Essentialism.

When I talk with eco-entrepreneurs that have grandiose visions of their future, their impact, the environment, their community, and their life, they always seem to want to do SO much…Unfortunately, if anyone were to pursue all of them at once they would certainly fail at all of them.

Most people that know me well, know that I have been steadily moving towards ultra minimalism. I talk frequently about de-cluttering using a “minimalist challenge” – which is  when you pick a month and for every day of that month you get rid of that many items – i.e. March 1, 1 item, March 2, 2 items… all the way up to March 31, 31 items – out. If you succeed at this challenge, you will have purged, donated or recycled almost 500 items from your life. That’s quite an accomplishment! It’s not easy and it takes a lot of time and energy to get there. I still have a long way to go, however, my personal goal is to own less than 300 items.

Hoarders, shoppers, and anyone that has lived in one place for a long while is probably reading that number in utter shock right now. But, it’s honestly my aim and I’m proudly getting closer to it every year.

So, I’ve recently come across this book – Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown and I’m absolutely a fan in every way.  He gives a proper name for how minimalism ought to function on a personal and professional level. He describes strategies I’ve known to be successful in leading a purpose driven life and for achieving exactly what I set out to do.

When I talk with eco-entrepreneurs that have grandiose visions of their future, their impact, the environment, their community, and their life, they always seem to want to do SO much. They are focused on inclusion, collaboration, partnerships, new methods, new projects, more and more and more. Their ideas are typically all inspired, focus on efficiency, or low-impact, or sharing positivity, and generally socially liberal ideals. Unfortunately, if anyone were to pursue all of them at once they would certainly fail at all of them. Which is why practicing essentialism is imperative.

I’ve read countless articles on the importance of saying “No” and these are good lessons, but essentialism is about a lot more than saying “No” to everything. It’s about designing your business and life so you reach planned and predictable outcomes.  This is how a strong entrepreneur should think. Not all great opportunities are great for you, specifically.  Some will derail or distract you from your mission. Discerning the difference is incredibly important.

I don’t mean to say you you can’t create it all – I mean to say you can’t create it all at the same time. If you are hoping to create a multi-platform venture, you need to choose 1 business model and develop it to profitability in its entirety first. Then move to the second venture after you’ve completed the design and execution of part 1. And then complete the second before moving on to the third and so on.

When people have these dreams of a multi-platform businesses with strong vertical integration, they think they need to develop all of them at once because the others won’t work independently and that the integration is WHY their business will thrive. This is just not true. Each section of your business should be able to thrive independently of the others and it just so happens – that fortunately for you, over time you may be able to reduce costs or transportation pollution or whatever else you dream up by running multiple businesses in the same space. Customers get wide-eyed to the local, sustainable, cozy cottage-industry feel of your business and they feel like they are spending consciously by supporting local economy. But do not confuse practical business development with innovation. They need to work for each other and for you – the owner – not the whimsical idealism of your customers.

Once eco-entrepernuers understand their vision through this lens they should be able to shift their mindset, business model and redirect their energy to more effectively achieve their vision. It must start with one mission, not five.