Leap Frog: Getting from here to there…faster

When I first started in the Web Development Business, there really wasn’t anything we could copy. We didn’t have anyone telling us, “oh, this is how you build websites for clients.” We were making it up as we went. Yes, we did borrow a lot of buzzwords and slang from the print and media industries, but we were pretty much on our own. We made a lot of mistakes. Most of our websites looked like graphic heavy print pieces. The clever animated gif, displayed in random places, was extremely popular. Only when I was on vacation in Peru, while showing off a website to a propreitor at a bed and breakfast, was I admonished for our lack of insight. The American trend of creating graphically heavy websites, was a thorn in the side of third world country visitors. Their slow connections, just couldn’t handle it and their experience was devastating. We had been building websites like this for years. How many other people lacked a good website experience? The whole concept of web analytics was still fairly new, so we had no idea what connections people were using to access sites. At this point, it was possible, that many of the websites we had built, no one had ever seen.

Fast forward a few years later and I was sitting in a boardroom meeting with a couple of consultants who specialized in the Fortune 500 space. We had been tip-toeing into that area, building software and websites for support companies in that realm. I was impressed by the presentation from this team, a nice powerpoint, great printed handouts and well dressed. They were seasoned professionals. We didn’t use their website services, because we already did web development, what we were interested in was their branding and positioning experience in the enterprise space. The very space we were trying to enter. In fact, this agency specifically had clients that we wanted to meet. My CEO was not shy. He let them know that we would retain their services, but the caveat was that we also wanted introductions, a contact, a name, an email address.

This was the first time I saw this happen. Yes, I had participated in and been quite good at networking, sales and the whole “shaking hands and kissing babies” schtick, but this was the first time I had seen a big move like this. I had heard people talk about it, but never saw how it was done and quite frankly, it was anticlimactic. I had imagined this Hollywood movie boardroom coup that was subtle, powerful and masterfully executed, but it didn’t happen like that. Now that I think about it, it makes more sense the way it went down. My CEO was calm, deliberate and had a powerful demeanor. It was just so matter of fact. He told them what he wanted and they smiled and said okay. It was the first time I saw what I later called the “Leap Frog” move. I defined it as getting ahead, getting where you wanted to go, with the least amount of cost and effort. What I saw that day, was different from networking, it was experience in action.

As the years went by I saw this move perfected again and again. I think it was so shocking at first, because as a designer/developer/bussiness owner, you were taught to do everything yourself. The whole, “spending time in the trenches” mentality. Learning how to do everything yourself, before you hire someone to do it for you. I finally realized, especially in the enterprise space, why it was being used so frequently. We were running out of time. The Web Development Business is a fast paced industry. The technology in this space moves even faster. To keep up, you have to be tuned in. Constantly reading what people are doing, what’s the hottest trend in development, the coolest plugin, the must have feature. By getting help from advisors and consultants that are seasoned players in the space, you are doing a “Leap Frog” move. You’re most likely tired of the slow pace of how things are going and you need them to go faster. When I first started in this space, there was no one to advise us. Websites weren’t really a thing. It took years and a lot of wasted money, to perfect the craft. Now I often pay people for their advice and time. It really just comes down to lack of time on my part and the evolution of how I run my business. I chose to focus on the things that I enjoy the most and all that other stuff, well, I now just hire the experts.

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