Earlier this week I was talking with Donna, the Diva of Design, who does interior design for our print books among other graphic design work for Empty Set and many other lucky clients. We are friends and colleagues, and were catching up on all sort of things. During our discussion she said “It’s just not the fight I want to be fighting, you know?”
I know. It’s a corollary to a question my friend Brent taught me that guides my business practices every single day: What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
I use the “problem” question every day to keep focused on the task I need to complete. As it changes, so does the problem I’m trying to solve, until there are no more problems and the task is done. As an example, I can cite the paperback printing saga that was the focus of my last post: almost eighteen months from start to finish, each time a new issue came up I adjusted the problem solving to eventually, hopefully, angle myself to the completed task of having paperbacks printed and available. Please note: sometimes the problem I’m trying to solve is my excerbation, and sometimes only beer will help. Turns out, that totally works sometimes as long as the end goal doesn’t change.
The “fight I want to be fighting” is much the same. As a two-person business, we have a division of labor that is roughly this: Scott does the creative stuff, and the branding stuff, and I do pretty much everything else. Often there’s no time in the day to get our basic work done, so we have to make hard decisions on what else we spend our time doing. Scott gets regular requests for blurbs or writing advice. Also requests for podcast or blog interviews. I get requests for information about how someone else can hire someone like me, or how to build an audience or requests for introductions to agents, printers, etc. And as much as we want to help everyone, if we did that, we couldn’t sustain our own business.
It makes me feel terrible that we can’t do all the things for all the folks, but we can’t. And feeling terrible about it isn’t the fight I want to be fighting. It doesn’t make me more productive or make more time for helping other folks. Instead I focus on the fight I *do* want to fight, which is to make cool stuff that sustains and grows our business.
I’m pretty fortunate, I know. This is the best job in the world for me, and I love the business we’re in and the work we do every day. I’ll keep fighting.