I am not sure about other business owners but I am really tired of motivational speakers whose message is that you can do anything. Yes, it is important to be inspired and motivated. You have to sincerely believe that you can achieve something or it is very likely that you won’t. However, there is a missing piece to this inspiration. You can probably do anything given the effort and resources, but you can’t succeed at everything. That is the problem that many small business owners face.

When you own or manage a small business you wear many hats. You may be the salesperson, the bookkeeper, the HR department and so on. It is easy to get so wrapped up in doing everything. The problem is you simply can’t do it all well. So how do you get out of the trap that may lead to your demise? Not to mention severe exhaustion. Here are a few ideas.

First, you need a change of attitude. You are not a failure because you can’t do it all. In fact, you are really smart. Smart people understand that there are limited hours in the day. Sure, we squeeze in more than the typical eight hours but how productive can you be when you consistently put in fourteen and fifteen hour days?

Second, focus on the areas where you can make the biggest difference for your business. While I might enjoy doing some activities, like writing our newsletter, I will have a bigger impact writing a response to a big RFP. That’s where I can really improve our bottom line.

Third, find outside resources that can be an extension of your business. There are many credible resources to help you with human resource issues, accounting and other critical functions. The truth is that these individuals or companies can be a huge asset to your business. To begin, they can complete the work faster because they do it every day. In addition, these individuals are more likely to be up on the latest trends and regulations so they provide a value beyond just the service. They keep you current and out of trouble. They also free you up so that you can concentrate on your core business.

Finally, learn to say NO. This one is difficult. Here are so many demands for the small business owner beyond the day-to-day commitments. As a business owner you may get asked to volunteer your time for a local non-profit, serve on a committee at your child’s school, be a guest speaker for an event and the list goes on. Over the years I have served on countless boards and committees. You become known for doing this work and you get asked over and over again because people know you get things done. I have learned to say no and not feel guilty. That does not mean that I don’t serve. I am a lot pickier about what I do because I know I can’t do everything. I have also found that saying no forces these organizations to find others who can provide fresh ideas and perspectives.

Confidence is important, but don’t fall victim to those who give you false hope that you can do it all. No one can.


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