Two months ago I started a project that I thought would take roughly two days. In all fairness, it was a construction project, so I should have anticipated that it would go past deadline and over budget. Why did I think building my website would be any different than building anything else?
When it comes to building websites, I have just enough knowledge to make me dangerous. I’ve worked with WordPress enough to have a competency that will stretch a 2-day project into a 60-day project. And let’s just say I tend to Google my way out of web design and programming issues. On the other hand, I have a boat load of self-confidence that convinces me I can “do anything I set my mind to” and a voracious appetite to learn new things.
All of those things got me in slightly over my head.
What Building a Website Taught Me About Life and Business
Good news? During the extra time, I learned a few lessons — business lessons and life lessons.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New
Turns out that voice in my head convincing me I could “do anything I set my mind to” was right this time. Of course, that voice never promised there wouldn’t be bumps in the road.
When I purchased and downloaded the new theme for my website, I was surprised to discover there was a new-to-me plugin I was required to use to build the site. Visual Composer intimidated me. Though billed as “intuitive” with “no programming knowledge required” to operate, it took me a minute (or more accurately, a few hours) to get the hang of it.
At first, I was timid. I didn’t want to touch anything. My fear convinced me that I could “break” my website. But I didn’t have a choice; I’d paid for the new theme. I was committed. My only options were to learn Visual Composer or pay someone else to fix the mess I’d made. So, I hopped on YouTube and spent some time watching videos of others using the tool to familiarize myself with its interface.
It was the best idea I’d had all day. Seeing Visual Composer in action gave me the confidence to try it out on my own. I started slowly and quickly realized it actually was pretty “intuitive.” After a few days of trial and (totally fixable) error, I was much more comfortable and practically fearless. Thank goodness for YouTube!
When faced with a new tool, new procedure, or new challenge that is daunting and intimidating, look for breadcrumbs left by those who’ve gone before you. You’re likely not the first to face this challenge. Take advantage of what’s out there and learn your way through.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
As I mentioned, my programming knowledge is about as deep as a puddle after a rainstorm. During the first few days, I ran into problems that required a bit more depth of expertise.
Sure, I could have taken my usual route and TRIED to Google my way out of the problems I’d created. Instead, I chose to recognize my limitations and call on someone with technical skill to bail me out. I know a talented contractor that I met through Fiverr whom I can call on to fix small website problems quickly and economically. In a matter of hours, he can fix things little things that would take me days to figure out. With Ash’s help, I was able to focus on writing website copy, collecting pictures, creating graphics, and putting together the overall design of each page. I trust him. I know he does good work and I know he works fast.
The hardest part is getting past my ego and admitting that I need help.
Don’t Be Afraid to Push the Deadline
I expected the project to take about two days. When I was about two hours into it, I realized I’d woefully miscalculated. I made a rookie mistake. I forgot to expect the unexpected. When the unexpected appeared, I saw the probability of meeting my two-day deadline disintegrate.
As a freelance writer and speaker, I rely on my website to drum-up business. To have the theme’s filler content occupying mollypg.com instead of my content was a scary prospect. Would I lose prospective jobs?
I was on the verge of panic. I considered throwing in the towel, paying someone to finish the site, and calling it a day. However, I knew if I did that I wouldn’t have the skills down the road to fix/update/tweak the website when I needed to. I recognized that by pushing my deadline and taking the time now to learn how to build the site myself, I’d save time and money down the road.
Instead of panicking, I slapped an “under construction” banner at the top of the website and made peace with the fact that it was likely going to be there for a little while. I found a workaround and continued to plug away on the project.
While I’ll never know how much business I’ve lost because my website is under construction, I can report that over the past few months, I’ve continued to book speaking engagements and interview new clients. And if business slows down slightly in the coming weeks, that will just give me time to put the finishing touches on the website!
Don’t Be Afraid of Good Enough
Can I confess something to you? I have perfectionist tendencies. I have always cringed when I’ve heard leadership gurus warn about letting “perfection be the enemy of good.”
What on Earth? I’d think to myself, why would you ever want to launch a product that wasn’t perfect?
And then this happened.
If you go to my website today, you’ll still see the “under construction” banner. I’m a few days of work away from taking it down, but other commitments are pushing back those few days of work. So the banner remains.
My website isn’t perfect.
And it’s out there.
And now I’m writing about it, so people will see its imperfection.
But you know what? It’s good enough for right now. I’m proud of it… even if it isn’t perfect.
Throughout this process, I’ve come to grips to with the fact that, just like me, my website is always going to be a work in progress. Perfection isn’t attainable, but the lessons learned along the way are much more valuable anyway.