Why “I’m not a Computer Guy” is the Lamest Excuse in the World for Business Owners

by Marcus Sheridan

Angry-Computer-Guy‘I didn’t grow up around computers.’

‘ Electronics just aren’t my thing.’

‘ This dog is way too old to learn that computer stuff.’

As you may have guessed, these are just a few of the statements I’ve heard recently upon discussing with business owners their web marketing and internet strategies. In fact, I’ve heard so many similar excuses from business owners lately that I couldn’t contain myself any longer and just had to write this article.

Excuses, Excuses

Look, this may come across as a little strong or rude, but if you’ve ever used one of the excuses above(or one similar), please stop lying to yourself. Whatever reason you have for not taking control of your company’s web destiny is a sad facade. How can I say that? Well, because there are thousands of people just like you that have overcome these ‘issues’.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it another 1000 times—I used to be a complete and total web dufus. I didn’t grow up around computers. Electronics(just ask anyone that knows me) have never been my thing. Heck, in the late 90’s when computers and email were just blowing up I was living in Chile for two years where I was lucky to even find a phone, much less a computer. By the time I got back to the states, I was 22 years old and it appeared that technology had literally left me behind. In the course of being gone 2 short years the information age had advanced about 20.

It was during this time period that I started to realize I was in trouble. As a junior in college, I couldn’t even type on a computer without looking down at the keypad for every letter. Just trying to type up a 500 word ‘essay’ took me about 30 minutes, even after I’d written it down on paper first. Yep, I was in a sad state, and I honestly believed that working with computers was the one job I was clearly destined not to do.

A New Business and No Skills

When I was 23 I opened up a rinky-dink swimming pool company with my two business partners, Jim and Jason. We were good friends, had common values, and also shared one incredible flaw: Our computer skills amounted to that of a 10 year old in today’s world.

About 3 years into ownership, right around 2003 or so, I realized that those things called ‘websites’ were becoming more and more important. As a struggling pool guy looking to do anything to better our marketing and make more sales, I decided I’d learn web design myself. Needless to say, after about a week of utter confusion and failure, I remembered who I was—the ‘Tech Dufus’…ahh, yes, how could I have forgotten???

So we got a webmaster. He set our site up but shortly thereafter I started bugging him. Every time I looked at our site I got ideas. I wanted to add things. I wanted to make announcements. I wanted to teach consumers. I wanted to do more and more and more…..

Despite the best efforts of my webmaster, I was deeply distraught. I literally felt the world passing me by and all I could think about were my ‘limitations’. “I’m not good a computers”, were my thoughts day in and day out.

Around 2008 I approached my webmaster and asked him to teach me Dreamweaver. I learned a little, but again, it was mostly a failure. I’d spend hours trying to understand simple processes that would take a ‘tech guy’ two minutes to understand and fix.

A New Beginning

Finally, in early 2009, I discovered Hubspot, inbound marketing, and my life quickly began to change. Gone were the limitations. Gone were the bottlenecks. I could now design my own website, blog, and add content without being a ‘techie’…..Very, very cool.

So I threw myself in. I watched all the videos. I read the books. I bought eBooks. And I started blogging….and blogging…..and blogging (and even learned to type pretty darn fast ;-) ).

Our pool company exploded. As our creative juices went wild and as all 3 of us began to see technology in a whole new light, everything changed for the better. Sales became easier and more frequent. Despite the economy and all its hardships, our business and financial lives were literally saved because we kept trying, kept looking for anything that would help us ‘non-techies’.

Fast forward to 2010. Today I have one of the country’s most successful pool companies and I also own a thriving Web Coaching Company with my business partner Jason. In a matter of 2 years I’ve literally gone from dufus to paid speaker, consultant, and coach….What even better is that I’m pretty dang good.

As I write these words I can’t believe it myself. It’s crazy, but it’s true.

Yes You Can

I hope you don’t think my goal here is to brag about my accomplishments. I only give this time line because I want all you ‘non-techie’ business owners out there to know there is hope. That’s right, you can be a computer guy. You can learn web design because of the simple content management systems that are available for everyone, with or with code knowledge.

