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The Unheard Word

One woman's slightly skewed views

Set your own standards

When I say “Set your own standards” here, I’m not talking about creating our own web standards but about the quality of our work.

Marketing guru Seth Godin writes, in his article Better than they deserve:

Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards — and living up to them — is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it.

Did that ever strike a chord with me!

There have been times over the last couple of years, since I stopped working full time for the Western Australian State Government, things have been tough, financially. A regular income has its advantages! At one point, someone close to me was putting me under a lot of pressure to lower my standards and churn out cheap, nasty web sites at a high rate to bring in some much-needed cash. Then, a client asked me to create a web site that would also have been cheap and nasty — but which would have given my business a lot of publicity.

I refused. It’s hard enough to know that there are old sites of mine floating around that are not up to my current standards, and I knew if I lowered my standards now, the reputation I planned to build as a web standards and web accessibility specialist would be unattainable. Yes, I could have earned some (and maybe a lot) extra cash, but at what cost?

I chose this path I’m on — these areas of specialisation — because they are important to me and because working in these areas gives me great satisfaction. In a way, to do anything less would be compromising my principles in a big way. What shall it profit a man…?

If that sounds sanctimonious, it’s not meant to be. Let’s face it: We spend much of our lives working. It is no bad thing to prefer to gain full satisfaction from a job well done according to personal principles (whatever they may be for each of us), instead of going against those principles and never feeling quite right about our work.

How can we have passion about something second-rate? It’s the passion that carries us forward to success.

Setting standards, and sticking to them, does pay off. For myself, I’m now extremely busy with clients who chose my business precisely because it offers that extra something. And just a couple of months ago, I spoke at a conference in the U.S.A. on topics relating to my areas of specialisation. There are also other exciting (to me!) things about to happen that are simmering just below the surface. I’m achieving my goals.

Where would I be if I’d taken the quick-and-easy path to cash? Not where I am now, that is for sure! And I like it where I am. 🙂

It doesn’t matter whether you are in design, I.T. or any other business. Set your own standards (and aim high when you do it!) and the pay-off, though it may not be immediate, will be worth it.

2 Responses to “Set your own standards”

  1. juanita audit-teacake Says:

    I’ve only ever striven for mediocrity, probably why I like being in the public service so much and you left it.

    More power to you Miss V, you’ve done well and I do admire those standards. I’m thinking of where you were 5 years ago ( FIVE YEARS!! ??) and it’s pretty bloody amazing.. yeah, very proud of ya.

  2. Vicki Says:

    Thanks Juanita, nice of you to say so. 🙂