Your Minimalist Business

A minimalist business is uncluttered, deeply niched, automated, with a simple, profitable business model based on your strengths. See previous posts for what that looks like.

Other than being part of a fad, why would you do this?

You will be more profitable. You will have more capacity within your business to work on interesting projects. Your business will be more valuable, if you choose to sell it. You will love your business again because it will be fun and easy.

You will have more time

When your space is uncluttered, it is easier to find things. Automation will free your time. Delivering only what is most valuable takes less time.

You will have more energy

Automation frees you from worrying about the details. Working from your strengths means better results from less effort. Loose ends, clutter, bloat and non-clarity all suck your energy.

You will have more money

Focusing on a single deep niche means you can charge more. A business model that gets at the heart of what your customers want and your strengths is very profitable. Automation usually saves money, when done appropriately and well, take the time to do it right.

I’m sold, now what?

Start where you feel the most pain – time, money or energy. Look for the low hanging fruit. I find working on these projects in that first hour of the day is essential to accomplishing anything. You’ll still feel like you have run out of time at the end of the day, but you will be making progress to a better business.

Your business can be this simple. Stay tuned for a deeper discussions.

Join a community of other small business owners just like you at the Business Owners Success Club.


What is a Minimalist Business Part VI – Automated

There are so many opportunities to automate that if you are like everyone else, and of course you are, then you are overwhelmed. “There’s an app for that.” is part of our lexicon now. Which is great when you need your phone to be a flashlight or alerts about the weather while you are traveling. When you  feel like you spend every minute of the day doing what you do, trying to find the time to figure out better ways of doing that feels impossible.

Here’s the thing, every time you do it, you free up more time to work on what is most important. That gives you more results with less effort.

When you automate tasks that are done over and over, you create capacity to offer custom experiences in the areas of your business where it matters most. Most people don’t need or want a customized approach to buying your offering. They want a standard, automated process. They do want their questions answered about how your solution applies to their particular situation.

Free your mind of worrying or keeping track of things that recur. Automate bill paying; schedule notices to be sent; pop up reminders, searchable filing systems, one-click processes. All of these are ways to clear out the clutter in your brain to focus on what is most important.

Make it easier for your customers to engage with you. Let them schedule their own appointments, make the buying or engagement process easy, make it painless to share your story. Use automation tools to monitor your social media so you can be a part of the conversation.


Take it one step at a time. Look at all the things you do.for the things that take your focus away from where you give the most value. Look for things that suck your energy. Look for things that create bottlenecks.

Ask others what they automate and what they recommend.

Gather a couple of you to create a mastermind group to explore one piece at a time – together. You can pool resources and share best practices. You can take turns being the guinea pig.

Your business can be this simple. Stay tuned for a deeper discussion in Part VII.

What is a Minimalist Business Part V – Profitable Business Model

Make sure your business model is profitable. You would think this would go without saying, but it doesn’t.  A profitable business model is laser focused on providing predictable clear value to a defined group of eager people.

The reality we are working in is that times are tough. People are struggling and they don’t part with their money easily. As business owners, our response is to pile on the value. We believe in what we do and we believe that if only people try it, they will get the benefit. In doing this we forget that not everyone wants the same value, so we give everyone the works and we lose sight of the cost to us. That’s how a business model gets bloated.

Stay focused on providing the benefits that your select group of business owners value.

Your business can be this simple. Stay tuned for a deeper discussion in Part VI.

What is a Minimalist Business Part IV – Strengths based

Working from your strengths is using leverage. You will get better results with less effort. You will give better results making your customers even happier.

You will enjoy your work, encouraging you to focus more, get better and enjoy your work even more. We revel in gaining mastery and in doing our best. We experience flow ( when we are working from our strengths. Flow is that wonderful place where we are so wrapped up in what we are doing, it feels like time stands still.

Your business sweet spot is that convergence of your strengths, your passions and what people need. It’s amazing how often your passion and your strengths converge. In fact it’s hard to know which comes first, your passion or your strength. When you are passionate you work harder, and the better you become, the more passionate you become.

A Minimalist Business built upon your strengths (and passions) will be easier to keep focused, will be more profitable and easier for you to manage.

