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Running a business

Build an Efficient Business and Solid Brand Through the Art of Subtraction

It may seem counterintuitive to think of subtraction as growth, but in the small business world, less can be more. Reduced brand dilution leads to a more robust product that generates more sales. The art of subtraction also improves your time management and productivity as you focus more man-hours on winning ideas. If you subtract the products and processes that soak up money and time without contributing to your bottom line, you can build your brand and turn subtraction into addition.

What Is the Art of Subtraction in Branding?

Subtraction is a simple process of deduction, but the art of subtraction is all about the way you sharpen your branding. This means that before you start taking things away, you should know what you have to work with and what you need to acquire to take your brand to the next level. Many athletes have the speed, power, and agility to make themselves contenders in several different athletic pursuits. But when they stop preparing for all sports and focus on training for one sport, they can go from being all-around athletes to world-class athletes. The same concept applies to small business. Strategic subtraction lets you focus your efforts and strengthen your brand, products, and financial standing.

Should You Subtract From Your Product Line?

Take a good look at your inventory from a sales history perspective. While you know your top-selling offerings remain golden, other products and services inevitably land at the bottom of the sales charts consistently. Rather than seeing this as a failure, view it as an opportunity to improve your business. When you look at these products as candidates for the chopping block, you do so because they perform poorly and add little—if anything — to your bottom line.

Also, these underperformers can potentially detract from the credibility of your bestselling products and even your brand. This makes it a good idea to keep the products that define your business and eliminate the ones that don’t. Just like diners don’t expect to find sugar-laden ice cream at a health food restaurant, shoppers don’t expect to find out-of-character offerings from the businesses they patronize. Although selling a wider range of products might seem like a good idea, it also has the potential to confuse your clientele and cause them to question your commitment to your brand.

Tighten Up Your Marketing and Sales Channels

How do you advertise your product, and how do you get your product to market? You can find out which processes work best for you by taking a microscope to your choice of sales channels. While each sales channel likely has its own benefits, not every channel suits your business or brand. An effective combination of direct and indirect sales puts you in a position to reach a wider market of potential customers, too many sales channels can drain your budget.

For instance, if your catalogue sales drop while the cost of printing climbs, it may be time to let go of that sales channel. If it doesn’t pay its own way, then it isn’t working. You may find that cutting back to storefront and online marketplace sales works more effectively than continuing with mail-order sales. While it might seem like a good idea, to try and reach everyone on the planet with your marketing campaign, you simply can’t be all things to all customers. Consider cutting back and focusing your efforts on promoting and selling to your target market. Aligning your product with a clear, consistent message lets you market for success—lowering your costs and boosting your returns.

Applying the Art of Subtraction

Before you diversify, keep in mind that quality and consistency in branding and products builds strength and drives growth. You have to draw the line at subtracting materials or processes that make a product great. When companies deliver a mediocre product, their customers typically subtract their loyalty. You already know that you can’t be everything to every consumer, and it’s pointless-not to mention potentially counterproductive — 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. 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 should find that outside resources promote sales for you. In terms of branding, subtraction lets you make your choices, make your mark, and make more money.

Small business owners typically have a finite amount of time and resources, and focusing on winning products helps save you both in the long run. By that same token, subtracting things that suck up massive amounts of time and resources immediately frees up your business to focus on what it does best. To save even more time and resources, consider the QuickBooks Self-Employed app that helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage their business on the go. Download the app today to stay on top of your profit margins and improve the way you log revenue and expenses.

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