Overcomplicating Your Business

One of my favourite sayings comes from a very strange source, Coco Chanel.  Coco was the French designer behind the famous Chanel brand.  She once said, “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

I remind myself of this statement at least once a week, sometimes more.

People have a tendency to overcomplicate things and this is particularly problematic when it comes to the nexus of technology and business.  I know I’m guilty of this myself at times and the volume of people I see struggle with this is unbelievable.

Because I work in technology, I get a front row seat to watch people take problems and design the most complicated and convoluted systems imaginable to try and solve them.  I now absolutely believe that many people, when faced with two solutions, one simple and one complex, will often choose the complex solution for no reason whatsoever.

These folks then justify that choice by talking about future options and a bunch of technical mumbo-jumbo.

With technology people though, you might expect that.  It’s why so many technology projects go over on time and budget – the requirements are underestimated and the solution becomes unnecessarily complex.

But business owners, especially online, are bad for this as well.  To get some evidence for this, just watch them talk about their funnel or their automation systems and see how quickly you find yourself dazed and confused.  If you really want some fun, ask them to explain what everything does and why.

Funnels were the online marketing flavour of the month in 2015 – these complicated monstrosities were built out for the sole purpose of trying to extract maximum dollars out of any poor SOB that got trapped in its gravitational pull.  Buying a front end product in one of these labyrinthine contraptions leads you down a seemingly never-ending path of upsells, downsells and cross-sells to the point where you’re almost willing to pay to make it stop.

I once bought a $9 eBook and had to click through 11 different offers to just get to the end of the funnel and get what I paid for.  I didn’t even download the eBook, I just sent the person an email asking for a refund – it was infuriating to go through.

What I described above is malicious marketing.  The person doing the selling is treating the buyer like a wallet with feet.  While this is prevalent, it’s not the most common situation.

What you normally see are people overcomplicating their business process, trying to boil the ocean.  They start thinking of every single iteration and variable imaginable of how a customer might come into their world and they start building out things to accommodate that.

This is the absolute fastest way to overwhelm yourself and get nothing done.

When I started Casual Marketer, I intentionally did the opposite of this.

I focused on just a few things – you can sign up for a daily email and you can buy the monthly physical newsletter.  That was it, really simple.

As the newsletters began to be published I started selling back issues.  This was a pretty easy process, one page where they can select which issues they want and buy them.

Eventually, I added the ability to get access to my coaching program.  Again, very simple just one page.

A simple to set up, run and operate business will always be easier to manage and increases your likelihood to get a positive return on your investment of time and money.  This is even truer when you’re a casual marketer building this business as a side hustle.

My challenge to you over the weekend is to look at your business or whatever you’re doing online and find the places where you’ve built in unnecessary complexity that isn’t serving a purpose for you right now.  Come up with plans to simplify those pieces and make your business more agile and easier to run.

Remember, “Simplicity is the keynote of true elegance.”

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