Jack Of All Trades: Why Trying to Know it All Could Cost You Everything

Jack Of All Trades: Why Trying to Know it All Could Cost You Everything

As a small business owner, I have always prided myself on being a jack of all trades. Why spend money on an expert when I could figure out how to do it for free? I would even go so far as to say that my pride told me I could do it better than the experts; after all, I knew my business best.

The problem, as I learned, with trying to be a jack of all trades is that the one trade that actually made me money began to suffer. By trying to make my skill set fit into every single aspect of business from marketing, to sales, to design, to distribution, and so forth, I found myself with little time to actually work on my business. You know, the part that actually makes money. Sure, I was not spending any money but I also realized that I was not making any either.  My time was being stolen by everything and anything except what I originally set out to do. With no time to run my business, it did not matter how good I was at being a jack of all trades. The bottom line was that I had no bottom line. I had saved and worked myself to the brink of disaster.

It was time for a major mind shift. I realized that I had to be an expert, not a jack of all trades. I had to know my business, inside and out. What was my business? My customers were my business and I needed to be an expert at understanding my customers, but I could not do this while running around trying to just be a jack of all trades. My time had to be spent making money. As a business consultant, this meant face time with customers and leads. Nothing else should distract me from this purpose. Of course, there was still the matter of all the other aspects of running a business.

I think that many of us as small business owners make this mistake. We forget that in order for us to be successful we can’t be a jack of all trades. We have to be experts of our own business. Whether that is a trade, business service, retail store, or restaurant, our time needs to be spent doing what we know best. The flip side is that this means that any task that we are not an expert at should be outsourced or delegated to an employee who is an expert. Our business cannot thrive when we are focused on the wrong things, nor can our business thrive when we trade mediocrity for a saved dollar.

In the long run, we will be a lot more successful when we learn to be experts in our business and delegate everything else out. I had to learn that part of managing a business was finding other experts who could help me with the areas of my business that distracted me from making money. The mind shift came as I realized that it was no longer a question of if I could, but if I should. I am a smart guy and with a few short hours I can figure just about anything out, but that does not mean that I should.

Now I always try and ask myself these three questions when contemplating what tasks I should be accomplishing or delegating:
1.       Is this an income producing task?
2.       Am I already an expert at this task?
3.       Are there more important tasks that I should be spending my time on?

It is still easy for me to fall into the trap of trying to be a jack of all trades, but at the end of the day, I know that my time is valuable. I am the only one who is an expert at my business and if I don’t stay focused on what really matters, the second part of the tag line will come true: jack of all trades, master of none. I would rather continue to be the master of my own business. Even if that means swallowing my pride and delegating all of the tasks that others can and should be doing so that I can focus on my customers and growing my business.

Mark Zarr
Mark Zarr is a writer, graphic designer, and a marketing and communications consultant who works with businesses, churches and non-profits to improve their branding, marketing, and communication strategies. Utilizing his 15 plus years of business management, marketing, and design experience he helps organizations of all sizes grow and achieve amazing results by standing out from the crowd through great design. He has an MBA from Liberty University and is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Business for Boise State University and Pueblo Community College. He currently lives in Colorado with his wife, Rachel, and their two children.

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