The Value Of Simplicity

Nancy Roebke

There's a common misconception out there in the business arena. I call it the "Bigger is Better" myth. That's what I call it, but it actually encompasses more than just the issue of "size". It encompasses choice. It encompasses image. And it encompasses reality.

I'm 41 and have had my own business since I was nineteen. Not the same business but "a" business. I have three teenagers (two sons -15 and 19, and a daughter -17). They come into play in this story, so I mention them.

All of my businesses, except the current one, were retail businesses. I sold products of one kind or another. My "favorite" business, which I feel was my "soul business" (next to what I do now), was a custom gift shop that specialized in home interiors and wedding "stuff". I "lost" that business. I think I still "grieve" about that today. I lost it because I bought into the idea that "bigger is better".

I ran BIG ads, in newspapers and the yellow pages. I hired lots of help. I wholesaled to HUGE accounts.. I had two locations for retail.. I had forty locations across the country for wholesale. I was well-known in my area.. and in certain places across the country. I brought in lots-o- money. I spent lots-o-money. I made lots-o-money. I had no quality of life.

This particular business directly lead serious changes in my life. Not because of "what" business it was. But because of what it took to HAVE all of that. I could have had what I wanted from that business on a smaller scale and still HAVE that business. And not have suffered through those changes. And still be at peace.

Today, I run a multi-national firm. It does not encompass my whole life. I have been called "practical" on almost every forum I participate on online.. and in many forms of print media. I consider it the highest compliment I have ever been given. My "practicality" has helped me "have it all".

Today, the people in my town think I'm a country girl. They have no idea about my mulit-national firm. I grow, can and freeze my own vegetables. I LOVE to garden. I make jelly- and bake bread- from scratch. I LOVE to cook from scratch. I paint and wallpaper my home, and have learned how to do all sorts of repairs and maintenance. I make most of the holiday gifts I give, and love EVERY second of it.

My work is done with passion. That passion comes through (at least I am told) in everything I do that is work-related. But I don't buy the "bigger is better" myth any more. I think as long as enough people do, it will continue to prosper (the myth, I mean).

Here's what I DON'T do that most business gurus say I should:

1. I don't run ads. None. Of Any kind. Even my web site is educational versus advertising.

2. You won't find my firm in the phone book.

3. I don't have slick marketing material. Everything is printed off inkjet printers so I can make frequent changes if I want to.

4. I don't hire employees.

5. I don't stock a lot of inventory.

6. I don't buy everything for the firm "new" and do not keep up with the latest technology.

7. I don't have a direct line to me. People have to leave messages.

8. I don't work 24/7 any more.

9. I don't take everyone on as a client who wants to be.

10. I don't focus on getting bigger as a goal- Not in my Chapters or as a company . (And it happens anyway).

I do:

1. Market through word of mouth.

2. Have a toll free number.

3. Make changes to my material so that it is always up to date.

4. Hire subcontractors.

5. Buy inventory "just" as we need it.

6. Lease equipment and update what we have instead of buying new.

7. Return my calls promptly.

8. Balance my work day and my non-work day.

9. Select my clients based on their ethics and standards.

10. Evaluate every opportunity to grow, to see what that growth will mean in the form of costs, time, and upkeep.

What does that mean? I have more. More time. More money. More peace. More happiness. MUCH more satisfaction. I have lots more STUFF!

Which brings me to my kids. I hope that I have passed on to them the belief that bigger is not necessarily better. My oldest son wanted a Nike baseball cap for twenty bucks, when one without the insignia was ten. I said I'd never pay extra for an "insignia". I still won't.

I also won't pay extra to a supplier so they can have a bigger office, a nicer car, a better wardrobe, or a nicer house. I got all that by having LESS..

Less stress. Less responsibility. Less time committed to my business. Less.

I feel we are a wasteful society. We not only waste our resources, but we waste our time. Even if a person recycles to help with the environment, how are they recycling their LIFE? Do you feel it's necessary to own everything new? Do you have a need for the most recent gadget? Do you live and work outside your "stress level"? Do you live and work outside your income? Do you need to keep up with your peers? Why? Who's gonna stop it, if you don't? I recently met a couple who made $150,000.00 a year , who were so stressed out.. so unhappy.. and so in debt.

Dr Robert Schueller did a presentation once that struck me. It was called "When your blessings become burdens". He spoke of what we have to do to keep all we have gotten.. Think about what you have gotten and what you need to do to keep it. If it's all worth it, you have got it all, as well. Way to go!! I applaud you!

A lot of you know that I was in a serious car accident that left me permanently "differently-abled". There was a lawsuit. A multi-million dollar one. I dropped it. I couldn't do what it took to go through with it. I got no money from that accident.

I dropped the case the day after Thanksgiving in 1996. Since that time, I have gotten a bigger house than I have ever had. A bigger car than I have ever had. A bigger wardrobe. More food. More STUFF!! And a much better significant other.

But that all happened because I stopped going after the BIG one. And found tremendous success in my REALITY. What I WANTED to do. Not what I thought I NEEDED to do.

I hope that all of us can come to that point... It is a place with rewards past your wildest dreams. Your place may not include a garden, and wallpaper, and baking bread. It may include MILLIONS of dollars (if that is what will make you feel at peace). You can do it. I know. I did. I believe in you. May 1999 bring you all that you have worked for... for less.


Copyright c 1998 Nancy Roebke


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