In one of his talks, Blair Enns of Win Without Pitching focuses on five business constraints, and bets that those who apply them are much more likely to succeed. The five are:

  1. You can never sell or retire.
  2. No more than 10 clients at any time.
  3. Unpaid written proposals cannot exceed one page.
  4. You cannot sell or track time.
  5. You must always say what you are thinking to clients and prospects.

No Exit sign, Holloway RoadLeslie Green’s No Exit sign in London’s Holloway Road tube station.

“The first constraint is No Exit. You can never sell your business and you can never retire.

“The effect of this is profound, even when you try it as a thought experiment. Go ahead, take two or three minutes to consider what you would change about your business if you knew it was a life sentence.”

I’ve no intention of quitting design, so the experiment isn’t as significant to me as it will be to others, but it still had me thinking I could be in this game for decades — good to keep in mind when, as often happens, I compare my work to the designers and studios I look up to.

There’s time to improve.

More from Blair on the topic: The Diversification Trap.
Blair’s manifesto is very good, too.