Your business can be this simple. Stay tuned for a deeper discussion in Part V.

What is a Minimalist Business Part III – Deeply Niched

A minimalist Business is deeply niched and that means it provides one service. A deeply niched business knows their customers well and the exact problem the business can solve for their customers. They know their customer’s needs, fears, aspirations and dreams. They know how to find their customers, what to say to them and what offer will make them buy. The deeply niched business focuses all their attention on becoming experts at understanding and empathizing with their customers and the problem they solve

The deeply niched business focuses all their attention on becoming experts at the solution they provide. They learn and practice until they are experts.They gather stories, case studies and best practices. It becomes easier to do the work and make their customer happy. The deeply niched business can charge more per hour because of efficiencies or because of competencies.

With a deeply niched business, one of two things happens: the business becomes very efficient and does volume business or they become the type of specialists that offer a service that goes deep for a small number of customers.

Your business can be this simple. Stay tuned for a deeper discussion in Part IV.

What is a Minimalist Business Part II – Uncluttered

The common perception of minimalism is about an uncluttered space. The outcome of decluttering space is an uncluttered life. Today we are talking about business. What does uncluttered look like in business?

Certainly, it’s our space. An uncluttered space makes it easy to move, to think and be creative. An uncluttered space makes it easier to focus on the task at hand, not on all the other things to be done. An uncluttered space is more welcoming to our customers. Think about shops and offices you have visited.

Work towards an uncluttered value proposition and business model. The fad these days is to pile on the bonuses like extra reports, ebooks and videos. Or to upsell, cross-sell and package our offerings. While these strategies  make the offer seem more valuable, they also feel bloated and come with obligations to store, manage or consumes these extras. Companies that focus on one thing and do it really well, thrive. Think about the Chicken Burger restaurant or Pete’s Frootique. You know what you will get there and you are not disappointed. Both of these have been around for decades and continue to thrive.

Having our mind uncluttered means we can focus deeply on what is most important at the moment. We choose that particular task because it gives us the most value in reaching where we want to be. We can do this by automating repetitive tasks and by storing things we need to remember in the most important place outside of our brain.

An uncluttered customer relationship is one where both sides are clear on what to expect and those expectations are met or exceeded. Communications are anticipated and provide what the customer is looking for. For instance weekly flyers from the grocery store. People who shop sales, look for them.

The hardest part of creating an uncluttered business is being clear on what we offer, to whom and how. After that, we can strip away the rest and focus on what is most important to reach those goals.

Your business can be this simple. Stay tuned for a deeper discussion in Part III.

Minimalist Business

Minimalism is a hot topic and trend these days. It’s as much a rejection of consumerism and bad business practices (environmental, labour and greed) as it is a by-product of income disparity. It grows out of mistrust of business motives and a desire to take back the control of our lives. When a famous book about eating right starts by saying “Eat food..” and then the author concedes that that may be harder than it should be because the food we are sold is not only or always food, we can be forgiven for wanting to take control from corporations and back into our own (or our neighbour’s)  hands.

Most businesses start as minimalist businesses by necessity: focused, spare and simple. Very quickly business owners are told all they must do to be in business (see Dangerous Lies we tell Small Business Owners). We stop focusing on providing the best product or service to our customer and work on building systems, writing a marketing plan and creating return policies.

Pretty soon we are so mired in the everyday details of managing our business that we begin to see those pesky customers as distractions. We work longer and harder for less and fewer results.

Lets get back to the basics. What is a Minimalist Business?

It’s a business where the focus is on providing awesome service to our customers. There are no distractions. You and the business are running under capacity, it is transparent and open, automated, conducive, with a clear, simple, value-laden business model.

Yes, but, I hear you say, My business isn’t that simple, my customers/my service/my community are… etc. While every business is unique they all share the fundamental basics of value exchange. You provide a service (maybe in the form of a product) and your customers pay for it.

Your business can be this simple. Stay tuned for a deeper discussion in Part II.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Book Summary and Riff

The Gifts of Imperfection Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are

by Brene Brown

This book is about living a wholehearted life. As always, I think about business. As I read this book, I was thinking about what it means to live a wholehearted business.  I have already written about your mindful business. Let’s explore wholehearted business.

