What’s the one thing that you must do to have a viable business?

It’s not market.

It’s not sell.

It’s not even the ability to invoice or be paid.

Sure they’re all crucial parts, but if you have all of them dialed in you can still totally kill your business by missing one thing.


I like to have no clutter around. Things should have a use and be awesome at that use.

That’s one reason I have 3 messenger bags and 2 camera bags. I’m sure there are more bags in my closet I’m forgetting about as well. Those are just the bags that sit beside me at my desk.

When things don’t perform their job well, I’m apt to donate/toss them. I don’t think about what the object actually cost me. It’s bad at it’s job and therefore mostly useless.

Get rid of it, so that you can get something useful. Oh how my budget conscious wife loves that attitude from me.

Can you guess?

So, do you know what the one thing you must have is yet?

It’s delivery or ‘shipping’. It doesn’t matter if you can write awesome code or sell clients, if you never actually ship their products you’re going to run out of work.

You’ll run out of work because they’re not going to refer you to their friends.

Your reputation will be bad since you never deliver on anything.

Work will continue to dry up and you’ll be on a treadmill of finding clients that have never heard you deliver terrible work.

But that’s rare right??

You may be thinking that it’s rare to find someone that regularly doesn’t deliver work, but you’d be wrong.

4 weeks ago, I was approached by a friend to take over a project from a well known WordPress contractor and active core contributor. They were wildly behind on the work and hadn’t been heard from in weeks.

The thing is, it’s not the first time I’ve heard the same story about the same person. Lots of code written for Open Source, little real production for client work.

Now, last week I get asked about another rescue project. A project that I didn’t get originally because my pricing was out of budget. This was given to another person that talks big about delivery, but I’ve rescued many of their projects.

They simply don’t deliver.

I’m not sure how either of the 2 coders above actually pay the bills, since I hear about both of them not delivering at least a few times a year.

As a consultant/freelancer/business owner the first and most important thing is to deliver for your clients. Be useful.

If you’re selling products the first, most important, thing is to have something useful to sell.

Don’t jump the gun on learning the new hot technology just because it’s awesome. Learn what your project needs and what makes your workflow more efficient.

Above all, ship that design or site for you clients. Your job is to help make your clients more money.

Not to make sure that the new hotness has been used this week.

Being useful is way better than being cool.

photo credit: eldeeem via photopin cc

2 responses to “Being Useful is Better than Being Cool”

  1. Drew Avatar

    It’s crazy and astonishes me that this happens so often. I’ve had this same story about freelancers in similar positions (active on core, etc) come through my inbox a few too many times. I think 3 or 4 times in the last year, mostly 1 person though.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Yeah I’ve heard it from the same few people as well.