Set your business up for success by keeping it simple

9th March 2021

keep it simple

In a world of never-ending notifications, activity, and  rapidly expanding  digital marketplace, essentialism is a rarity. Keeping it simple is the best way to ensure you cut through the clutter and noise. 

In the world of financial services, it is common for business owners to get lost in paperwork and red tape. When we founded Yoco, we realised early that the accessibility of our product to small business owners was directly correlated to our ability to bake simplicity into the core.

Simplicity became a way of life at Yoco. It became our daily mantra for ensuring that we committed to clear objectives and then delivered on those to the very best of our ability. 

Keep it simple, is the fourth value in the Yoco Formula.

So, why keep it simple?

The answer is, first and foremost, that we have limited time, resources, and energy. It means needing to carefully prioritise what we pay attention to by being explicit about the trade-offs between a multitude of good options. You can choose to do a lot of things but almost certainly not do them well. Or, you can strip things down to the essence, simplify your work, and begin to drive a reputation of getting the right things right. 

Your customers will come to recognise you as a business that delivers on its promises, even if they are a few. In the long run, it compounds. Serving you better than a business that attempts to do multiple things inch deep, with subpar standards and outcomes.

Yoco’s product and technology  team are constantly ideating and building new solutions for our customers. We encourage them to flex that muscle for innovation and creativity. Recently the teams participated in one of our internal “Hack Weeks” where members  are invited to spend time working on anything they wanted to create, no matter how loosely tied to Yoco it was. This process of brainstorming, learning, and creating is incredibly valuable. 

But when we sit down to plan our road map – we have to ask ourselves some very hard questions. Not all ideas can be built and released to our customers. It’s not because they aren’t good or valuable but because we need to get to the essence of what will benefit a broad set of our customers at the right time.

We want to be well known for doing our core well. For us, that is ensuring we help small business owners accept payments, no matter the form of payment, location or type of business.

The second reason for keeping it simple is that the more you do, the more you have to communicate in your value proposition.

Your potential customer is lost in a world of communication – all day, every day they absorb content and advertising from more businesses than you can imagine. Most of them will make decisions about whether or not to engage with you in a matter of seconds. 

So if you only have 15 seconds to tell a potential customer about your business, and convince them to engage with you further – no matter what you say, it needs to be simple. Simple to understand, simple to try, and simple to buy. 

You can make plans to diversify your business, and grow your product line over time but the best businesses make their name on simple offerings.. For us, it is the little blue card machine that is helping us to double our customer base year on year.

The last reason for keeping it simple is that as an entrepreneur, you do not have to buy into the narrative that you have to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to “make it”. Pushing yourself to the limits is not a measure of your ambition. Business owners are partners, parents, athletes, employees, and so much more.

At Yoco, we are all trying to create work-life integration in a healthy, productive manner. And we’ve learnt that if you do your best to keep things simple – from processes to products  – you will have an easier time melding all the different facets of your life together. 

You deserve time out. You deserve to sit back, be present in your life and be proud of it and the work you’re doing. Time off isn’t a luxury, it’s absolutely vital in your quest for success. 

So ahead of the new year, spend a little time planning ways you can simplify your business, your products, your task list, and your life. You might discover that less really can be more when you put your mind to it.


Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Daily Maverick print edition, DM 168, in December 2020. 

Katlego Maphai

Katlego is an entrepreneur who is passionate and dedicated to big initiatives that utilise innovation to remove barriers, tackle inequality and foster prosperity. He is people-positive and likes keeping it human in pursuit of transforming the future. He's a lover of all things technology, music, and the arts.