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When Did Your Super Woman or Super Man Costume Get Too Tight? | Papercut / design for web, mobile and branding

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When Did Your Super Woman or Super Man Costume Get Too Tight?

As a solo creative entrepreneur who relaunched her business in February 2009, I’ve been through many phases of  productivity and growing.  First, I started as an onsite contractor with one company while simultaneously being an offsite art director consultant to another. In both cases, I was working with a team the companies had established or were spontaneously putting together. I had a specific role to play, mostly art direction but also some front end development in some cases.

Superman UndiesAlong the way, I took on projects for individual clients where I was the chief cook and bottle washer who handled every aspect of project. This ranged from branding, identity, design and to coding. At the same time, I wanted to push myself and start learning more CSS & about WordPress. Pushing myself is why I quit my job right? Instead of having my skills stagnate, being a solo entrepreneur would force me to keep learning to widen my breadth of talents and skills.

Well, a couple of months ago, I hit a very hard and shameful wall. It’s called the “You Don’t Know Everything & You’re Wasting Time Trying to Do Everything Wall”. I think it also had spikes embedded in it because I have still have the scars to prove it. I honestly came to the point where I had to admit that one or more of the following occurred (particularly in reference to coding):

+ There was *too* much diversity in my skill set and wasn’t able to focus on just one aspect
+ I was learning but not necessarily fast enough to meet client expectations
+ I was just too dang busy with both running a business and with schoolwork

I finally admitted that there were people I knew who could do this a lot faster than me for a good amount of money and I would still be able to keep client satisfaction. From there I brought in Jenn de la Fuente, WordPress Ninja, to help me finish implementing a key WordPress eCommerce plugin and finish the project on time. She kicked the plugin’s ass and was dedicated to help it all get done and fast. I highly recommend her knowledge and skills. Seriously, go throw money and design ideas at Jenn, you won’t be sorry.

To say the least, it was one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve had in the last year.  My Super Woman costume got way too snug and I was able to give it some more breathing room.  This weekend at the Creative Freelancer Conference in Denver, I’ll be hosting a breakfast round table about just this subject.

When did you begin to feel that being a jack of all trades (and subsequent master of nothing) was not worth the stress and effort?

When did you decide that collaboration was more efficient for both time and money than trying to do it all yourself?

I’m thinking of some ice breaker questions to use during the 50 minute session and any stories, questions or suggestion you have will be greatly appreciated. I’m planning to use my new Flip Video camera (!!) to record the session and will post it by the end of next week for anyone who wants to recap or was not able to attend.

Cheers all and thanks again for reading…

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  1. Jenn says:

    Thanks so much for the shoutout. I’m honestly humbled. It was a pleasure working with you!

    I think collaboration is very important. I, too, have always had the jack-of-all-trades mentality; people ask me how to do a lot of varied things and I know how to do a lot of varied things well. But a few months ago, I also had a project where I realized I didn’t have the coding skills to pull it off and had to hire a friend. He wound up costing me a lot of $$$, but I was at the point that a) the thing needed to get done and b) I would rather lose money than sanity/sleep because the former is recoverable!

    I’ve always had a collaborative spirit and think it also helps foster some good karma in the design community. I’ve been on both sides of the coin and found it helped my business a million fold. I get to work with all kinds of people and sharpen certain skills. And there are repeat customers. And honestly, if it weren’t for collaborative projects, there are times that I would have no cash. It’s a win-win all around.

    I’m not saying you should solely rely on being a subcontractor or subcontract everything out — I do get a lot of jobs where I handle things beginning to end — but do know that asking for help is not a weakness. 🙂

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