The 3 Kinds of Work (including 2 you should be doing less of)

There are three kinds of work you do a regular basis.

First, there’s work that gets immediate results. It might be actually delivering the service you provide or creating the product you sell. It could be writing on your blog or updating product descriptions. It could be ordering supplies or promoting your work.

Second, there’s work that should be done by someone else. This varies depending on your business and your strengths within that business. It could be fiddling with your website, sending out emails, or scheduling clients. It could be writing copy or creating advertisements. It could be shipping packages or bookkeeping.

Third, there’s the work that contributes to long-term growth. Often this is work that requires your expertise but that isn’t the hands-on work that you sell. It’s systems work. It’s process work. It’s relationship building. It’s working on the vision (and the byproducts of it).

You probably do a lot of the first and second kind of work. You are constantly after immediate results (they feel good, right?) because immediate results are better than no results. And you do a lot of work that you really have no business doing because you have chosen not to invest the time or money in having someone else do it.

That means that the work that contributes to long-term growth gets the short shrift. When you don’t work towards the future, you leave yourself in the hamster wheel of constant hustling. Sound familiar?

…while you’re doing it, doing it, doing it, there’s something much more important that isn’t getting done. And it’s the work you’re not doing, the strategic work, the entrepreneurial work, that will lead your business forward, that will give you the life you’ve not yet known.
— Michael E Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited

If you’re beginning to lose faith in the dream of having a business that takes care of you (instead of you taking care of it), then it’s probably because you find yourself doing so much of the first two categories of work. When that type of work is disproportionate to the results you see, frustration is the natural byproduct.

When you exercise your responsibility to long-term growth work, even if you’re not seeing immediate results, you can better weather the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. If a particular idea doesn’t work out, you have the systems or relationships in place to get you through. Or you have the comfort of knowing your next idea or opportunity is already in the works.

If you’re ready to do more long-term growth work and less of the rest, you need to schedule it. Put it on the calendar. Honor it like it was a client appointment or a project deadline. This is the work that will keep your business in business – respect it.

Once you’ve got that kind of work on the calendar, make sure that you’re creating systems that reduce the amount of other work you’re doing. Use your scheduled time to create a training or on-boarding process for an assistant or business manager. Also use that time to plan for new products or services that require less effort or active time from you. Plan to shift your business model to one that leverages your time & talents.

Bottom line: how would you spend your time if doing work that contributed to long-term business growth was your primary responsibility?

‘Cause it is.

— PS —

Kick Start Labs designed a brand-new Lab to help you get out of this rut and into strategic product development. It’s call Product Development 101. It’s available for a limited time on its own or as part of a Kick Start Labs membership. Click here for more info.

Busyness is the enemy of business.

The road from follow-your-passion to thriving business can be a bumpy one. Once you realize “if you build it, they will come” isn’t a business strategy, it’s tempting to spend every waking hour tweaking, writing, emailing, networking, and trying to push through.

“…while you’re doing it, doing it, doing it, there’s something much more important that isn’t getting done.”
— Michael E Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited

Busyness isn’t business.

Don’t confuse the two. You can work until you’re blue in the face and still not succeed. That’s not to say that hard work doesn’t or won’t pay off. But is what you’re spending your day doing really getting you one (or better, a few) steps ahead? Are your daily actions tuned to the goal you’ve set in front of you?

Check yourself.

Your goal can’t be to work yourself to the bone. The sense of accomplishment you’ve been missing won’t come from just checking tasks off a list.

What you’re missing is progress, the sense that what you’re doing matters in the larger scheme of things.

Being busy doesn’t level the learning curve. Being busy doesn’t create ease. Being busy doesn’t create satisfaction.

Know where you want to go and create a plan to get there. Remove any and all unnecessary tasks and busy work. Take time off, explore, enjoy.

Have faith that your plan will take time and that doesn’t mean that you have to fill it with work that is meaningless.

what’s your hypothesis? making the art business a science

You didn’t go to business school. You don’t have an MBA. You don’t run a tech startup. The only “C” in front of your title stands for “cook” or “cleaner.”

You’re an artist. You may not use paint or stone or metal. You may not sing or dance or write. But your work is an art and your passion changes people. And you, my friend, have taken this art and turned it into a business.

What could your business – one that’s based on soul stirring, passion inducing work – learn from the science of creating corporations? Turns out, a whole helluva lot.

Your business is here to prove something.


  • that great writing changes lives & leads to more sales.
  • that elegant jewelry boosts your self-confidence and takes the pain out of the morning routine.
  • that quality materials & craftsmanship really are worth the big bucks.
  • that creative expression saves lives.
  • that great design tells a story that words & pictures alone cannot.
  • that a well-decorated home keeps a marriage happy & healthy.
  • that a New Economy can be built around artist-business owners.

