Are you familiar with the old saying, “Jack-of-all-Trades, Master of None?” When it comes to running a small business, the adage might be better stated as, “Jack-of-all-Trades, Focused-on-One.”
The Power of One
Most small business owners are entrepreneurs for a reason: they possess a strong drive or talent in one particular area that inspires them to build a business around it. But while this skill set is often enough to get the small business owner through a certain amount of uncharted territory, their lack of broad-scope knowledge is going to catch up with them eventually.
Outstanding people skills, for example, will take the average entrepreneur a long way. But just because someone is good at dealing with people, it doesn’t necessarily mean they understand what a customer really wants or how to sell it to them. It also doesn’t mean they’ll know how to effectively track and learn from those sales, once they do happen.
The Muscle of Many
There are obvious advantages to having a decent working knowledge of every aspect of your business.
- The better you understand what goes on outside your core focus, the better this integration allows you to maximize your own personal talent.
In the case of our people-person, for example, if that business owner were to cultivate a familiarity with the ins and outs of the marketing process, she could make better use of her innate skills to successfully guide client interactions toward a sale.
- Having a more thorough understanding of your key business areas gives you more control over your operations as a whole, since in the end, they’re all connected.
Better marketing leads to more sales, more sales lead to more hiring, more staff requires better personnel management, and all of this leads to a greater need for an outsourced bookkeeper. An informed perspective on a wide range of factors is crucial when it comes to making the all-important decisions that affect your business on every level.
All of which brings us to the question, “Is there a downside to being a small business "Jack-of-all-Trades”?
Knowing When to Seek Help
Sometimes a business owner can become so involved in the day-to-day details of their company that they lose sight of the bigger picture that’s responsible for directing the business where it needs to go. Don’t sell your abilities as an entrepreneur short: beyond the managerial duties, it’s your drive, motivation, and inspiration that fuel your entire operation. And that’s where the power of delegation comes in. Just because our people-person entrepreneur develops a valuable understanding of the marketing process that encourages sales, it doesn’t mean she should squander precious time trying to design an effective advertising campaign.
Let’s say you’re a consultant charging $150 an hour, and it takes you 20 hours to write and format a lead-generating buyer’s guide for your company’s product. You may know everything there is to know about your product, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to write the copy that will sell it. Not only will your mediocre attempt cost you $3,000 in time, that time most assuredly could have been better spent elsewhere.
Remember that there are always people more qualified than you to pick up the slack and let you focus on what you do best - even if those people aren’t a part of your permanent staff. Because these individuals or companies are experts in their own right, your business can benefit from superior results, for significantly less money, when you choose to outsource areas such as:
- Web design,
- Customer service, or
The Bottom Line
In the end, there’s an optimal level to strive for where the Jack-of-all-Trades approach to small business is concerned. Knowing a lot about a lot, but actively doing a lot about only a little, can make a world of difference to the success of your business. The more knowledge you have at your disposal when you direct the various roles played by each piece of your enterprise, the more effective your decision-making process will become, and the more likely your business is to grow quickly and sustainably.