“We all have to do more with less” — it’s become a tired phrase in the industry. At countless conferences this year, I’ve heard speaker after speaker preface their presentations with the same words: “We all have to do more with less these days,” which is why we implemented this software solution, or decided to outsource this function, or took this other action to become more productive.
In most cases, doing more does not mean accomplishing more; it means doing more work per employee, as in “we all have to wear multiple hats” of responsibility today. Entrepreneurs are the extreme case of doing more with less. Take me as an example. In addition to operations (writing blog posts and conducting video interviews), I am responsible for Research, Marketing, Sales, Finance, IT, Product Development, and just about everything else. It all gets done, but not always in a timely manner or as well as I’d like. Simply put, we are all multitaskers today, even though countless research studies have shown that multitasking actually hurts productivity.
Companies of Yesterday talk about doing more with less. Companies of Tomorrow are doing more with more.
Doing more [work] with less [resources] is short-term, tactical thinking. It’s about getting what needs to get done today as inexpensively as possible. Doing more [risk taking] with more [investments] is long-term, strategic thinking. It’s about the future and continuously raising the bar on the competition by going after new opportunities for growth and differentiation.
Amazon and Google are arguably the two best examples of companies doing more with more. In Q3 2014, Google’s operating expenses increased 30 percent, as the company added more than 3,000 employees to its payroll. Meanwhile, Amazon’s trailing 12-month capital expenditures were $4.63 billion at the end of Q3 2014, and “the increase in capital expenditures reflects additional investments in support of continued business growth due to investments in technology infrastructure, including Amazon Web Services, and additional capacity to support our fulfillment operations.”
And yes, one of the risks of doing more with more is taking on too much risk, losing focus and making one too many investments, as critics of Amazon like to point out. No doubt, companies need to take a disciplined approach to determining which risks to take and how much investments to make, but the sooner they can move beyond this “doing more with less” mentality, the sooner they’ll pave new roads to growth.
As I approach my four year anniversary as an entrepreneur, I realize that if I want to accomplish more — create more value for clients, make a bigger impact on the industry and society, achieve my audacious goals — I need to do more risk taking and invest more, especially in people.
Instead of doing more with less, how about doing more with more? It’s a question that will guide my business plan and objectives in 2015, and it’s a question you should start asking too.