Yes, indeed. Your passion comes from your undying determination that part of your worldview is a Truth for many others. Your productivity comes from the resolve to share that with as many people as possible.

But, like any hypothesis, it’s not simply enough to state it. To deem it so.

Your business hypothesis must stand up to scrutiny, experimentation, analysis, and… dun dun dun… customer feedback.

Your hypothesis isn’t an excuse to put on your dreamer hat and sit in the corner while the MBAs play at profit. Your hypothesis is what gets you into the trenches and compels you to do business.

People don’t by WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
— Simon Sinek, Start With Why

In starting businesses, we are most often concerned with what product we’re going to sell or what service we’re going to offer. It’s easier to understand the transaction when you know what’s changing hands. But it’s not the particular service or product that creates crowds of loyal fans. It’s not the product or service that spurs us to innovation & creative thinking.

It’s stepping outside the this-for-that exchange and stepping into something bigger & more powerful: our vision for the world.

Startups also have a true north, a destination in mind: creating a thriving and world-changing business. I call that a startup’s vision.
— Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

Business starts with a vision. The vision inspires a strategy. The strategy ends with the product or service being sold.

You can’t know what you’re selling until you know what you’re trying to prove.

To prove your hypothesis, you must experiment with a plan. Build, measure, learn.

Eric Ries, author of the brand-new book The Lean Startup, explains this process in depth. It’s a constant cycle of innovation & iteration that has at its goal creating a product/service that works to prove your hypothesis and achieve your vision while serving your customers.

This is true startup productivity: not just making more stuff, but systematically figuring out the right things to build.
— Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

How do you test the hypothesis? How do you figure out the right things to build?

Eric suggests the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. That’s a fancy (or not so!) way of saying: do it, discover what happens, and figure out what it means.


Sadly, the first step is where so many get stuck. Without a clear hypothesis, it’s hard to know what to build. Of course, “knowing what to build” is truly overrated.

The first few times through this loop, it’s not your job to know what to build. It’s your job to learn what to build. So we start somewhere.

Back when I started growing my business in earnest, the first product I created was 52 Weeks of Blogging Your Passion. It’s an ebook with 52 blogging prompts. Not fancy. Not overly sophisticated. Just a response to what I perceived as a need.

I didn’t stress about making the most comprehensive product or making the snazziest design. I built a product it and I shipped it. That’s when the real work started.

While you’re “building” consider:

  • Am I wasting time on details that don’t enhance the benefits of the final product?
  • Am I wasting energy on making the product more comprehensive than is necessary to test my hypothesis?
  • Am I wasting attention on tangential pain points that are unrelated to the product I’m currently building?


In the tech startup world where The Lean Startup was first developed, there are loads of customized metrics and formal experiments that can be run with the data from the first (and subsequent) product builds.

I would argue these sophisticated methods of measure are a distraction to the microbusiness owner.

Forget the percentages, click thrus, and dollars, and focus on what your customers actually tell you about the product. Consider not only the specific feedback but the tone of their words, the setting of their usage, and the community of users.

After releasing my 52 Weeks of Blogging, I got customer feedback. It was good. But it’s not enough to just revel in good feedback. Ask WHY? I probed deeper to find out how people were actually using the book and what questions remained for them. That process then lead to several other books and a course.

Measure the effectiveness of your product by considering:

  • How is the customer using my product?
  • What results is she achieving?
  • Is she closer to believing in my greater hypothesis?
  • What themes are emerging about the product I’ve built?


Learning is all about figuring out what you’ll do differently next time. If you thought building your product was the end of the production phase and the beginning of the promotion & PR phase, boy, were you wrong!

Production is constant. Learning helps you know what to produce next. What tweak to focus on. What features to improve. What about-face to make.

Each time I build a new product, I learn so much about the people who purchase it. I learn things from the metrics, of course, but I also learn from their reviews. Their frustrations. And their questions. I build those questions & frustrations into subsequent products, blog posts, and emails.

I engage buyers via social media and create conversation around these areas. I build a bigger & bigger picture from my learning so that I can act & produce based on what I’ve learned.

Learn about your product or service by taking the feedback you’ve gathered & measured, comparing it to your initial hypothesis. Contrast your actual customers’ reaction with the way you thought they would react. Compare their concerns with what you feel to be true.

And then build again.

While in the learning phase, consider:

  • What assumptions did I make that proved false?
  • What surprised me about the customer feedback?
  • What could be eliminated from the initial product?
  • What needs to be added to the product?

Just as scientific experimentation is informed by theory, startup experimentation is guided by the startup’s vision. The goal of every startup experiment is to discover how to build a sustainable business around that vision.
— Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

Bottom line: to effectively change and grow, your business needs to be plugged in to your vision for the world and the hypotheses you hold true.

