Book Summary For Designers: Rework by Jason Fried

Are you a freelance designer struggling to manage your business effectively?

Do you find yourself juggling multiple tasks, trying to balance creativity and client expectations while also keeping your business operations running smoothly?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to make your business thrive, then you’re not alone.

But what if there was a different approach to business management that could help you streamline your work, focus on results, and build a sustainable and profitable business?

Enter Rework by Jason Fried, a book that challenges conventional wisdom and offers a fresh perspective on business management.

In this summary, we’ll explore the key takeaways from Rework and how you can apply them to your work as a freelance designer.

From prioritizing profitability over growth to embracing constraints and simplifying processes, Rework offers unconventional ideas and approaches to business management that can help you rethink your approach and build a successful and fulfilling career as a freelance designer.

So, if you’re feeling perplexed and bursting with questions about how to make your freelance design business thrive, then Rework may just be the answer you’re looking for.

Let’s dive in and see what Rework has to offer for freelance designers like you.


Rework by Jason Fried is a book that challenges traditional business practices and offers unconventional advice for entrepreneurs.

The author encourages a focus on results, simplicity, and profitability over growth.

The book rejects traditional business practices such as meetings, business plans, and long-term goal setting in favor of an agile and adaptable approach to business management.

Overall, Rework provides a practical and insightful guide for entrepreneurs who are looking to build a more effective and sustainable business.

Key Takeaways

Here are the key takeaways from Rework by Jason Fried:

1. Focus on Results, Not Effort

One of the key messages of Rework is that it’s not about how many hours you work or how hard you work, but rather what you actually achieve.

The author encourages entrepreneurs to be productive and effective, rather than simply busy.

By focusing on results, entrepreneurs can prioritize the most important tasks and avoid getting bogged down in busywork.

For example, instead of spending hours in meetings or responding to every email that comes in, entrepreneurs can focus on the tasks that will have the most impact on their business.

2. Embrace Simplicity

Another central theme of Rework is the importance of simplicity.

The author argues that complexity can be a major hindrance to productivity and effectiveness, and that businesses should strive for simplicity in all areas.

This includes simplifying products, processes, and communication.

For example, a software company might create a stripped-down version of their product to appeal to users who are overwhelmed by complex features.

A restaurant might streamline its menu to make it easier for customers to choose what they want.

3. Prioritize Profitability Over Growth

While many entrepreneurs are obsessed with growth, Rework encourages a more measured approach.

The author argues that focusing on profitability first can be more sustainable and less risky than chasing growth at all costs.

This means that businesses should focus on generating revenue and reducing costs, rather than investing heavily in marketing and expansion.

For example, a small business might focus on building a strong customer base and maximizing profits before considering opening new locations.

4. Be Agile and Adaptable

Rework challenges traditional business practices such as long-term planning and goal setting, arguing that they can be inflexible and hinder innovation.

Instead, the author advocates for an agile and adaptable approach to business management.

This means that businesses should be willing to pivot quickly in response to changes in the market or feedback from customers.

For example, a company might experiment with a new marketing strategy, or change their product offering based on customer feedback.

5. Embrace Constraints

Finally, Rework encourages entrepreneurs to see constraints as opportunities rather than limitations.

The author argues that constraints can force businesses to be more creative and innovative in their solutions.

For example, a company might have a limited budget for marketing, which could lead them to experiment with more creative and cost-effective strategies.

How To Apply The Principles For Freelance Designers:

Here are some examples of how freelancers, particularly freelance designers, can apply the principles from Rework to their work:

1. Focus on Results, Not Effort

It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending too much time on each project. However, this can be counterproductive if it means that you’re not delivering the results that clients are looking for.

To apply the principle of focusing on results, consider setting clear goals for each project and tracking your progress towards those goals.

This can help you prioritize the most important tasks and avoid getting bogged down in unnecessary work.

For example, you might set a goal of creating a website design that is easy to navigate and visually appealing, and focus your efforts on achieving those specific results.

2. Embrace Simplicity

Simplicity can be a powerful tool for creating effective designs.

This might mean simplifying the user interface of a website, creating a clean and minimalist logo design, or using simple typography to communicate a message.

By embracing simplicity, you can create designs that are more intuitive and user-friendly, and that stand out from the cluttered designs that many clients may be used to seeing.

3. Prioritize Profitability Over Growth

For freelance designers, profitability can be a key factor in building a successful business.

This means focusing on projects that are profitable, and being strategic about pricing and project management.

For example, you might consider charging premium rates for your most in-demand services, and focusing on building long-term relationships with clients who value your expertise.

By prioritizing profitability, you can build a sustainable business that allows you to continue doing what you love.

4. Be Agile and Adaptable

As a freelance designer, being agile and adaptable can be a key factor in staying ahead of the competition.

This means being willing to experiment with new design trends and techniques, and being open to feedback and suggestions from clients.

For example, if a client suggests a new color scheme or design element for a project, you might be willing to experiment with those changes to see if they improve the final result.

5. Embrace Constraints

Constraints can be a valuable tool for inspiring creativity and innovation. This might mean working within a limited budget, using a specific color palette, or designing for a specific platform or device.

Embracing these constraints can challenge yourself to come up with creative and effective solutions that meet the needs of your clients.

For example, you might use a limited color palette to create a striking and cohesive brand identity for a client, or design a mobile app that is optimized for a small screen size.

How can Freelance Designers benefit from this book?

There are several ways that you can benefit from reading Rework by Jason Fried. Here are a few of them:

1. Gain new insights into business management

Rework offers a unique perspective on business management that challenges many of the traditional approaches.

By reading the book, you can gain new insights into how to manage your freelance design business more effectively, from prioritizing profitability to embracing constraints.

2. Improve your productivity

Rework emphasizes the importance of focusing on results, rather than effort, and of simplifying processes to be more productive.

These principles can help you streamline your design process and avoid getting bogged down in unnecessary work.

3. Learn to be more adaptable

Freelance design is a constantly evolving field, with new technologies and design trends emerging all the time.

Through adopting an agile and adaptable approach, you can stay ahead of the curve and deliver innovative and effective designs for your clients.

4. Build a sustainable business

Rework encourages entrepreneurs to prioritize profitability over growth, which can be particularly relevant for freelance designers who are looking to build a sustainable business.

By focusing on profitability, you can ensure that you are charging the right rates for your services, and that you are taking on projects that are profitable and aligned with your expertise.

5. Be inspired to think differently

Rework is full of unconventional ideas and approaches to business management that can inspire you to think differently about your freelance design business.

Through embracing creativity and innovation, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and deliver designs that truly stand out.


In conclusion, Rework by Jason Fried offers a refreshing and unconventional perspective on business management that is highly relevant for freelance designers.

By embracing the principles of focusing on results, embracing simplicity, prioritizing profitability over growth, being agile and adaptable, and embracing constraints, freelance designers can build successful businesses that deliver effective and innovative designs for their clients.

If you are a freelance designer, I encourage you to take action and apply the principles from Rework to your work.

By doing so, you can streamline your design process, stay ahead of the curve, and build a sustainable business that allows you to continue doing what you love.

Remember, success as a freelance designer is not just about being talented, but also about being strategic, adaptable, and focused on results.

So, take a step back and assess how you can apply the principles from Rework to your work.

Whether it’s focusing on profitability, simplifying your design process, or embracing creativity and innovation, there are many ways that you can differentiate yourself and deliver outstanding results for your clients.

By taking action and applying these principles, you can build a successful and fulfilling career as a freelance designer.

Find out more about the book here.