Doing A lot More With A lot Less

Focusing on Smaller Offerings!

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I’ll get right to the point - This is a long post, and would have made a great article on the site but I think its another strong issue for you my subscribers I’m sure you will enjoy.

Before we go into the post:

A few years ago I cut back on the amount of coffee i was drinking to only having the odd one or two a week, and for the last few years I have been drinking tea mainly as a hot drink which I have felt better for doing this.

Last week I made the decision to not drink coffee or tea at all and drink only water and I must say I feel even better. I have gone a full week just drinking water and I plan to continue this moving forward.

Today’s Post

A large majority of business owners believe that the more services you offer the bigger their business will become.

This is especially true in the design industry, where designers believe their customer base will be larger because they can offer more services to more people.

This simply is not the case I have been in business for over a decade and now I am specialising in one area and giving it 100% of my attention. My business has grown, my client base has grown worldwide. I’m not offering less, in fact I am offering more around a certain area.

Specialising instead of generalising is the way to go!

Why doing less is more?

When you do lots of different things at

At the same time, there is a high likelihood that you will spread yourself too thin and never really produce tangible results.

By doing less, you are able to focus and achieve tangible results. Similarly, doing too much at once drains you far too quickly and easily.

If you have ever watched Gordon Ramsay’s TV series Kitchen Nightmares on television then you will know that he often encourages the struggling restaurateurs featured on the show to cut down the number of dishes on their menu.

The reason for him doing this is obvious meaning a bigger menu consists of more dishes and that means more complexity.

Larger menus require the restaurant’s ordering and storage of more ingredients, extra training is also required, extra equipment and preparation time.

During busy restaurant times, a larger menu means the chef has less time to focus, meaning a higher chance things could go wrong.

As Gordon puts it with his characteristic bluntness “The more dishes, the lower the standard”

Focusing on Smaller Offerings!

These same principles also apply within other business industries and extend far beyond the restaurant kitchen.


Starbucks is one of the world’s most recognised brands, with brand recognition reaching epic heights mainly due to their marketing and solid commitment to keeping their brand consistent.

The focus being a single offering of coffee in a variety of forms, loved by people around the world who enjoy not only Starbucks coffee but the Starbucks experience.

The company was founded in 1971 by Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl. At the beginning the company only sold coffee beans and did not offer the premium coffee drinking experience they do today.

In 1986, the original owners sold Starbucks to former manager Howard Schultz. Who helped shape and changed from the bean roaster of the 1970’s to the coffee inspired giant it is known for today.


Another great example is Apple, and in 1997 when Steve Jobs returned to the company he founded 20 years earlier, it was in a difficult situation with declining sales and reportedly having only 90 days left until bankruptcy.

Steve’s first action was to review the company’s product range. His findings revealed that Apple was making numerous versions of the Macintosh computer to try to satisfy the needs of different retailers.

Steve asked the management team “Which ones do I tell my friends to buy?” they failed to give him a simple answer. Steve then set about cutting the number of available options by 70%.

Since then and still today Apple has stuck by Steve’s logic of less is best and today Apple has become the world’s most valuable brand. You can even fit every single product Apple produces on to a small table.  

Even Apple is vulnerable to being disrupted by a company with a single focus.


The Swedish start up Spotify managed to persuade every major music label in the world to allow them to make a vast library of over 35 million songs available to stream online.

And despite Apple, Amazon, and Google now offering their own music streaming services, Spotify is the largest with 159 million active users worldwide.

The co-founder of Spotify Daniel Ek explained “I believe in focus, we do one thing and try to do it really well.”

Focusing on one thing and doing it really well shows you can dominate a market over others who offer multiple things.

Going back to Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares which I love to watch both UK, and US versions.

From watching the show you can learn a lot of business lessons not just the smaller offering principle but other things to do with business.

What I like about Gordon is his no-nonsense style to business he gets in there, let’s cut the crap, find out wants wrong, no excesses you have to admit what you’re doing wrong to move forward, let’s find a solution and stick to it!.  

The more you watch it you will notice similarities between the types of issues that struggling restaurants are facing that are fairly similar to other businesses.

The problems faced are more often than not the same, just a different industry.

Important lessons learned from Gordon Ramsey

Here are some of the common issues that arise within most of the restaurant’s and businesses in general, and how Gordon deals with them not always in the same way but the principles and outcomes are the same.

Lack of Leadership from the owner

From watching the shows you will notice that the majority of the restaurant’s there is a big leadership issues.

A lot of the owners of the restaurants are either only present on certain days, so they have no clue what’s happening the rest of the week, or their time is spent in the front of the restaurant at the bar trying to be everyone’s friend instead of focusing on the running of the business.

