Our pal Dave Crenshaw is a well-known author, speaker and coach – and an absolute master when it comes to helping businesses succeed by overcoming chaos. Crenshaw’s latest book, “The Focused Business: How Entrepreneurs Can Triumph Over Chaos,” tells you how to do just that – and we’ve partnered with Dave to give it to 99designs customers for free. (You’ll find the link the bottom of this post.)

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As part of our partnership with Crenshaw, we’ve made a cash donation through our 99nonprofits program to an organization close to his heart: New York City-based Defy Ventures. Defy provides intensive MBA-style training programs to help formerly incarcerated men and women leverage their skills and talents through entrepreneurship – which we think is simply fantastic. In addition to the cash, we’ll be providing a winner of Defy’s upcoming business plan competition with a logo design contest to help get their new business up and running. We think Crenshaw’s idea of encouraging companies like 99designs to support his favorite charities is brilliant: he allows us give “The Focused Business” to our customers for free, and we get to help an outstanding organization thrive!


(Image courtesy of Defy Ventures)

To give you a sneak peak into Crenshaw’s new book, we asked him to share five key ways business owners can identify challenges and move from a chaotic to a focused state.

As you read each one, consider this: which side is currently winning the war in these five key battleground areas of your company? Assess yourself candidly on a scale of zero to ten for each item – zero being absolute and utter chaos, and ten being clear focus.

1. Branding
Chaos – Chaotic businesses send a mixed message. The logo they’re using is vague. Their tagline is unclear. The supporting images on their website don’t harmonize well.

Focus – Focused businesses convey a remarkably clear message of who they are and what they stand for. Their logo and tagline work in harmony with the images on their site.

2. Customers
Chaos – Chaotic businesses do everything for everyone. They are constantly making exceptions to the demands of customers who bring fiendishly little profit. They play things safe.

Focus – Focused businesses have identified their Most Valuable Customer profile and cater to that person’s unique needs. They make polarizing decisions that attract the right customers and repel the wrong ones.

3. Products and services
Chaos – Chaotic businesses sell a wide variety of only loosely related products and/or services. Sometimes they are adding new business ventures, too. They often call themselves a “one stop shop.”

Focus – Focused business stay consistent in selling one product or service line for many years before expanding. They master the systems behind delivering that one thing long before they diversify.

4. Delegation
Chaos – Chaotic business owners are jacks-of-all-trades. Because they don’t trust anyone to do the work as well as they can, they hold on to everything. As a result, they usually work abnormally long hours.

Focus – Focused business owners have identified the one thing they do well, put their time and attention into doing that thing, and delegate the rest. Rather than micromanaging, they hire the best people for the job and then trust them to do the job properly.

5. Work-life balance
Chaos – Chaotic businesses demand that the business owner continually sacrifices time, health, money, friends, and family on the altar of future success. The reward for doing so is always “just around the corner.”

Focus – Focused businesses can still be demanding at times, but they provide enough flexibility for the owner to reap small rewards every day. They provide enough time to both work on growing the business and also spend time with loved ones or hobbies.


(Image courtesy of Dave Crenshaw)

Whatever the numbers you’ve assigned, chances are you’ve identified at least a little bit of chaos! Think about some action you can take now to move yourself and your business more to the side of focus. This action, no matter how small, will increase your odds of small business success.

Click here to download your free copy of The Focused Business e-book!