This post started out being a summary of the book and ended up being a mashup of Bene Brown’s book on wholehearted living and my thoughts on wholehearted business. Any mistakes or flawed logic are mine. All the good stuff is her’s. Italicized text are quotes.

Living wholeheartedly

How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a wholehearted life: loving ourselves

Head work is important, but heart work is just as important. Your business needs to make sense (cents) as well as feed your soul.

Courage, compassion and connection are daily practices. My favourite virtues and the ones by which I run my business are courage, truth, wisdom and beauty. Sometimes I lose sight of those as I get sucked into the day-to-day, making-the-mortgage rat race of small business. When I do, I find myself and my business spiralling into an abyss.  Every time I stop myself and focus again on those virtues, my world opens up, money flows again and the anxiety melts away. The more human, courageous, compassionate and connected I am in business, the more successful I become.

Courage to do the right/compassionate/vulnerable thing. Courage to show ourselves as less than perfect.  The reality is we are not perfect, so our business is not perfect. Pretending to be, means we are lying and everyone hates a liar.

Compassion involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The heart of compassion is really acceptance

Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgement to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgement to giving help.

This may be one of the hardest lessons for small business owners to learn. Part of the difficulty we have with delegation is around not being willing to let go and not being willing to receive help. I took part in a discussion the other day where one business owner talked about getting help from a number of people. Her business is a very community-minded social business. Another business owner asked about how she managed those relationships so no one felt taken advantage of. Her answer was – cookies. She makes awesome cookies. That discussion opened my eyes to how I don’t ask for help enough. I’ve looked at that first business owner and seen the amazing progress she has made. That discussion is a clue to the reason why.

Can we love others more than we love ourselves?

If we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, we have to talk about the things that get in the way – especially shame, fear and vulnerability.

We want the how-to and it is very alluring, yet we are still standing in the same place. We have to clear what’s in the way. It’s not that we don’t know how to be happy, it’s that we do the things that make us unhappy. Like feel shame, afraid and alone. Everyone struggles in their business. This is where comparing my insides with other people’s outsides makes me feel like I’m not doing as well as everyone else. I must be a really lousy business owner. So who am I to offer to help people with their business…. You get the picture. You’ve probably said the same things. Loving and accepting ourselves is the best thing we can do for ourselves and the people we want to help.

In the same way that we all know how to eat well, yet it’s a struggle to do it all the time; we all know how to make our businesses work. Yet, we let the opposites of courage, compassion and connection get in the way – fear and the sense that we need to do this on our own get in the way.

Shame resilience 101

Here are the first 3 things you need to know about shame:

  1. We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection.

  2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame.

  3. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.

We have a tendency to judge our insides by everyone else’s outsides. That leads to feeling inadequate. We feel that our businesses reflect ourselves and if they are less than perfect, then so are we. The myth of the lone entrepreneur overcoming obstacles to reach that pinnacle of success, is just that. A myth. First of all every successful business person uses the word we, not I. They readily tell you that they did not and could not have done it on their own. They will gladly share their failure stories, too. They will tell you that their failures are what lead to their successes.

A wise and very experienced business woman told me about guiding her business through the recession of the 80’s. She said the worse thing was the loneliness and the feeling that she must have done something wrong otherwise her business would have been able to weather the storm better. After is was over, she said she heard the same things from other business people and she promised herself never to let her fear and shame keep her from connecting with other business people.

Guilt = I did something bad

Shame = I am bad

When our businesses are less than perfect – and whose business is perfect? – we don’t feel we did something wrong or made a few bad decisions and we certainly don’t feel that it’s the ecosystem we are in, no, we feel there is something wrong with us. We are bad business people.Too many business owners ask me if they should get an MBA so they can be a better business owner. We are sold the idea that we need to master marketing, operations, HR and finance. No one can do that. So we feel shame that we are not good enough.


Guideposts to Shame resilience

Cultivating Authenticity. Authenticity is a practice. We can let our business reflect who we really are. It’s what makes people want to do business with us rather than someone else. Staying true to ourselves is the hardest battle we will have.

