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Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

I had a conversation with a business coach recently. And he told me that no matter how innovative business people become, he keeps seeing the same issue crop up over and over that holds them back from their full potential. They’re looking for solutions without problems. It’s one of the biggest hurdles he faces with his coaching clients.

I’ll share his insights in a minute. But before that, I want to talk to you about technology.

We live in an amazing time. As I write this, people use tools such as artificial intelligence to create previously undreamed things.

Respected media outlets publish articles generated using automated technologies. And they acknowledged the fact with a disclaimer that the article was written by AI and edited by a human.

Earlier this week, I needed an illustration for a design project. Instead of turning to stock imagery or hiring an illustrator, I used an AI Art generator to create the individual elements I required. Then I combined them in Photoshop to create the illustrated scene I needed.

It makes me wonder what the future holds and how I can embrace it for my business. And I don’t just mean artificial intelligence. Visit a site like AppSumo, and you will see dozens of innovative tools to help you achieve amazing things.

Advancements in technology, both AI and otherwise, allow people to reach heights they would have never dreamed of.

It seems that no matter what problems you face. There are tools on the market to help you overcome them. For the right price, of course. It’s a fantastic time to be an entrepreneur.

However, this abundance of available tools can also be a roadblock.

Back to that business coach.

He told me about his experience dealing with his clients and discussing it with other business coaches. He’s noticed a recurring issue holding a lot of business people back.

He said that many people have a terrible habit of finding solutions to problems they’re not facing. And it takes up so much of their time that they should be spending more effectively on their business.

Call it FOMO or Shiny Object Syndrome, but many people become enthralled with the abundance of tools available.

The marketing of these tools makes them so desirable that you have to have them even if you don’t currently need them.

I know I’m guilty of this. I look at my AppSumo purchase history and see many “great deals” I bought and never used. I purchased them with the best intentions, but, as the business coach said, I purchased a solution to a problem I wasn’t facing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing AppSumo. I love the platform. I’ve bought many tools from them that I use regularly. And just because there are some I don’t use doesn’t mean they aren’t great tools.

People spend a lot of time and effort developing these tools because there is a need for them. Just not a need that I have.

All of these tools were created to solve one problem or another. However, the possibility of one day facing said problems is not reason enough to waste time and money on a tool. No matter how enticing it is.

This reminds me of a couple of episodes I did several years ago about Just In Time Learning. Episode 8 and Episode 94 if you’re interested.

The premise of Just In Time Learning is only to learn something when you require knowing it.

There’s no reason to watch a Photoshop tutorial on adding woodgrain to type if you don’t have a project that calls for a font with woodgrain.

You may be saying, but knowing how to add woodgrain to a font might be helpful. And I can’t disagree with you. However, it’s just as beneficial knowing there is a tutorial, should you ever need it. So bookmark it, or save it to watch later.

Suppose you watch the tutorial video now when you don’t need it. You’ll probably end up watching it again when you do. So why not wait until you need it to watch it and use your time now for something better? That’s the premise of Just In Time Learning.

And it’s the same thing with these tools I’m talking about. Why buy a tool on the off chance you may need it someday? Or why buy something that sounds amazing if you’re not currently facing the problem it solves?

For example. There’s no sense in researching the best client management software if you only have a handful of clients to manage.

Wait until your clients become too numerous and tedious to manage using your current method, and then research available solutions.

Because that sparkly new system that looks so enticing today may be replaced by something better when you need it, even a lifetime deal is a waste of money if it doesn’t help you now.

So think hard before you purchase your next tool. Just because it’s a great deal is not reason enough to buy it.

Anyway, this business coach told me that he’s seeing more and more people searching for “that right tool” instead of concentrating on what they should be doing—running their business.

He told me there are only three tools businesses need to succeed. And they’re the same three tools enterprises have used for ages.

That’s it.

Think about it. With these three tools, you can run a successful design business.

Of course, I’m leaving things out like the Adobe programs or WordPress. Yes, you may require these tools, but they’re used to perform your work as a designer, not to run your business.

To run your business, all you need are…

A to-do list

To keep track of the projects and tasks you’re working on and the things you need to do. I use Plutio to manage my design projects and AnyList to manage all my other to-do lists.

A calendar

To keep track of appointments, schedules, deadlines, and other important dates and times. Every computer system available has a built-in calendar you can use. I use iCan myself. But you can use whatever calendar you wish.

A way to take notes

To keep track of things, so you don’t forget anything. My life is organized in Evernote.

With these three tools, you can run a successful business. The proof is in every business dating back hundreds of years.

Long before Artificial Intelligence, the internet, or even the phone. Savvy business people relied on these three things to run and grow their businesses.

I’m trying to say that you work hard for the money you earn. There’s no reason to spend it needlessly on tools that solve a problem you’re not currently facing.

And who knows, if you face that problem in the future, a newer or less expensive tool may be available. And you’ll have a good reason to buy it then.

I enjoyed my conversation with this business coach. It made me think of the tools I use and, more importantly, those I don’t use. And the money I wasted on them. And made me cognisant of how I’ll act in the future.

So the next time you see a great deal on something, or you’re mesmerized by the flashing marketing on some new innovative tool. Take a step back and ask yourself…

Am I burdened with the problem this tool solves?

If you have to think about your answer, or if your answer is not an immediate yes, I’m facing that problem now. Then save your money and get back to work. You’ll thank me later.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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