Hey entrepreneurs: you’re thinking too much

Have you ever considered the fact that you might be thinking TOO much when it comes to building your business?

You spend weeks and months (maybe even years) trying to figure out which email software to use, which color to make your call-to-action button, or whether to build your portfolio on WordPress or Squarespace.

You fret over details like how much you should charge your first client, what your site’s color scheme should be, and what time of year you should “launch” your next offer or product.

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Should you charge by the hour or by the project? Should you require a down payment?

Should you use Creative Market? Or Envato? Or just do your own thing with Paypal? or is it Selz? or Gumroad?

The decisions are endless.

And if you waste all of your time “thinking” about the little details that make up a business, you may miss the bigger picture.

At the end of the day, every moment you spend tweaking font-size on your site is a moment you’re not doing the REAL WORK that it takes to run a business. (Unless you’re in the business of tweaking font-size on your own site.)

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Every minute you spend listening to a podcast, reading a blog post, or watching a video that may help you grow your business is time taken away from ACTUALLY growing your business.

I fell for this myself recently

I’ve been working a lot on a huge rebrand of GraphicDesignBlender.com. Not only am I redesigning the web site (details to come soon), but I’m rethinking the entire business model, upping our content focus, and even highly considering a name change for the site and brand.

And GraphicDesignBlender.com has recently suffered because of it.

Traffic is down. Revenue is down. But most disturbingly, I’ve been less active with Millo readers on social media and been less responsive to email than I would like to be.

It’s not the end of the world, but it reminded me of the best blogging advice I ever received.

It came from designer extraordinaire David Airey (who we interviewed at Stoked, by the way) and went something like this (totally paraphrasing here):

Stop worrying so much about how perfect your blog design is and start providing quality content to your readers.

See, the real work of blogging isn’t about line-height, padding, or margins. And the real work of your business isn’t about wordpress vs. squarespace or anything like that.

So what is the “real work”?

So what’s this “real work” I keep referring to?

It’s got two parts:

  1. It’s what your customers/clients expect from you.
  2. It’s what brings in the money.

Like these:

  • The real work of running a blog? (1)Writing blog posts and (2)monetizing with ads or products.
  • The real work of freelancing? (1)Designing something amazing and (2)charging your client for it.

Take a minute and think through your business. Are you (1)creating something that people are expecting from you and then (2)turning that creation into money for your business?

If you’re spending more time redesigning, tweaking your business plan, or adjusting your facebook marketing, you’re not doing the “real work.”

It probably feels like real work. But it’s not.

It’s keeping you from doing the work that will really help you propel your business forward. And it’s time to put that all aside and dig in for a little while. See what it’s like to design thirty web sites, create 100 logos, write 50 blog posts, or craft a dozen taglines.

In that moment (and in that moment only) do you realize what it means to do the work that fuels your business. And once you’ve gone through the effort to actually do the work your business requires, you’ll find that the rest of it all comes much more easily.

Think about it. … or, you know, don’t.

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Millo Articles by Preston Lee

Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team have been helping freelancers thrive for over a decade. His advice has been featured by Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes, Adobe, and many more. Connect with Preston on Twitter.
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  1. Stephanie McCloskey says:

    This is one of your best posts yet. Ironic that here I am reading a blog though!

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Ha ha. I little ironic, but I’m glad you’re here, Stephanie. Thanks for reading!

  2. Well said Preston. There’s so many time wasters, and as designers we’re often drawn towards the redesign. I’ve been guilty of this myself over the years more times than I could count. I figured a rebrand would solve any content issues, but they never do.

    It’s years of hard work providing quality for your audience, and getting to know and serve them that does it.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Tom, very well put. As designers, we know design can solve tons of problems so we assume if our business is stalling or failing that it must be due to a poor design. But, most likely it’s because we’re not providing value to our customers.

  3. But there is no other way. We are not employees who are going to paid at the end of the month no matter what, we have to get projects, pay salary to employees and therefore, we need to think hard sometimes.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Den, my point is: unless you’re getting paid to “think hard” then stop sweating the small stuff and do to REAL work that gets you that paycheck you’re talking about. You know?

  4. Jan Jordyn says:

    Fabulous post, Preston, spot on. One of my worst online “vices” used to be hunting down the latest WordPress themes – comparing the various features/ functions/ design layouts etc. A few years back, I was such a committed “WP junkie” that I could spend several hours at a time trawling through the newest releases – the time just flew by!

    These days of course, I know better: that it’s not so much what website theme you choose, but the design and content elements you put into it.

    Having said that, I do remember one of the UK’s (now) most successful Internet Marketers saying that it took him a whole week to decide which WP theme to use for his first blog – so I guess I’m in good company. (And I’m going to spare his blushes by not naming him publicly!)

    Love Millo by the way!

    Warmest regards,


    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Jan, been there. I totally know what you mean. Shopping WP themes can be a really fun (but really terrible) time-sucker!

      Thanks for the comment and the kind words about Millo. Hope to see you back in the comments regularly!

  5. Jason Farrell says:

    Preston it is getting a little freaky now how Millo posts are hitting home each time. I don’t usually comment on blogs, but thought that I’d just let you know that despite what may be happening in Millo right now and with the advise you guys have shared with me in the past, even right up to this post, I have no doubt you will get through it.

    Thanks for the awesome advise, always… you guys are doing a great job!!!

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Jason, sorry we’re freaking you out a bit. 🙂 And thank you so much for taking time to comment and especially for the kind words about Millo. You really have no idea how much I appreciate it.

      Best in all.

  6. April Greer says:

    I think “PassionToProfit.com” is a great new name. It sums up nicely what all of us Millo readers are working hard to do — turn something we love into a business we can live on.

    Just my 2 cents. 🙂


    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Thanks for the two-cents, April. The URL is taken, but I think we’re getting close on something. Or we may just keep GraphicDesignBlender.com. We’ll see what the universe has in store for us…

  7. Margie Matteson says:

    I could not agree more! Fussing over relatively minor details such as tweaking details on your web site is a lot like pruning one tree while neglecting the whole forest.

    Even worse, it’s likely that you’re neglecting not only the real aspects of your business, but the things that are really important in your life, such as family and friends. Don’t get caught in that trap. It’s not worth it, and you risk missing out on opportunities and moments that you can never, ever get back.

    I’ve been there. Don’t make the same mistakes.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Some fantastic advice, Margie. Thank you for the help. I agree. If we can’t spend time with the people we love the most, what’s the point of building a business? It’s important to keep everything in proper focus.

  8. Yes! I know I’m guilty of this, for sure.

    I’m trying the same approach at the moment – focusing on the actual “work” work, rather than the business side of work – client work has to come first! It can be tricky to strike the right balance, but I think (for now), I’ve got it working. That will probably change though… as it always does 😉

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      It’s definitely a moving target, eh? 🙂 Best of luck, Ross.

  9. Very interesting point of view! Recently it became a popular idea that working without proer business plan is the cause of all unsuccessful businessses. And there is something true about it. But maybe spending too much time on planning wihtout doing is even worse

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      I would say it’s way worse! I think any business plan longer than a page or two is too long.

  10. Mario Awad says:

    Exactly what I needed to be reminded of just now. Thank you and best of luck in getting things back on track with Millo. Cheers.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Mario, glad it was helpful. Thanks for taking time to comment. Best of luck!

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