Today’s post is for solo entrepreneurs, freelancers, and service based businesses, but the concepts discussed can apply to certain types of businesses outside of that.
The topic de jour is “Are you a technician or a professional? And what’s the difference between the two?”
Proceed with caution, you might alter your way of thinking.
Technicians vs Professionals
The World English Dictionary defines technician as:
- a person skilled in mechanical or industrial techniques or in a particular technical field.
- a person employed in a laboratory, technical college, or scientific establishment to do practical work.
- a person having specific artistic or mechanical skill, esp if lacking original flair or genius.
The World English Dictionary goes on to define a professional as:
- a person who belongs to or engages in one of the professions.
- a person who engages for his livelihood in some activity also pursued by amateurs.
- a person who engages in an activity with great competence.
- an expert player of a game who gives instruction, esp to members of a club by whom he is hired.
Dictionary.com defines a professional as:
- an expert player, as of golf or tennis, serving as a teacher, consultant, performer, or contestant; pro.
- a person who is expert at his or her work.
Let’s focus on some key points here.
Both the technician and the professional are competent at their jobs. They both have the skill and experience to perform necessary tasks. Both a technician and a professional make their livelihood from their chosen field, and are not amateurs.
The thing that stands out to me is that a technician is employed strictly for their artistic or mechanical skill, and not for their creativity, thought process or input. Their work is practical, even proficient, but not instructional or insightful. In other words, they do as they are told, and that is where their value begins and ends.
On the surface, the professional may look like the technician. The professional can do all the things the technician does. The big difference is that the professional is also a teacher, consultant, and adviser. Their value exceeds that of the technician, because they share insight, lessons and advice about their chosen field.
How Does This Discussion Apply To Websites?
The web industry is filled with many technicians, and a smaller number of professionals.
Web design studios that fall into the technician camp are motivated primarily by making their clients happy. They will do whatever they are asked even when it is the wrong thing for the client’s business. The technician designer is basically a mercenary for hire, unwilling or unable to contemplate how their work will either help or harm their client’s business. They are afraid to give honest advice to their client, for fear of losing the job. That, or they lack the integrity, motivation or fortitude to share the expertise they do have.
Honesty and transparency are two things you should always have from your service professionals when the growth your business is involved.
The professional web studio is not only good at creating designs and building sites, but they solve problems you may have not even thought of before. A professional web designer gets to know your business, your industry, your competitors and customers before making a single recommendation. A professional designer takes the burden of creating the design off of their clients’ shoulders, and lets them worry about what they do best—running their business.
A professional web design studio looks at the overall landscape of your business, and sees how the website, marketing, social media, and community outreach can all benefit the client’s business. They have a deep knowledge not only of Photoshop and code, but also of people. Ultimately, the web professional serves the client’s customers and not the client.
Letting It All Soak In
A professional always looks for ways to make their client’s business better. This benefits both the client and the professional.
— John Locke (@Lockedown_) April 23, 2014
Technicians make themselves money. Professionals make their clients money.
— John Locke (@Lockedown_) April 23, 2014
Some Closing Thoughts
Technicians reduce risk by reducing up-front cost. However, they are generally not going to give you input or insight. The technician focuses on the task at hand, and doesn’t look at the bigger picture. They are akin to the mechanic who keeps fixing the same broken part on your car engine. Their motivation is to make you happy and get paid, even if what you are asking for is detrimental to your business.
Professionals are a valuable ally because they are fully mentally invested in seeing your business succeed. Professionals reduce risk to your investment by investigating details, doing research, and planning strategy before planning design and production work. Professionals know the terrain, and plan a course for success. They help solidify the direction of your business and are trusted advisers.
If you work on the web, which of these definitions fits you most accurately? If you’re a client who has hired a web studio in the past, what type of service did you receive? I would love to hear about your own experiences.