Why minimalism in business is important

Paring down to-do lists and meetings can help an entrepreneur

The average age of the UAE workforce is now under 30 according to Nadia Global. Bloomberg
The average age of the UAE workforce is now under 30 according to Nadia Global. Bloomberg

My 20-year-old shopaholic self would never have imagined a day where half of my closet would be empty, or that I would have a number of empty drawers that I didn’t feel the urge to fill. But here I am, surrounded by things I truly value, and not just want. I no longer shop on impulse and think twice before purchasing an item. Minimalism extended to other parts of my life, most importantly my business.

My journey with minimalism started around three years ago, when I began to read and learn more about it, and its importance, not only when it comes to décor, but also in different aspects of our lives.

With businesses, and especially start-ups, entrepreneurs don’t give minimalism much importance. Doing more, having more goals, more items on our to-do list, hiring more people, getting that bigger space, are supposed to bring more success and ensure a faster route to it.

When I first got on the entrepreneurship bandwagon, I was so good at making long to-do lists. In fact, I felt out of purpose, and unaccomplished when I had a short one, or if I was too busy to make one at all. My to-do lists, just like my dreams, were very ambitious, and often left me and my team burned out. It crammed our time with so many things, without much focus.

Minimalism is all about “less is more”. Three years on, it’s still challenging to continuously apply that concept across all my business activities. When I first started applying it, I began with minimising one of our company’s service menus. We did not need to be offering all of those services, especially when a couple of them did not yield any profit. So, we re-structured that service menu, and ended up with a one all team members felt right about. That was what we wanted to offer, services that we were passionate about, and which are profitable.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure we could have saved more money, and ensured more profitability had we been more minimal or done less in several aspects. For example, one of the things that many entrepreneurs do is hire a lot of staff fast, and often compromise on quality. I would suggest to take your time and think through this process. There could be alternative solutions. Many great companies, achieve so much when they utilise their tasks, and do more with less. In one of our companies, we completely work with freelancers on project-by-project basis. Having full-time staff made no business sense at all.

Moving on, instead of starting with offering a wide range of products and increasing your costs, start with fewer products, and work your way up. New products can then be added, when you have penetrated the market and have a loyal customer base.

Clear out your schedule. Meet less people if you could. Not every meeting requires a face-to-face encounter and moving across town to talk about something that could be done over email or via a phone call. I wasted so much time commuting from one meeting to the next, waiting for a late colleague, when a lot of these meetings could have been done over the phone, saving me time to focus on other important aspects of the business. Evaluate which meetings are best done in person, and which are best done over the phone.

Set more targeted yearly and quarterly goals. In one of our companies, I remember how we had set some crazy quarterly goals. Of course, we weren’t able to meet all of them, and that automatically made us feel frustrated and unaccomplished. Having more goals doesn’t necessarily equate to more success. Set a few, but targeted goals and focus on those.

Last but not least, make minimalism a habit in your business. It’s not a one-time project. You have to build on it and make it your company’s culture.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi

Published: March 31, 2019 08:00 AM


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