You know what is odd?
Nobody expects successful experts – doctors, electricians, sports figures, lawyers, plumbers – to just wing it. We know they put a lot of time into learning about and training for their profession. In fact, we require that they don’t.
We want the surgeon performing our operation, the mechanic fixing our car, and the quarterback leading our team to have a lot of practice and be exceptional at what they do. We expect them to study and practice. We expect them to work at being the best in their profession.
So, why do people expect the “profession” of business ownership to be any different? Why do people believe that business owners can become successful just by winging it?
The reason only 30% of businesses make it into their 10th year is that the owners were unprepared to run their companies. They did not understand and were not able to meet the requirements of being a professional business owner.
What does it take to be a successful business owner? Here are two places to start.
The reality is, you can never know everything you need to about running your company. This doesn’t mean you’re stupid, weak or incompetent. It is just a fact that there is too much for one person to learn and understand in business, and it is always changing (i.e., laws, tax codes, best practices, tech).
All owners reach a point where they do not have the knowledge required to be successful. When they reach this point, they decide to get the help they need or to go it on their own. Experience shows that a person who is willing to learn from others increases his skill level and chances of achieving his goals.
You may be good with numbers but struggle with talking to employees and customers. You may be able to sell ice to Alaskans, but your paperwork is a mess and causes production/quality problems. You may be the best electrician around, but are unable to make a profitable bid/estimate.
Running a successful business requires a variety of skills, and no one is born with all of them. Just as we cannot know everything, we are not skilled at everything. We all have things we are good at and things we are not.
Luckily, you do not have to be good at everything. Using the information you get from others, and your own experiences ask yourself the following questions.
- What am I good at and interested in becoming better? What knowledge and training do I need?
- What am I okay at and interested in becoming better? What education and training do I need?
- What am I bad at and not interested in becoming better? How do I cover this gap in my skill set (i.e., develop and implement self-sustaining systems, hire or delegate an employee to do tasks, outsource/outside help)?
Successful business owners understand and accept that they will always need others to help them grow, stay competitive and make a profit. Do not limit yourself through lack of knowledge or skill. Once you start saying – “I’ve tried everything. There’s nothing anyone can do to fix or solve my problems.” – you have stopped being a problem solver and started being a problem creator.