Aren’t you tired of the frustration that comes with total dependency on others for your website and digital marketing? I know, I know, you may sit there and tell everyone, “I don’t want to be a computer guy.” But in reality, you do. We all do. As business owners, we all want to feel as if we are in control of our destinies.

So please don’t kid yourself any longer. Embrace the possibilities. Believe it can be done. And if you need some direction, there’s a million people on line just like me who are willing to get your started. So giddy-up cowboy, the time to learn to ride is now. :-)

What’s your story? Have you always been a ‘techie’ or is it something that came later in life as it did for me? Please share, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

David Smith December 5, 2010 at 10:25 am

Your computer experience sounds a lot like mine. I was a hunt-and-peck typist and only started using computers in the labs at university. By the time I decided to learn to type correctly, I was typing 32 words a minute with one finger. (I got some funny looks.) Once I decided to study computers, I can’t say it was all easy but there were so many resources for anything I’d want to learn. It stands to reason, I guess, since anyone who gets good with computers will also have the skills to contribute through blogs or forums. There’s no reason for anyone to be computer illiterate as long as they can ask a question.
.-= David Smith´s last blog ..Stages of the Writing Process =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 9:29 am

32 words a minute with one finger….That is awesome!! …You bring up a great point though here David, and that is the need to be humble and teachable enough to ask questions. In many cases, business owners are used to ‘being the boss’, and therefore somewhere in the process forget to learn, ask questions, etc. But new technology is now forcing even the oldest CEOs to keep up with the times and stay informed.

Thanks for stopping by David :-)

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Dia December 5, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Hi Marcus,

Very nice post my friend. I agree with you we do have to learn everything we can about computers and technology. Web design, HTML, photoshop etc…are very crucial in today’s world. Although I have an associate degree in Computers and diploma, I’m more confortable with troubleshooting issues than programming. I think everyone who has a blog/website needs really to learn at least the basics of HTML, website design, improves their typing skill, microsoft office etc… Thanks for sharing
.-= Dia´s last blog ..How to be brave and go after your goals =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 9:31 am

Yes, absolutely Dia, it starts with a desire and then one’s ability to learn will soon become a reality. That’s awesome that you have a degree w/computers. Looking back, if I could have studied anything in college it would have been tech/computers. But alas, hind sight is always 20/20 ;-)

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Gabe December 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I completely agree with you Marcus. I think anyone can be a ‘computer guy’ because it’s being needed more and more. And because of that, tech companies are aiming to make their tech products as user-friendly as possible. So there really is no excuse to not learn how to use technology.
.-= Gabe´s last blog ..How to Make Your Dreams Come True…Every Time =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 9:33 am

Hey Gabe, how ya been dude? Yeah, anyone can be a ‘computer guy’ with the advances of simple technology. Like you said, there really is a ‘user-friendly’ revolution going on out there available for anyone’s taking.

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Joe DeGiorgio December 6, 2010 at 8:58 am

It’s all about the effort to continue to learn and grow, Marcus, and it looks like you’ve done that in spades. You’ve earned all that success through the applied persistence of learning…

Congrats!

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 9:34 am

Thanks Joe, very kind of you. It has been a process…and will continue to be…but every day I now tell myself, “I’m a computer guy.”

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Dave Marciniak December 6, 2010 at 10:25 am

Honestly, computers are about as simple an input device as you can find, provided you’ve selected the right platform. I log into my blogs every day and it’s just like typing in Word.

I was talking to an author last week whose book is about B2B sales. What floored me was he had TWO objections: 1- not a computer guy, but what really got me was 2- “I have no idea what I would write about.” Dude! You wrote a BOOK! Figure it out!
.-= Dave Marciniak´s last blog ..Tip of the Day 16 =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Exactly Dave, it’s all about the right platform, which is a word that most non-techies don’t yet get but if they understand this simple truism, everything will change for the better.

Your story about the author is hilarious. Seriously. How is it possible that someone’s paradigm could be so off course……Alas, what can we do???? ;-)

(I guess we’ll just have to keep writing about it :-) )

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Ramona December 6, 2010 at 11:28 am

I started Karate at the end of 2001. In few months, I started learning more about this and, since we lacked any Romanian site with good info about this, I started a small site. It was March 2002. The site was called dojo.ro, I am ‘dojo’ on most forums/blogs. Hence the “brand”.

