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  • Curtis Mackenzie

Small Business Owners: Jack-Of-All-Trades

I am drawn to this quote “Jack of All Trades” because it beautifully captures the mindset entrepreneurs must adopt when navigating the unpredictable nature of daily business operations. Unlike larger corporations, most small businesses lack the luxury of dedicated specialists or outsourced vendors readily available to address every challenge that arises. Instead, they frequently encounter unforeseen situations without anyone specifically designated or accessible to handle them. It is during these pivotal moments that someone must step up and take charge.

The unprecedented outbreak of Covid-19 serves as a striking illustration of an unforeseen event that demanded rapid adaptation. While we are witnessing signs of recovery with job opportunities and increased business spending in 2023, small business owners must remain vigilant and prepared. To that end, here are some essential reminders:

The ability and willingness to step into any role and take decisive action when needed are essential qualities for small business owners.

In the face of urgent problems, it becomes imperative to shed the mindset of saying, "That's not my job" or "Someone else will handle it later." Instead, owners must reassess their perspective and recognize that every task should be considered "their job" until it is successfully completed.

As an owner, your adaptability and proactive approach are vital to the smooth functioning of your business.

But don't all "good" managers think and behave this way? Yes and no, it is common in larger organizations that a lot of issues do not get fixed on time because managers either feel overwhelmed by too many problems, or that they're not compensated adequately for making extra efforts that are out of their direct mandate. While it is true that many "good" managers possess the ability to think and act proactively, the reality is that in larger organizations, timely problem resolution often falls short. Managers can feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of issues or find themselves unrewarded for going beyond their prescribed responsibilities. However, for small business owners, their willingness to assume any role at any time becomes a potent competitive advantage, setting them apart from their larger counterparts.

The good news for small business owners is that their hands-on approach and adaptability enable them to address challenges swiftly and effectively. Unlike larger corporations, small businesses simply cannot afford to let problems linger. The repercussions of unresolved issues are far-reaching, impacting the sales cycle, dampening morale, strangling cash flow, and eventually endangering the entire business.

Shifting Perspectives: Embracing Ownership and Accountability in Every Task

"Owners that become accustomed to making comments like "That's not my job", or "someone will have to fix that later", need to re-think their perspective, ... every job should be "their job" until the job gets done".

Owners need to reevaluate their perspective if they have grown accustomed to making statements such as "That's not my job" or "Someone else will handle it later." The truth is, every job should be considered "their job" until it is successfully completed. By embracing ownership and accountability, owners can foster a culture of responsibility within their organizations, leading to greater efficiency and success.

Here are some examples of situations where an owner needs to "change hats" suddenly and get the job done without hesitation or complaint.

The Salesman:

A key salesperson calls in sick at the last minute and a client is waiting. In the realm of business, unforeseen circumstances often require entrepreneurs and business owners to assume unexpected roles. Picture this scenario: a key salesperson falls ill at the eleventh hour, leaving a client waiting. Suddenly, the entrepreneur or business owner must step into the shoes of a "salesperson." Even if sales isn't part of their job description, they must seize the opportunity without hesitation. This entails promptly apologizing to the client and delivering the best possible sales presentation on short notice.

The Networker:

If it's decided your company needs to get more publicity from industry events, you need to quickly become a "networker", whether or not you enjoy the social side of business. In the pursuit of increased industry publicity, companies often recognize the need to engage in networking at industry events. Regardless of personal preferences towards the social aspects of business, entrepreneurs and business professionals must swiftly transform into proficient "networkers." This adaptation is vital for effectively connecting with industry peers, expanding reach, and achieving desired publicity goals.

The Negotiator:

In the realm of business, encountering unpaid invoices requires entrepreneurs to don a new hat: that of a skilled negotiator. While outsourcing this task to a collections agency is an option, engaging in direct discussions with the client as the owner can often yield better results. By personally visiting the client and initiating a dialogue, owners demonstrate their commitment to maintaining a strong client relationship and increase the likelihood of a smoother resolution.

The Leader:

As entrepreneurs, we often find ourselves thrust into various roles beyond our designated responsibilities. These sudden shifts require us to become mediators, therapists, accountants, or even fundraisers. Adapting to these diverse roles demonstrates our versatility and agility, enabling us to address challenges and drive success in different aspects of our businesses.

"...small businesses cannot afford to have problems go unsolved for any length of time, they will cause slowdowns in the sales cycle, negatively affect morale, kill cash flow, and soon the business itself".

See our post “Insufficient Planning, or "Only planning for success" are BIG problems in startups!” for other advice on starting and managing a small business from day one.

For a direct discussion on how we help your business grow and thrive in Japan or the Asia Pacific, contact us. New Frame KK.


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