Before we get started, let’s make sure we're on the same page about what “minimalist” means.
If you’re imagining me cross-legged on the floor in a stark, monotone room with nothing else but a wooden chair in the corner and a gray ceramic bowl of green tea next to me, then keep imagining it, because that’s hilarious.
No, my version of minimalism simply means no excess. It means only having things that are used on a regular basis or that bring joy. It means I don't have closets full of “just-in-case” stuff, or a “junk drawer” and or shelves full of knick-knacks that serve no other purpose than collecting dust. Even if those knick-knacks are gray ceramic bowls.
You see, I became a minimalist because I had to. When you decide to backpack around the world for a year, you accept to live with the bare minimum: 17 items of clothing, 3 pairs of shoes. No hairdryer. No jeans. I didn't even have a real bra.
Sounds horrible, right? Well it wasn’t. The exact opposite, actually. With only the bare minimum, I had never felt so free in my life.
"Ok, Elissa,” you’re thinking. “I get it. Minimalism is great. But what does any of this have to do with being successful?”
I’m getting to that, alright? It all comes done to this:
Reducing what you own gives you so much more: more money, more space, more time, more flexibility.
Which, in return, helps you be more successful as an entrepreneur. Here's how.
1. More money
Let’s start with the topic most people think about when starting a business: Money.
Listen, I know money is a sensitive topic and everyone's financial situation is different. But the fact is most people have more than they need, and that "more" is costing them.
Simply put: when you need less, you buy less.
When I cut my wardrobe down to 30 items and realized I didn’t even wear that many, I became less likely to shop. And when you know exactly what you have, you have more clarity on what you need, so you’re less likely to impulse buy.
All the money that I used to spend on clothes, beauty products, and Ikea crap for the apartment added up. When I stopped buying stuff I didn't need, I was able to create a financial safety net that gives me more room to take risks in my business.
And, believe me, that's worth not buying a new dress.
2. Mental and Physical space
I firmly believe that physical clutter leads to mental clutter. When we have too many distractions and too much crap in our way, it’s nearly impossible to focus on what's actually important.
Take your closet for example. Imagine you open your closet and love everything in it because you’ve consciously removed anything you don’t love. There's less in there, but it's all stuff you can and want to wear right now. Imagine how much easier getting dressed would be-- how much time and effort you would save.
And now imagine that in every area of your life.
Minimalism makes space: in your house and in your head.
Reducing clutter creates ease, giving you space to move and work and play: physically and mentally. And that new-found space? Imagine what you could do with it.
As I said, I only keep things I use regularly or that bring me joy.
My homemade pasta maker that I used once a year had to go: I didn’t use it enough for it to be considered “useful." But the original art on my walls? That stayed, because I truly love looking at it.
Everything I own has passed the test: Is this useful? Does this bring me joy?
I started asking these questions about my belongings, but slowly, over time, I found myself asking them in other situations: "Is the argument I’m about to pick with Vincent useful?" "Will this event I’ve been invited to bring me joy?"
These two simple questions, which originally helped me reduce what I own, now help me run my business more intentionally. They help me make sure everything I do adds true value or brings me joy, or, ideally, both.
Being intentional, by definition, means being more purposeful. It means making deliberate choices, instead of just living by default. It means not doing things "just because."
And it means not accepting anything, whether it’s a shirt or a job, that’s just “fine.”
This one’s a little abstract, but it’s also the most important. Here’s why.
It’s a powerful feeling be able to look at something-- an object, or an experience, or even a client-- and say, “I don’t need that.”
I don’t need a new dress to feel good in my body. I don’t need another beauty product to be prettier. I don’t need a gym membership to make me work-out. I don’t need a client who makes my life hell.
The freedom of “less” is based on one core belief: you have-- and you are-- enough already.
When you truly believe that, when you know you don’t need much, you stop living in fear of losing it.
And you start really living.