Subscribe to Inc. magazine

Drop Your Worst Customers

Sometimes it pays give low-return shoppers the boot.

Want your business to be more efficient? Then sometimes you've got to scale back, says best-selling business and innovation author Stephen Shapiro.

"If you're looking for ways to effectively cut back, think about this: Sometimes the key to getting more done is simply to do less," he writes.

Here are three things the author of Best Practices Are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out Innovate the Competition says you need to cut out: 

Lousy customers

Everyone has those customers who take up their time and generate less money than others. "One strategy to consider," writes Shapiro, "ditch the 20 percent of your customers who are sucking up your time but not producing commensurate returns. This not only frees up some hours in your day--it also frees up your mental energy." Sure, it sounds risky. But wouldn't you rather focus on keeping your best people happy? 

Time-sucking projects

You'll never get it all done, so why bother? Start cutting out non-essentials or tasks that other people can do. And keep your to-do list small and concise. And only list the things that you can do. "Be honest with yourself," says Shapiro. "What would happen if you knocked one thing off your to-do list? Two things? Find the sweet spot where you can get the optimal return. Then delegate, automate, or eliminate the rest." 


"Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, once said, 'Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add but when there is no longer anything to take away,'" Shapiro writes. To that end, don't be afraid to ditch the clutter, from unnecessary objects in the office to time-wasting tasks. You'll be more efficient as a result. 

Last updated: Oct 11, 2013

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter,

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported on the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: