February 24, 2023
[00:00:00] Don: Welcome to Podcast 67. In this episode, we are chatting about how to shift your focus and zero in on what really matters in your design business. Let’s get you out of those weeds.
[00:00:15] Kris: Hey, welcome back everybody.
[00:01:34] Don: Hello. Hello.
So in this episode, we are wanting to have a chat about how we can often, as designers get stuck in the weeds of the doing, doing, doing, and we can’t see the forest for the trees and we wanna highlight some ways to recognize that and to make sure that our focus is always on what really matters.
So let’s get into some things that we can get bogged down into.
[00:02:02] Kris: Yes, because we can get so busy, busy, busy doing tasks, right.
We actually. can be doing it, doing it, doing it like busy, busy, busy, busy little bees. And we get stuck in these little tasks and we’re not actually moving the needle. We’re not actually moving forward. Um, we’re not actually getting the important things off ours because the important things actually feel a bit scary.
Yeah. They’re scarier than the little easy, busy tasks. Yeah. And we see designers do it all the time.
[00:02:32] Don: You know, heck we’ve done it.
[00:02:33] Kris: Oh, . yeah,
[00:02:34] Don: I think business owners do it
[00:02:36] Kris: yeah. We still do it.
[00:02:37] Don: Yeah, we . I know. Yeah. So we’re gonna take a leap out of our own book here, people. So yeah, we can get so busy and then we are feeling like I’ve just done so much today. You know, you get to the end of the day and it’s like, I have been busy. I have done this and I have done that and I’ve done this.
And then you actually ask yourself, and of all of that what moved the needle for your business? Yeah. And then the scary realization that really, well, none of it
[00:03:03] Kris: None of it.
[00:03:05] Don: And it’s a bit of a slap in the face, isn’t it? Because it really does make you think, wow, what am I doing? What am I doing?
[00:03:11] Kris: Yeah. And you actually, you’ve got all these things done. Check, check, check, check, check. But they’re not actually things that are gonna transform your business, move your business to the next level, getting new clients in the door, increasing your revenue.
[00:03:21] Don: Growing your business.
[00:03:22] Kris: Growing your business.
[00:03:23] Don: Yeah. You know, and, and that’s the thing. We can be busy doing all of these tasks that really don’t matter. Mm-hmm. . So yeah, there’s a few things that we wanna talk about that are true for most designers and they might be true for you. So yeah, let’s have a little chat about those.
[00:03:41] Kris: So what we want you to ask yourself is what needs to be right for the rest to matter.
So what little pieces of the puzzle do I need to actually focus on for anything else to matter? And we’ll give you some examples of this. We actually believe this is a Seth Godin quote, because somebody else said it was, but we’re not actually sure. Somebody smart said it, you know?
[00:04:00] Don: Yeah. and we haven’t been able to find the exact source. So if you do, let us know. Send us a little dm, but yeah, we believe it was Seth Godin.
[00:04:08] Kris: Yeah. So what needs to be right for the rest to matter? And if we think about that, we can get really bogged down in the entire design process and the entire business process. If we go too far ahead of ourselves, if we put the cart before the horse. So it can be things like, you are getting really bogged down in the platform that you’re gonna use for your website.
[00:04:30] Don: Yeah. And spending days and days researching. Yeah. Is it Squarespace? Is it show it, is it WordPress? Is it, is it this, is it that, and actually going down rabbit holes for all of those avenues.
[00:04:41] Kris: And it actually might not matter which platform you’re using at all. Um, it might actually just matter that as soon as possible you get a form, like a one page form on your site with questions that people can answer to book in a call with you.
[00:04:53] Don: Yes. How can I work with you? Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. That’s a start. We say that all the time to our beautiful design community. When you are just starting, you have to let people know you are there. And if you spend three months building a website and waiting for every single page to be perfect and making sure whether it’s this platform or that platform or that platform, three months has gone past and you haven’t had a single inquiry cuz people don’t know how to work with you. So one of the most needle moving things you can do is not get bogged down in the weeds of all that, and first and foremost, get anything up there. One single form on how to work with you. That’s it. That’s what we need to focus on. That will be a really needle moving thing for you to do for your business.
