What if "the rules" didn't apply to you?

Philip Morgan

A friend of mine in Chicago is a very successful, self-employed designer. His business made twice as much revenue as mine did last year, and I'm pretty sure he worked no more than 63% the number of hours I did.If you think I'm a little... out there for doing stuff like emailing my list every weekday, then Nick makes me look absolutely tame by comparison. Here's a taste of The Nick for you:

  • He shut his business down for basically an entire month recently and told his clients in no uncertain terms that he would be completely unreachable for weeks at a time. This is not a once every 10 years sabbatical, this is routine business for Nick.
  • He's a designer who, if I recall correctly, has exactly one image on his entire business website. The rest is just words, more words, and some whitespace.
  • If you join his email list at the wrong time, you might get the impression that he is actually an extremely opinionated fine restaurant reviewer or a semi-retired Chicago alderman, not a designer.

I'm not sure how many "business rules" Nick has broken in those three examples, but it doesn't matter. Breaking so-called rules is not an exception for Nick--it's a way of life.I say this with love for Nick, and also to make an important point.Nick has freedom. Not just freedom to take lengthy vacations or spend money on nice meals.He has freedom to be himself in his business, and to run it in a way that's consistent with his personality and values. He has this freedom because he's freaking earned it by mastering the fundamentals of business:Creating a strong, differentiated value proposition for his clients...Marketing himself consistently and well...And generally running a tight ship with respect to client management, payment, rates, and other important issues.I've learned a tonne about business from Nick, and now you can too.If you're interested in learning more about how Nick runs his business and fights daily for the kind of freedom he enjoys, check out this book he's launching on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nickd/draft-evidence-essays-about-design-and-independent. I have been giving away my collection of paper books non-stop for the last year, but Nick's work is the rare exception. I bought a copy, and maybe you should too (before it's too late, which will be April 14th, 2016).That link again: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nickd/draft-evidence-essays-about-design-and-independent