Recently, I had a conversation with a business colleague who cautioned me of handling too many projects across multiple disciplines. Becoming a “jack of all trades and a master of none” should be pursued with caution, she emphasized. When speaking with a former school classmate on the threshold of starting my own company over eight years ago, I was told to become familiar with the ebb and flow of my business. This means to know that business both good and bad times. The small business owner has to be familiar with juggling multiple projects in order to keep cash flow positive.
One area of caution, and there are many, is to make sure your business does not become diluted as you work hard to define your business and keep revenue growing. The trap is to avoid the dilution so your prospects know you are the “expert” in the field. Your experience dealing with the business issues and associates can become a solid source of referrals for the business. This is the goal for most entrepreneurs.
So what can be done to avoid the trap? It is obvious that the skills to build your own business include dedication, commitment and ingenuity. To build a business from either a business plan or a sketch from the back of a napkin is a major achievement. To start our day not knowing exactly what will take place or could be achieved is exciting, invigorating and stressful. However, since there are no specific boundaries the entrepreneur has to create them and ensure they remain intake.
I recall when I worked for large companies, people spent hours to define the company mission statement. I often thought this was both a waste of time of valuable resources. However, I believe the entrepreneur must not only have a mission statement, but it should not be a vague group of words. When projects that come along that are not aligned with your mission statement, they should be weighed and evaluated. Does the work really need to be done by you? Can you partner with someone? Do you need the revenue or is it greed or growth? These are questions that should be answered.
Here are some additional points to think about:
What do you want to accomplish in your business?
How is the company identified in the marketing materials? Are you known in your respective industry? If there is a revenue gap what are you doing to build your revenue within your industry? I realized by the time I spend obtaining prospects outside my industry I can re-direct that time to focus within my industry. Because building greater value for my client’s results in gaining additional business for them. Furthermore, I began to blog about industry topics resulting in building and strengthening my brand.
Frequent reassessment can ensure you are on track
If you allow the lawn to grow without providing some maintenance and care, the weeds will eventually overtake the lawn. Checking the lawn frequently for weeds will ensure the grass will grow sufficiently. The same applies to growing your business. A frequent check-up to ensure you are on track with your business plan and objective will help to you to stay focused. If you are taking more and more business outside your core competency, although that is a choice, make sure it does not rob your core business for growth.
Realize when it is time to ask for help
The life of the entrepreneur could be rewarding, but lonely. I recall that my corporate life was filled with training seminars about building an efficient workplace and working as a team. Seminars for the entrepreneur could be harder to find and expensive. Reading articles about other entrepreneurs can provide insight. Networking within your circles can provide you with honest feedback and insight.
I have created a “virtual” board of directors”. These are former business colleagues who I have worked with who are familiar with my brand. They provide an endless amount of support and focus for me. Asking for help can get you on the road to meet your objective, especially when you decide to drift or take an exit that could lead to a dead end.
Avoid the entrepreneur trap to take any assignment could pay the bills for the short term, but may not add wealth or positively contribute to the equity of your business.