You will also notice that a lot of the chefs are incompetent and have the owners wrapped around their fingers while bullying the other staff.

They believe they are in charge because they are cooking the food and the owner will not say anything to them because they think they won’t be able to cope without them, we have all worked at places with someone like this!

Whatever the problem is that exists it’s because the owner not being a good leader. The lack of good leadership means problems will start to occur.

For instance, when it comes to restaurants e.g.

  • The facilities are dirty and don’t get cleaned.

  • Cooking frozen food and not preparing in-house.

  • Inventory is not being checked accordingly so food is out of date in fridges.

  • The overall service is not up to par, even the people who are trying can’t do it correctly because of others who are letting the team down.

Most of these issues are because of the lack of leadership.

It's the same for most businesses in other industries who have an owner or manager who slacks on their responsibilities and expects the business to manage itself is not leading by example is just existing in it and sooner rather than later it’s going to crumble.

There are far more issues that can occur with bad leadership such as:

A new member of staff has not been given the correct training, so they are doing their job inefficiently and making other members of staff look bad.

It’s not the new member of staff’s fault its lack of leadership to make sure the person is trained accordingly.

Let’s say a design project is halted for some unknown reason and the design team can’t progress forward.

  • Whose fault is it?

  • Who is leading the project and making sure milestones are completed?

  • Who is accountable for client communication?

  • Who is setting tasks/goals and expectations for the progression of the project?

  • Who is in charge?

Before a business issue can be resolved, hierarchy has to clearly be reviewed for imbalances. Leadership at every level of the business has to be established right from the owner at the top level down to the service floor on the front end. This leadership has to be clarified, expressed and put to action every minute of every day while the business is operating.

Until you have a solid foundation for leadership nothing else within the business matters as without good leadership nothing will run smoothly or efficiently.

Leadership is a top priority, and Gordon makes sure of this from the offset as no matter what funding, new equipment, better marketing or a wave of new customs will solve the problem, as it will still be there in the future. Leadership needs to be established starting at the very top, whether the wrong person is steering the ship, or this person does not have what it takes to be in that position.

It’s a tough one to start with but it needs to be addressed right away before any progression can be made to move forward.

Things Leaders must be able to do themselves

  • Give every action a purpose

  • Articulate the vision into a strategy

  • Transform the strategy into an action plan to move forward

  • Encourage staff members to commit to their responsibilities

  • Encourage staff to give their absolute best efforts and want to do it at the same time

  • Inspire loyalty and stand for something others will respect

  • Lead others by example

  • When something is wrong, they need to be willing to step in and fill in the missing pieces

  • Be tough with people who are not pulling their weight and are willing to let them go

  • Give staff members a reason to be proud of what they are doing

  • Choose work over favourite past times

  • Take a pay cut before letting good staff members go

  • Take responsibility for failures and do not push the book and make excesses

  • Understand that delegation is only a short walk from abdication

  • Give truth to a platform, no matter how inconvenient it may be

A leader in denial is no true leader. He’s a drink driver pretending to be sober, while at the same time driving his car and everyone else in it into a ditch.

Passion Fuels Excellence

When you run on passion you don’t need no fuel tank as passion is always there it never drains.

“You need to motivate your staff!”

I hear this all the time and I think it’s the wrong mind-set to have in business. Motivation comes and goes.

It’s easy to get motivated and even easier to motivate a team with bonuses, the threat of being fired, kind words and a pat on the shoulder for example but motivation is temporary.

I understand motivation is needed regularly but if staff can’t learn to motivate themselves then motivating them on a regular basis will be a full-time job in itself.

You want your staff to perform to their best all the time and enjoy doing it. You want them to be passionate about what they do and share your passion for the business.

If you have passion for what you do, you don’t need someone to motivate you.

The point is If I have to motivate someone to do their job daily, why are they there to begin with?

Teach someone how to make a living doing what they love (or to give them a reason to love what they do for a living) and you will never have to motivate them ever again.

If you watch a few Nightmare Kitchens you will eventually notice that many of the restaurant owners are suffering from defeatism and apathy.

Gordon will ask them the most pitiful question from his repertoire

“What Happened to you?”

All of them will tell him that they have lost the passion for the business and they have got caught up in the negative details, and challenges of their profession that they forgot how to love it.

Gordon is then faced with the challenge of reigniting that passion they once had, if he can they stand a fighting chance of turning the business around if he can’t then it’s over and the restaurant is finished.

There is no gray area when it comes to passion and success and by success I don’t mean loaded with money the two are indivisible.

The more child-like and visceral the passion is, the higher the octane, the greater the distance it will take you, or your projects, ideas, and your business.

The more passionate you are about something, the more you are willing to give up on it.

When you want to breathe as bad as wanting to do the thing you love day in and day out that’s when you’re passionate about something!  

