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Too many things in this life are complicated, we engage in large quantities of work daily a lot of which probably doesn’t have to be done. When I look back at the mountains of work I’ve done in the past to start my business, probably only twenty per cent made a real difference. My aim is to move towards a simpler life, one where we only do the essential. One where we don’t waste precious moments of our life doing stuff that doesn’t need to be done. So when starting a new business, start the way you mean to continue, keep it simple and focus on the bits that really matter.

“Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication” Leonardo Da Vinci

Here is the Minimalist’s Guide to starting a new venture, in 10 simple steps

  1. Focus on strengths
  2. One of the mistakes small business people make is to try and do everything, sales, marketing, accounts you name it they do it. If you want your business to succeed in the shortest possible time, “only do what only you can do” You have strengths to bring to the business, focus on them.

  3. Delegate or Outsource
  4. If you can get anyone else to do the work for you, delegate. I have used my teenage son at times to do graphics and animations for my website. Call in the cavalry and get as much help as possible.

  5. Barter
  6. If you can’t afford to get the experts to do certain work for you, consider offering a service swap. Can you do something for them if they do it for you? A lot of small businesses start in this way. Allowing them to get expert services in return for their time.

  7. Create Alliances
  8. Alliances are another great way to share the workload and get things done by other experts. Maybe there are projects you can work on in conjunction with someone else. Projects that will move forward much more quickly when collaborated on. As I always say it is better to earn half of something than the full amount of nothing!

  9. No distractions – time wasters
  10. Cut out the time wasting activities. Focus on the things that matter. Don’t waste your precious time on social media, yes it is important to create a presence online but it is more important to have a good product or service and to focus on selling it.

  11. Start Paperless
  12. Start the way you mean to continue and get all your bills electronically. Scan all invoices, statements or other documents received. Start an effective paperless filing system from the start you will be glad you took the time at the start to create the paperless office.

  13. Stay Clutter Free
  14. Keep your desk and computer clutter-free. The clearer your desk the clearer your mind. A clean desk allows for greater focus and concentration.

  15. Maintain a Zen Inbox
  16. Keep your inbox clear, every day process your email using the FAT method, by doing this you will create a positive habit of organising your tasks and calendar every day to schedule the important work daily.

  17. Do a Weekly Review
  18. Review your tasks and email weekly and make sure everything is up to date, that you haven’t’ forgotten about anything during the week

  19. Think Simplicity
  20. Also try to keep things simple, often you will find after exhausting numerous complex solutions to a problem the answer is the simplest. Try to make your business and your life as simple as possible. It reduces stress, anxiety and it will leave you calmer more relaxed, happier and definitely happier.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Simplicity, one of the secrets to success
3 Crucial Lessons to Get Stuff Done when Time is Scarce
How to Maintain the Flow when Motivation Fades

22 Responses to The Minimalist Guide to Starting a Business

  1. Bobbi Emel says:

    These 10 tips are great, Ciara, but I love your opening paragraph the most! “Start the way you mean to continue” is the best bit of advice I’ve seen in quite awhile. This has really reminded me to be conscious of what is essential and what is not in my daily work. Thanks!
    Bobbi Emel recently posted…Choosing to bounce backMy Profile

  2. Ciara says:

    Thanks Bobbi, it’s true even if you are not starting out in business these are good practices to implement, I regularly ask myself am I complicating things can I make this more simple?
    Ciara recently posted…The Minimalist Guide to Starting a BusinessMy Profile

  3. Love it – Thinking Simplicity is huge. Most people spend way too much time complicating things for themselves!
    Lori Lynn Smith recently posted…How to set up a Self Sustainability GroupMy Profile

  4. Perfect timing for me Ciara. While I am in the midst of reworking Art Epicurean I find sooo many distractions. Social media being one of the biggest time sappers. Unfortunately I do not the resources to outsource the work but thinking of some creative ways to barter or get a college intern. The technical things are one of biggest challenges since I am on a huge learning curve everytime I want to do something new. But also want to learn the tech stuff so I can update, video, podcasts, etc. Think simplicity – the best tip. Thanks.
    Jane Robinson recently posted…How to write your personal creative mission statementMy Profile

  5. This is a great list, Ciara. I’m going to forward them to my daughter who is starting a business and getting caught on a few of these! Thanks!
    Marilyn Price-Mitchell PhD recently posted…So You Think Your Child’s A Genius?My Profile

  6. Ciara says:

    Great thanks Marilyn I hope she finds it useful, wish her luck with the new venture.
    Ciara recently posted…Top Productivity Bloggers Share their #1 TipMy Profile

  7. Love, love, love this post. Simplicity is the key and i really needed this reminder. I can find myself caught it in so many tasks that are challenging for me. I am now going to barter for services. Thanks – very timely.
    Jane Robinson recently posted…How to write your personal creative mission statementMy Profile

  8. Excellent list Ciara.

    I have never heard anyone mention the Barter method but I think it is a great idea. Sometimes we can give more value with our time, knowledge and skill than we can with any dollar amount.

