I’ve sat down many times to write the post but have never been able to finish it. I can’t follow my own advice. Funny, right? But this isn’t an introspective post about small business owners needing to learn how to prioritize our professional needs, this is about the one business need that you’re probably ignoring. Are you wondering what that is? I’ll give you a hint, it’s a pretty simple answer. Professional help.
Does this sound earth-shattering? Probably not. Borderline radical? Quite possibly. That said, it feels like an important conversation to have in print because I’ve been either having it directly or dancing around it and I’d like to go on the record. Whether these chats have been with small business friends or potential clients, everyone is conscientious about where their money is going yet they know they need help. Here are some laments I’ve heard and how I answer them:
“...But it’s so expensive.” Not always. Do your research and see what you think would be a fair amount to spend (either monthly or by project). Once you’ve gathered quotes and considered someone’s portfolio, I think you’ll find that it’s pretty reasonable. That said, I appreciate that we don’t want to be spending money blindly, so if the quotes you’re getting seem like a reach, the right kind of professional should be willing to find a solution within your budget.
“I went to a $10 workshop so no offense but I can do it myself.” But can you really? Would you give yourself a root canal? Or maybe you’d see yourself for counseling? Okay maybe you would but most people wouldn’t because there are just some things that are best left to someone who lives and breathes their work. Yes, we live in a world where everyone thinks they’re an expert but they’re not. Until you’ve done enough research, gone through proper training, and managed someone else’s work, you probably can’t do this by yourself. And the only reason that workshop was so inexpensive was because those people want you to hire them.
“I don’t actually need help, I just want to see what’s out there.” I’m going to call BS on this one. No one intentionally makes more work for themselves unless they’re into self-sabotage (see above for how to counsel yourself). There’s a certain level of self-awareness that a person has to have if they not only know that help is a good idea but that they also go far enough to source it. So if you’re looking for assistance but maybe your circumstances changed or whatever the case may be, follow up and be honest with the people you’ve interviewed.
“I love my friend’s [insert creative work here] and I know she works with you. I don’t want them to think that I’m being a copycat so...” Referrals are how we live and I like to think that I have enough creativity to go around. This is not my childhood friend who would never tell me where she got anything, even though the choices were obvious (Limited Too or KB Toys!). We’re adults and while there are definitely signature touches to my work, I pride myself on being able to execute on a specific client’s branding.
Thank you for indulging my theatrical side for a minute but what do we do now? That’s not really for me to say. Shocking, I know. I can, however, make a friendly suggestion. And that is … hire a professional! If you poke around the web long enough you’ll see that there are things like equations geared toward helping businesses determine marketing costs, and you’ll see lots of %%%%%, $$$$$, and data. And because we’re mostly logical people here, this should be important to your decision making process but it may also be intimidating. I know it is for me. Regardless of how you feel toward arithmetic, I know one thing: you’ve dreamed too big, worked too hard, and invested too much to leave anything to chance.