Less is More

A great article in this week’s New Yorker passed on by my good friend Jerry Solomon, talks about an issue that business advisors and consultants the world over (this one included) have been preaching for months.

The importance of using the recession as an opportunity to grow your business - not as a reason to freeze it in place.

The article highlights several powerful examples of brands and products that leap-frogged the competition because their owners were prepared to invest, when all around them were cutting back and hanging on.

But, as the writer points out, it’s easy to “miss the boat” when you’re worried that you might “sink the boat” in the process. And when push comes to shove, that fear outweighs the potential upside for most business owners.

So business owners talk about innovation but end up in fact doing less of the same thing. One of the reasons is because it’s much easier to do less of something than to do more of something.

Cut back. Reduce. Consolidate. When you start with 100 and go down, you have a built in scale by which to measure your progress. Going the other way is much less certain.

The answer? Make doing less of something a positive.

So today, worry less. About money, for instance.

No matter how much time you spend worrying about money, there are only so many things you can do every day to improve your company’s financial prospects. And worrying all day long clouds your judgement and restricts your ability for original thinking.

So schedule two dedicated times each day to focus all of your attention, energy and anxiety on finances. Then put the issue away in between. The freedom will liberate you and you’ll see more clearly which ideas are worth developing on their own merits, confident you’ll worry about their financial impact later.

Addition through subtraction indeed.

Credit Where Credit Is Due: I was taught this technique by Jennifer Hamady who understands why people do what they do better than anyone I know.