Is it possible to run a business, in the online space, while practising minimalism? Before I answer that, let me clarify that I am still learning to consciously apply the principles of minimalism in different areas of my life. It’s an idea that has fascinated me for the longest time.
Coming to minimalism in business, I believe this is a combination of practical wisdom and the right mindset when it comes to each business. The more I explore this domain, the more I am convinced that there are broad guidelines that can work for all of us.
On Social Media and Technology
Let me speak about the first facet of minimalism in the online space and that is the intentional use of technology and social media to reach your audience. The challenge with using social media is, of course, the fact that it can very easily become a tool of distraction instead of a way to connect with your people. How can we change this?
If you are a solo business owner, take stock of the number of social media channels you use right now. Are you on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or more channels? Evaluate which channel works the best for you and your voice. Pick just one channel and start focusing on that one for a reasonable time frame — say 3 to 6 months.
Next, ask yourself how you can be minimalist in the way you create/post content. Creating content is a beautiful process that you can lose yourself in. It’s the most powerful way to connect with your audience. Take the time to craft your ideas and then post them to your channel. Also make the time to respond kindly to your comments and messages. When you do this for just one channel, it feels like a joy rather than a chore.
Third, use minimalism in the way you consume content. I’ve learnt that the most effective way to achieve this is to use my laptop to consume social media content. I am far less likely to fall into infinite scrolling or idle browsing mode when I do this. Setting a timer for 15 minutes is also very effective in minimizing the time you spend online.
Ultimately, learn to let go of social media channels that don’t serve your purpose. This will narrow your focus, enhance your creativity and help you build stronger connections.
The Power of Quiet Consistency
A while ago, during a market research conversation with a few clients, Dagny Sol told me that she sees me as a business coach. I must admit this surprised me because I’d never seen myself as a business coach! (Also, this is why I recommend market research as an integral part of business growth)
Marketing your business can feel overwhelming or like you need to ‘get your voice heard’ above the cacophony of noise in the digital space. How then do you learn to convey your message without resorting to uncomfortable tactics?
Pick one platform and show up regularly there. The platform can be on your own website or on social media; that’s immaterial. What’s more relevant is your consistency. When you show up with consistency, the right people find your messaging and gravitate towards you. Consistency could be as simple as once per week or it could be as frequent as 5 times a week. You get to decide that.
As you show up, stay open to the wisdom and experiences of your natural rhythms and voice. Learn to do things that feel right for you, even if they go against mainstream advice and marketing. (Personal example — not using hashtags or not making reels)
We’ve been fed this belief that we must reach a 6-figure income in 6 months. Actually, we’ve been convinced that if it does not happen, we’re doing something wrong. Instead, track your tiny wins and your gradual progress as a reflection of your overall growth.
Whether it’s your personal, spiritual journey or your business strategy, trust in the minimalist process. There’s more to be gained from this awareness than trying to keep up with the rest of the world.
Practical Steps to Infuse Minimalism into your Business
Let’s say you’re looking to launch a new business. Or perhaps you’re looking to dial back the amount of time and money you spend on your business and are seeking a more minimalist approach.
As a brand new business owner, you should be practical as well as frugal when it comes to outbound expenses. Some of these will be necessary and fall under the category of investments. These could include a domain (annual charge), hosting (if you choose self-hosted WordPress, I recommend Chemicloud) and a booking calendar if you’re a coach or service provider (I trust Acuity; but you can find alternatives like Calendly and Tidycal too).
That’s it. Nothing else. Pretty much everything else can be used on the free plan. This includes Canva, Mailerlite for your email service provider (their free plan is robust at 1000 unique subscribers) and even Gumroad for selling your courses and e-books.
When I decided to step back from social media in June-July on a sabbatical this year, the first things I looked at were my ongoing expenses in business. Where could I scale back and minimize costs? Where could I better invest my time without compromising on the quality of my business?
In addition to the above, I spend on a Google Workplace account which houses my email and all related Google services under a single bracket of expenses. All told, I now spend about $60 per month on my business. I stopped paying for stock photography, social media scheduling tools such as Buffer and Tailwind, my Medium subscription and even paid Zoom.
Now, here’s the more realistic aspect of minimalism in the digital space and that’s taking stock of how many websites you visit or use daily. The more websites you visit, the greater your likelihood of spending tons of time (or money). Instead, let’s try to narrow our focus and bring energy into what we do well.
Using RescueTime showed me that I was spending a lot of time on the following sites between January and May of 2021: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin
Once I embarked on my sabbatical in June and July, the numbers shifted and now I spent more time on these sites: Google Calendar, Google Docs, Anchor.fm and my own website
When I then compared my business growth and productive output between these two periods, I noticed two things:
1. The lesser time I spent on social media, the more in tune I was with my business
2. My business actually thrived and did better when I had fewer distracting things in my sphere of focus
If you feel compelled to spend money on the next fancy tool or gadget or scheduling software, take a step back and pause. Ask yourself if this investment is really going to help you or if it’s just going to make you feel like you achieved something.
Remember, thinking about going for a walk is not quite the same as actually lacing up your shoes and heading out.
I’m a content & productivity coach with over 14 years of writing, blogging and social media experience. Read my story & more about my work here.
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Originally published at https://shailajav.com on September 14, 2021.