What You Leave Out is the Stuff that Matters

Image a favorite from Flickr by GarryKnight

More isn’t always better when it comes to the products and
services you offer. Just because you CAN offer more options to your customers
doesn’t mean you should. 

 Why? Well, it’s likely your customers are already
overwhelmed by your products and services
as it is.

Think about the last time you visited a new restaurant. If
the menu more closely resembled a book than a single sheet of paper, you
probably became paralyzed when making a decision. I know I do and I’m a picky eater! For the same reason, I find it
difficult to shop in many department stores. There are simply too many options.

Yet as business owners, we obsess over the what itfs. “What
if we can offer something someone wants, but they don’t see it on our price
menu so they don’t buy from us? “

“What if this color would sell better than that color?”

“What if a client doesn’t think I offer enough options?”

I bet these questions keep some of you up at night as I hear
them from our coaching clients.

When I was in grad school we studied the Paradox of Choice
and how it can be crippling to make a choice when given too many
options. If my restaurant example didn’t make sense to you, check out these facts.

A professor at Columbia
University, Sheena Iyengar, set up a table at a gourmet market with jams.
Every few hours she changed her display from offering just 6 jams to offering
24 jams. 60% of customers stopped by when 24 jams were displayed. And
40% of customers stopped by the display to sample the jams when just 6
varieties were displayed. So more customers were drawn to the table when there were more varieties of jam displayed. Yet here’s where it gets interesting. 30% of the people who had sampled from the 6 jar display
decided to buy jam, while only 3% of those who sampled from the 24 jar display
purchased any jam.
Those customers who weren’t overwhelmed by the number of options bought more! 

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson talk about this in
their best seller Rework – a great book and easy read. Think of your business as a museum. Museums don’t try
to put every single piece of great artwork on the walls of a single room.  What makes a museum great is the stuff
that’s not on the walls. It’s the curator’s job to say no about what should not
be included and yes to what should. 
Be a curator of your business and stick to what’s truly essential. You can
always add stuff back later if you need to.

The real issue you should be focusing on as a small business owner is what do I want to sell? What products and services offer me the most profit margin? Not how many finishes can I squeeze into my price menu or how many colors of this item can I put into my store’s inventory.


Working photographer, coach, mama, and wife. Whether you’re looking to take your photography business full-time or simply make good money on a very part-time basis so you can contribute to your family financially and be your best self, we’ve got something for you.

I’m Sarah Petty

Hey, there!