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Stop Trying to Do Everything




When you’re trying to grow a business, the temptation is to jump in and try to do everything you possibly can to make it a success. All at the same time.

  • You set yourself up on as many online venues as possible.
  • You attend as many markets as possible.
  • You try to get your work into as many shops as possible.
  • You try to blog every day.
  • You try to use a mailing list, twitter, instagram, facebook, pinterest, google +, tumblr etc etc all at once to market your biz.
  • You try to get your work featured by bloggers, in magazines, newspapers… maybe even on TV!
  • You are constantly making, photographing, and uploading new designs.
  • You work yourself ragged trying to maintain that 2-day turnaround on orders.
  • You try to do all this and run some semblance of a regular life outside of your work, too.


I’m telling you right now – from a place of hindsight – you need to stop.

Stop trying to do it all at once – because all you’re doing is setting yourself up for burnout. And if you reach that point? You risk giving it all up because you now hate what you once loved.

Yes – especially when you start out – you will be working like mad. This is okay… for a little while.

Life is about ebbs and flows, and there will always be times when you have to put in extra time and effort because a time-sensitive opportunity is looming. That’s okay… but it needs to be balanced by time when things are going smoothly, easily, and you have a bit more room to breathe.

I’ve said it time and time again – business is a marathon, not a sprint. If you sprint too much during the marathon, you’re going to collapse before you reach the end.

You MUST start thinking long-term if you want a sustainable, profitable business. {click to tweet}

You need to learn patience.

It’s okay to not do it all – all at once.

This doesn’t mean you should get lazy – it means you should get strategic.

I’ll bring your attention to the Pareto Principle – or the 80/20 principle. One interpretation of this principle is that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.

The trick is figuring out which 20% is working, and doing more of that!

This comes down to a few things: not only looking at stats and customer info to work out where your customers are actually coming from, but also thinking about what you enjoy about your business, and doing more of that (and less of what you don’t). Sure, there will always be boring stuff that we just have to do, but there are also lots of ways to delegate that stuff to other people. This might not be possible at the beginning, but you WILL reach a bottleneck eventually where it’s either delegate or implode under the strain.

There is NO WAY I could run Epheriell and Create & Thrive as they are now without help. No way.

Sure, when I started out, I did everything myself. And that was fine… when I was only getting a few sales a week. Once you start getting a few sales a DAY, things get a little harder.

I used to blog every day over on my old blog Epheriell Designs. I loved it… and it was wonderful while it lasted. It allowed me to build my reputation, connect with people, and have fun with my work. I was very sad when I had to let that routine go – but it was also freeing. I let it go because I was busy doing other, more strategic things.

I sometimes beat myself up because I’m not doing more PR… but then I realise I’m not doing more PR because I’m already too busy filling orders to do PR… and isn’t the point of PR to get more orders? If I’ve already go the orders, something is already working!

That said… once you attain some modicum of success, you need to ensure you don’t get so lazy with marketing that you give it up altogether because you’re too busy filling orders. If you do this, you risk everything falling apart if the current source of your orders dries up – you need to have multiple irons in the fire. The trick is picking the right irons – and not having too many.

Doing one thing really, exceptionally well is better than doing ten things in a mediocre fashion. {click to tweet}

Pick the one or two things in each area of your business that you both enjoy and do well. Then focus on those for a while – maybe 6 months or so.

Focus on growing instagram and your mailing list.

Focus on designing and launching that new collection – and accept the fact that this means your order turn-around time has to lengthen.

Focus on connecting with bloggers, and forget about magazines for now.

Focus on that one, high-end market, rather than trying to do 12 of them. Ditto for shops.

You get the idea.


As you grow, you need to get more and more strategic with your time. You need to work out time management strategies that minimise ‘busy’ work and procrastination. You need to start letting go of some things – whether that be just completely letting go, or delegating to assistants. You need to get smart about which parts of your work are actually building your business, and which parts you’re just doing because you think you should.

Stop trying to do everything – and start yourself on the path to thriving instead of just surviving.


Image source: Unsplash

Feeling snowed under and overwhelmed? Join us for my new e-course SHIFT: a 30 day journey to drive your biz from where it is to where you want to be – including a whole week of lessons on time management strategies. Register here.


Van Den has written 319 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.


