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Why You Shouldn’t Try to Be a Jack of All Trades

I’ve noticed something amongst business owners: they think they should be good at everything. Maybe it’s a misconception about entrepreneurship. We think we should get our hands dirty and learn how to do everything on our own, so we can bootstrap and build our companies or agencies from the ground up by ourselves. So, we […]

I’ve noticed something amongst business owners: they think they should be good at everything. Maybe it’s a misconception about entrepreneurship. We think we should get our hands dirty and learn how to do everything on our own, so we can bootstrap and build our companies or agencies from the ground up by ourselves. So, we invest time learning how to do every facet of business, reading books and learning from the experts. 

But we shouldn’t be doing that. We shouldn’t try to be a jack of all trades — because there’s no way we can be a jack of all trades. It’s hurting us to try. We’re spending less time being productive and more time spreading ourselves thin. It’s hurting our social lives, our time for rest and recuperation, and frankly, our self esteem. We find plentiful confidence when we do what we were born to do — because we are naturally good at it!

So rather than believing you have to be good at it all, think about all the greatest entrepreneurs you know in today’s generation. These are people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Sara Blakely, and entrepreneurs like them stand out with their own personal brands because they are good at just one thing. For Gary, it’s digital marketing and content creation. For Sara, it’s her product — Spanx. And when entrepreneurs can build up a reputation by being an expert in one area, they’re more likely to get press and exposure for their business. 

And, they’re more likely to enjoy every day of work, because they’re operating in their “zone of genius” — a term coined by Gay Hendricks in his book The Big Leap, referring to your natural talents and one-of-a-kind qualities. No one is born with a wide enough zone of genius to be a jack of all trades.

Just The One Thing

I’ve hit milestones in my own business when I decided to focus on what I was good at, and I’ve seen entrepreneurs have similar success stories. The book The One Thing by Gary Keller astutely says, “Success demands singleness of purpose.” Although this can apply to any passion or pursuit in life, it can also apply within a pursuit — like within building a business.

What are you really, really good at? What facet of business gives you that competitive edge? Maybe it’s not selling — but what you create to sell. Or, for you, maybe it is selling! Perhaps you can sell water to a whale. So, why are you spending time in an area that isn’t your zone of genius?

“But how can you just focus on one thing and run a successful business?” 

Of course, the main rebuttal I get everytime I share this philosophy is how this is even possible. We all wear many hats in entrepreneurship. We have to. However, automation and outsourcing have made it so that we can delegate the tasks that are our ‘busy work’ or that rest outside of our zone of genius. James Dhillon, the CEO of Automers, shared with me that “Automating is a way of getting back our time — because our time is our most valuable asset when there’s something we really excel in. If you’re an artist, you need that time to do your art. If you’re the owner of a real estate business, you need that time to search for properties and manage logistics.”

He also encourages you to consider where in your own life you’re trying to be a ‘jack of all trades.’ Then, give up the act. It’s honorable, but it will keep you stuck. By automating, you’ll find it far easier to have more time for what you love to do most — with freed up time for a work-life balance, which is critical, too.

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