The problem with friends and family…

We all do it, we are making a big decision and the first people we think of to ask for advice are the people who are closest to us. The fact that they are so close to us, though, can cause its own problems.

We need to be aware of these problems so that we can get this valuable advice and use it in a positive way.

The trick is to know what you are trying to achieve BEFORE you ask for input.

If you know where you are trying to go, if you have a clear idea of what you are aiming for, then any advice you receive is filtered through that to naturally give you the input that is valuable, useful and productive. This filter automatically removes the “fluff” – well-intentioned advice that doesn’t serve you in helping to move forward.

This applies to most of the things we do but I feel like it is particularly relevant in business. I know my family weren’t 100% convinced by the idea of me setting up my own business. They are supportive and 100% behind me in what I’m doing but there was a wariness about the uncertainty of working for yourself, for various reasons. Knowing that I wanted to work for myself and knowing both that there was that uncertainty and where it came from helped me to take the advice without letting it colour things for me or discourage me from going ahead with Coppertops.

It is also something we see all the time with building websites. We work with our clients to build what they need based on a combination of their input and our expertise. We work from the bigger elements down to the finer details to fine-tune a website that will work for their needs. Then, around the time of launch, they naturally show their new site to friends and family and ask for advice. With very mixed results!

Constructive criticism is a necessary part of building anything

This advice can be priceless, and constructive, allowing us to pick up on details that were missed by us being too close to the build (we would usually pick up on most of these at the testing phase anyway, but more feedback is a good thing).

Don’t let input from others detract from what you were aiming for in the first place

It can also be destructive. For example, if there is a lack of awareness of why we have done things in a particular way, or of things that may be colouring the advice being given. This is not to question the motive of the advice, it is pretty much always given with the best of intentions, but great intentions don’t guarantee useful input.

In this case, we can end up making changes just because someone has suggested that they may be a good idea – without taking into account where they fit in with the overall plan, if at all. Worse again we can end up switching between a number of different options based on input from a series of people who naturally each have their own opinion and taste.

Chopping and changing a website at this stage can have a detrimental effect on the build, both functionally and from a design point of view.

Remember it is YOUR website!

This simply cannot be overstated. For a small business, your website is a reflection of you. People are going to decide whether they would like to do business with you based on the impression they get from your website. That impression should match the one they would get from dealing with you in person. The text on your website should have your voice, the design should be a reflection of who you are and what your business represents. Advice from family and friends definitely has a place in building this, but it cannot be assumed that they understand how to best represent your business online.

The upshot: before you ask for advice get really clear on what you want and filter any advice that is generously given to you through that before deciding which input is worth actioning and which you will just say thank you for before ignoring it!

Psst! Pass it on

Photo by Ben White

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