One of the many effective things about Carol Roth’s book, The Entrepreneur Equation, is that she does a great job of delineating everything an entrepreneur must do to make sure the business actually works. Carol points out that a lot of people start a business more as a “jobbie” rather than as an actual business. They forget about the fact that they’re going to need to be their own HR department, their own IT department, their own maintenance department, and everything else, not to mention sales, marketing, PR…you get the point. The list goes on and on.
Despite this reality, you often run into blog posts in the online world that essentially try to convince you that as an entrepreneur, you should want to do everything, whether it’s creating your own website, carrying out your own marketing campaign, making your own advertisements, or handling your own PR. If you aren’t excited about wanting to try to do all of that, there’s a feeling that maybe you aren’t really all that driven. Maybe you are afraid of failure, which according to some in the online world seems to be the kiss of death. How many times did Edison fail before creating the light bulb again?
Factually, I think the “you must do everything” myth is one of the more irresponsible myths floating about in the online world. It’s unrealistic. It implies a lack of understanding about everything an entrepreneur must do. To dig a little deeper, let’s look at four arguments that go against the “you must do everything” concept.
- Jack of all trades, master of none: As an entrepreneur, what is the most important thing to you? If you are offering a product, I would imagine the most important thing would be perfecting the product, adding other products to your line, and addressing any problems your customers have with the product. If you are selling a service, I’d imagine you’d want to perfect that service along with your ability to sell it. Just building those skillsets can take years and tons of experience. Now add to the mix learning how to make a website, learning how to create a marketing campaign. You could do all of these things, but the chances of you being excellent at all of them decrease in likelihood the more you try to take on. Do you want to have a mediocre website along with a mediocre product? Probably not. Better to master one skill than to muddle about in several.
- Effective use of money: One thing that is pretty well established is that businesses run more smoothly when the business is making money. Profits are highly sought after, right? If you are trying to do everything, including things you aren’t skilled in or experienced in, you might find that you are not getting the most out of that hard-earned money. Placing media, creating press releases, building a website – these are all skills that take time and experience. Do you want to spend money doing something you really don’t know how to do?
- Twenty-four hours is all you get: As an entrepreneur, just running your business takes up most of your time. Now try to add on just the task of keeping up with what is going on in social media. (Just that little piece of the pie.) Add in your blogging time next. Then add in the time it takes to keep up on your HR information. Pretty soon, you’re going to need a 48-hour day, and that just isn’t going to happen for you. What is the most effective way to spend those 24 hours then (or really maybe 18 assuming you sleep)? Can you possibly keep up on every single thing having to do with your business? Eventually, something will have to take a back burner. What will that be?
- Your time is not free: One of the most common arguments I see for an entrepreneur doing everything him or herself is, “Well, why do you want to pay someone to do that?” Whether it’s an SEO firm, a web boutique, or a social media consultant, the idea is always, “Why not just do it yourself for free?” Guess what though? Your time is NOT free. You get a salary, right? And you’re on the clock? That means your time is being paid for, even if you are paying yourself. Is the money you would pay to an outside source something additional? Sure. But then again, it will likely take them less time to get it done (they don’t need to learn from the ground up), the end result will be better (this is their job), and you will be able to use all of that time to focus on something like sales or product development. Does that really seem like a bad idea?
There is no shame in deciding that you need to outsource some segments of your business. It does not mean you are less driven. It does not mean you aren’t ambitious. It does not mean you lack a “go get ‘em” attitude. I would go so far as to say it means that you understand the full scope of what is involved in a business and you know what you want to focus on.
What do you think? Does the “you must do everything” myth make sense or does it send the wrong message?