Does the Internet Devalue Everything It Touches?

Does the Internet Devalue Everything It Touches?

My wife and I spoke at length yesterday about how seemingly the Internet devalues everything it touches.

Zero friction.  Free news.  Ninety-nine cent songs and applications.

Instant gratification at zero cost.

My business continually responds to customers wanting “steak” application features, but coming to the table with “baloney” budgets.

This has really always been the case, but the signal-to-noise between serious-minded buyers and buyers wanting everything-for-nothing is beginning to get deafening.

Regardless of what our perceptions are being trained up to be, delivering quality content of any stripe – performance, applications, knowledge, entertainment – was developed, incubated, curated, and executed – at a cost.

In most cases, significant cost.

And yet the perception in the marketplace of the interwebs is that there is always a free solution to any problem.  Or at least a solution that one can pay someone next to nothing to solve.

Expecting premium service, zero defects, and 100% uptime.

There will come a point when we collectively look around, and wonder where all the professionals went.

Why all we see and consume is substandard and shoddy.

Why the only stores that remain open in our towns are Walmarts, Home Depots, and Best Buys.

Don’t look now, but you’re soaking in it.

Living By Your Wits

Living By Your Wits

As someone who ** tries ** to live by my wits (i.e., an entrepreneur), one of the challenges I face as a business person is to convey the sense of urgency I feel in collecting monies owed me.

In good times, the gauche subject of “when do I get paid” is gingerly treated.

In lean times, sometimes it’s hard not to scream it from the rooftops.

For example, in a big company you’re used to the checks getting to your desk on payday before lunch time, so that you can make your deposit during lunch and hope the line at the bank is not too long so that you might be able to score actual food before heading back to the cube farm.

And if it’s not there by lunchtime, SOMEBODY is getting a phone call.

As a small vendor, you sweat calling that customer for the second time in a week asking where the promised check they “mailed” is.

You know – the check you’ve been trying to collect for the past month, trying to remain professionally aloof all the while sweating where the cash for the next payroll is going to come from.

And keeping them as a customer.

And keeping your sanity.

I saw a ridiculous article in Business Week some weeks back, where the “business expert” writing the article gave his best sound advice to a small business person – don’t pay your vendors.

Holy Crap.

No wonder the economy is where it is today, if this is considered sound “advice.”

My biggest struggle this year as a small business person has not necessarily been getting projects or engagements – it has been getting PAID for the work that I have performed, cheerfully and timely.

From customers who are otherwise giving me glowing reviews but are slow to whip out the checkbook.

And the sad thing is, this is happening to many, many of my colleagues who are doing fantastic work – but are having to spend significant time that is not directly related to their passion, just to be paid for the work that they have done; on time, and as asked for.

For many of the small business people I’ve worked with for the past dozen years or so, they have simply given up trying.

So, the next time you think that a vendor is “hounding” you for that check you promised him a few weeks back… please consider what you would do if your paycheck was late four or five weeks – rather than simply an hour or so – on any given payday.

Believe it or not, almost every vendor wants to do what they do best, and not have to speak with your payables department weekly, or even worse, daily – to collect.

Crass?  Gauche?  Unseemly?

Perhaps.

But small vendors can’t pay their bills with “the check’s in the mail.”

Something to think about this Friday at any rate while you’re waiting to beat the bank rush.