    I am not familiar with the “FAT” method. Could you direct me to the page where you explain it? =-)

    Clear desk clear mind! I need to just take a leaf blower to my desk right now. It’s amazing I get anything done at all.

    Printing this checklist and stapling it to my monitor right now
    Coach Comeback recently posted…23 Ways To Stop Complaining and Start CreatingMy Profile

  9. Kaylee says:

    These are great tips, Ciara. I think I could definitely delegate/outsource more. With the blog design, for example – I have no idea what I’m doing! It’s kinda fun figuring it out, but my energy would probably be better spent on my strengths.
    Kaylee recently posted…Why You Should Play the Comparison GameMy Profile

  10. Priska says:

    I have started my own business in order to simplify my life. I have particularly focused on staying clutter free (no time wasters) and no distractions ie stay focused one one thing at a time in blocks of time without distractions.

  11. Goodness gracious Ciara. We are in alignment on a TON of stuff. Every time I hear someone else recommend going paperless, I almost want to shout, “Yes. YES!”
    For a very short post, there was some good practical info in it. What are your thoughts on adding an 11th item of doing a weekly planning session to compliment the weekly review session?
    Joel Zaslofsky recently posted…Continuous Creation Challenge: Community Craziness, Experience, and InsightMy Profile

  12. Amit says:

    I just bookmarked this post, so that I remind myself to re-read this sometime in the future.

    I recently spent a few weeks taking the time to re-focus on my strengths – the result: much less stress, more value creation.

  13. Ciara says:

    Good Luck Priska, love the new site by the way.
    Ciara recently posted…Aspire to Email Zen with these 10 tipsMy Profile

  14. Ciara says:

    Yes Joel maybe we will have to challenge each other to go paperless and document the journey?? Can’t wait to read the results of your Continuous Creation Challenge
    Ciara recently posted…Top Productivity Bloggers Share their #1 TipMy Profile

  15. Ciara says:

    Apologies James, I didn’t explain the FAT method. It stands for File, Act or Trash. Every email in your inbox or every piece of paper in your intray can be dealt with in this way. File and Trash are obvious but with Act you need to decide is it an appointment, then it goes into your calendar or if it is a task it goes into your task management system. If it takes less than 2 mins do it now. Maybe I should write a longer post on it!
    Ciara recently posted…Aspire to Email Zen with these 10 tipsMy Profile

  16. Ciara says:

    Well done Amit, I know it’s a difficult process focusing on your strengths and only your strengths. I refocus regularly to make sure I’m not slipping back into the zone of doing what I think I should be doing next to earn money rather than sticking with the stuff that keeps me in the flow.
    Ciara recently posted…Get Set for Success – New 7 Week eCourseMy Profile

  17. Ciara says:

    Hi Ani, its true blogging requires so many different skills which is what makes it interesting and great variety for the extroverts but we all need to be careful we don’t spend too much time away from creating quality content.
    Ciara recently posted…Get Set for Success – New 7 Week eCourseMy Profile

  18. Akshat Sethi says:

    All these tips are necessary for starting a business in a proper and smooth way. Many people don’t take Outsourcing as important step but believe me it is.

  19. Lee J Tyler says:

    I am so allergic to paper. And there is no need to work harder to get things accomplished; just do it. Great advice. Clutter is both a time-suck and energy suck. Love your website and you have an additional subscriber!!!!
    Lee J Tyler recently posted…Wordcount, Hemingway, and M̶e̶ YOUMy Profile

  20. Ciara says:

    Great Lee delighted you’ll be sticking around.
    Ciara recently posted…Need a Mental Boost? Try Classical Music My Profile

  21. Well, guilty as charged on #5 No distractions – time wasters, I’m working on this one. I’m going to try creating alliances — thant one is a good idea. Thanks for the tips!
    Jessica Johnson recently posted…How to Increase Your FICO Score 50 Points in 30 DaysMy Profile

  22. Ciara says:

    Hi Jessica, alliances have definitely worked for me, when you work alone it is one powerful way to step up your business to the next level. Good Luck
    Ciara recently posted…Need a Mental Boost? Try Classical Music My Profile

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