Get Deliberate: Face into your uniqueness and practice awareness of it

Get Inspired: Look around you to other business people who are practicing their uniqueness and take courage from their example.

Get Going: recognize when you begin to slip away from your authentic self. Give yourself a little space and gently allow yourself to be yourself.

Cultivating Self-Compassion. Perfectionism is the unhealthy expectation of never making a misstep. Striving to be your best and to improve, are positive endeavours. The best businesses have a healthy doses of the unknown, messiness and letting go. We need to be able to accept in ourselves the compassion we share with others. You would never tell a friend that they were stupid for making that decision in their business, so why do we feel it’s okay for ourselves. Perfectionism is contagious and we end up infecting everyone around us creating critical and charged environments.

Get Deliberate:Listen to your self talk and if you wouldn’t say it to a friend don’t say it to yourself

Get Inspired: Imperfections are not inadequacies, they are reminders that we’re all in this together.

Get Going: Have a replacement mantra for when we feel our critical self-talk begin.


Cultivating a Resilient Spirit. Resiliency is that capacity we build so we can draw on it when needed. Recognizing and building a community around you that you can draw upon when you need help. The ability to ask for that help and receive it. So, hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them and believing in our abilities. Hope is learned. From experience, we can squash our hope, and therefore our resilience by focussing on the times we didn’t follow through with goals we set rather than applaud our courage in trying many things and focusing on the ones we did accomplish.There’s a difference between thinking we deserve something and the knowledge that we can accomplish it. One of the ways we deal with these feelings of shame is to numb. Any behaviour that has a whiff of addiction is eligible. Facebook, anyone? Email checking. Bad eating, work a holism, another podcast? all of these. when we numb the dark, we numb the light.

Get Deliberate: Food your body, mind, spirit and community every day.

Get Inspired: Hang out with people who have a resilient spirit.

Get Going: Develop a practice that nourishes you.


Cultivating Gratitude and Joy. These go hand in hand. Having feelings of gratitude gives you feelings of joy. When you are feeling grateful for your customers do you treat them differently than when you don’t. The answer for most people is yes. Don’t let this become another thing to fail at. No one feels joy and gratitude all the time. The opposite is fear and scarcity. When we are working from a place of scarcity and fear, we make decisions that are based on protecting, hoarding and saving rather than on generosity (which always ‘pays’ more in the end), openness (which invites collaboration and support) and investing (which multiplies).

Get Deliberate: Recognize when we are acting out of fear and making decisions based on fear. Replace those feelings with gratitude and feel the joy.

Get Inspired: Recognize and acknowledge the small moments of joy. Celebrate. That’s something we don’t do enough, especially in business!

Get Going: create a gratitude practice.


Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith. Intuition is not a single way of knowing – it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith and reason. What gets in the way is our need for certainty. We need the facts! the process happens without our consciously following it. Faith is also about letting go of uncertainty and trusting. You know more than you think you do. You have accomplished things that you didn’t think you could when you started them, but you did.

Get Deliberate: When you begin to feel the anxiety of uncertainty, lean into it. Give yourself some breathing room to let it wash over you and come back to a still place. Then listen to your intuition.

Get Inspired:

Get Going: Allow intuition and trust to guide you for small things and build from there.


Cultivating Creativity. There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. The only unique contribution we will make in this world will be born of our creativity. If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. The more you let that side of you out the richer your business will be. By that I don’t mean rich in money, although it is inevitable that money will follow. James Altucher talks about our ideas muscle. He advocates spending time every day to come up with 10 ideas for the sole purpose of exercising that muscle. I consider myself to be a very creative person, whether or not I’m doing ‘art’. I did try to avoid using the words creative and bookkeeper in the same sentence, because sometimes people would misconstrue. I was and remain a creative bookkeeper and business strategist. I think this is one of the most underrated competencies in business and one that flies out the door the more stressed we are. That’s when we need it most.

Get Deliberate: Carve out time to be creative. Bring creativity to all you do.

Get Inspired: Connect with other people practicing creativity.

Get Going: Take a class. Explore widely. Pick up magazines in things you’ve never looked into before. Bird carving? Cabinet making? Jewelry making? Pottery? Yup, there’s a magazine for that and very likely you will find a copy at your local library.


