“Casting for steelhead is like calling God on the telephone, and it rings and rings and rings, hundreds of rings, a thousand rings, and you listen to each ring as if an answer might come at any moment, but no answer comes, and no answer comes, and then on the 1,001st ring, or the 1,047th ring, God loses his patience and picks up the phone and yells, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU CALLING ME FOR?” in a voice the size of the canyon. You would fall to your knees if you weren’t chest-deep in water and afraid that the rocketing, leaping creature you have somehow tied into will get away.”
“Demo: training a neural network to recognize color contrast”


I may be stating the obvious here, but building small business websites are no longer a way to keep the lights on.

Services like Shopify, Wordpress, Tumblr and Squarespace allow you to create something special with very little knowledge about how the pieces go together. And if you include a service like Zapier, you have a powerful suite of technology that will allow you to build great experiences for your users.

And let’s be honest, the templates that come with these services can be amazing. There are some great one’s for free and amazing one’s at $300. Why would you pay a developer to do this for you when you can figure this out in no time and have an impressive site?

I think that we should be building applications as tools instead. For instance, if you sell widgets, build tools for managing those widgets. Or tools for making those widgets more important. Or tools for integrating those widgets in surprising ways.

Let’s say you have an amazing backpacking stove. It works really well in very specific, marketable ways.  Why not create a recipe app that allows you to focus on using the stove in ways that show people not only how the stove works, but what’s possible when you live your life WITH the stove.

You could be building more than just a place to learn about your product. If you allowed people to contribute recipes, you could build a group of customers that are creating real experiences with your product FOR you.

So, building tools for your small business is an important way to differentiate yourself in the market. I argue that you should save your money and build those tools instead of hiring a designer or developer to build you a small business website when, chances are, it’s already been done for you.

You see, one way to build things that matter, is to not waste money on things that are already done. Instead, talk to your customers, find out what they need in ADDITION to your widget and build them that.

I’ll be tackling this issue in more detail at the end of the month. Sign Up for the newsletter if you’d like to discuss.

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