The site was created in Front Page, and back then I didn’t even know how to upload files through FTP. I didn’t have a computer back then, couldn’t afford it, so I’d stay 3-4 hours each day over my required time at the radio station I worked at, just to have some time for my site.

I learned how to work in Dreamweaver and spent insane hours tweaking the design. Started learning how to create a design from scratch and I got an old computer from my man. The PC was a wreck, but I could work on my site from home.

In few years I started an entire network of sites, learned how to design and code clean themes. Learned how to modify the themes for forums (in 2006 one of my designs was “board of the year” at phpbbhacks.com, directories or any other script I used.

Never had money to pay for anything, aside domain names and the reseller account. But I had TIME and DRIVE.

Let’s say that next year my small site is 9 years old. I am currently working backstage at a huge overhaul. I am a FULL TIME web designer, I have some pretty nice laptops and gadgets, I can now afford to pay for. I am traveling too, can do my stuff and see the world.

But never in my life I looked for excuses. If I don’t know something, you can be sure I’ll kill myself learning it. There’s nothing like “I can’t do this” for me.

Was this good?

Well, let’s say I have a super-career, I am still learning a lot each day and my future doesn’t seem too gloomy at all. After 10 years of working for others, I got the ‘balls’ to be my own boss. And it’s a sweet ride.

So, congratulations for not saying “I can’t do it”. Our best feats in life come from making the impossible possible. With efforts and work, we can do anything.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

FREAK YEAH Ramona!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is an awesome story! Yes, you do got balls and now that you’re doing what you love, are your own boss, have $, and can see the world…..that’s is what this article is all about.

Thank you so much for such an inspiring comment Ramona!

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leon Noone December 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm

G’Day Marcus,
Youse blokes talk funny. I dunno what a “dufus” is but I get the idea. And you are absolutely correct. Right now I’m in the process of finding the expertise.

One of the weirdest things about good ole www. is that everyone’s encouraged to learn to do everything themselves…..no matter how difficult or how long it takes to master. It flies in the face of that wonderful old dictum: “do only those things to which you bring a unique perspective. Buy everything else around the corner.”

Incidentally, you reminded me of two of the Great Lies
*It’s nobody’s fault; it’s a computer error
*I’m afraid you leave me no alternative….

Make sure you have fun

Regards

Leon

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Dufus– ding dong, dummy, nip wit, nimrod, goof-ball, bone-head, dunce, mental midget, etc ;-)

Your comments always, and I really mean always, give me big smiles Leon. Thanks for being the funniest Bloke south of the Equator. :-)

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jonathanfigaro December 6, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I just came off of reading Dia’s post. When it comes to failure, most see computer skill as a failed exam before they spark there pens or are told what the assignment is. I believe when our desire to learn out weight’s our desire to complain and blame. That is when we over shadow our fear of success.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Agreed Jonathan, most people throw their hands up before the battle is even started. But like you said, it starts with a simple desire to learn. If we but have that one thing, we’re going to be on the right path to eventual success.

So glad ‘The Dropout Kid’ stopped by. :-)

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Jk December 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Hey Marcus – when I purchased my domain name on June 28th, then downloaded wordpress.org – I went shuffling through the themes – found many I liked, but realized that I couldn’t change things. I discovered Thesis Theme, and then found that once I had the open flexibility, I had no clue what to do. I spent 100-200 hours learning how to code, experienced the failures, but ended up figuring it out. I had zero knowledge of “webmastering” but figured it out. It was a laborious process – but the investment meant everything.
Today, I can jump in and out of CSS and PHP to get just about anything. I’m still a novice, but I understand the basics enough to make it happen.

I’m a bit more advance with Photoshop but still working to get better. I create all of my own art on my site … it’s time consuming but having 100% creative control has a great feeling attached to it.

With all of this, I still didn’t take care of everything…thanks to you and a couple of others I stepped my Social Network game up…and in a week – I can already confess that the numbers are way up.

