Australia has gone mad for Marie Kondo. Thanks to a Netflix series and four books, this organising guru has achieved the ultimate in marketing milestones – her brand has become a verb.
KonMari (Con-mah-ree), verb.
To radically and systematically declutter and organise everything you own using the KonMari method.
I was a bit sceptical, at first. Thanking every used toner cartridge before tossing it into the bin? And does a stapler really need to ‘spark joy’?
But anyone who has watched the show or read the books will know, those who go through this process gain so much more than just extra space. They gain clarity about how they want to live. With less stuff weighing them down they have more time to focus on enjoying their life.
As I became a bit of a ‘Konvert’, it got me to thinking…
Can the KonMari method be applied to small business?
The KonMari method involves taking stock of all your belongings and mindfully choosing to keep only that which serves you.
Our team of Tenfold coaches mentor our clients to embrace a similar purposeful approach to running their business. It makes sense to ensure that every asset, process and mindset is focused on getting you and your business where you want to go.
The KonMari Process
There are four main stages to the KonMari Method
- Get clear on your vision – What’s the end-game here? What do you want your business life to look like? The more specific you can be, the more you will get out of the process.
- Discard – This is often the hardest part. Rather than just shifting the clutter around, you are challenged to get rid of everything that no longer works for you and your business. Marie evaluates items by asking “Does this spark joy?”. If not, the idea is to ‘thank’ the item for its service and send it on its way. This expression of gratitude often helps to lessen the guilt we feel about discarding items that were, for example, given to you as gifts or cost you a significant investment.
- Organise – Once you are left with just the elements that serve you, find logical and attractive ways to organise and store them so that they are easy to find, use and maintain.
- Make it a habit – This kind of process is not something you will want to have to do again and again. Do it once, do it right and make it part of your daily routine to be organised and tidy in your approach to your business.
Organising by ‘category’
Marie Kondo’s method demands that you attack your clutter by category, getting all items within a category in the same place and dealing with it all at once. This process of facing up to the ‘pile’ leads to greater self-awareness about your business and brand.
Because you have to evaluate each item individually, you’ll quickly gain clarity around your business values and ideals. This gives you confidence and makes it easier to understand whether or not something is a ‘good fit’.
The Categories: what qualifies as business clutter?
There might be several ways to approach this from a business perspective, but one thing Marie Kondo makes clear is that you should start with the easy stuff.
By beginning with a category that you are not particularly attached to (emails for example), you will hone your ability to make fast and rational decisions. That’s a muscle you’ll put to good use when it comes to more sentimental items (e.g. family business legacy items).
Because our digital clutter doesn’t take up much room, it might not seem like an issue… until you are regularly spending half an hour (and hundreds of clicks) hunting for lost documents in that black hole of a filing system you’ve ‘created’. It could also get expensive if you have to keep upgrading your cloud storage or buying more external hard-drives.
Inboxes are notoriously clogged up with alerts, newsletters and promotional emails (most of which we have no intention of opening). Make use of that neglected ‘Unsubscribe’ button!
While you are on a roll, clean up your social media accounts by unfollowing people and communities that no longer inspire you in your business. That should really buy back some scrolling time.
Work-spaces are so often piled up with things that no one needs, uses or even particularly likes. Filing cabinets full of long-forgotten paperwork, USB sticks and CDs that technology (like Dropbox) has made redundant, promotional items from suppliers (sure, you don’t love that branded mug but it was free!) … should I go on?
Physical clutter will not only make it harder to find things (becoming a constant source of mild anxiety), it could also impact on the way customers see your business. Mess and disorganisation can make clients nervous; your workspaces should reflect the care and pride you take in your business more generally.
Humans are famously creatures of habit. There are likely plenty of ‘That’s-just-how-we’ve-always-done-it’ processes in your business that could be streamlined or even eliminated altogether. Take this chance to go through every process in your business. Is there a simpler/easier/cheaper/more enjoyable way to do things?
Old habits can be hard to change! See our guide on 6 actions you can take today to break bad habits.
Product or service clutter
Business owners often find it challenging to let go of service or product lines, even if the demand or profitability is low. Just because your business can provide something, doesn’t mean it must. If a product or service has become a drain on your business, discard it and make room for more profitable and attractive offerings.
‘Someday’ (or maybe) projects clutter
Someone once said, “There are 7 days in the week… and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them”. If you’ve got a long list of ‘maybe’ projects on your to-do list that you just never quite get around to, consider whether you haven’t done these because you don’t really want to. Or perhaps you no longer really believe in them? Edit these down to just the activities that will move your business towards your goals.
Old beliefs or mistakes
This one is hard but it’s also really important. The negative beliefs we hold onto about ourselves and our abilities can put limits on our success. Spend some time listening to the way you talk to yourself. Look for the proof: is that self-belief still true (if it ever was)?
Similarly, letting go of past mistakes is a key part of adopting an entrepreneurial approach to business. If you are afraid to try new strategies because you got burned in the past, you’ll be standing in the way of your business’ growth.
If a fear of mistakes is holding you back in your business, see these 8 fear busters to help you fail your way to success.
Flip the focus: KonMari from your customers’ point of view
Once you’ve completed the KonMari process, switch focus onto your customers and clients: what about your business sparks joy for them? Can anything that doesn’t work be discarded or improved? Through responsive and continuous improvement, you might just avoid being “KonMari-ed” from your customers lives!
How’s the serenity?
KonMari fans will tell you that this process is hard but so worth it! In the end (to paraphrase Marie herself) your work-space will be for the business owner you are becoming, not the business owner you were in the past. Think what you could accomplish with all that extra time, space and mental focus.
Tenfold Business Coaching is a multi-award winning coaching firm based in Melbourne and working with clients across Australia. Our experienced business coaches thrive on working with driven business owners to help finish their businesses.