Do you bring a backhoe to a task when a garden trowel will do?
When I left the USAF after the first Gulf War, I was a seasoned service member, bringing to the marketplace a ton of training, skills, and experience to potential employers.
Did I mistake what I was bringing to the market table with what the market was looking for! And when I started my own business, the same thing happened. I saw it happen in every job and business I was in and I saw it happen in my own life. At issue?
Don’t bring a backhoe to a job when a garden trowel will do and visa versa.
Bringing a backhoe to a trowel job
When I was doing some consulting work with a non profit, over time I saw these “experts” bring into our small (under 10 workers) organization HUGE Fortune 500 business processes into our “startup” workflow. What they, and we usually do, is overkill to what is needed. It wasted all of our time and efforts for all of us. It was not the “lean and mean” approach I saw that was needed. I left because they were stuck in their thought processes and were unwilling to change, to entertain that they needed to scale down their tools to fit the situation. They didn’t want Swiss Army knife, they wanted a Swiss Army chainsaw!!
When I started writing my first of now three books, all of those in the book industry (graphic designers, editors, etc., said that I needed to use Adobe’s InDesign or Quark’s QuarkXPress software to design my book. I was a struggling author and entrepreneur, where was I going to get the hundreds of dollars to purchase this software, the money to pay someone the same hundreds of dollars to do the job for me, let alone the time needed to learn its complexity? I didn’t have the money, nor the time, I was doing what most startups do, I was bootstrapping this new adventure.
Enter Apple’s iWork Pages, their (current) free office suite of word processor/page layout, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Over time I was able to figure out how to do both the interior files and book covers with Pages. I gave a proof copy of my book to a professional editor and asked her, “Without nit picking on every detail, what kind of grade would you give me?” She looked it over and said, “I’d give you a B+ or an A- for how it looks. What did you do it in, InDesign?”
“Nope” I said.
“What DID you do it in?”
“Apple’s iWork Pages.”
“No you didn’t”
Emphatically I told her, “Yes I did,” and then I proceeded to take out my laptop and show her my book’s file in Pages and how I could edit it.
She was dumbfounded that I was able to accomplish this. But I was THRILLED!
(P.S. Once I figured out how to do leading, line spacing by point size, in Pages, I was hooked that I could get my book done without going the expensive route.)
Adobe’s InDesign or other professional products are not a bad products, but when you present your self-designed book to the average customer and ask their opinion of your product and they can’t find anything wrong, who are you pleasing? Your client or customer or the pros?
As my wise grandfather was fond of saying, “Pay enough to get the job done and no more.” This applies not only to software, but your own products and services. Why should I print out a full color 100 page workbook when black/grayscale is what most will want? Will they want to pay the increased cost of full color? Looks pretty, but does it make a difference?
You also see the garden trowel and backhoe idea in play when putting ALL of your talents and skills in practice. Most entrepreneurs would rather use ALL of their talents in starting their own business than doing what most businesses do to employees: use a garden trowel list of their skills in a job rather than apply their backhoe of experience to work. Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Mind, saw that in his research. Most entrepreneurs use ALL of their talents instead of a select few working for someone else.
Start your full talented business now
So, when starting your own business, you’ll find you’ll learn to use all of your talents and grow in their frequent use, not a volume use of a few select talents working for “the man.”
Start your full talent business up now, then watch yourself and your business grow.