Cultivating Play and Rest. Our best ideas come when we play and rest. We are living in an epidemic of sleep deprivation. We cannot do our best work when we are tired, cranky and strung out. Play and rest are the antidotes. In these days of our self-worth being tied to our net-worth and our worshipping at the altar of productivity, we revere workaholism.When things aren’t going well, our instinct is to put our heads down and push through. The reality is that the strategy most likely to work is to step back, play, rest and come at it again with renewed energy, creativity and vigour.

Get Deliberate: Get very clear about what the ingredients are for your ideal business. We’re not talking about revenue goals here, but what it feels like for you, your staff, your customers and your community. What is the joy and meaning in your business?

Get Inspired: Watch children closely enough that you see the light bulbs go off as they play. Then go do that.

Get Going: Take something off your to do list and add in play or rest.


Cultivating Calm and Stillness. It’s not about being anxiety-free or even anxiety-averse; [but] anxiety-aware.  ..bring perspective to complicated situations and feel their feelings without reacting to heightened emotions like fear and anger. Slow down and start by making sure you have all the info. Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question. Meditation comes to mind. We’re supposed to focus on something (an object, image or mantra) and if our minds wander, we should gently and without judgement bring our thoughts back. Holy, moly, IF my mind wanders? It felt like a failure every time. But I came across something that helped the object isn’t about emptying your mind so much as it’s about practicing controlling your thoughts. The whole object of the exercise is to practice focusing our thoughts. That I can get my head around.

Calm and stillness are contagious in the same way anxiety is. One of the paradoxes of time I have found is that the more I slow down, the more time I have. The worst thing to do when I’m up against a deadline is to rush. Invariabley I make mistakes and I can’t engage deeply enough to bring my best. When I take a breath, focus on the task and ignore time, I have enough.

Get Deliberate: Recognize when anxiety is rising and breath.

Get Inspired: Stand up and step away from your desk. Get outside for a 10 minute walk. Your whole perspective, breathing, body language and focus relaxes and engages after that.

Get Going: Take it up a notch and try meditation or regular trips into nature. Allow yourself the luxury of leaning into flow with a hobby or your work.


Cultivating Meaningful Work. Ignoring our gifts and talents eats our soul. This is where bringing your uniqueness into your business feeds you and it means you bring the best of you to play. Some people are able to align their passions with their profits. It takes a strong awareness of what your gifts and talents are, deep work on building a business model around those and then consistent and sustained effort to build that business. It may seem effortless from the outside and certainly with hindsight. In some ways I’m not sure if I will never retire because I love what I do (and I don’t have the savings) or if I have already. I have the luxury of dictating my own schedule. I don’t live a life of conventional success, but I get to choose what success means for me. And you do too.

When we define who/what we are we need to own it. I tell people all the time that I’m not a writer, and yet, I have a published book, I have blogs dating back to 2004 and I spend the majority of my time making sounds with my computer keyboard. It is how I spend most of my working time but I don’t make money that way. We are what we do. I am a writer. and a mom, friend, strategist, community builder, traveller, etc.

Get Deliberate: What does meaningful ‘work’ mean to you. I use quotes because I want to define work as how you spend your time, not how you make money. That may or may not come, but it definitely won’t if you don’t define it.

Get Inspired: I try to take the first hour of every day to work on interesting projects, you know the kind, the ones that we promise ourselves we will get to, once we’re caught up and everything is working properly. After many years of waiting for that time, I decided just to go for it. I find that I can tackle the rest of the day with more joy and creativity.

Get Going: Choose one thing that you want more of and do it. Volunteer, make it a hobby, integrate it into your offerings, write about it, study it – do what it takes to make it a part of your life.


Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance. This is a tough one for me. I used to dance – I was a disco dancer, I took modern dance as a young adult. I have a stack of vinyl records that I haven’t heard in about 2 decades. I’m not telling you this to give away my age, but to indicate how much I have shut this part of my life down. I have a hard time with multiple sources of sound, so I tend not to impose my choices on the rest of the family. I’m . I always feel noticed in public. I don’t dance when all the girls head to the dance floor, because I am 6 ‘ tall, head and shoulders taller

I think (Country)’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, So you think you can Dance and (Country) Idol have created an atmosphere of judgement around dancing and singing. It’s not about joy any more, it’s about how you compare.

