The other day, my wife wanted to talk to me about a new diet that she was wanting to try called the green coffee bean diet, a diet touted by Dr. Oz. Bless her heart, she is one of millions of people who want to lose weight but has somehow lost sight of the foundations of what makes a diet work. It’s the marketing machine to blame and if the truth was really known, it would put a lot of companies instantly out of business (including Dr. Oz) because the foundations of diet is remarkably simple….
Eat- Meat. Vegetables. Fruit. If you want to lose weight or simply be healthier, if the majority of food you eat daily consists of these things, you most likely will start to lose weight. It isn’t as fun as taking a magic pill, but the results are more probable.
The foundations of cooking delicious meals falls in the same category. A chicken breast is just a chicken breast (boring). But the foundation of cooking good food doesn’t necessarily fall on the food itself but the spices that you use.
So you could say that the foundation of making good food are the spices you work into your dishes. For instance, what makes Mexican food Mexican, are the spices you flavor the dish with. Otherwise, it’s just chicken.
In my mind, the foundations of design is color and symmetry. If you can get those two things right, I believe that the rest is much easier to absorb and your client will be happy. Ironically, when I am tasked with a redesign, typically, I’m not adding stuff but subtracting what is already there and improving the symmetry of the images and text.
Business foundations are even simpler. In order for a business to be successful, all you really need is a product or service that is valued and potential customers that want it. Yeah, there is more to it, but broken down into it’s simplest terms, that is the criteria and the basic foundation of a successful business.
The problem is the marketing machine who are vying for your attention (those in which YOU are the customer.) They don’t want you to think that selling something is really that simple. They want you to think that in order to succeed, your small local business needs a lot of content, you need a facebook page, you need a twitter account, or you need a keyword research tool for SEO, etc..
When I talk about my friend who is running a million dollar plus business selling mattresses on Craigslist with a phone and an ad, this is what I’m talking about. Another buddy of mine sells industrial cables via pay-per-click and does very well for himself. They both understand that the simpler the plan, the quicker they can gauge whether it is going to work or not. If it doesn’t work, they can choose another avenue to finding customers or simply quit while they are ahead.
Why do so many people insist on the complicated?
When I started drunkonlife designs, I pretty much decided that I wouldn’t have a website and my business would be run through referrals and a phone. I could have spent a month building up a website, a Facebook fan page, etc. I could have advertised my services like all the other SEO / design companies do in my area. I could have focused on ranking locally for paying keywords (or started an adwords campaign. I could have done all of those things at first and wasted a bunch of time in the process (potentially)
But instead, my focus was on two things-
- Generating a specialized service for a specific niche that had value
- Using my connections to find the people who would value my service.
Luckily it worked. But my story isn’t the point either. The point is that rather than trying to do too many things at once (and becoming a consumer in the process), if you stick to the foundations, you will never lose sight of what really matters, business wise.
A lot of people may scoff at the simplicity in which I talk about. And to each their own. But I really do believe that if you are struggling, your best bet is to start cutting down to the foundational layer of what you are trying to do. I think that by doing that, you can start to fully realize what your vision is from a very simple perspective. Because simplicity actually works.
But trust me when I say this- Those who are trying to sell you stuff don’t want you to go there.
Image Attribution- http://www.flickr.com/photos/bjornmeansbear/5010984974/