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Inspiration Is Everywhere
If you’re in business, you look at other businesses that are doing a superb job and wonder what you can borrow from them.
I love Virgin’s airport lounges, and pray for their survival in 2021 under the new overlords.
I’m always impressed by the smart, helpful, heavily-pierced and tattooed staff at JB HiFi and wonder how they achieve that across so many stores.
I love the tactile precision of Breville’s espresso machines, designed by Australians and now huge globally.
Then, regrettably, you see a lot more businesses that are rubbish. Ugly design, slapdash delivery, clunky functionality, empty promises. A lot of it comes down to the good old Aussie DIY mentality. I blame reality TV.
Cheery carpenters on TV going:
‘After the break, I’ll show ya how to knock up a set of kitchen cupboards out of Ikea packing boxes! See ya soon!’ Wink to camera.
He can do it. Because he’s a carpenter and that’s his job. You, on the other hand …
Respect 3000 Years Of Progress
People used to do everything. They had to. But that was in 3000BC. Then some ancient Sumerian thought:
‘Screw trying to build a house, I’m good at catching fish so I’ll give Gilgamesh the Builder some cod and he can build my place. I’ll never have to smash my thumb with a rock again.’
Thus the concept of specialist careers began. It’s brought the human race wondrous things over the last 5,000-odd years.
TV carpenters would have you turn your back on all humanity’s progress. And go back to smashing that thumb while building a poor-quality household item that will cost you, when you factor in time, eleven-fourths of the price of using a professional.
Throw in the male mindset — ‘I am He-Man, He-Man can do anything’ — and you get a hideous out-of-whack monument that can never be thrown out for fear of hurting your feelings. Visitors ask: what is that?
The family rolls their eyes and wishes He-Man would stick to his core skills of insurance broking and soccer coaching.
‘I’m Not Paying All That Money’
You see business executives renovating their homes, supervising builders who can sense an easy mark when they see one turn up on site in shiny shoes. The project goes 175% over budget, generating five years’ worth of tedious dinner party stories.
If only there was someone you could pay a modest percentage of the budget to make sure the builders behave themselves and stick to the quoted price. Oh wait, there is! They’re called project managers.
‘Oh no, I’m not paying a project manager all that money for something I could do myself.’
Project managers, architects, marketers, designers, and any of the creative professions, have always been plagued by clients who reckon they can give it a red-hot go themselves.
Now even classic professions like doctors are under siege by DIY. Pete Evans and Facebook group diagnosis are helping long-vanquished diseases rise again. Just like ancient grains are big in bakeries now, home medicators can now revive classic diseases like rickets and beri-beri.
The Hidden Costs Of DIY
The DIY mindset runs deep in the small and medium business world. Sometimes it’s not even to save money, it’s the arrogance of thinking you can do everyone else’s job just as well as they can.
Sure, you have to do some things yourself if you’ve just started your business. It builds your all-round skills. After a year or so DIY can become a drag on precious time you should be using more productively chasing customers.
Some of it you should outsource right from the start, or the money you save will be lost in future trauma.
You set up your own IT, then you get hit by Russian ransomware. Or your backup fails and you lose three months’ records.
You do your own employment contracts using documents you found on the internet. Turns out your staff should be on a different award. Now you must spend hundreds of hours going back through timesheets fixing your mistakes, and paying back-pay.
The world is full of experts who can make your business, and your life, better and easier.
There is strength in admitting that you don’t know, and can’t do, everything.
Know your limitations. Work out what you’re good at and stop trying to build your own metaphorical kitchen cupboards.
Unless your business does make kitchen cupboards. In which case don’t do your own logo or tax.
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