[00:05:39] Kris: Yes. We need to ask ourselves what is it serving, being so fussy about the web platform. Um, there might be relevant questions around it. Like, do I wanna learn this technology so that I can offer it to my clients? And that sort of thing. And that’s valid. But if it’s about I am not putting my website out there into the world until it’s picture perfect, every page is up, and that’s what we’re talking about. Does that really matter? Or does the form matter that somebody can book a call with you, and tell you their needs the project.
[00:06:12] Don: Yeah, Yeah, that’s right. Kris and I have said this before, probably in multiple podcasts, we started our business with one page. One website page. That’s it. And that’s all we needed initially, and then we grew it from there.
[00:06:26] Kris: So we’re talking about the Design and Prosper website right?
[00:06:29] Don: Yes, The Design and Prosper website.
[00:06:31] Kris: And if you’ve taken a look at our website, you now can see there’s many, many, many, many pages
[00:06:35] Don: Yeah. There’s a lot more to it. And it had to grow and it had to evolve. And you know, we’re excited. We’re actually throwing some changes at our website right now as this episode goes to air. But we started with one single baby page on how to work with us. Because we needed to attract clients to us in the first instance to make sure that we had a viable business, not three months into it and going, okay, we’re ready. We’re ready. Where are you all? And by then, you completely depleted. Because you haven’t had any work come through the door.
[00:07:07] Kris: Yeah. So some other examples, the invoicing platform you use doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s really easy for the client to pay you.
[00:07:17] Don: Yeah. Ease of payment. Exactly. That’s what matters.
Another one is where it doesn’t matter what client portal you use for project management of your projects, we are absolute fans of Trello, but it doesn’t matter the principles that we apply to that could be applied to any client management program. So we just, doesn’t matter. Just do it.
[00:07:41] Kris: Just start.
[00:07:42] Don: Just start. Just have one.
[00:07:46] Kris: Don’t spend weeks researching Trello. Notion. Click up Monday. All the rest of them.
And then you don’t actually one. And then your client project goes pear shaped because you haven’t actually got a system in
[00:07:59] Don: Yeah. And you do a half ass project management plan, and you’re still doing, you’re still managing a client with emails and you know, all of the ways that can get you stuck in the mud, in those weeds.
We wanna elevate up and go, what’s important? The actual portal isn’t so important. It is just that you have one, that’s what matters. So focus on that and get it happening. Get the skills up to use that platform as fast as possible and start using it. Get into it.
[00:08:27] Kris: Yeah. So another thing that might happen in your business is that you might be getting bogged down in the design process. and I’m sure you all relate to this. And it’s about pushing the solution so far that you’ve actually missed that you’ve actually cracked it already. And I have a tendency to do this. I will just say I’m creating a brand. I will have a really great solution. And it answers the brief and it’s gonna be fantastic for the client and all the things that it needs to do. But I will keep going down research rabbit holes because I haven’t explored it yet. And ooh, what about? My curiosity gets the better of me. And before I know it, hours and hours and hours are gone and I actually had the solution already.
And part of that, why I do that is because I have a curiosity, but it also may have a basis in not being enough, not feeling enough. Oh, it’s not enough. It’s not enough. It’s not enough is it though? It probably is enough. What you already have Is enough. So just going down that rabbit hole can blow your projects out of budget, and then that creates a cycle of not having enough money, which then turns to you being a bit desperate and taking on jobs that perhaps you shouldn’t be or jobs that aren’t worth enough money.
