A recent post about business protocol by Therapeutic Misadventures really got me going today. In her post she tells of a local newspaper who actually posted in their paper how to write a press release. Apparently, this paper was getting a bit peeved at the lack of proper press releases. She goes on to mention that if you want to be in business you have to know how to do certain things. And if you don’t know how, or if it just isn’t your thing, it’s okay to hire someone to help you. But don’t, for goodness sake, just try to do it on your own.
This topic is a true pet peeve of mine and I thought I would expound on her thoughts. Let me first start by saying that my undergrad degree is in communications with a focus on public relations and journalism. I also have an MBA in business leadership. Most of my twenty plus years in the business world have been in customer service management and recently in cost analysis. I also own a small antiques business with my boyfriend. While all this does not make me a business leader expert, I think I have enough knowledge on the subject to provide some sound advice.
First of all, Therapeutic Misadventures is spot on. If you are going to run a business, learn about running a business and if you aren’t good at something, admit it and hire someone to do it for you. Whether it be writing a press release, designing your website or working on social media, unless you have had some training in this area, you probably should leave it to the professionals. I do not know how many times I have gone to a website and been absolutely appalled by the horrific design, layout and even spelling. People, please! If you are not a website designer, do not attempt this at home. If your website looks like it was put together by a fifth grader, you are only going to push people away from your business rather than attract them. Pink and purple may be your favorite colors, but they don’t necessarily make good website colors.
My boyfriend is an award winning graphic designer who spent over fifteen years in the publishing world. When his job was sent to India (I know, right?) he started looking for a job closer to home. He has applied to small companies advertising fifteen dollars an hour and has received rejection letters from each and every one of them. You have to wonder what goes through these peoples’ minds. You are getting a six figure graphic designer for fifteen dollars. Why wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity?
We rented booth space in an antique shop in the city. While we were there, a new person purchased the shop. She had money, but absolutely no business sense and she wasn’t willing to ask for (or pay for) help. After several months of watching the website and not seeing any updates (it still advertised services she no longer provided), we approached her as to what her intentions were. We also asked about the Facebook page, which also hadn’t been updated. Her opinion was that both took too much time and who looked at those anyway? In reality, she had no idea how to update or maintain a website and very little insight on managing a business Facebook page, but she refused to admit it. So my boyfriend took over the website and another dealer managed the Facebook page. However, her lack of business knowledge didn’t end there and needless to say, she didn’t last a year. Unfortunately it was the forty plus dealers in the shop that ended up paying the price.
My boyfriend had taken a Dreamweaver computer-programming course when he met two people from a law firm. One was a secretary and the other an accountant. The owners of the law firm figured they could send these two women to a programming class and between the two of them they could take over the management of the website. Really?
In the first scenario, the woman had money and clearly a passion for antiques. In the second, lawyers are well-educated individuals. But neither truly understood the importance and complexity of websites and marketing.
I am amazed at how companies now advertise for designers who also need to write programming code. They expect marketers to know how to design. Do they realize that designing, programming and marketing are all separate entities requiring totally different skill sets?
Remember people, you get what you pay for. If you need someone to help you market your business, hire a marketing company. If you need someone to help you design a website, brochures, advertising or create a logo for your company, hire a designer. If you are looking for someone to do computer programming, then hire a programmer. But please don’t think you are going to get all three perfectly wrapped in one package for fifteen dollars an hour.
You may be the best chef, floral designer, hairdresser (insert whatever it is you do best), but that doesn’t make you the best advertiser, designer, marketer or even business manager. If you want to be successful, you need to have the experts around you who can help make that happen. Running a business is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it and be successful at it. Do yourself, your employees, your vendors and your customers a favor and admit that there are just some things you cannot do and let the professionals do them for you. In the end, this gives you the opportunity to focus on what it is you do best and stay successful for a long time. And that makes EVERYBODY happy.