If I had a nickel…

If you work in the custom services business, you’ve probably heard this before, or some variation of it. “I don’t want to pay you to learn how to do this.” or “I’m not paying you to learn on the job.” Something of that nature. This is the wrong attitude to have.

We live in an ever-changing world

Let’s get real for a moment:  the web changes every day.

Perhaps that’s even too specific. The world changes every day, whether you work in the web or not. But on the web, new software comes out, new updates are pushed, new versions are released, new products are developed. Old problems are solved, new problems are created. Sometimes you find yourself doing the same thing twice, but usually, you’re solving a problem that’s similar to, but not identical to, a problem you’ve solved before. If you’re active in your field, if you’re really on the cutting edge of what you do, you’re learning every single time you sit down at your keyboard.

Our skills are not HTML, CSS, or PHP, our skill is learning.

That’s the way it should be. We should all be comfortable telling our clients that we’re going to be learning on the job. Even if we were using the exact same software, with the same add-ons, with the same updates and options and versions in identical server environments, the businesses we work for are never exactly the same. Each business is made of different people, a different business model, a different audience, a different situation. Their problems are not exactly the same. As consultants, we need to learn the situation and present the right solution. Our skills aren’t HTML or CSS or PHP or Javascript or AJAX or WordPress or Drupal or Magento or Xcart or any other specific product, language, or software.

Our skill is learning.

When someone says “I’m not paying you to learn how to do this”, in a way, they are exactly right. You’re not paying me to learn how to learn. Learning is my area of expertise. You’re paying me to put my skill of learning and solving problems to work for you.

Published 08/18/14 by Eric Lynch