What People Don’t Like to Hear

We often get asked about our e-commerce platform by other business owners. They like the functionality and want to know exactly what we’re using so that they can use it too.

We reply with something to the extent of “our team built the platform in-house for solely our own use”. If I get the question, I also tend to then suggest Shopify and Magento as solutions that might work for them.

I enjoy the question because it really validates the hard work that we all put into it. I often wonder how much more interested people would be if they could see just how effective our back end is at improving our warehouse operations.

However, I’ve noticed that a good portion of people reply with a semi-snotty remark along the lines of “well I’m not as lucky to have a team of expert web developers” or, my personal favorite, “I don’t have the resources that you have so I’d never be able to do that”.

I know that they don’t necessarily know the history of our company, but from my perspective those comments sound ABSURD. We had no resources when we got started. If you go back 5 years, we all had no web experience and were in the process of graduating college. We didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t have a lot of experience doing much of anything. You know what we did have? Work ethic.

Everything we’ve done is stuff that anyone could have done. Aside from a few hundred dollars on books, I didn’t spend anything to learn how to program. PHP and MySQL are free and open source. So are Linux and Apache. Web hosting and domains are dirt cheap (less than $100/year to get started with a site).

It was just a shear matter of building a site, learning something new, improving the site, and then doing that over and over again for years. While I was finishing school, and while I had a full time job. It wasn’t always the easy choice or the convenient choice, but I made sure I found time to work at it because it was something I truly wanted to be good at.

We have a “team of experts” with a lot of “resources” because we worked hard to achieve that (although I’m not sure either of those things is completely true…). We have advantages that they don’t only because we value those skills enough to have made them a priority and have worked at improving them for years and years.

I made it a priority. I worked hard. People don’t like to hear that. They like to hear the easy solution, the solution that doesn’t require any effort on their part. That’s why the majority of people aren’t very good at much of anything. Putting in hours upon hours of hard work over the course of weeks/months/years is a lost art.

6 comments on What People Don’t Like to Hear

  1. Peter Davis says:

    I just don’t think everybody has the aptitude to produce quality code. No more so than anybody has the talent to be a great singer, or to be in the top 100 of the Boston Marathon. Yea you can practice to get better at any of those but I think for most people even if they put in the time you did they wouldn’t even have something as good as Magento is out of the box.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Peter –

      Agreed, to some extent. I’m not necessarily advocating that everyone go out and learn how to code. But, if you are trying to make your living on the web, you have no excuse to not dive in head first and learn everything possible to get a competitive advantage. If you don’t, I don’t really like to hear the complaining. Ask anyone who has built a store with Magento (or any open source platform) – there’s still quite a bit of learning involved in getting it set up and customized. Like any other skill (you mentioned running and singing), there’s a lot of work involved to become good at it. Same thing with web business. If you aren’t actively learning and studying, I don’t think any amount of money you throw at good programmers is going to give you a decent site.

  2. nethy says:


    The thought that privilege is something I lack and my competitors (for any definition of this word) have seems to be hard coded in people. It’s a narrative that people can pull out of any story. You rarely hear people say that they unfortunately are not hard working enough.

    Some skills are funnily in the first category along with inherited wealth. “I’m not smart enough,” seems perfectly acceptable as a ego preserving excuse to some. “I’m no good at sales” sometimes does the same job for those that won’t go with the first.

  3. Tim says:

    This is a very true story but goes beyond just web-development and programming. As it is said it often takes 20 years to become an overnight success. The problem is you are not on people’s radar until you reach a certain level. I’ve noticed it with my old business and I am already seeing it with my new business, though not in a good way… yet anyways 🙂

    I recall in my days at the tire shop after we moved into a new 7 figure building it was all of the sudden just handed to me and an overnight success. No one remembers the 11 years of blood, sweat and tears that went into making that overnight success a reality – the struggles, the sleepless nights, the worrying, the cash flow problems… this list goes on and on and on. I think most people wish the process were easier, but simply put, it’s not, success takes an enormous amount of dedication and hard work – when you look at it that way it becomes far less attractive to the average individual.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      I’ve had this discussion with Adam Gilbert before: the allure of the web to some people is that they think they don’t have to work hard, which actually becomes a competitive advantage for the people who are working hard. Personally, I want all of our competitors and everyone on the web to be working their ass off, because it’ll improve business, the web, and the economy as a whole…not to mention push me even harder.

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