Build an Efficient Business Through the Art of Subtraction

by Thom Tracy

3 min read

It may seem counter-intuitive to think of subtraction as growth, but in the small business world, less can be more. Less brand dilution leads to a more robust product that generates more sales. If you subtract the products and processes that soak up time and money without contributing to your bottom line, you can build your brand and turn subtraction into addition.

What Is the Art of Subtraction?

Subtraction is a simple process of deduction, but the art of subtraction is all about the way it’s done. You have to know what you’ve got and what you need before you can start taking things away.Many athletes have the speed, power, and agility to make themselves contenders in several different athletic pursuits. It’s when they stop preparing for all sports and focus on training for one sport that they can go from being all-around athletes to world-class athletes.The same concept applies to small business. Strategic subtraction allows you to focus your efforts and strengthen your product, brand, and financial standing.

Should You Subtract From Your Product Line?

Take a good look at your inventory from a sales history perspective. Your top-selling offerings are golden, but the products and services that consistently land at the bottom of the sales charts are candidates for the chopping block. These low performers add little to your bottom line, and they can detract from the credibility of your best sellers. Hang onto the products that define your business, and eliminate the ones that don’t. Shoppers don’t expect to find sugar-laden ice cream shakes at a health-drink bar. Although this option appeals to a wider category of consumers, it confuses your regular health-drink customers and causes them to question your commitment to healthy products.

Tighten Up Your Marketing and Sales Channels

How do you market your product, and how do you get your product to market? Take a microscope to your choice of sales channels and strategies for marketing, and find out which processes work for you.Each sales channel has its own benefits, but not every channel is suited to your business. An effective combination of direct and indirect sales puts you in a position reach a wider market of potential customers. Too many sales channels drain the budget. If your catalogue sales are dropping while the cost of printing is climbing, it may be time to let go of that channel. If it doesn’t pay its own way, it isn’t working. You may find that it’s more effective to cut back to storefront and online marketplace sales. Don’t try to reach everyone on the planet with your marketing campaign. Cut back, and focus your efforts on promoting and selling to your target market. Your costs will be lower, and your returns will be higher. When you align your product with a clear consistent message, you are marketing for success.

Applying the Art of Subtraction

Before you diversify, keep in mind that quality and consistency build strength and drive growth. You have to draw the line at subtracting any materials or processes that make a product great. If you deliver a mediocre product, your customers will subtract their loyalty. You can’t be everything to every consumer. It’s pointless to try. If you attempt to accommodate the whims of each and every customer, you run the risk of overextending yourself and diluting your brand. You’re better served by focusing on delivering a limited line of quality products that impress your customers, establish your identity,and build your brand equity. As the momentum of brand equity starts to roll and create buzz, you find that outside resources are promoting sales for you. Make your choices, make your mark, and make more money.

References & Resources

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