Small Business: I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know

You start in business because you have a passion for something, whether it is beautiful landscaping, making pies, coffee or whatever it may be.  That entrepreneur is moved to go into business because of their passion.  But what happens when you get into the business and you realize there is so much “stuff” to do that It can literally suck the life out of you and have you asking yourself, “What did I get myself into? I just like making pies.”

The book, E-myth Revisited is a must read for small business owners, because it explains that exact cycle of going into a business with a passion and ending up bogged down by all the other stuff.

So how do you avoid that cycle?  Well, it is simple.  You understand from day one that you don’t have all the knowledge about business and that you can’t do it all yourself.  If you want to sustain your business and its success, you must pace yourself and get the resources you need.

1. Keep with what you enjoy to avoid burnout

When we started our business over 10 years ago,  the people we bought the concept from were doing everything – marketing, scheduling, both husband and wife doing the delivery of the service, accounting, taxes, purchasing, HR, insurance and on and on and on.  Because of Jim’s health issues, we weren’t able to do EVERYTHING ourselves.  I remember thinking, “Man if we could be like them, we could really be getting ahead.”  Looking back now, I realize having to outsource things was a blessings in disguise.  The health issues Jim was facing made us balance our lives and get the help we needed.  It turns out that the couple who did everything got to a point of total burnout and completely closed the business.  I hate that that happened for them and it was confirmation that pacing yourself and outsourcing help was the right path for us.

Just because you are a small business owner doesn’t mean you have to work 50+ hours a week, do everything yourself and never have a life.  If you are a going to take the risk, you have got to be able to enjoy what ownership brings you – flexibility, owning your future and doing what you love.

2. You’re not good at what you don’t like

Back to your passion!  Define what that is and why you like it so much.  Are you the creative one? Love to solve problems? A people person?  Once you define this, make sure you incorporate at least 50% of your time doing what you love.  If you start doing less, you will notice  a decrease in your motivation and excitement for the business. 

I love marketing! I am good at it and very efficient, which directly affects my feeling of accomplishment, sense of productivity and happiness. I find if I don’t do some type of marketing daily, I feel unproductive and unsatisfied … and find myself eating more carbs to make up for it!

It is also important to ask yourself what you detest doing … you know, the stuff that sits on your desk forever.  Pick the most annoying task you have and outsource that pest right away!

Personally, I absolutely HATE numbers.  I remember telling our accountant in the beginning that we didn’t want any reports or to track anything.  Makes me giggle.  I am sure we left that meeting and he was shaking his head. We told him as long as the green bar was taller than the red bar, that is all we needed to know!  Well, I have matured some and do realize that that type of “knowledge is power.”  Today, I have learned to understand my P & L and be more comfortable with it.  Let’s just say I no longer have an anxiety attack when I look at it!

Bookkeeping needed to be outsourced; however I learned this the hard way.  When you don’t enjoy a task, you most likely are not going to do a great job at it.  After several accounting errors made on our part, resulting in extra money spent to fix it, we knew it was time to hand it over.  Sometimes if has to hit you square in the face before you realize that something has to change.  When that sign comes, do something!

3. You don’t know what you don’t know

This might be the most important thing to remember, so be prepared to leave your “ego” at the door.  You don’t have to know everything about business, to be a good business owner. You just need to be willing to surround yourself with people who can help you and admit you still have a lot to learn. Being humble with your experience is a very great quality to possess and will be appreciated by the people you work with … so I’ve been told. 🙂

We don’t know it all and that is why we have people who specialize in certain products or services.  It is impossible to be really good at everything, you just can’t!  So stop trying and turn off the voice in your head that is saying, “I should know how to do this?”  You know the saying – “Don’t should on yourself!”

There is a reason I take my dog to the groomers and have a financial planner looking over my retirement.  My dog would look like he had a fight with a weed whacker and my finances would look pathetic.  Do you get what I am saying?  Let the experts be experts and bring them in to help you.  You will save lots of time and money in the long run and end up with a better result. 

Keep doing what you love.  Let that inspire you and remind you why you decided to take the leap of faith and go into business for yourself.  Pull in the resources on the things you don’t enjoy.  It is not a failure, it is pure survival for you and your business.  Revel in the experts and their knowledge and how it can help you go where you want to go.

Business ownership isn’t easy.  It isn’t for everyone.  If you are a business owner, pat yourself on the back!  You are the driving force of America that is creating the jobs of tomorrow.  Give yourself some grace and get after your passion!

Respectfully with humor,



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