Meagan morrow

Thank you so very much for this bit of advice!!! I was so excited to start my online business that I was trying to do everything at once! Truth be told even my husband was telling me to slow down… I’m going to listen to you both and pick just a few things to focus on for a while… especially since I’m just starting out…

Find me on Twitter @Meagan_Crafts or my business Facebook page:


I definitely think getting in there and taking advantage of that first blush of passion and excitement is a great thing to do when you’re starting out – ride the wave while you have it… just make sure to get off before it dumps you 😉

Allison Dey Malacaria

This is a great article. Yes, pinpointing the 20% that works does seem to be the hardest when the business isn’t really producing more than a few sales a month. So there’s this tendency to keep doing “everything” because you have no idea, really, where those few customers/clients are coming from. Great advice for fine tuning. Thanks!


Allison – absolutely. When you’re starting out, I definitely advocate throwing yourself in to as much stuff as possible to get a feel for it all. It’s great to do that when you have more time. But as your business grows and things pick up, you do get clearer on what works and what doesn’t, and that makes it easier to let go of the things that aren’t working.

Jules Madden

Great article! I’m guilty of this, thanks for the reminder. Very timely- I’m just about to make a planner up for my life & work so will really work out what I need to focus on and what I need to let go of. Ace.


Another person who says ‘ace’! There aren’t enough of us. 😉 Good luck with your planner!

Grace Keogh

Hi Jess… as always your words of wisdom have hit the spot exactly as I need to hear them. I literally just sent an email to my NEIS mentor telling him that I am snowed under, and drowning in confusion of where I should be focussing my efforts as everything seems to be demanding my attention at once. I know I need to stop, prioritise and re-focus – but it is very difficult to do so when I see so much that I want (need?) to do. Thank you for your gems of wisdom – they really do help me heaps.


It IS hard, Grace – absolutely! I am way better at this than I used to be, but I sill have areas where I struggle with this. Taking a step back and clearly defining what work is making the biggest impact really is worth the time 🙂


Perfect timing! The busy time is coming and I need to set my priorities straight.

Stacey (maxandmedesigns)

Oh my god Jess, I felt like you were writing this post about my life at the moment! Things are insanely busy with Father’s Day orders at the moment and I have a new sales avenue that has led to more sales this month than what I achieved in the entire financial year last year! Add to this a baby and a toddler that aren’t sleeping through the night (which means I’m only getting about 3 hours sleep a night…) and a part time consulting job and I can totally see a burn-out looming unless something changes and soon! I can’t wait to find out more strategies about how to maximise that “20%” of profitable working time to create more balance and prepare myself for the upcoming Christmas rush. Bring on September 1st, I’m ready for the SHIFT ecourse 🙂


WHOA Stacey! That’s amazing – and terrifying – stuff going on there 🙂 I would *die* with that much sleep, you are an absolute trooper. I hope we can get you some clarity and some extra time back!


This is so timely for me as I’m feeling a bit scattered and overwhelmed. My blog is my main point of stress at the moment and while I get a lot of pins, etc. it doesn’t convert to sales. I feel like giving it up for a while to focus on producing items as that has slowed for various reasons – my shop hasn’t had anything new for months. I need to focus on two things, like you say, and shed what isn’t working. Thanks for putting it into words!!


Sounds like you know what you need to do, but breaking momentum can be hard! Maybe you can cut back (but not stop) your blogging and focus on getting those new designs done?

Fiona Hill

As ALWAYS Jess you’re right on the money!! Very timely advice. 🙂 Thanks SO much. You’re Awesome!

Laura Leeder

Perfect timing! Your post was just what I needed now! Thank You!


Oh my goodness – that is ME! 🙂 2 day turnaround, you hit the nail on the head there 😛 I guess it’s easy to feel eager and put pressure on yourself at the beginning as you want raving reviews to promote your new business. Look forward to MAKING TIME to read more advice from someone who has been there before 🙂 🙂 Megan.


Megan – my turn-around time is around 5 working days (so, not including weekends) and has been for at least 3 years now. It hasn’t hurt my sales 😉 And it means I have the time to do things right, AND keep other aspects of my biz running relatively smoothly. It’s all about expectation – if you make it crystal clear that it takes a bit longer, and wow them with your customer service, customers really don’t mind waiting that little bit extra time.


Fantastic to hear Jess. Clearly I’m just putting pressure on myself for no reason :-/ … Have just been reading some of your helpful blog. .. I have a few adjustments to make in my Etsy shop then keen to get a full critique from you! Sounds amazing 🙂


Great post! Really encouraging and informative, while still being totally blatant about what actually needs to be done in order to go forward with your business. Thanks for sharing these great tips Jess!

libby taylor

thanks heaps for sharing all this info- so useful to small biz start ups!

[…] to make the covers got me thinking. A couple of timely posts also reminded me of the importance of not taking on too much, of pruning as Eve Fairbanks put it. It’s tempting to start making lots of different things […]

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