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Must you "go it alone"?

Monday, 24 May 2010

Guest blog by Hazel McLellan of Findgoodcustomerservice Ltd

Thanks Simon for inspiration to stop, take a breath and look back at the launch last month of our new business and all the associated learning. Here are some of our observations:

When we started out we thought we would be able to do everything ourselves – we had the time, the motivation and, after all who knew what we wanted the end result to look like better than us.

So we started doing jobs we've not done before – we became our own copywriters and designers - in the belief that a) it would save us money; and b) we could do it.

We spent days working on the copy for the website – firstly on a draft copy and then tweaking, re-writing and honing it- but the truth was, we were never really happy with the result. After our testers had 'played with' our test website, it became clear that we needed to split the site. We realised we'd run out of different ways to work the web copy, and the idea of sitting down for a further day or two to 'wordsmith' it, would mean we would have to delay working on other things. At this stage we decided it would be worth bringing a copywriter on board- so after a phone call to a friend we had a recommendation, phone call made to copywriter and decision taken. It proved to be one of our best decisions as it freed us up to concentrate on other jobs.

The unexpected bonus has been that our copywriter has come back to us with ideas and suggestions that we simply hadn't thought of because we were too close to the project ,and by listening to our copywriter's suggestions the end result has been a far better product. Having another person on board who brings you their ideas and shares their thoughts has added another dimension to the way we communicate with our customers that we hadn't expected.

When it came to needing marketing material we fell into the same mistake and thought we could be our own designers. We had the copy and the logo so how could we go wrong...? We spent the time (oh yes, plenty of time) working up the layout and proudly printed a couple of leaflets. It was only when we compared them against similar printed material that we realised we'd wasted our time and forgotten about playing to our strengths, which were not, being designers but rather keeping the project on track and delivering the idea as a workable solution. We quickly brought in a designer and haven't looked back since- leaflets done. Also through our designer we found an excellent printer and he also helped us negotiate better printing costs.

The problem was we spent lots of time trying to do something we didn't have the skill set to do and could have been doing something else with our time. In bringing other people on board there were unexpected bonuses that helped us to improve our product and service.

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All too often as a business owner we are so focused on and so close to a particular task that we simply don't see beyond it. Bringing other people on board who have the appropriate skills is sometimes a big decision, especially at start up time when you're working to a budget but it proved the right decision for us and we hope a lesson well learnt.


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