Branding, creating content, developing information architecture, on-page SEO, designing to communicate a message, user-focused design–the list goes on and eventually leads to user-friendly website/blog development that incorporates social media. Whew. There’s no denying that Web work is getting more complicated and requiring expertise on more and more topics.
Question for small business owners: Do you still expect one person to do it all? Or, worse yet, Do you think you’re that person?
No one specializes in everything—you’ve probably heard that developing expertise requires time and effort, but there is much more to it. As someone who has spent decades developing expertise in several different fields, then teaching others how to learn and make connections in their own lives and practice—believe me when I tell you that there are limits. Integrating existing knowledge with new contexts and information, then making sense of it all will lead to new knowledge—but it also requires developing skill-sets for learning that integrate theory, research, and practice.
Small business owners are an amazing crowd, we have courage, intelligence, persistence, and curiosity in high doses—unfortunately too many of us try to do too much ourselves. Then same can-do attitude that led to starting a business in the first place rebounds to bite us in the butt.
I can’t tell you how many times someone has said “I need a website so I’m going to learn html” while looking at me expectantly and waiting for approval.
It’s all I can do not to rain on their parade, so I gently suggest that learning html will not help them accomplish their business web presence goals.
Cars are the metaphor that comes to mind—I have a car, I drive. I do not expect myself to be a cartographer and purchase satellite access time to map out my trip, nor do I need to be a mechanic with skills, tools, and machines that would allow me to fix my car every time something goes wrong. Instead I buy maps, pump gas, check and refill fluids and tires, then go to a mechanic when I need to.
All too often the best of “do it yourself” intentions can end up being a siren call that leads small business owners and entrepreneurs away from the activities that will actually grow their business. I try to encourage folks to do what they do best and carefully consider what will be lost as they try and cobble together a web presence with out extensive knowledge of: changing web contexts; strategies that include content, sites, and social media; and professional grade tools and skills of the web development trade. And then I remind them that all of these skills rarely exist in one person. The better a professional is in one or a few areas of specialization, the higher their standards for the total project and the more they rely on their team to do great things in other areas. That’s how it works at Chaos To Clarity—it’s a beautiful thing when the whole is more than the sum of it’s parts
I wish I could say that there are many happy endings awaiting the aspiring html learner, but more often than not our next conversation is filled with stories about their pain, wasted time, wasted money, and dissatisfaction with their business web presence. The lucky ones let go, the stubborn ones trudge on.
Sometimes it just takes a team.