Small Business Owners aren’t Stupid

I came across this article not long ago — and yes, I clicked on it because of it had an intriguingly contrarian headline. You win this round, thenextweb! But as I read the article, I realized that the author had stepped in it big time.

See, the title is “Stupid things founders say about UX”. If you’re a User Experience Designer of any stripe (and an eCommerce Consultant absolutely should be), you want to click on that for a good laugh/dose of schadenfreude, am I right? And sure, it’s funny for a second or so. But every single thing on the list of stupid things is a perfectly reasonable thing for a client to say if they don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of user experience design. Do most small business owners have an encyclopedic knowledge of user experience design? Well I sure hope not or else I’m going to be out of a job real soon now.

Lack of Knowledge != Lack of Wisdom.

I know: as consultant, or any other business owner, it’s hard not to get exasperated by the things you hear from your customers. “If they only knew!” we roll our eyes and sigh knowingly. Well, if they only knew they wouldn’t have needed to hire us! A small business owner who has taken the initiative to hire a consultant has already made a move in the right direction, so dismissing them because they came in with faulty assumptions is slightly counterproductive.

Everyone is an expert at something.

A person might be an expert at something that looks hard because it is (brain surgery, pesto recipes), or something that looks easy but isn’t (abstract expressionist painting, picking grapes for wine). But nobody is an expert in everything. That’s why people hire consultants. And we consultants need to remember that each client relationship is a meeting of experts. Your client is an expert in what they do, not in what you do. And vice versa. So both of you should expect to ask and answer a lot of questions that, on their face, sound really stupid (you shouldn’t have to stretch your imagination too much to envision your startup founder client going back to her team, shaking her head about how much the consultant she just met with has to learn about her businesses’ particular niche). Questions are how we grow our knowledge and develop our skills: not by pretending to be smart, but by being honest about the gaps in our knowledge and eager to learn.

Small business owners aren’t stupid.

They started a business that can afford to hire an eCommerce consultant, didn’t they? Remember, there are no stupid questions — just opportunities to learn from an expert (and fun stories for both experts to share over drinks later on).

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.