KISS your business.
Why it isn’t as complicated as you thought to build a Fun business
The KISS principle was announced by a US presidential candidate a while ago. It stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid”. I think it was George Bush senior who referred to it when talking about the economy in the eighties.
I want to tell you about the most basic principles of good business and I was inspired to talk about this after hearing Seth Godin, the American marketing guru and business brain talk some time ago.
Seth Godin always has a brilliant ability to distil things that seem complex down to their most basic essence.
This is one of Seth’s brilliantly simple quotes:
To be successful in business you only have to do two things:
- Deliver a Great Product
- Make sure lots of people know about it.
Talk about the KISS principle… it really is that simple, although you should be very careful and not confuse the word “simple” with the word “easy” because simple is rarely easy.
Someone else who had an amazing ability to zero in on the essence of stuff was Albert Einstein. Einstein sad this:
“Make things as simple as possible but no simpler.”
So let’s make business as simple as possible but no simpler.
The process of business
At its most simple level, business is the process of obtaining something for a certain cost and then selling it to someone for an increased cost.
Don’t confuse that statement with the Purpose of business, but it does define the process of business. So if we want to practice business the simple way, we must constantly ask ourselves how we can stay as close as possible to that simplicity.
What is the simplest way to run the process of business?
I believe there are 10 key questions you need to answer as simply as possible to do Business the Simple Way:
- Why does my business exist? (Purpose)
- How do we make money in my business? (Business Model)
- Where are we going and how are we going to get there? (Goals and Planning)
- How do we manage our numbers? (Financial management and measurement)
- How do we find our customers and help them buy our stuff? (Marketing and Sales)
- How do we produce and deliver our stuff? (Products and services)
- How do we run the business as a consistent machine? (Management)
- How do we ensure consistency and continual improvements in our products or services (Systems and Processes)
- How do we find and keep the best people? (Staff)
- What does it mean to for me to run a business? (Leadership)
I think that the work of the business owner is to be constantly looking for the simplest answers to those ten questions.
To illustrate what I’m talking about, lets have a look at one of my favourite customers and how simply he answers the ten questions for his business.
John owns a small chain of supermarkets, and those of you who have read my books might recognise him from one of the business bedtime stories.
- The simplest answer that John has for question 1 is this: We make it easy for our customers to access a range of quality foods
- At question 2, John says: We make money by buying our many lines at wholesale prices and selling them at retail prices. We have extensive and ongoing negotiations with our suppliers to get the best prices from them so that we can maintain our margins while being competitive with other supermarkets.
- We want to have established 50 stores in NSW by 2030 and we plan to get there by expanding 1 store at a time and not moving forward until the last addition to the stable is profitable.
- We are always measuring and comparing against benchmarks across the whole of the business.
- We are established locally and each store operates in a small local area. New customers come to us by word of mouth because of how easy it is for them to access a large range of quality foods.
- We constantly look to find new suppliers with interesting and high quality foods that are not available in the major supermarkets
- We hold regular staff meetings and performance reviews at all levels and our systems are all geared for regularity and repeatability
- We have created manuals and systems for all jobs in the business and train staff in the use of the manuals. We have regular meetings to explore opportunities for improvement.
- My staff and customers know that we are always on the lookout for great new people to join the team. I pay my people well and give them lots of challenges and opportunities to develop. I also offer opportunities for career advancement within the business. I do not hire external managers, rather I train and promote from within.
- I see myself as a servant of my people. It is my role to give them the greatest opportunities to grow, develop and do well.
Why don’t you pick one of the ten questions and see how you can answer it in the simplest way possible?
Working your way through answering all of those ten questions will in a short succinct statement, honestly and succinctly, without marketing gobbledegook or legalese… straight from the heart, will change your business and start you on the road to building a business that is fun and that sustains you for years to come… I promise you.