[00:09:52] Don: Yeah. And you’re just focusing on what doesn’t matter. At that time. It’s exciting that you got curious about an extra solution, and that might be something that you can look at in the next project. But for right now, if you have the creative processes in place, you will have validated that first beautiful solution. You will have ticked the boxes, it will have met the brief, it will have met your beautiful brand board. All of the boxes will be ticked. And yes, you can present this to the client. It is ready to present, so we’ve gotta go, okay, there’s my curiosity. I see you curiosity. There’s my self-worth going, oh, have I done enough? Have I done enough? I see you. I’m gonna focus on what matters. And what matters is that this has met the brief. What matters is that I have worked within the budget, I have worked within the boundaries and the parameters of this project, and I can confidently present that to the client.
So see how that tiny little shift, we’re shifting to what really matters in your business. Another one that happens, and it has happened to me a lot, is I’m a mad typesetter. So what I do is I get so excited about that solution that I get really bogged down in the subtle nuances with kerning and tracking and scale and all of those things, and the concept hasn’t been approved yet.
[00:11:05] Kris: Yeah.
[00:11:06] Don: So let’s just pull back on what really matters. The essence of the concept is there, let’s present that to the client and then, in the next phase, that beautiful finished art phase where we really get to tweak it, that’s when that will matter, but it won’t matter in that first instance. So, you know
[00:11:24] Kris: I’ve done that.
[00:11:24] Don: Yeah Yeah I’m sure a lot of you can relate out there.
[00:11:27] Kris: So many times with long documents especially, like there’ll be you know, title pages and subheadings and you’ve really finessed it and so beautiful. And then they change the copy.
[00:11:36] Don: They’ll add a word. They’ll either add a sentence or a word and you’ll go, damnit damnit. So remember what matters at each stage of your design process, and there’s going to be different stages of your design process where different things matter. So just ask yourself that question. What is this rabbit hole that I’m in, whether it’s a curiosity rabbit hole, whether it’s a creative rabbit hole, whether it’s a kerning rabbit hole, whatever. What is this serving? Is it for the greater good of my business? Is it gonna help me shift the needle? Is it serving my processes? Am I being boundaried around my very own processes that I have created for my beautiful business? So we have to keep checking in on ourselves because we can go rogue in our own businesses and we can be stuck in those weeds. We cannot see the forest for the trees, and all of a sudden we are wondering, why we’re not profitable.
[00:12:33] Kris: Yeah. especially when you only have yourself to be accountable for the running of your business like that, then so you go, oh, I’ll just do another four hours on that logo concept. It doesn’t matter. just gonna stay up late. And it’s affecting your mental health. It’s affecting your passion for your business. It’s affecting a lot more than the think. You think in your life. Yeah.
[00:12:50] Don: Yeah. Your physical health, mental health, you know, your overall wellbeing. It affects so much. And also just think about it if you can be boundaried in your own business with your own rules because your business your way, right? It’s your vision, it’s your business. You’re doing it your way. And if then you are constantly breaking your own rules all the time, you’re actually gonna resent yourself
[00:13:14] Kris: Mm. Which is awful.
[00:13:15] Don: It’s an awful feeling. You know? Focus on what matters, people. Really, it’s important.
[00:13:20] Kris: Yeah. And just on that, if you’re a solopreneur, you’re probably more likely to go rogue with your systems. Donna and I both did that. Because we both had our own individual design businesses with teams and business partners and all the rest of it, and we were really good with our systems then. Yeah. But as soon as we went… we had babies and went and did design businesses that were solo. Yes. And that’s was when we went, oh,
[00:13:49] Don: I won’t do that bit.
[00:13:50] Kris: I know how do this. not gonna follow that system. I’ve only got myself to be accountable for. So we know for a fact that you can really easily go off track if you’re a solopreneur. So something that I do is I’m quite strict with the time I allow myself to work on concepts. Mm-hmm. and layout and that sort of thing. So I set the timer and be rigid with it.