Forget discovering what to sell and who to sell it to until you’ve got those details ironed out.

Early Adopters: yep, you’ve got ’em. Now put them to use!

Social media has transformed our world into one great big small town, dominated, as all vibrant towns used to be, by the strength of relationship, the currency of caring, and the power of word of mouth.
— Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy

This, you know. Social media gives you the best opportunity to talk to fellow business owners and loyal customers since, well, the last time you strolled down a thriving main street.

Best of all, social media doesn’t mind if you’re in your pajamas.

We also know that social media contributes to tipping points and even revolutions. It connects neighbor to neighbor and grandson to grandma.

Social media has reinvented word of mouth by creating word of type, swipe, and tap.

But before there can be sharing, there has to be something to share. And there has to be people who want to share it.

And this is where Early Adopters come in.

What is an Early Adopter?

They’re the people who wait in line for the latest iDevice. They’re the people try out new software before you’ve even heard of it.

According to The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development:
“Passionate, early users of new technology or products who understand its value before mainstream markets.”

Yes, they’re most often associated with tech.

But they’re also the people who try out the new restaurant in town before the reviews come out. Or the newest microwaveable meal at the grocery store. Or the salon that just opened. Or the doula that just started her practice. Or the artist that hung her first show.

Early Adopters rely on curiosity to fuel their purchasing decisions far more than brand names or customer reviews.

But Early Adopters do more than just buy your stuff.

Early Adopters want to help you and (here is the best bit) want you to be successful.
The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development

Whether your business is 30 days old or 30 years old, you can harness your own Early Adopter community. Your new widget or service may be a hard sell for those who are used to using something else but, harness your Early Adopters, and you’ll be able to make your initial offering much more palatable to the masses.

Game? Here’s how you do it:

Use Early Adopters to make in-progress products better.

Create an email list for people who are specifically interested in a new product. Email them regularly with content tangential to the development of your product. Ask for feedback, opinion, and personal experiences. Create a conversation that informs the development of the product you’re working on.

Use Early Adopters to get feedback on in-use products.

Since Early Adopters are those most likely to “get it,” utilize them to provide the feedback that gaps your designer experience with the user experience of those you’re selling to. Survey the first wave of buyers and seek to understand how they’re using the product and why they wouldn’t live without it anymore. Adjust sales copy, your positioning, and your product/service based on a careful analysis of this feedback.

Use Early Adopters to produce more.

We spend too much time in development and not nearly enough time in testing, deployment, and analysis. Create a first run product that is high in quality but lacking in bells & whistles. Sell these products (or services) to an invite-only list (see point 1) and solicit feedback so that you can create a second run product with the features, bells, & whistles your wider audience actually wants. Then you’ll be creating your next first run product instead of banging your head against your desk wondering why the first product didn’t sell.

Reward Early Adopters for giving you a hand.

Reward? On this budget?! A mention on Twitter, an email conversation, or sending them a preview copy of your next product are all great – and cheap – ways to reward your Early Adopters. Luckily, they don’t require much more than acknowledgment and the very first heads up on what you’ve got coming next.

I know, I’m an Early Adopter.

Start finding your Early Adopters today.

Run a sales report, create a Twitter list, thank them by name on your Facebook page, create your “Sneak Peek” email list… do something that helps you identify these key people in your business.

But first, leave me a response below and tell me what you’re going to do with them!

What results are you creating?

Results. I love ’em.

Results often seem elusive. Despite the promises of info products, programs, courses, and blog posts, we are often left resultless. Maybe we don’t have all the same questions but we have plenty of new ones in their place.

Results are key. They help us meet our goals. They buoy our spirit when things get tough. They prove to others we’re not insane.

Results are becoming uncommon. “Daily grinding” often doesn’t produce results. Daily grinding produces distraction, complacency, and circular productivity. Are you really working towards an end? Or are you just working towards tomorrow?


Feeling stuck comes from ingesting. Creating a result comes from digesting.

Consider how you feel after you indulge in a lovely carb binge. Sedentary. Lazy. Heavy. Bloated.

Consider instead how you feel after you indulge in a delicious spinach salad with oil, lemon juice & all your favorite fixings. Buoyant. Energized. Ready.

Carb binging is ingesting – the focus is what’s going into your mouth and not what’s coming out the proverbial other end. It’s all or nothing on the intake and just nothing on the output. The pleasure comes from stuffing yourself more.

Eating fresh, clean food allows you to digest. You experience both the pleasure of every bite and the pleasure of feeling ready for what the world will throw at you. You are fueled.

When you truly digest your research, your work, and your analysis, you are able to create results.

What results are you creating right now? What results do you need to be creating?


Accelerate your results. Accelerate your success. I invite you to join me in the lab for my FREE Prototype Challenge. Results everyday, guaranteed. Click here to get started.