So you think you can do it all by yourself?

Perhaps the biggest misconception of entrepreneurs is that they can do it all.

In their minds they think that’s why they are entrepreneurs.  They won’t have to bother with dealing with other people. They won’t have to rely on employees or consultants. That’s why they don’t have a “job,” they own a business.

In fact, some people want to venture into their own businesses mainly because they don’t want to deal with others. They’ll just sit there in their garages or basements and make their products or provide their on-line services in cocoons, doing what they love without being bothered by mankind.

This is a fatal error that is, in fact, motivated by a well-intentioned value that many of us Americans have been taught. We’ve been taught to believe that we are self-sufficient individuals who have the capability — and the right, even — to do it all on our own. We all feel like we should be that self-reliant rugged individualist who reflects this hackneyed American ideal.

How many times have you heard people say: I’m going to fail or succeed all on my own? Many times, I suspect, and just as many times they’ve failed, all on their own.

The truth is, no one person can possibly do well all the things that are required to make a business succeed. I’ve written about the Trinity of Management and no one person can possibly do a good job at making a great product or service, selling it and marketing it and then managing all the finances that go with such an effort.

It’s not been done.

So, the bad news for all of us rugged individualists is that, in business, at least, we can’t do it all alone. I know this to be true from my days when I ran a business and tried to do it all, thinking I’d save money and that I was better at it that everybody else. Not only did I burn myself out, I also saw that I was doing some things terribly. Yes it got done, but it wasn’t done well.
So, entrepreneurs must recognize what they do well and concentrate on that. Then they must rely on others to do the things they don’t do well.

For example, I’ve yet to meet a good marketing and sales person who is also good at financial management. This entrepreneur might just love to talk up his service, create great ads, do interesting posts on Facebook and generate lots of sales. But this person struggles every week with keeping track of how much he or she sold and whether it was profitable. They think they can do it, even though they detest numbers and ledgers.

Or there’s the “numbers person” who can tell you down to the penny about expenses last month. But if a customer asks a legitimate question about a bill, they become grumpy and treat the customer (the very person who’s paying his or her salary) as if they are a bother. So, it’s not always a good idea to let bookkeepers engage in extensive customer service. These are also the people who, when asked about business expenses, will advise trimming the marketing budget when that’s the very area where a company would need to be spending more, not less.
I don’t mean to pick on bookkeepers or salespeople here. They are extremely valuable. But some people are cut out to be in sales and some are cut out to be on the financial side. Rarely are those people the same people.

My point here is simple. Entrepreneurs need to recognize their strengths and then build teams of people who will help them do well in all the aspects of managing a  business.

No man or woman is an island, especially in the business world.

Patrick Brower can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at

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