[00:14:11] Don: yeah. You catch yourself, when we’ve worked together on design projects, Kris has become very good and I think we both have become really good at going, oh, I cannot believe I’m catching myself. I’m about to waste another hour and a half on this, and I’ve realized, I’ve caught it. I’ve caught it. The more you do it, the more you’ll get really good at catching yourself and seeing that this is not serving the project. This is not serving my client and it’s certainly not serving me. So you’ll get really good at seeing it when it pops up.
As long as you are aware. Awareness is everything. You want to shine the light on what really matters, and the first protocol is to ask the question. Just keep asking the question. Yeah. Who is it serving? What is this serving? Why am I doing this? You know?
[00:14:54] Kris: Yeah. And often those things that are actually going to serve you feel really hard. And that brings us to the idea of eating the frog, eating the frog first. If We believe Mark Twain came up with this concept, which is if you had to eat a frog first thing in the morning, everything else in the rest of the day would be a breeze. You know, it’d just be so easy, you know, after eating that that God awful frog ,
[00:15:16] Don: Get through it and get on with it, yeah.
[00:15:18] Kris: So those frogs in your design business are probably things like doing a solid marketing plan. Or working on some systems in your business, they feel a bit heavy, right? They require a lot of brain strain, a lot of energy. It’s like, I’ve gotta map this out. But you might think, oh, I might just figure out how to do reels. Yeah, that’s a bit fun. Or, Ooh, I might just go and figure out how to do animation for a post where you haven’t actually done…
[00:15:44] Don: the content yet. You haven’t planned the content yet, but, but I’m gonna work out the tech for reels right now, which it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have strategy. And, are reels, right? For your business. They might not be. Have you planned, have you looked at that yet? You know, so there’s that focus again, are we getting caught and bogged down in the weeds of the do do doing? And I’m busy, busy. I did all this research on reels and then discover, actually I’m not gonna be doing reels. I’m gonna be doing some other thing. You know, it’s, just so important
[00:16:14] Kris: Yeah. Worse still, might have been doing reels for 12 months. and not realizing
[00:16:19] Don: that they’re not right because you are not measuring success of that, which is a whole other podcast.
[00:16:25] Kris: It is is a whole other podcast,
[00:16:26] Don: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll talk about that another day,
[00:16:29] Kris: But you gotta eat the frog. You gotta eat the frog first. And we love how Glennon Doyle, had a real cute little take on which was worst thing, first thing.
[00:16:37] Don: We love that. Love it. We’ve taken on that with our children. Our kids are in high school now and, um, there’s a lot of homework. So Kris and I have both been saying to our kids, okay. homework. Worst thing, first thing, just get it done. You know? And, and I think because they are probably sick of us talking about eat that frog, so thank you Glennon for that beautiful spin on that, just in time for our high school kids. But yeah, it’s so important. Worst thing, first thing, get it done. Get it out of the way. Yeah.
And then you feel lighter, you feel more empowered when you get that thing done and you stop procrastinating around the rest of the work that will really be needle moving for you.
We heard this worst thing, first thing, uh, on a podcast with Glennon. And Abby her partner and Abby said, I was always in awe of you you just get in and get that first thing done. And I had envy. I had envy that you, you were done and you could just get on with the day until she started implementing it herself and then realized, wow, how freeing is this to just get the worst thing done first thing, and then I’m ready to rock and roll for the rest of the day. But there was a little caveat in that when you look at your week, don’t think, okay, I’m gonna get all the bad things done for the whole week today. Don’t eat the entire plantation of frogs.
[00:18:01] Kris: The whole pond.
[00:18:02] Don: Don’t do the whole pond. Just pull it back and just think about it one day at a time and go about it that way. So yeah, it’s incredible stuff because when you do focus on what really matters, you do focus on that needle moving work for your business. You’ll be surprised at the momentum that happens in your business. It really does pick up.