I miss singing and dancing for the pure pleasure it brings. I wish I had a story about how I got brave and did it anyway. Maybe I will some day. I’m going to work on that.

The Hopi Indians have a saying, “To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak”

Get Deliberate:I did try to start a women’s modern dance class at the dance school my daughter attends. I will keep trying.

Get Inspired:

Get Going:


This is a book about Wholehearted Living. I’ve taken each piece and applied it to Wholehearted Business. I’ve incorporated Mindful Business and I’m adding this into my exploration of business. I am so interested in your thoughts on this.

How do you make your business wholehearted? Can you have a wholehearted business? What will it take for your business to be wholehearted?

Frances Schagen is a small business innovator rebelling against the MBA model of business management for small business. Join all of us at the Business Owners Success Club for a better way to make Your Effortless Business.

Books in February

I finished 8 books. That’s a big month even for me. Two were audiobooks borrowed from the library. I download them onto the Overdrive app on my phone so that they are very portable. I listen to books when I’m walking and when I’m doing chores.

The only way I can afford my reading habit is because of the library. The other books this time were all library books, too, and all plucked from the front table where the librarians set out a selection. It’s the only way I would have come across Swedish author, Jonas Jonasson or Parisian author, Katherine Pancol. It is interesting to ‘hear’ the slight differences in views, voices and customs. I’m more sensitive to the differences after spending a week with 700 people from around the world at the TEDxSummit. We all bring our own lens, the way our experiences shape the way we see the world. I look for those shades of viewpoints when exploring concepts.

This was a month of shedding old ideas by stepping into other perspectives.

Pond Life: a swimmers journal, by Al Alvarez. I must admit that I put this down because at the start it was pretty much a log of his daily swim: water temp, other swimmers and wildlife. It seemed almost boring, even though I enjoyed the writing, but I have a big enough pile of books to read to feel them looming over me. There comes a point in every book where I make the decision to keep going or dive into the next book. I don’t put a book down lightly. Something drew me back and I’m glad I did. The story that unfolded over several years was one of aging. In fact he describes having several strokes and his determination to continue swimming despite the difficulty in getting around. Let me be clear, he is talking about swimming year round in a pond in London. The idea of swimming in 4C water is daunting, but it made me think about habits, what’s possible and determination.

Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams, read by Martin Freeman. Douglas Adams was a genius at taking an idea and showing you the other side of it. You’ll have to read the book to find out the big flip in this book. His books are full of characters that see the same things and have completely opposite views of what they really are. Listening to Martin Freeman read Restaurant at the end of the Universe, was cool for 2 reasons. He played Arthur Dent in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe movie. The third season of Sherlock went by way too fast and we miss it already.

Hands of Flame by CE Murphy. Yet more books about the ‘other’ races that live among us. We can only see what we can see.  PS if you want a funny story about vampires, read the Fat Vampire series.

The 100 year old man that climbed out the window and disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. This was a thoroughly enjoyable book with an eccentric cast of characters. The story is also about Karl’s life (said 100 year old man). He had great swaths of years and decades that were seemingly lost – one to an alcoholic haze on a beach. It made me feel that it’s okay to be able to sum up a decade with a few sentences. Being able to do that doesn’t mean those years are lost and that it’s hopeless to bother carrying on. We can still do something that matters. There is also the element of living longer. Being able to climb out a window at 100 years old isn’t far fetched. How does that change the way we view our time on earth?

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol. When a book comes out of another country it’s likely to be one of the best. When it is translated, I can’t help but wonder whose voice are we reading? I loved the writing, in fact I stayed up until the wee hours to finish reading the book. This is a book about reinventing oneself and about the more things change the more they stay the same. I know that seems like a contradiction, but I think our core stays the same, while we can change how we navigate the world. We can’t change others or how they relate to us. It’s why we often lose relationships as we change.

Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach. She wrote the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, another ensemble piece set at a hotel. The story is about a retired actor from London being left a B&B in Wales. He decides to trade the city life for town life. His solution to not enough custom opens the doors to interesting people and interactions. Another story about reinvention on one’s own terms.

