The internet is a wonderful thing. It allows anyone with a connection to create a virtual storefront. It brings parity to the marketplace. The little guys can compete with the big guys. Excellent.
But what if the little guy (or the big guy for that matter) doesn’t have a clue?
The reality is that the internet has lowered the barriers for entry for just about every service business out there. But it also means that just because it looks like a business, doesn’t mean it’s so.
I think the old adage…the cobbler’s children have no shoes is a really dangerous excuse in today’s marketplace. And it’s a buyer beware world for all of us.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hire a financial planner who lives paycheck to paycheck. I don’t want to hire a marketing firm who hasn’t created buzz for their own agency. I don’t want to hire a personal trainer who is 40 pounds overweight and I don’t want to hire a business blog coach who has 137 subscribers to their own blog.
In today’s age of "insta-pop up" businesses where the assumption is if you have a website or blog, you must be legit — we have to be even more discerning than ever before.
If they have not done it for themselves, why in the world would you think they can do it for you?
If the personal trainer in your example had weighed in at 400 lbs. 5 years ago and had dedicated his/her life to becoming healthy and was a mere 40 lbs. away from their lifetime fitness goal of 180 lbs., I would use that trainer. That kind of commitment and dedication is tough to find anywhere today.
I think the point I’m trying to make is that there can be a robust back story to every business situation.
To your point Drew, everyone should be discerning when deciding who to work with. The Internet and its tools have made it very easy to appear larger and perhaps stronger than reality.
But each business and each person behind that business started somewhere.
So many new ideas, concepts, and trends started with someone new with zero subscribers while carrying 40 lbs. of extra weight…while living squarely in a buzz generation free zone.
The 400 lb person who is down to their last 40 pounds is very different from what I am talking about. That would be a person who has demonstrated through themselves or other clients, that they know how to get results.
No disagreement that lots of great ideas come from start ups. And I think we should support, learn from etc. those organizations.
But that doesn’t mean I think they’ve proven they know what they are doing. If my financial planner is living pay check to pay check — why in the world would I trust them with my money?
Now if they have a stable of clients who are all rolling in the dough, then okay.
My point was not to disparage start ups or young people just getting into a profession. My point was…anyone can slap together a website today and declare themselves an expert. We have the responsibility to peel back their claims and have a right to ask for proof of their expertise. If they cannot offer any and especially if they can’t even do it for themselves….buyer beware.
Bullseye post, Drew. You’re sure to rub overweight peeps the wrong way with this, but you are 100% right. I wouldn’t hire a web design firm with an average website, a mechanic whose car sounds like an old boat, an overweight nutritionist, a twice-divorced relationship expert or a family doctor with a chainsmoking problem.
In a world of “pop up” storefronts — people really need to be mindful of the fact just because someone declares their an expert — doesn’t mean they actually are.
I’ve always been a proof is in the pudding sort of guy. I think today that’s even more important.
I think, to a point, people view “consulting” to be a bit like advising someone else on their golf swing. They seem to think that the mere act of observation gives them valuable insight and that the observed would value that insight.
Then again, if you want to improve your golf swing? You go to a pro – not the guy who slices into the woods whenever it’s his shot.
I’m with you on this one. Yes, we all need to start somewhere in business. But almost no one starts at the top (barring a few Rockefellers) and those that do are seldom as successful as their forebearers.
Great post. Not surprisingly, I wandered over from Liz’s post’s comments section.
It’s time we started valuing actions over talk in our industry, isn’t it?
Drew, I agree very much that as internet consumers we need to learn how to be a lot more discerning. To dig a little beyond the shiny store front.
I’m often surprised there’s not more written about learning to *read* as well as learning to write online.
Yes…without a doubt actions are the proof in the pudding. Everyone can talk and many can talk a good game. Results matter.
And if you can’t do it for yourself, how in the world can you sell that you can do it for others?
Good point. I think that especially because so many buyers don’t understand the web and the complexities of it — it’s easy to get sold by the sizzle and have no idea if there’s any steak.