4 Ways Do-It-Yourself Entrepreneurs Can (and Should) Keep Things Simple
If you're new to the DIY business model, make sure to do things the right way to protect your sanity.
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The world of entrepreneurship can seem extremely complex. After all, entrepreneurs have a lot of different responsibilities on their plates. From developing products and services to managing contractors and marketing campaigns, the to-do list can seem never-ending.
Despite this, the oft-quoted cliche, "Keep it simple, stupid," still has great meaning for entrepreneurs — especially those who bring a do-it-yourself attitude to their work. By streamlining your focus and keeping things simple, you will avoid getting stressed out and burned out. Here's a guide for tapping into your inner DIY entrepreneur.
1. Focus on the one thing your business does best
One of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make is trying to be all things to all people. They want to provide an incredibly wide range of products and services in an effort to draw in a huge audience from their target industry. The problem is that this usually results in doing a mediocre job in a lot of areas, rather than doing one thing really well.
This is perfectly illustrated in a case study from George Deeb, managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures. As he notes in an article on this site, the difference between a failed and successful pitch was having a single area of focus. The company that was successful had a clear vision: being an e-commerce seller of restaurant furniture. The company that was rejected had five different areas they wanted to focus on, including ad sales, e-commerce and artificial intelligence.
Having so many diverging services requires several distinct business strategies. It's a sure way to spread your resources too thin. Focusing on a single core competency will allow you to innovate and specialize so you can offer something better than the competition.
Related: 4 DIY Marketing Tips for Empty-Wallet Entrepreneurs
2. Automate whenever possible
You only have so many hours in a day. Which entrepreneurial tasks are most deserving of your time? You don't want to waste precious hours digging through analytics data or doing mundane tasks that take your focus away from the activities that will help you better appeal to your target audience.
Automation tools can help entrepreneurs better use their time and even take over for tasks that might otherwise be too complex to figure out on their own. For example, one tool that I've seen work for many entrepreneurs who sell digital products is Kajabi, an all-in-one solution that streamlines website design, marketing campaign launches and more.
In a case study found on the company's website, motivational speaker Chalene Johnson created a 30-day push challenge, providing a series of videos to help students with goal-setting. The Kajabi system automatically delivered the sequence of videos to students, regardless of when they signed up, allowing Johnson to put more focus on creating quality video content. The resulting campaign inspired more than 75,000 people join and ultimately became a successful list-building tool that she used again for the next five years.
3. Make things easy for your target audience
In a guest blog for Virgin, Charlie Marshall, founder of Loaf, explains that his company uses what they call "the Mum test: Is the website so simple that even my mum can use it? Would this newsletter make her smile? Would she get what we're trying to say? If functionality is intuitive for the non-tech savvy, the likelihood is that the majority of customers will have an enjoyable and easy experience."
Lead generation is just one area where the value of simplicity becomes readily apparent. Many landing pages will feature a form asking customers to submit information to sign up for a newsletter, schedule a call and so on. While gathering information is an essential part of the sales process, asking for too much data can easily cause customers to give up on filling out the form entirely.
According to Dan Shewan of WordStream, landing page form-conversion rates experience a sharp drop-off when they include more than seven fields. Only asking for the information you absolutely need simplifies the process for your audience and will improve conversion rates. This same principle applies to online checkout and other customer-facing areas — the fewer steps your target audience has to go through, the more likely they are to convert.
4. Have a plan for future growth
You may be able to handle the bulk of the work now, while your company is still relatively small. But what happens when you start to grow? The more hats you take on as your business expands, the harder it is to excel in all areas. You'll end up with less and time and energy for the things that matter most. You may even lose passion for your startup as your work-life balance starts to slip away. This is where having a plan makes all the difference.
Will you hire full-time employees? Bring in a partner? Outsource? Working with a co-founder can be a great way to spread the load so that you can both specialize in your areas of expertise and avoid burnout. According to data from SmallBizTrends, startups with two founders enjoy three times the user growth of single-founder businesses. They are also 19 percent less likely to fall victim to premature scaling, which is a common contributor to startup failure.
Related: 8 DIY Tools You Need to Get Your Business Off the Ground
Simplicity should ultimately become a way of being for your business. By taking steps to streamline your internal operations and make things easier for your customers, you will be able to enhance productivity and do a better job of reaching your target audience than ever before.