• Katy McKay

Why hiring someone clueless might be the best thing you ever do for your business

Employing someone who knows nothing about your industry might sound bonkers, but it's probably exactly what your business needs.

Since striking out on my own just 3 months ago, I feel like I’ve absorbed more new information than I have in a long time.

Getting to grips with running my own business and having to do it all (the work you have to do to get the work, like, showing up on Twitter, Insta, LinkedIn and, erm, writing this) plus juggling the everyday stuff like kids and bills has been an education.

I like to be learning something new all the time, otherwise I get bored and start causing mischief. Like cutting the ponytail off the kid in front of me and setting small things on fire with a magnifying glass. Low-level criminality, that sort of thing.

So, it’s been a total joy for me to write content on global development for my latest project. I went to open lectures and learned about tobacco growers in Tanzania; I wrote about PhD students from Malawi; I discovered that in Zambia the language isn’t ‘Zambian’ but that there are over 70 languages there, none of them called Zambian. Who knew?!

I’ve worked with an independent wedding florist on her website copy. I know nothing about plants or flowers other than I’m good at killing them. I don’t know much about weddings either, apart from the one I went to when I was the Bride.

For years I worked in marketing for education. Not just any old education, but STEM education. For someone who has yet to gain a maths GCSE, I spent my whole time there waiting to be found out, permanently amused that they hired me. I loved it there because when I had a random question like; “if a spider fell off the Eiffel Tower, would it die?”* I had someone clever nearby to ask.

New and fresh ways of thinking are important for the progression of any business. I wasn’t chosen for any of my jobs because of how well I knew their subject. Not knowing about a topic or industry has been my greatest strength.

When I’m new to a subject or industry, I can only see everything from the customer's point of view.

  • I ask the questions others are afraid to.

  • I reveal your jargon.

  • I remind you that your customers don’t know what your acronyms mean, and that if they did, they probably don’t care.

If you want to sell more stuff, get people to support your cause or to simply get your message out there, you probably don’t need an expert. Your company already has you!

*The answer? No. It’s something to do with terminal velocity. I forget. It doesn’t matter now. See, learning is ace!

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