Will I ever realize that yes, I’m good at a few things; but painfully average at most things? Most times, I serve people better by putting them in touch with the pros instead of relying on my own meager devices, like I did last night. Lesson learned.
Besides that lesson, I also learned about:
- Typing on a path in Illustrator CS4
- Recreating a logo from a PFD that I couldn’t get to play nice with my new Illustrator designs
- Transparency issues related to various design files, etc.
I squeezed about a week’s worth of graphic design instruction (thanks Adobe forums; Video-tutes; JustSkins; LayersMagazine; Google, and a new one — Jig) into a few wee hours of the morning.
The only problem is, I’m not a graphic designer.
I like to dabble in it. I like art and design. I own Adobe’s Creative Suite for all the fun stuff I can do with logos, banners, email design, and of course my children’s birthday thank-you’s, but when I need a real design, I hire the heavy hitters.
They’re called professionals.
So why did I agree to this job? Well, simple: a customer who took a chance on me when I was just starting out, asked if we could design a flyer for his golf tournament. Somewhere in that question I mistook a simple request for a vote of confidence.
Out of gratitude and a sense of loyalty, I wanted to over-deliver on a solution. I guess I even wanted the challenge. And of course, I wanted his golf tournament flyer to look amazing. In the end, I suppose I made the project into something “I wanted.” I offered to help…but who was I to think I would do a better job than a graphic designer?
Quite some time ago, I read an interview with Ann Richards, Texas’ illustrious and beloved governor from the early 90’s. (Please forgive my faulty memory if I get this wrong!) She told a story about her children’s aloofness regarding her offers to help them with certain matters. Her response was one of perplexity:
“…but I could fix you.”
Now, is that a mom thing or a governor thing? Because there’s nothing I’d like more than to credit myself with having gubernatorial leadership qualities. In truth, though, I think Gov. Richards was admitting — tongue in cheek — that her helpful leanings might be tinged with control issues.
No one wants to be “fixed.” Sometimes we don’t even want our own problems fixed. We just need a solution — nothing personal about that.
In the end, the flyer turned out lovely. The client liked it. As for all that time I spent learning as I went, I also learned some valuable things. In my eagerness to help I made it personal — a favor returned; can-do enthusiasm vs. true competence; a need to over-deliver on a project just out of reach of my own talents.
And yet, it was not exactly the smartest moment in my small biz history.
A small business is a funny personal thing. We own it. We wear it. It bears our own personal identity. We learn from it. Things about business, people, and ourselves.
But it tips over when you fail to respect your own resources and abilities which your customer deserves and expects from you. A good solution sometimes means turning down business, withholding the urge to “fix” things yourself, and referring the job to someone else.