by Caleb Jaffa

I vs. We

For small companies and especially one-man shops there is a temptation to appear larger than you are. Much like the puffer fish it can be a useful show, but in the end you’re still a small fish. I think it’s important to consider if “we” really sells anything tangible over “I.”

The veil of we no matter how carefully constructed is generally easy to see through by anyone familiar enough. That is of course unless there is a diagnosable mental disorder in play, then it might get trickier. Eventually clients might see your office, or realize they’ve never spoken to anyone but you. Then your first impression is discovered for a farce, which could be worse than being truthful upfront. That isn’t to say you need to loudly advertise your company size, just let it be what it is and don’t mince words about it. Today you might be I, and tomorrow it might change to we, but there aren’t a lot of good reasons to jump the gun.

I’ll admit that sometimes it would be nice to be a we when there is only a me. It’s easier to have miscommunication problems with someone else. It’s also nice to spread the blame out across a group or partnership than to take it all yourself. There are even those who might feel safer entrusting their business with a larger entity. You might want to make it a point that hiring you includes your network of friends and colleagues. I have a network of friends that I can pull in to subcontract or are willing to take a look and give their professional opinion on the direction things are going.

On the other hand I think having realistic expectations makes for better working arrangements. I know of many clients that while of course they want their website done on time, they’d rather have a realistic expectation of where things are on the due date than a pipe dream. Clients/customers make their assumptions on that you are only one person, or a handful of people. It gets tiring to always hear about a scapegoat, and if he/she is so bad why haven’t they been fired already.

At the end of the day it’s not the number of people involved, their resumes or portfolios. Those can be indicators, but they can also be embellishments and sometimes lies. The most important things are results and you can get results from one person sometimes better than from a team. Certainly the client/customer relationship will be better if you don’t hide behind a lot of hot air.

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