one. For example: Boost Juice creates, healthy juices that are good for you – how simple is that? It’s so simple, I might just tell my friends about it…?

4. It’s easier to do strategic JV’s and partnerships. Partners need to get what you’re on about as much as your customers do. Doing great partnerships is essential for scaling any business and especially your small business.

So, morale to the story….keep it simple.

Mike Reid is one of the team behind Key Person of Influence | Australia and leads their strategic partnerships across the country – Visit: – www.keypersonofinfluence.com.au

Want to learn more?

KPI are running their accredited 8-hour Brand Accelerator event in February 2014 with some of Australia’s most well respected entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

Melbourne | 7th February
Sydney | 13th February
Brisbane | 28th February

As one of their event partners, KPI has offered our readers a 40% discount on the retail ticket price, with sale ticket prices starting from $39 for general admission.

Book your ticket for the KPI 8 hour Brand Accelerator | Business Strategy Day

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