You will have a passion for perfection. You will have an obsession with quality. It isn’t just a job. It’s your calling!

Don’t Sugar-Coat the Truth

When your boat is sinking and about to go under, every single second counts. Every interaction counts with your crew members.

Why sugar-coat the truth? It’s going down and we need to keep it up, we will not sink! We will sail!

Why perpetuate belief systems that have led to mediocrity or failure?

If you don’t work as a team and act on it you’re going to sink!

Remember at school when you worked really hard for that top grade, and somewhere along the line you slacked off, skipped class to go into town with your mates.

You did not get that grade in the end, you lost focus and took your eye off the prize at the last leg!

Remember that big match you lost because you did not train hard enough or give your teammates 100% effort?

That right there is the brutal honesty that comes with keeping scores.

Another week and yet still more empty seats in your restaurant! Followed by yet more negative reviews!

You’re either doing it right or you are not. You’re hitting the mark or you are missing, and there is no sugar-coating when it comes to business and people are depending on you to deliver.

You either succeed or you fail, win or lose, it’s that simple there is no middle ground!

I will admit it’s fun watching Gordon Ramsey lay into owners of restaurant owners and yell at those incompetent chefs.

But in reality as a business owner it’s hard to watch, but the real value in his apparent meanness is he is not there to make people feel bad about their failure. His objective is to help them realise what they are doing wrong and save their restaurant.

He does not do this by wrapping the cold hard reality of failure in a nice warm blanket. If something is wrong its wrong, if it’s working, then it’s working.

He may be coming across as brutal, but this forces those people living in denial to face the truth.

Is this a shock to the system? Your dam right it’s meant to be. Tough love!

When one realises the errors of their ways they can then get on the right path to success.

Competence is key

Everyone can be a critic and point out what’s wrong with the running of a business. When watching Kitchen Nightmares I can spot the issues within minutes.

“That chef is a bully and thinks he owns the place, and nobody dear approach him!”

“Their stuck in the past and need to move with the times, and facilitate customer needs, and the fact is they are scared of change”   

“Their advertising freshly cooked food and serving frozen, and don’t quite understand the concept of freshly cooked food”

“Too many family members trying to be the top dog, and causing friction”

The list goes on!

Once the issue is identified and the owners understand what is wrong with their business (That’s the challenge right there)  

One must be able to repair the damage, and that does not come from business books and looking for answers on google you have to be very competent, even us as viewers can’t just glimpse what the solution would be, they need to be shown, explained to and taught.

You need to know what works and the things that don’t, and the hurdles they will have to overcome before a solution can be implemented.

What equipment is needed during this process, and how they are going to gauge progress through this transition.

Theory is great on paper, but people need to be shown first-hand how it’s done!

What Gordon does is teach restaurant owners and their staff what they should be doing and how to do it effectively.

He does not go in there and compile a report of his findings then leave the client with a strategic brief, or just recommend they revamp the restaurant menu and improve the quality of dish they serve.

Gordon gets in there and observes the working of the restaurant. He gets on the front line, in the kitchens cooking and teaches the chefs tips and tricks, and improves their ordering system for better working flow.

He shows them stuff he knows from experience, stuff that works because he is used to it.

Competence = “Don’t just tell me. Show me.”

Competence in this case makes all the difference in the business world.

A person’s brain, their creativity, and imagination matter. When it comes to innovating, nothing beats a combined force of imagination, curiosity, and perseverance.

When it comes to making something work for the better, nothing beats experience. Nothing takes the place of being competent.

I personally believe Kitchen Nightmares to be a great example of how businesses succeed or fail.

Look past the restaurant setting and just think about business as you watch each episode, apply lessons learned to other industries and they simply work well.

The poor leadership from higher-ups, the slow death of passion they once had, cultures of denial and erosion of competence.

In every industry you will find the same issues and each of these factors will break a business so fast you won’t even notice the lack of customers.

Gordon Ramsey does have a very unorthodox style as he will unapologetically point out those key problems, and confront the people responsible, break them down inch by inch and drag them while they are kicking and screaming towards a solution to move forward and out from the hole they have dug themselves into.

Yes a lot of people may see this as inappropriate for “The real business world” and his body language and vocabulary choice and confrontational style could seem out of place to the shock-happy world of reality TV, but you can’t deny the man is right on point

The thing is he is not there to polish that turd. He knows the newly stripped down menu and redesigned interior and signage will not be enough in the long run as other inner issues will always be there.

He needs to go in strong style with some serious intervention and turn that failing restaurant business around in a short amount of time. He goes right in at the route of the business and works outwards.

As i always say - “Stay curious & enthusiastic, and good things will happen!”

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your support. :)

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