Walden on Wheels: the open road from debt to freedom, by Ken Ilgunas. When he graduates with a “useless liberal arts degree” and $32,000 debt into a non-existent job market, Ken takes to the wilderness in Alaska to make as much money as he can. Along the way he learns about strength, resilience and determination. This is a true accounting of his life over 6 years. He explores simplicity, the slippery slope and the loneliness of not stepping in tune with the conventional drummer.

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian. This is the second audiobook and, as always, I listened to it over the same time period as reading other books. This makes for interesting juxtapositions. This was another book I almost didn’t finish. The story is based on spousal abuse and a murder suicide. I try to be careful with what goes into my mind. I believe our minds are our most important environment. The story was presented from 4 different perspectives (read by 4 different people). It’s a story of assumptions based on surface information and only seeing what we are looking for.

I didn’t plan to consume a group of books all about reinvention, seeing what we are looking for and determination to be true to ourselves. Then again, maybe that’s what I got out of these books because that’s what I’m exploring now. Maybe if you were to read all of these, you would find a different unifying theme.

I’m Frances Schagen, business strategist and author of Your Effortless Business.

More Sales is NEVER About Marketing

There are only 3 ways to make more sales:

  • Sell more often to your existing customers
  • Sell more each time to your existing customers
  • Sell to more people

Only one of them is about selling to new customers and the most expensive one.

Selling to your existing customers is easy. They already know, like and trust you. You already know them, their situations and their needs. If you need more information how or what to sell them you only need to ask them! For heaven’s sake, just ask.

Make it Easy

The easiest way to sell more often is to make sure your sales process is easy. The less friction there, the more often people will do click the button, contact you or drop by.

Have a way to gently remind your customers. We all get busy. Would you be appreciative or irritated if your mechanic sent you a text or email (your preference) when you are due for an oil change?


Be Valuable

Making bigger sales is about providing all the value you can. Don’t stop when you are getting close. The biggest mistake I made with my bookkeeping service was in not having an easy, predictable way to sit down with our business owners on a regular basis to talk about their business. I knew I needed to do it, but the biggest hurdle was in believing that I could really help. I thought that I had to do it all in a couple of hours so I didn’t charge them too much. That’s impossible. I did a major disservice.

There is a balance that has to be made between providing more service and staying with your focus and your strengths. We were often asked to take on admin roles like sending out letters or being an answering service. We chose not to do those kinds of things because they were not part of our core competency of bookkeeping.

Tell Your Story

Start with your Why. Why you are in business, your values, your beliefs are every bit as important as the mechanics of what you sell. It is what makes you unique (ie your USP or unique selling proposition). “People don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you sell it.”

Tell your story Tell your Story


Own Your Story

I heard about a tea shop that wants to be a quiet place to get away, so they block internet and phone signals. Another tea shop wants to be the place you explore the world so they bring you the most unique teas. You won’t find Earl Grey or Orange Pekoe here.

Tell your story in everything you do. Your place of business, how you communicate, your rituals, your processes, your results are all parts in the way you tell your story.

One of the ways I used to tell our story was to run the Crystal Clear Lunch & Learn series. I believe in the power of community in small business so I created a way to bring us together on a regular basis to hear from and meet local experts.


Preach to the Converted

Convincing people to change is not easy. So why bother even trying. There are too many people who believe what you believe and it is easy to find them now. The more unique you are, the less effective will be mass marketing.

It is so much easier to take people a couple more steps along a path they are already on, than to ask them to switch paths. Hang out where they are, share what you know, and listen to what they have to say. Join that conversation. Never mind all the other people who could use what you offer. They’ll get it or they won’t and they are more likely to ‘get it’ from a friend who is already your customer than from you.


Word of Mouth

is the most powerful way to share your story. which is why you need to turn every one of your customers into…

Raving Fans

These are people who are so blown away with the results you give them, that they couldn’t not tell their friends if you asked them to.


The best way to get more sales is to focus all your attention and resources on your existing customers and make them ecstatic. Work closely and deeply with them to find out what they really need from you and give them that.