The dirty fingernails of business

The dirty fingernails of business

I’ve got a Request for Proposal here that I’ve been working on and stressing over for two weeks now. It’s due tomorrow. And it’s a big deal.

Because of this RFP, I’ve given myself a crash course in subcontracting, non-disclosure agreements, proposal outlines, and all the lingo that web developers use, trying to be sure this proposal will be on a par with the others the organization has solicited. It’s been educational. What have I learned?

Advokate is not a web developer. Sure, we design websites – but I’m not going to call it what it’s not.

Web developers like to plan things to the Nth degree. They outline every single detail. Their nose is in all the blogs. They’re the quiet people you knew in high school who were into music that was all drumbeats. They’re left-brained people. They’re particular. They might get a little kick out of talking over your head. They know one thing really really well. (I’m not talking about any one person here, just making generalizations based on the ones I’ve known throughout my life.)

Anyway, that’s not me. Any time I have tried to make a painting that was planned out in advance, it has been a disaster. I do a little of everything. I like pop music you can do pelvic thrusts to while using a hairbrush as a microphone. I’m chatty and right-brained. I’ve learned that this planning thing is bunk — I do best when I go with the flow, and trust in my intuition and ability to learn on the fly. Things fall into place if you’re in tune. Advokate’s websites are nice, easy to update, eye-catching and affordable — and the biggest difference is that it’s not over-planned. They flow. They grew themselves, telling me as I designed them where things needed to go. Sometimes your blueprints don’t make sense when you see the plan in real life.

There are customers out there for everyone, though. The ones I’m looking for are the ones who want to ride the Advokate train because that’s the one that fits their work style. I love that my customers text me updates any time of night, give me plant snippings out of nowhere, are my friend on Facebook, join me for iced tea on my porch during meetings, talk me up to their friends, hash career directions out with me philosophically and call me for advice on all the little things. They understand me and I understand them.

So what I learned is that I’ve just gotta be me. I’ve got to do business like Kate Austin-Avon, which means I’m not the shiny high-priced car dealership — I’m the honest, down-to-earth guy you know who will fix your brakes for a six-pack. I don’t make true-to-life paintings, I go with the flow and the painting tells me what it wants to be. I don’t make fine silver and gold jewelry, I punch holes in cardboard and tupperware lids and string it on earwires. I’m not a web developer. I’m just Kate, running Advokate, designing websites that work.

Advokate will never boast that you’re getting the best money can buy. It’s the best your money can buy, however much of it you have to spend, and we won’t talk down to you or make you feel stupid or lacking quality because of your budget.

I can make things run on a shoestring and I’m in tune with my customers. That’s Advokate’s edge.

We’ll see whether that’s what this organization is looking for. Maybe, maybe not.

Kate Austin-Avon

Kate E. Austin is known for her creative advocacy. She is a regular speaker on branding and social media with educational institutions and Chambers of Commerce. She owns and operates Advokate, LLC. Currently she serves on the boards of the Glens Falls Business Improvement District, the Jackson Heights Elementary School PTA, Lower Adirondack Pride, and is on the World Awareness Children’s Museum’s Advisory Council. Originally from Killington, Vermont, she studied art at Hartwick College and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Art from Empire State College. She is a mother of three.