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.