[00:18:23] Kris: It’s a practice. It’s a practice of awareness. Don’t expect that you’re gonna get it right from the get-go. It will become a practice once it becomes habitual and you might need a little bit of encouragement at the beginning. It even reminds me, this is slightly different, off topic, but it reminds me of sometimes, you know, when you catch yourself scrolling, like mindlessly scrolling. Yeah. And then you say, what am I doing? What am I doing? And so that, that thing can happen with work too. What am I doing? This doesn’t feel good.
[00:18:57] Don: Yeah.
[00:18:57] Kris: And then switch the phone off or whatever it is but then switch directions and go, this actually has gotten to the point where it doesn’t feel fun anymore. Yeah. Like these concepts I’m doing. Like I don’t know. I’m just throwing spaghetti at a wall with these reels. Why am I doing this? Am I actually actually getting clients?
[00:19:11] Don: Yeah. And you exhausted. Yeah. It’s a real physical feeling as well as a mental fatigue and a physical fatigue. Yeah. And I love that. Just check in and ask that question. What am I doing? Yeah. Why am I doing this? Such an important question. Yeah,
[00:19:26] Kris: If it feels weedy and mucky. If your energy feels flat, what is it?
[00:19:30] Don: What is it? Yeah. And then definitely move on to the next thing.
[00:19:35] Kris: So imagine you start your day and every day you might allocate half an hour, an hour to some really business developing strategy. Stuff that’s really going to shift things in your business, help you grow your business. Can you imagine how the day would feel after, that?
[00:19:51] Don: Yeah. Beautiful. Be like, right, I’m on. Let’s do this. Ready to do some client work, we have a little challenge for you. We gave you some examples of how you can get, you know, stuck in the weeds and bogged down. There’ll be a pattern for you. They’ll be yours. Like Kris and I were talking about our creative ones where Kris’s curiosity takes over and she feels like she’s got to go further and further and we are massive believers of the one concept rule. So having to pull back into that is really important because she can go too far down the track. I get caught up in the subtle nuances of type setting too early and things like that. And you may still be exploring website platforms right now and haven’t got a website page. So what is it for you? Recognize where that is and ask yourself what really matters and what can move the needle in my business right now? And then send us a little dm if there was a lovely little aha for you, that’d be so wonderful to hear that. We’d love to know if this is shaken things up for you a little bit.
[00:20:54] Kris: Mm-hmm. Yes. And you can find us by searching, design and prosper on your socials. And, just a little side note, we use showit. So if you’re wondering what do I use anyway? love it. We love
[00:21:09] Don: We love showit. Yeah. And that’s coming from someone, myself, um, don here, I was really nervous about, the website platform, because I’m not I design websites, but I would always hand it over to a website developer. So we wanted to be able to have the autonomy of doing this ourselves and showit is a designer’s best friend. And I am just here to say if I can work in show it. I believe any capable designer out there can do it. So, um, have fun with it. It’s a great platform.
[00:21:40] Kris: It’s a little bit like playing in inDesign.
[00:21:42] Don: It is, it is. You get so much freedom. So anyway, we, we are digressing. But, that might help you make the decision. Yeah. Get past that decision. Yeah, that’s, right.
[00:21:52] Kris: Yeah. All right. So another way that you can share this with us so Don mentioned sending us a dm, which we always love, love, love. If you send us a DM.
[00:22:03] Don: Yeah.
[00:22:04] Kris: And that means also that we know you exist in case we’ve missed you. And we can follow each other and connect that way as well. But also, in case you missed it, last episode, we announced that we have a new Facebook community. It’s called the Design and Prosper Podcast Community. And you’re so welcome to go over there and join up and we are wanting to have this group so that you have a safe space to talk about the things that we bring up on the podcast. And also ask us what you’d like us to cover on the podcast.
[00:22:34] Don: Yeah, that’s right. So, um, yeah, Come on board, come into this gorgeous community of beautiful like-minded designers and yeah, we hope to see you in there.
[00:22:42] Kris: Okay. All right. Have a beautiful rest of your day people. We’ll chat soon. Bye.
[00:22:48] Don: Bye.
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