We've noticed a strange phenomenon lately. Perhaps you've heard of it. It goes like this: one-person companies that usually offer services have outstanding websites with lots of information about services provided, background, contact information, etc. It's fantastic that all these small businesses have a web presence. The strange thing is that we've realized that many of these solo providers -- whether they be graphic designers, accountants, freelance web developers, translators or interpreters -- refer to themselves in the plural. We know it's not a matter of grammar: everyone knows the difference between singular and plural. However, by reading through the website, it is pretty clear that there's only one person who works there. The question then remains: why do solo providers have "About us" pages and talk about "our services" and "we provide"? Do office pets count as employees? We think that deep down, solo providers oftentimes think that they are not good enough because they run a micro operation, but nothing could be further from the truth, in our humble opinion.
First of all, we think all you solo providers should be incredibly proud of running a one-woman/man show. Most people will never be as brave as you are and decide to go into business for yourselves, yet many economies, including the weak American economy, depend on small businesses (says the American government). So: give yourself a pat on the back -- running your own show as a micro business is great! Now: there's no need to make yourself sound like a bigger company than you are. There's nothing wrong with being a one-person company; in fact, it's fantastic. We do think it is misleading and well, untruthful, to speak of yourself in the plural when there's only one of you. We checked with our pro bono laywer, and off the top of his head (disclaimer: he was mowing the lawn when we asked), he doesn't think that misrepresentation is strictly illegal, unless you claim to have a certain number of employees or claim to be able to provide specific services that turns out you cannot. So it's not illegal, but is it ethical? That's a personal decision, but we'd say it's probably not. There's no reason to start your business relationship with every single one of your potential customers by telling a white lie. There's only one of you, and that's a good thing (no co-workers, yay). We think transparency is a great thing. Now please go and update the "About us" section and make it "About me." By the way: since we are twins, we do have an "About us" section on our website, as we are two people. Unfortunately, growing up, many people thought we were one person, resulting in one birthday present on our joint birthday. We tried in vain to convince them that "twins" means two people. But that's a topic for another blog post.
Readers: what do you think?