The power of subtraction
Part 1 of series: Growth begins with you – watch the introduction here.
Goodbyes can be hard. Knowing when it is the right time to say goodbye is even harder. As female entrepreneurs we are skilled at juggling priorities and managing the many demands on our time, efforts and emotions. Yet we are so busy keeping all the balls in the air, that sometimes we forget to stop and think about which balls we can put down.
Letting go of what no longer brings value and supports our purpose should come naturally, it should feel normal. So why do we find it so hard to say goodbye, to take away the things that no longer work, whether that be partners (business or personal), suppliers, clients, products or commercial space?
I believe it’s time to say hello to a new way of thinking – the power of subtraction.
Decluttering your business
I’ve written previously about the value of giving up the things we hold on to unnecessarily in business. By doing this, we give the things we love and value space to flourish, Marie Kondo style. Whilst her KonMari Method was not developed as a business model, there’s much we can learn as entrepreneurs when it comes to letting go of the ideas / people / processes / clients that no longer fit.
- Accept that something has served its purpose, and give thanks for its service. This last part is key – as women we sometimesfind it hard to let go, but by giving thanks we can acknowledge that the thing we are saying goodbye to was once important. If it no longer is, then keeping it in your business is taking up space where growth could be
- Practise kintsugi – golden joinery – the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold; imperfections become part of history yet can still be beautiful. Recognise the strength of things that remain fundamentally right, but that are not working their best right now. Review, repair, recycle – do what you need to, to restore their intrinsic value and reason, ensuring the golden thread of purpose, i.e the your own Kintsugi principle, runs through what you do.
- Understand what truly ‘sparks joy’ with you, your customer and all that work to make your business happen. Celebate what unifies all of your stakeholders. People follow and focus on what is most important and what you celebrate as one is more important than you think!
Climbing up means putting things down
As someone who loves the outdoors, I like to use the analogy of climbing Mount Everest when working with business leaders who are overwhelmed by ‘stuff’.
There are four camps on the ascent to Mount Everest. Camp 4 is where you depart for the final 48 hours of climbing before reaching the summit. This is the moment that everything that has come before has been building up to. You would not be here if you had not planned and struggled through the three camps below. But on this final, crucial push it is not necessary to take everything with you that got you here. Weighing yourself down with equipment that was essential to get to this point will not necessarily help your onward ascent no matter how important it has become to you.
Take on only what you need. Take away the things that no longer serve your journey. Remember that growth is like a series of waves – or a series of base camps – each one different from the last, requiring a different approach and different equipment.
Growing smarter with subtraction
Every business starts out with a growth plan of some description. Ideally a well-defined and realistic one, once your big idea has moved from being a dream into a driving force. The best growth plans evolve and adapt, staying agile as you move towards your vision of change. They themselves grow. They should be an anchor with a long chain spooling outwards, not a deadweight pulling you back, holding you down.
It’s time to take away what’s not serving your journey to the change you wish to make..
This is exactly how Merel’s growth story reads. Reshaping her company’s operations manual to place the customer truly at the heart of everything, was an important step on the growth journey for Wyseminds entrepreneur Merel Rumping, founder of orthopaedic care brand Profort. By letting go of the accepted way of doing things, by placing purpose ahead of process, she created a business blueprint that was more easily replicable for future growth.
“We had to take a step back, as a team, and assess together how we could add more value, work smarter by further standardising our processes. I knew that both this team as well as future teams would benefit from this clarity, creating space and freedom, allowing me to maintain my mindset that I really can make anything happen.”
Merel Rumping, Founder of Carewithinreach
Power up, power on
If you’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed, and can’t see how to take your business on to the next exciting stage of growth, it’s time to stop and review. Think about the values and vision you had when you set out from base camp. Does your unique and founding purpose still shine through everything you do, like a kintsugi golden thread? What are you doing that does not spark joy?
Wyseminds has supported countless female entrepreneurs in taking their businesses forward by saying goodbye to things that are no longer adding value. Why not book a virtual coffee with our founder Julie to find out how we can support you to do the same?
In the final blog of this ‘Growth begins with you’ trilogy, I’ll be considering the potential problem of holding on to the growth wave for too long. Knowing when to regroup and refocus your business is vital if you are to retain its driving purpose at the heart of every decision and action you take.