“And now”, as Paul Harvey made famous, “the rest of the story.” I get it – you’re a small business owner. You know how to do it better, faster, more efficiently, with a special twist, or any other number of ways to make it “better”. If you did not think one, some or all of these to be true you would not be a small business owner or independent contractor. For you the world offers few challenges you are not willing to take on regardless, or in spite, of your experience in the given field.
The truth is I could do my own dental work. I can certainly cut my own hair and even press my own clothes. Just because I can does not mean I should. Even the pressing clothes one has a trade off which may prove best to contract the services of a professional for any number of reasons. One big failure of small business people is to calculate the true value of what may prove to be our most valuable asset: our time.
But I can do it myself
Recently I explained to a client I can write, comfortably, SEO articles on virtually any topic. I can write real estate SEO articles and I can write articles on recombinant DNA. What I failed to include is that I can also do my own taxes, file my own corporate formation documentation and even represent myself in court – should the opportunity so present itself. So where should I draw the line?
Remember you’re not the only light in the sky. It takes thousands and thousands of (visible) stars to make the night sky dazzling. One star alone does not a starry night make. Learn to identify your limitations and leverage your strengths to create opportunities for the true professionals – the other stars in the sky. When it comes to where you are the sunshine then you’re still not the only light in the sky but in your time you will outshine the others.
There are currently around 27,000,000 small businesses in the United States and that according to old figures from 2007. We are pretty certain that as a result of corporate downsizing and economic disaster many people have joined the self-employed and small business ownership ranks since 2008. If you are one and you’re still finding it difficult to fit all of the necessary hats on your head perhaps this is just the discussion for you. Rather than spending hours listing things you probably suck at but attempt to do anyway, like your own website and your own payroll (if that’s you), let’s look at recommended ways of determining your strengths and leveraging the results from exercising those to cover the small monetary fee for hiring a professional to take their field off your table.
You could click on over to Authentic Happiness by Penn State and take a few tests or you could do what most small business people do: figure it out yourself. If you want to figure it out yourself try these tips:
- Be honest with yourself about what you are passionate about. Great sales people are not always, maybe even not usually, the best at the paperwork part of a given process. If this is you consider a personal assistant who has amazing organizational and follow through skills.
- Consider your personal presentation. Chances are if I, with my 7″ and growing beard and long hair, need to make cold calls to Fortune 500’s it would behoove me to hire a front person to make the initial call. There’s nothing wrong with hiring appointment setters who are great at setting appointments but have no deeper business skills or who are just entering the business world.
- Show intelligence when determining your limitations. I have been coding websites since websites hit the ground or shortly thereafter. I can rough code by hand with the best of them but going back to clean it up and annotate what I have done is not a job I enjoy and therefore it is best left to an understudy. Go to an automotive shop and you may find a guy who is great at brake jobs but couldn’t identify a throttle position sensor for $100. Be the one who knows their strengths and find others with strengths where you have need. There is something highly intelligent about hiring a brain surgeon when one is needed (as opposed to rooting around in your own head).
- Ask others what they think about you in a certain roll. This one is tough and, if you have friends like I do, can sting a little. One of my business partners continues to remind me I don’t do his style of graphics. Noted – I no longer offer to do any graphics for him. No biggie, he’s honest and we have a strong agreement. On the other hand people are occasionally surprised that I have the public speaking skills I do. Recently someone had been told they should hire me to speak at their event and did so solely on their trust of the person who made the recommendation. After I finished my 14 minutes the man said, “Wow! You’re so laid back in person I had no idea you would be that dynamic at the front of the room.” So though others may have an opinion you, more than anyone else, simply need to be honest with yourself.
- Remember you’re not the only light in the sky. It takes thousands and thousands of (visible) stars to make the night sky dazzling. One star alone does not a starry night make. Learn to identify your limitations and leverage your strengths to create opportunities for the true professionals – the other stars in the sky. When it comes to where you are the sunshine then you’re still not the only light in the sky but in your time you will outshine the others.
To sum it all up
Chances are you are currently in need of several professionals in your life. If you are a start-up it is very difficult to find others to invest in you enough to get you over the initial humps and that has long been my desire to facilitate. When CheepMonkey came along I didn’t get at first the fact they have the same concept. Whatever you do it is imperative that you align yourself with people who know things you do not know and that you trust the professionals enough so that when they look at your needs they will know answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask.
- Small Biz BarCamp – a Facebook group for small business owners
- Now, Discover Your Strengths – a timeless book by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton.
- Secrets of Self-Employment: Surviving and Thriving on the Ups and Downs of Being Your Own Boss by Paul and Sarah Edwards
- SmallBizTrends – a blog by and about small business people