Last week, McDonald’s Corp, the world biggest fast-food chain announced its plans to cut the number of items on its US menus and use fewer ingredients in food starting January 2015.

The move according to Mike Andres, the company’s US president, is “to speed up service, bolster sales and offer consumers personalised options to compete better with Subway and Chipotle Mexican Grill.”

As we were discussing this turn of events with a colleague, one question that we kept asking is why did McDonald increase the number of items in the first place, especially after several decades of illustrative success with few items?

The most probable answer to this question is a common error in judgment most of us make quite often – thinking that more is better than less.

Over the past few decades a wave of health consciousness has swept across the globe. Most people, including the younger generation who form the bulk of McDonald’s customers have been leaning towards healthier foods.

Apparently McDonalds noticed this trend in good time but responded in the wrong way. They crafted a bound-to-fail strategy where they aimed at continuing with a one-size-fits-all burger for their traditional consumers and, at the same time, introduce other items to appease their more health-conscious consumers.

This dual path has failed. As one blogger noted, “Frankly, throwing a few apple slices in a bag along with a container of deep-fried chicken nuggets or offering a handful of salads simply misses the mark.

Why? The needs of neither consumer group are met. Traditional customers are frustrated with slower service and complicated menus, while health-oriented guests still believe McDonalds to be an unhealthy choice.”

This move underscores the modern trend where entrepreneurs are realising and tapping the power of less – the power of focusing on niche, fewer products or a single aspect of the whole and becoming experts in it.

It has been proven that the success of any business does not depend on the number of products it offers. Rather it depends on the number of loyal consumers whose needs are adequately met by the offering.

In any market it is impossible to design a product or service that will satisfy the needs of all people. It is myopic to think that either by compromising or being a bit ambiguous you can like the proverbial bat partake the feast of beast as well as of the birds.

Whether it in business or in other aspects of life, you can achieve more by precisely defining yourself and concentrating all your efforts and resources on a single spot rather than spreading yourself too thin.

Unfortunately most small and medium entrepreneurs don’t seem to get this concept.

The truth is to boost your sales and improve profitability of your firm, you don’t need to have many products or revenue streams. You only need to focus on few or just one and excel in it.

It is far much easier and more profitable to sell one million units of one product than to sell one million units of 10 different products.

Selling one million units of one product cuts the cost of logistics, increases efficiency and economies of scale as well as elevating you as a leader or expert in the area.

Mr Kiunga is the author of ‘The Art of Entrepreneurship: Strategies to Succeed in a Competitive Market’. Email: murorikiunga@yahoo.com

Published first in Business daily on December 16, 2014

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