Entrepreneurs are quite often the prototypical “last man (or woman) standing.” We’re the first to arrive for work, the last to go home, and we’re never really off the clock. We think we can do it all—from CEO to Sales Director to Marketing Guru to Maintenance Worker—and we often feel we must, either out of financial necessity, sheer determination, or just plain “madness.” After all, this drive to be a one-person know-it-all, do-it-all, and be-it-all is probably what made us successful in the first place!

But will that always be the case? What happens when you discover you can’t possibly do everything you need to run your business and to do it well? What then?

The reality of today’s business world is you can’t possibly do it all yourself and be successful (at least not as successful as you could be or want to be). The world of work has gotten too big, too complex, and too fast-paced for the jacks-of-all-trades among us to truly win big. Sure, you might be able to get by for a short time, but to what end? Eventually, the stress catches up to all of us. You’ll find you’re spending an inordinate amount of time on your weaknesses—jobs or tasks others could do equally as well as you if not better—while those things you’re good at, those things you enjoy doing, suffer. Where’s the sense in that?

It take a team to run a business—even a solo business.

Take this King Monkey, for instance. Even with my diverse background in Business Development, Sales, Marketing, Product Marketing (you name it), I eventually realized I could not do everything myself. There’s only so much time in the day, and there are only so many things I am actually good at and that I like.  (That’s right, just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you like it. For example, you may be pretty good at math, but do you really like balancing your checkbook or doing your taxes? Some people actually do, and they’re the ones who should be doing it!)

Early in my career, a soon-to-be business partner and I realized neither of us could run the business and be successful on our own, so we decided to operate as a two-person team. I focused on Marketing/Business Development and Sourcing, while my partner ran the business day-to-day and focused on Sales. Long story short, as a team we were more successful than we could have ever hoped being had we tried to do it solo.

  • STEP ONE was to accept that while we had our strengths, we also had weaknesses  . . . and that was OK. We couldn’t be good at everything.
  • STEP TWO was to identify our strengths, determine where the gaps were, and then identify the strengths we needed to find in others to help us.
  • STEP THREE was to surround ourselves with people whose strengths balanced our weaknesses. In the beginning, it was just the two of us, but eventually we built a bigger, high performing team of key staff.

In StrengthsFinder 2.0, author Tom Rath outlines the kind of tool/approach you can use to do just this. StrenghtFinder is an online assessment tool developed by Gallup that debuted back in 2001. It identifies individual strengths so that people can apply them more productively in the work place and at home. Rath explains that “all too often our natural talents go untapped and we spend more time focused on our weaknesses than on our strengths,” which leads to dissatisfaction, stress, and lost productivity both personally and professionally.

What kind of world would we live in if we could do what we do best each day? What might YOUR business look like if you focused on what you like and what you’re good at, while the team around you worked to its strengths, supplementing what you do?

In last week’s blog, I wrote about working smartly, about recognizing not only your limitations but also your strengths and playing to them.

Are you bad with money? Hire someone to keep the books. Do you suffer over writing emails, business letters, presentations, etc.? Hire someone with the gift of the written word? Do you need to boost sales, but just don’t seem to have the time or the knack to concentrate on new business? Consider hiring a sales partner, someone for whom selling is second nature. (Ditto with technology, from your company phones to your personal laptop. Why keep fighting the technology demons when there is sure to be someone with the expertise and the experience to make things right?)

Sure, outsourcing or growing the size of your team costs money—but what’s the cost of lost time and missed opportunities when you try to do it all yourself?

Imagine . . .  a CEO who is actually the CEO, a Marketer who actually markets, a Business Development person who actually grows the business, a Web person who actually optimizes your social media and other online efforts, computers with 100% up-time!

How might you be more successful by knowing your strengths and optimizing them? How might your business benefit from embracing more of a team concept?

Your thoughts (and success stories) are welcome.