What We're Into: Keeping It Simple

Photo by Flickr user Ida

When an entrepreneur takes that first step and launches a new business, they're faced with a seemingly endless list of tasks and decisions. Do you file as an LLC? What kind of paperwork does that involve? How do you keep track of the money you're making and spending? And how about taxes — don't those become crazily complicated when you start a business?

In Connect the Grey's programs for entrepreneurs, we maintain a philosophy of taking a deep breath and keeping it simple. Don't make startup life harder on yourself than it needs to be. Ask others for advice, take small steps every day, and move toward your goals with the knowledge that you don't have to accomplish everything at once.

Open Gym: After the Idea, which we piloted at Impact Hub MSP this Twin Cities Startup Week, gives entrepreneurs a "starter kit" of practical resources, plus space to share their questions and concerns. Many reassurances about keeping it simple came from Terri Barreiro, who co-founded Impact Hub MSP and serves on its board, and who acted as a mentor during the session. "Don't create a full business plan right away and scare yourself with your own vision," Terri said. "Just get up in the morning and decide what you can accomplish each day."

 Terri also encouraged startup shortcuts like the "shoebox method of accounting." For people who have worked in other industries and aren't used to budgeting or bookkeeping, the prospect of tracking tax-deductible expenses can be daunting. Rather than diving into and trying to navigate complex accounting software, we recommend starting small: Set aside three shoeboxes and label them "Definitely a Business Expense," "Maybe a Business Expense," and "Probably Not a Business Expense." Then, save your receipts in those boxes. Eventually, you can start getting more detailed — maybe you'll use color-coded envelopes to sort expenses by "Food," "Office Supplies," and so on. You'll learn and improve over time, but you don't have to be perfect from day one.

Keeping it simple is a good guiding principle for other aspects of startup life, too. This morning, before Open Gym: After the Idea, Deb Lundberg of our partner Health Solutions shared some of her tips and tricks for staying healthy. Many people assume that exercising and getting in shape means spending hours at the gym and running marathons. In fact, simply standing up and moving around from your couch or desk, going on walks, reading nutrition labels more carefully, and taking deep breaths can help people feel noticeably better.

What strategies and shortcuts do you use to keep your daily life simple? Share your advice in the comments!