In the mist of Covid-19 (Corona Virus), we at JDS WebDesign are hoping everyone is safe, washing your hands frequently, sneezing and coughing in your elbow, and practicing social distancing. Over the next several weeks, we are planning on blogging about how to make your website more business friendly. We will have some tutorials on our favorite plugins and features, which will make your site more efficient.
Several months ago, I was talking to a recent graduate from one of our local creative institutions. She was about to begin her journey into the free lance web design industry. Whenever I am in this type of position, I always mention all the valuable lessons that I learned from my business mentor.
Making mistakes, and many of them was the theme of my early entrepreneur life. Telling her about all my mistakes, especially early in my journey is therapy for me and hopefully essential information for her. How I did not hire an attorney? And why it is important? How I did not have a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)? And (again) why it is important? How I did not have a business plan? And again, why was that so important to my business?
My business mentor was advised me to act like a professional. This was my business, my lively hood. While googling works for many, I needed an attorney to help me with my contracts. My lawyer is on retainer, so whenever something arises from a legal standpoint…he is just a phone call away. Was I going to be a solo entrepreneur, or Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)? These questions can be answered only after I had a conversation with my Certified Public Accountant. How was my business going to survive this week, this month, this year, let alone five years from now. Creating a business plan…not to get a loan, but to make sure that everything was written down. It was created in pencil, and has been updated many times. Stop acting like a child, and becoming a professional. But the most important thing which I learned from my business mentor was to invest in my professional community. Becoming someone else business mentor.
What does giving back really mean? Does it mean standing on a street corner and handing out a few bucks to the less fortunate? Does it mean mentoring a newbie and giving them a few projects? Does it mean creating an awesome project and offering it for free? What does giving back really mean?
This questions has haunted me for the past several years. I have attended many MeetUps, and offer suggestions to several newbie (wordpress designers/developers), only to find my self fixing issues. I have offer my support services to several newbies or web site owners, only be greeted with “I do not have a lot of money?”.
I remember, a close friend (and fellow designer), told me that a MeetUp colleague had complaint that I was not very helpful. I had spent about twenty (20) minutes after our MeetUp working on an issue for her. I was able to resolve the issue. No fee, no cup of coffee…just a pat on the back and in genuine smile…”Thanks, I got to run home to cook dinner for my family”. I explained my last encounter with the upset colleague. My friend advise me to stop “providing free services”, my time was too valuable.
While it would be easy to state “Giving back does not mean working for free”. Taking a broader approach to providing resource to less knowledgeable or experience creative minds, is why you should want to give back. Growing our community is very important, and it begins with you. You can offer yourself as a informational resources by attending local MeetUps, and WordCamps. But do not just attend, offer to help. Volunteer, ask the organizer if they need anything. Your willingness to help goes a long way within our community. Do not get catch up with “what are you trying to get out of the community?”, which unfortunately some will think. Growing our community is vital. The more successful you become, the more opportunities there are for me.
Offering you directions on how to fix your issue. Encouraging newbies to attend local Meetups and WordCamps. Discussing early or recent mistakes is not only therapy for you, but can help someone else to avoid the same mistake. Giving back is not a bad thing, but a state of mind and essential to creating a strong community.
Giving back is a really important element of my success! Giving back is the backbone of a strong and successful community…
Image courtesy of Forrest Cavale.