Be Excellent At This For Small Business Success

Business People. Successful Business Partner Shaking Hands in the office. Business Team
Business People. Successful Business Partner Shaking Hands in the office. Business Team

I like to think of myself as capable of most any task I take on. No doubt you do as well. Given enough time and resources, we can obtain the necessary knowledge and skill to do most anything.

Which is exactly why we shouldn’t do some things. 

Some time ago I took on the job of remodeling our bathroom. We had purchased an older home and the décor was dated.  My wife wanted (among other things) to have the 60’s vanity removed and to install a porcelain pedestal sink.

Removal was a breeze. Breaking things is in my skill set. Once removed I placed the pedestal sink in place and began the installation process. A few hours and a lot of water later I sat on the floor, surrounded by hoses, gaskets, and various tools. I was dumbfounded as to why I could not successfully install this sink.

Just then my wife came in and asked, “Is there anything I can get you?”

“The only thing I need right now is a plumber” was my reply.

What seemed to be a straight-forward, simple yet not easy task had turned into an epic challenge that I could not solve. And this is often what happens in our work lives as well.

No one wants to be incompetent. But admitting one’s incompetence is often the first step in moving forward with a project. How much revenue has been sacrificed, how many clients have not been served, how many opportunities have been lost because we feel the need to do a task ourselves rather than delegate it to someone who already possesses skill and knowledge we do not?

This is most common in small business. To compete we need to be experts in accounts payable, receivable, human resources, payroll, tax compliance and strategy, marketing, advertising, sales, retention, and now social media too. It can overwhelm the most competent person just as I was overwhelmed by the seemingly simple task of installing a sink.

Each task can be mastered individually. But when it comes to the pace of running a small business, trying to master any one task on the fly is insurmountable. You’re better off admitting you are incompetent and hiring someone who is. That way you can focus on what parts of the business you do well and get better results.

If you are good at selling but poor at bookkeeping, hire someone to do the bookkeeping and do more selling.  You’ll make more money because you’ll be doing what you do well and outsourcing what you don’t do well.

All the time you spend learning a new task and doing it poorly is lost opportunity time (not to mention poor execution which leads to higher costs as well).

And here’s the real risk in not taking this approach; eventually you will grow tired of doing the tasks you don’t do well and you’ll start to avoid doing it at all. And when things don’t get done they create bigger problems that must be done. This will undoubtedly call for hiring an expert.

To be successful in business today you must comply with regulation, compete with the competition, and communicate to your target clients why they should do business with you.  Then you must close the sale and do everything necessary to retain the client.  No one person can do this well for very long.  Soon you’ll have more to do than you personally can.

If you intend to grow you will be best-served to learn this now: The best business people are very good at one or two things and excellent at delegating or outsourcing the rest.

Are You Willingly Giving Away Your Freedom?

As we celebrate our nation's 233rd birthday this July 4, it is important to remember that our freedom came at a heavy price.  Men and women who personally sacrificed and continue to sacrifice to provide us with liberty should be thanked and remembered in reflective thought and prayer.  We are truly blessed to live in this most favored nation.

Yet every day we continue to sacrifice the freedom we have been so graciously provided.  While each day we debate how current or past political climes have diminished our freedom, it is not the purpose of this writing.  It is time to take a serious look at our individual freedom and how we willingly give it away when we become dependent upon a job.  According to a recent article Why Americans hate their jobs, "A majority of Americans now say they are unhappy at work." (The Week January 7, 2010)

The greatest loss of freedom in America happens on Monday morning.  Millions of people climb into their cars and funnel into the rat race.  There they fight and struggle to maintain a lifestyle they have built based on the income provided by the job they have selected. Whether by ignorance, influence, or indifference, most employees have built an invisible yet totally effective cage they now live in.  They are imprisoned by their jobs, trapped by the need to provide for a family and maintain a lifestyle.

The idea that each person is free is long forgotten.  Each week many will fear the loss of "their job" not realizing it isn't theirs, it belongs to the employer and he or she has full control over who will own "their job".  Sadly, many will find that even their employer has little or no control over who will stay and who will go as companies we never imagined would go out of business disappear from the landscape.  Circuit City went from good to great to gone leaving thousands unemployed.

There is hope.  We still enjoy individual freedom in this country and we should exercise our freedom with great vigor.  We are free to choose where and if we will work and we're free to create our own work should we choose.  Here are four steps to ensure you maintain your freedom:

  1. Find your passion.  What is it that you were uniquely designed to do?  Many will have to spend hours sifting through the years of work they have done for the money to get to the essence of who they really are.  Everyone has a purpose.  What is yours?
  2. Remember that you are the CEO of your own personal services corporation.  You have the option to choose to sell your services to one client (your employer) or to open up your own shop to serve many.  Entrepreneurship is the single greatest tool to ensure independence.  The first step is to realize that you are already in business for yourself.  Who do you choose as your customer?
  3. Examine your current line of work to find an opportunity.  While you may not believe your current work is your passion, there is likely a good reason you chose to work in the field you are in.  Is there a place where your passion and your experience intersect?  That's where opportunity lies!
  4. Exercise your freedom.  Don't remain trapped by the current situation.  Think of the countless hours you likely waste each week that could be put to good use developing your own business that will provide added income, opportunity, and freedom.

Every person in the United States (the world for that matter) should approach his or her work as a business owner.  How well are you using the resources you currently possess?  Everyone has time, talent, knowledge, experience, expertise, passion, and property they can leverage to create greater value for their customer(s).  That may mean becoming more valuable at your current job or opening a small business to serve others.

Honor the sacrifice made on your behalf by those men and women who provided you with freedom by approaching your work as a business owner.  When you work at a job for one employer, give it your very best.  No one ever created a better life by giving it anything less.  You made the choice to work where you work.  Remember that you are selling your services to your employer. You receive both money and experience as payment for your services.  Learn how to do your work better than before and your services will be more valuable to your current employer, future employers, and future clients.

Treat your work as a business, and treat your business as an opportunity.  Entrepreneurship is the greatest exercise of freedom.