To Prune or not to Prune?

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Some of you may be old enough to remember Kevin Heinze ruthlessly pruning roses with a hedge trimmer on his television show ‘Sow What’. It looked like he was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but the point was to encourage new growth and there is a takeaway message for business owners. By pruning back the ‘dead wood’ in your business you can accelerate your growth.

In the start-up phase of a business, some entrepreneurs may try to look like one of the ‘big players’ in order to compete against more established competitors. They may rapidly expand their offering which may be impressive on the website, but sometimes these choices can be a mistake. In business, less is often more.

​Below we outline five areas in your business where you should consider some ruthless pruning, allowing your business to send out new shoots and flourish.

1. Hone Your Offering:

It is not necessary to offer the widest choice of products or services, just a few outstanding products or services, clearly outlined, delivered and targeted to the right market is more effective than the scatter gun approach. Develop deep relationships with the select clients, suppliers and partners who will help your business grow.

2. Incoming Information:

As business owners we are constantly flooded with information from media, mail, email and social media. Considering that nearly a third of an average work week is used up in reading and responding to emails, it is important to use these channels wisely.

a) Unsubscribe from anything that doesn’t offer value or solid information for your business. Services like can provide help with this task.

b) Turn off your notifications including those from your social media (because you have already selected a time each day to check that regularly). It is estimated that it takes around 23 minutes to return to a task from which you have been interrupted.

c) Most email is disposable. Make time to deal with emails once or twice a day and stick to it. Deal with emails using the following steps:

i) Do – if it requires action, do the task right now.
ii) Delegate – Forward it to the person taking the action.
iii) Defer – actionable but not urgent, add it a folder for later action.
iv) Delete – If you don’t need it get rid of it.
v) File – emails you will need for reference should be moved to archives.

3. Meetings:

Meetings are a necessary evil but can be dynamite time wasters. If someone asked to borrow $200 you would ask what it was for wouldn’t you? Same goes for meetings. By asking for your time, meetings are asking for your money. So you want to know what they are for, whether they are necessary and what outcome you can expect up front. Keep staff meetings to an agenda, and don’t invite any more people than necessary. Make sure even a casual coffee meeting has a purpose and a time limit. This goes for online meetings as well.
Ruthless Pruning

4. Trim the Peripherals:

Customers are busy people too. Don’t include too much information in your advertising, your emails, flyers or your presentations. A one page quote is more likely to be read than a five page quote or proposal.

5. Processes:

​It is easy to introduce unnecessary processes and red tape into a business particularly once an entrepreneur has expanded enough to let control go to employees. Adequate checks and assurances must be in place but look for areas in your business where you can trim back unnecessary processes.

As an entrepreneur it is important to schedule enough time to sit back and look at the business in ‘big picture’ terms. By regularly reviewing and pruning back or streamlining your business, processes and work habits you have a higher chance of fostering new abundant growth in the future.

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