I figure the first post on the new site should be something personal and genuine yet helpful. After all, we are here to help right? So this post is a combination of “learn from my mistakes” and a fundamental business lesson rolled into one.
After a brief hiatus, Phacient.com is back up and running with a new look and feel. Originally when we launched the site, it was with the intention of doing it right. The site was meant to look good and function well. It was to serve as a place where potential clients, friends, and the curious at large come and get information about how to overcome challenges facing small business. It was also meant to be an environment for people to come, learn about and discuss current issues in marketing, management, and technology. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on your perspective, the site wound up serving as more of a place holder and contact mechanism due to the distraction of paying work. This is a problem that every business wishes it had, I know.
Shortly after we started, we got very busy and that led to a classic case of the dentist’s child having rotten teeth. It was very hard to justify putting the resources toward doing this right when there were so many other things involved in getting the business up and running. All that coupled with client work led to it just not getting done. There was a counterbalance though – my own neurosis. Being such a believer in the online world, I was plagued with the guilt of hypocrisy by not practicing what I was preaching. I was so busy working on these other things that I lost sight of the importance of investing in my own business. So a while back I recommitted myself to making good on being consistent with my ideology.
It was not easy. I am not a web developer per se. I know design and technical aspects more than anything. PHP is not my strength nor is dealing with all of the things involved with putting together a corporate site like hosting, registrars, security, backups, etc, etc, etc. In hindsight, I probably should have approached one of my partners and had them do this but it was not just about the site. It was also about the experience and the feeling that I was building something from the ground up. I NEEDED to do this. I feel that it added to my character and my well-roundedness. I was right – I just didn’t know how right. Now I am VERY well-versed in all of these things – and then some. The education was hard but I think that it will help me in a number of ways moving forward. To put the icing on the cake, my host was hacked just prior to launch which pushed launch back some more. I’m saving that experience for another post though.
There were many friends along the way whom I sought advice from regarding problems I encountered like Jay Thompson, Jeff Turner, Mike Mueller, Alex Camelio and number of others. Note: Please don’t be upset if I didn’t give you a link in this post. If I gave everyone a link this would turn into portal page. I did spend some significant time with them and I did want to acknowledge some of the folks. I was told years ago that a little thank you goes a long way so Thank You folks, Thank You all.
Building your own business website, if you want it done right, is probably not something you should take on yourself – unless your business is building websites. There are others that may argue the other way but to that I say this:
I can do my own taxes and could probably do a decent job of it however I have to consider my time. I would probably kill my whole weekend doing them OR I could just show up at my accountant’s office, speak with him for 15 minutes, give him my forms and receipts and pay him. Two weeks later he sends me my taxes prepared and ready to mail to good old Uncle Sam. I just have to sign them, stamp them and off they go. And I can say with 100% confidence that they are prepared better than I could ever do them. My refund is substantially larger and I have no anxiety of an audit since he has that great little suffix at the end of his name. If you broke down the time I would have spent vs. the money I could have made during that time, the math is simple.
If there’s one thing you take away from this post, it should be: Understand the notion of Build vs. Buy. There are many things in your life and your business that you can do on your own. Yes, this is true. The important thing is knowing what the opportunity costs of each activity are and use that to justify the resources. If your business runs on interns then most of what you do will be in-house due to the cheap (free) labor. This works for some. As long as you don’t require anything that requires too much cerebral energy. Remember, you get what you pay for. Don’t put important tasks in the hands of folks that don’t have the qualifications nor the inclination to do their best.
This extra investment in resources really translates into reducing risk to you and your company. A buddy of mine likes to use a phrase he learned in grad school where he majored in set design – “Measure twice, cut once”. He’s of course alluding to minimizing the wasting of materials. They are wise words. Materials are a huge portion of total cost in that business. I think we can all take something away from this though. If technology is a critical and expensive part of your business, then buy good quality hardware and make sure you are getting what you need the first time. If print is important to your advertising budget, then make sure the files go to the printer right when you place the order. If you spend a lot of time driving your clients around then get a quality vehicle that is reliable and attractive. You can’t skimp on these things. If you do you will be sorry.
I think we are all guilty of forgetting this from time to time. Heck, I’m writing an entire post about it. Just remember that time IS money and if you waste either of these two precious resources, it will take away from anything else you may want to do like selling, renovations, recruiting………………..or having a day in the park with your kids.
Note to Jay Thompson and Joe Sheehan: this is my first post using Microsoft Windows Live Writer. I had to make my adjustments but so far I am really liking it.
Ricardo Bueno says
Re: “Building your own business website, if you want it done right, is probably not something you should take on yourself – unless your business is building websites.”
Sometimes, people have a tough part admitting this. But I think it’ll save you both time and money in the long-run.
@RicardoBueno This is very true. I consider myself better than most in this venue but even those with skills have challenges that they encounter. Those challenges take time to figure out and if you can’t reuse that knowledge, you re really spending quite a bit of your resources on a one off solution – NEVER A GOOD MOVE. If you can’t reuse/resell it then you should avoid those situations as all costs.
@PatrickHealy – Very well said and good lesson learned. I too have recently decided that, while I love playing with WP and all that, there are others whose business it is who do it very well, better than I ever could. Changes coming
Thanks Tony. I think the concept of buy vs build will be one of the big themes that emerges from this blog. If you have all the facts at your disposal the decision is really very easy. The only thing you have to really make the judgement call on are the intangibles like quality of life and ‘the lazy factor’. Other than that all you really have to worry about is the inflection point of the curve.