Secrets of Small Business Success: You Can’t Do Everything


The same spirit that drives us to become independent professionals often is our own worst enemy when it comes to task performance. Our ambition and our recognition “if anything is going to get done I’m going to have to do it myself” leads us to take on important functions we are neither qualified for nor prepared to handle. In the end it may, put some emphasis on may, turn out fine but even then at what cost?

Are you really the super hero you’re trying to be? Probably not but don’t sweat it – you don’t need to be!

My First Audit

Back in 1985 I had my first IRS audit of a business. I had done all of my own bookkeeping and taxes throughout the years and kept my own record. The visit from the agent was not as frightening as I had expected but the follow up was quite intense. In the end it did turn out fine but the very real stress and anxiety I faced as we went through to process was in no way worth the $750 it would have cost me (back then) to have had the part I did done by a professional. From that point on I never did my own.

Tasks Like SEO or Web Content

Or maybe they are not really less crucial but less well know. At that same business I took quotes on having a 4’x32′ sign painted with my logo and some text. The total cost would have been $900 not including installation. Of course I could do it myself and I sat out to prove it. My final cash investment was $230 including installation. How’d the sign look? Well, it wasn’t bad as they say. It also wasn’t the professional, sleek look I wanted for my business.

Things We Never Think of Doing

Most of us never think of installing our own alarm system, doing our own electrical work or building our own office furniture. What is the difference between the two functions I mentioned performing on my own earlier and these? Why not just go ahead and build my own executive chairs? If you answered like I did, “because I can buy one already professionally built that looks and works much better than mine”, you’d be on the thought track I was searching for.

About kencook

Writer for hire, SEO analyst. American Soldier.
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  • AmyMccTobin

    My greatest life’s challenge has been to stop being Jack of all Trades and master of none. Great reminder.

    • davethackeray

      Amy, bravo for having the guts and saying what we all think. So true – not only do we do everything in our business, we try and do everyone else’s, too. How many times as the fledgling entrepreneur have we taken on work way outside our skillsets just to pay the bills? Crazy!

      • Ken Cook

        And don’t we pay the price with big learning curves to perform a task we may never face again? On the other hand the very experience has rounded many of us. Still, best left for the novice and not the niche professional. Thanks for chiming in.

      • AmyMccTobin

        It WAS my biggest challenge running my agency, especially in the early days. Now I am very frank with my clients: I create the recipe, but I am not the sous chef (s).

    • Ken Cook

      Thanks Amy. I am the chief offender. Though I have learned to curb a few my first, automatic reaction still tends to be “I can do that myself”.