“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

This week, in my Toastmasters club, we shrunk our meeting time from an hour-and-a-half to an hour. Covid caused the loss of almost 70% of the members and, in the years since, we haven’t been able to rebuild the membership. However, the club has still operated as if it were at its pre-Covid size. This has resulted in loyal members doing double duty with meeting and club roles for an extended period. Shrinking the meeting to an hour makes it easier to run with a smaller group. It’s the right size for where the club is at today.

The same thing happens with how businesses interact with the market. Because the owner wants to grow or is trying to survive a financial dip, they’ll take on projects that stretch the business too wide. For example, a small service business will try to look like a larger business by offering the same breadth of services as a larger firm. The further they reach, the more over-extended the team becomes, and the less productive the business becomes. Doing more makes things harder, not better.

This happens within a business too. I run a tiny business with just a few full time employees. Like many small business owner-operators, I wear multiple hats: marketing, sales, CEO, strategy, account management, HR, bookeeper, and etc. They’re mostly small slices of time, a few hours here and there, but there’s a limit on what I can do well. Because of this, I’m continually seeking the essence of what works for each of these roles and limiting the tasks I perform to that essence.

There is always more that you could do. There’s always more that your business could offer. But because your resources are so limited, it’s critical to be selective in what you do and, as important, what you don’t do.