Why Busy-ness Is Not Good for Business

If you were training for a 13.1-mile half-marathon, would taking your dogs for a 10-minute walk around the block be good training?

Obviously, you wouldn’t expect to finish a half-marathon … much less finish with a decent time … after doing nothing but walk your dogs.

But are you doing the same type of thing when it comes to your business? I’ll confess that I was, but not anymore.

Let me explain …

I started marketing my freelance copywriting business in January. Since then, I’ve been able to step away from my J-O-B at the family business and reduce my time there to just one part-time day a week. My own business has been growing, and I’ve been busy.

But I realized recently that I haven’t been busy doing the most profitable things. I haven’t been going after work that is strategically best for my freelance career.

I’ve been busy with a lot of web copywriting and social media work for small local businesses that really need my help. The work is rewarding, and I’m getting paid to do it.


My chosen niche is writing web copy to engage and retain customers for the wine industry. And only one of my small local business clients is a winery!

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been very productive in attracting new clients in my niche. I’ve been losing out on the potential for more lucrative projects and the chance to write about what I love.

So with the help of Nick Usborne’s Profitable Freelancing program, this is what I did and what you can do, too, if you find yourself in a similar situation:

  1. Set specific business goals, and put them in writing. You have to know where you’re going so you can plan how you’ll get there. You also need to be able to recognize when you get off track so that you can make the necessary adjustments to keep moving forward.
  2. Identify what’s keeping you busy but not moving you forward. Do you spend too much time on the $100 project and then don’t have time to go after the $1,000 client? Take a look at the work you’ve billed for in the past month (or the last quarter). Which jobs were the most profitable? Both on their own and as building blocks for future work in your niche. Which weren’t?
  3. Evaluate the importance of your “busy” projects. Some of your less profitable jobs may still be valuable to your progress in moving forward toward your goals. For example, if you’ve got multiple small social media accounts that will give you stellar testimonials, which you can then leverage in going after larger accounts, then those projects are still building your business toward your “big picture” goal. But be honest with yourself and recognize if this is really the case or if you’re just being “busy” but not productive.
  4. Let go of what you can and replace it with new work that pushes you ahead. Sometimes, you take in whatever work you can because you need to pay the bills. We all do, and that’s OK. But recognize those jobs for what they are. Take them when you need to. Let go of them when you can. And get back to pursuing new work that will help you reach your goals as soon as possible.
  5. Review and repeat. This is not a process to be done once and never again. Schedule a goal review appointment for yourself in your calendar. Do it right now! You need to make sure that you lift your nose off the grindstone long enough and often enough to make sure you’re still going in the right direction. Personally, I’m scheduling that appointment with myself at the end of each month. Whatever works best for you, commit to it and DO it!

Have you experienced busy-ness that has gotten you off track? Did you go through some of these steps to correct the situation? I’d love to hear about it! Please share your story in the comments below.

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Published: September 3, 2012

4 Responses to “Why Busy-ness Is Not Good for Business”

  1. I thought your article was good. It inspired me to take more, focused action toward my goals. Your advice translates into any situation that you are currently in but want to move out of. I will apply the steps mentioned. Thanks.


  2. Decades ago I saw advice to salespeople that they generally get 80% of their business from 20% of their clients. They should therefore spend more time on the 20% to increase sales.


  3. Thank You.

    I appreciate your point of view here and I really enjoyed reading your article.

    It is important to distribute your work into groups such as urgent, important and trivial.

    Urgent is a top priority and trivial tasks can wait and important is what you have to get out of the way soon enough.

    The early morning hours, for example, are for value added items such as writing articles and blog posts.

    Doing laundry can wait just before you go to bed and important tasks can be scheduled for the afternoon after lunch.

    Archan Mehta

  4. I loved and enjoyed reading your article which opened my eyes to so many things I had been doing wrong.

    I was guilty of being busy with lthe ittle things while ignoring the projects that will bring in real money.

    Your article changed me. Thank you

    Lucy Anya

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