Becoming a Minimalist Social Entrepreneur
We have a finite amount of time, energy and money to spend each day, and starting a social enterprise will be a drain on all three resources.
When I started 4Lunch, I unintentionally started to adopt a minimalist approach to life and work in order to survive. And it’s an important and useful topic to discuss on my blog for anyone considering starting or business, or for anyone interested in living more intentionally.
So what is Minimalism?
It’s a term used in response to it’s opposite – mindless consumption. Minimalism is about removing the unnecessary things in our lives – things we no longer use or no longer bring us joy – to make space for more meaningful pursuits, like starting a social enterprise, becoming healthy, spending time with family and friends, or traveling the world.
Minimalism isn’t just about removing physical possessions – that’s just the starting point.
It’s about letting go of mental clutter, giving yourself the capacity for more focus and attention.
It’s about removing the toxic forces or toxic people in your life.
It’s about being physically and mentally healthy, by having fewer possessions to stress about, and more time to look after your mind and body.
The Things I Gave Up On
Simply put, you cannot embark on starting a business with a mind full of shit.
I gave up on caring about pointless things like keeping up with fashion trends and celebrity culture, going shopping for fun, participating in social media debates and getting involved with other people’s dramas a long time ago.
Now my days consist mainly of working on 4Lunch, cooking, eating, napping, yoga, running, reading and writing. I simply do not have the bandwidth for anything else.
As a result of starting 4Lunch, I started minimising, first out of necessity (I didn’t have any disposable income) and then out of choice. I found that by having fewer physical possessions, I had a more organised living space and could focus on working from home more.
We are either in a mode of creation or in a mode of consumption. As I spend most of my time working on my business, I don’t spend much time shopping for pointless things. You spend your time creating things and doing meaningful work, not consuming. As a result, you spend less money.
Entrepreneurialism leads to minimalism, and minimalism fosters entrepreneurialism.
The Benefits of Minimalism
I found that minimalism has had a number of huge benefits for me and my business. I think you might experience the same if you decide to start your own business:
1. Tidiness. Because I own less, I know where everything is. I used to lose a lot of things around the house, but now not so much. The removal of physical possessions leads to less time wasted trying to find things. The more you own, the more there is to look after, maintain, clean and organise. The time better spent on developing your business.
2. Less of a desire to make money. I don’t have many consumer desires, like wanting a new TV or car. So the pressure to make money from my business to pay for these unnecessary goods is absent. All I need to do is earn enough money to pay my bills, for my food and for travel. I can take on work that I enjoy but doesn’t necessarily pay very much. Minimalism leads to freedom at work to say no to work you don’t want.
3. Less worry. Fewer things to maintain means more mental energy to focus on my business. I am still forgetful, but I have fewer items to forget. It’s one less area of my life to think about. Being free from this internal and external conflict gives you more brain space to focus on your business.
4. A sense of control. I can’t always control what happens with 4Lunch, but at least I can take care of my physical environment and home. This doesn’t mean that work will always flow easily, but you are getting rid of all the bits that might distract you or cause procrastination.
5. More time. I spend hardly any time shopping for non-essential items. Savouring and enjoying experiences I have purposefully chosen to engage with is the result of having more time on my hands.
6. More focus. There is a lot of noise these days online. I purposefully choose not to engage too much in social media, and notifcations are turned off my phone. I don’t engage in the latest technology or unnecessary apps. I just keep it simple because my work needs my mind. Your business needs your mind and your attention more than anything.
Time, Money and Energy
Ultimately we all need a basic level of security and safety for ourselves first before we can give our time, money and energy to other people. Minimalism is a great tool to get you to that place where you feel you have enough and are ready to give to others.
Life can feel a bit like a game. Becoming ‘successful’ can seem defined by reaching the next level on a series of arbitrary achievements and milestones, set out by society.
As an entrepreneur, you might face a lot of pressure to grow in certain ways. People might suggest you take on premises, move into new locations, or start new projects. Choosing to live a simple life is actually quite hard! Capitalism wants you to have a complicated life, as this means you have to spend more and more money.
To become a minimalist entrepreneur, you have to ask:
What is my definition of success?
And are any of these projects helping me to reach my definition of success?
You need to have a clear head to know what the point of all this work really is.
That is why it is so important to define your business and life values at the start. Set your own agenda and be strong enough to stick to it.
Try your best, keep learning, keep reflecting, keep improving and keep going. Go at your own pace, enjoy the journey, and good luck!