Yesterday, I received an urgent call from one of my favorite people. Susan was in tears – crying so hard that I could barely make out her words. It only took a few minutes for me to figure out the cause, however, because hers was a problem I discuss with someone practically every week.
Susan was having “a breakdown” (her words, not mine) after spending an entire day trying to perform a simple task on her ailing computer. While I do trade technology complaints with clients often, it wasn’t really technology that was the problem in this case.
Susan was frustrated, spending tons of time doing something that isn’t her forte, while her real work fell by the wayside. Dealing with technology isn’t one of her talents nor is it a skill she wants to develop, Still, instead of focusing on her personal area of brilliance, she was swimming (unsuccessfully) against the tide, trying to overcome her weaknesses.
Does that sound familiar? It’s easy to fall into that trap.
Succeed Through Your Strengths
What can you learn from this story? There is an important moral: the only way to thrive in business is to do what you love and dispense with the rest. It’s possible to “succeed” without this – your business and coffers may grow while you’re doing what you least love. I do mean that it’s possible, though. It sure isn’t likely, because that’s hard to maintain in the long run.
More importantly, money is but one aspect of “success” – usually accompanied by passion, use of talents and skills, interpersonal connection, and meaning. Susan’s certainly losing money (if you ascribe to the principle that “time is money”) with her choice of activities, and she is bereft of all the other aspects of fulfillment.
I can hear some rumbles already…
“I’m a solopreneur so there’s no one else to do this”…
“I can’t afford to hire anyone”…
“no one else will do this the way I want it done”
“my other employees have their hands full too”…
Very early on in the lifecycle of a business, some of these concerns might be accurate, though it rarely has to be that way.
Creative Approaches to Focusing on Your Strengths
When another client was experiencing the same frustration a few months ago, she enlisted her husband for technical support (he was a willing participant) and her neighbor’s son for packaging/shipping tasks (he was thrilled to be making a paltry salary).
My point is that it’s time we all started thinking out of the box. We’re lucky to be entrepreneurs at a time when there are so many low-cost and free options for outsourcing. It’s time to start using resources that we’ve never even considered in the past.
Bottom line: If you’re going to succeed in business you have to focus on your gifts. That’s what will make you happy and where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
For Susan, that meant:
hiring her tech-head, next-door-neighbor teen to deal with technology,
expanding her housekeeper’s responsibilities to include for an extra day of work focused on organization and administration, and
asking her handyman to assist her with personal and professional hassles.
For me, it’s meant hiring a virtual assistant on an as-needed basis, as well as a bookkeeper. Those of you who know me and my administrative abilities, are probably breathing a big sigh of relief, hearing that I’ve taken these steps. Administration is decidedly not where I shine.
Lesson in Time and Energy Allocation
I’m a big fan of “homework” – even in my posts – but this post has gotten a bit long already. Check out my next post to figure out how to focus on your strengths to create a business and lifestyle you’ll love.