I’ve always been technologically advanced but only because I like it and spend the time understanding it. I don’t get it quickly, always, but I’m always willing to invest the time.

This was a good topic!
.-= Jk´s last blog ..A Universal Strategy for Achieving Results =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Was Hustle. Literally every time you leave a comment on these parts I’m blown away. Your story is awesome. One of grit and determination, yet triumph. That you were able to learn HTML and PHP on your own is stellar, and an example to all.

Love your fire….Love your hustle ;-)

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Jk December 7, 2010 at 1:49 am

Thanks Marcus. I have to tell you, I love the topics you share, and more importantly the passion that you display. Before watching your videos, when I read your articles I imaged them being spoken with the same passion that you speak in – in your videos.
Can’t fake passion! Peace.
.-= Jk´s last blog ..A Universal Strategy for Achieving Results =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

No doubt brother, ya can’t fake passion. I’m glad you watched some of my vids. I truly don’t feel like people know the real ‘me’ until they watch me at home, speaking to a group of people, all of us striving for one common goal– self betterment.

Like the new avatar btw ;-)

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Matt December 7, 2010 at 9:39 am

Once again great article Marcus. It was great talking with you the other day; I just wish I had more progress to speak of. I will be paying more attention to your blog now because it is funny yet very inciteful. All the best.

Matthew Leone,
DAX Systems Inc.
343 New Road
Parsippany, NJ 07054
973-227-8111
Follow Us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DAXSYSTEMSINC

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2010 at 9:42 am

Thanks Matt…Keep your head up buddy…The ‘higher ups’ will eventually see the light of inbound marketing and learn to love it as you have. You’ve got a very bright future ahead of you, and it was a pleasure sharing a few words.

Keep making it happen buddy. :-)

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Adam December 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Hi Marcus,

there are no limits, only people make up excuses why this and that can not be done, exactly as you said. It is always simple to say I can’t but following this attitude you will never move forward and if you are not moving you are becoming obsolete. Everything is changing and refusing to adapt to these changes is simply folly.

Your story was very inoperative and it proved that if you really want something you can achieve it, it just need time and persistence.

Nice reading and RT:)

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Marcus Sheridan December 9, 2010 at 11:22 am

Adam, quite the pleasure my friend, and a big welcome to my blog.

I love your point of:

Everything is changing

Yes, yes, yes. People are literally watching the train go by and are being left behind. I see it everyday, over and over, with antiquated businesses.

Bummer…..

Thanks for the RT and I’m sure you’ll soon be seeing me on your blog ;-)

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Matt Mansfield December 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Marcus,

Great post – love the passion!

My story: graduated with a BS in Business Admin, got into PR out of college, drifted into tech support, became a UNIX admin then hopped onto the web in 2000 and never looked back.

I’ve learned 90% of my skills through books, manuals and online reference sites. I’ve built dozens of websites and helped hundreds of people get and work online. I totally believe in the “just learn the darn thing and do-it-yourself” approach.

That said however, the key thing missing in your article, which is my passion, is that people need help matching the overwhelming number of available technology solutions to their own skills and to the time and energy they can put in to enhance those skills.

Some folks can learn tools such as wordpress and joomla and drupal from scratch (I did with a lot of playing around and trying things out and reading) and some folks can barely get up and running with a tool such as Jimdo or Weebly.

However. forcing them to rise above a certain level of expertise is not the best approach either. Some folks are techie geeks and designers (like me) and some are sales or finance people (not me).

Finding the right approach for each person is the key to success.

Gonna’ check back often – love your site and topics!

-Matt
.-= Matt Mansfield´s last blog ..4 Approaches to Designing a Business Logo =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 9, 2010 at 11:26 am

Hey Matt, and thanks so much for stopping by, as I can see you’re really passionate and certainly know what the heck you’re talking about.

I agree that we all have strengths and weaknesses. I also agree that there are times when we need to understand our limitations and seek the assistance of others.

But I also think that too many people simply give up, especially when it comes to technology, before they’ve really taken a fair stab at it.

One of my many goals with this blog is to help business owners realize, “Hey, I ain’t stupid. I can give this a try!”

Hope to see you again Matt :-)

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