Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Swiss Army Knives

"I've always wanted to go to Switzerland to see what the army does with those tiny red knives." 
- Billy Connolly 
Small business owners and professional advisors often develop what I call a "Swiss-army-knife mindset" - the idea that they must become a jack-of-all-trades and do everything themselves. Whenever a new role or responsibility arises, they think they must learn to do it themselves, kind of like spawning a new blade or growing a new limb/tool. Whether it's a sense of false economy or an overly large attitude of self-importance (that no one else can do those new tasks half as well as them), they soldier on completely solo, an army of one.

I spoke recently with an estate planning attorney in the upper Midwest who works alone and who laments that he is six weeks behind in delivering estate plans to his clients. From copying documents to reviewing the mail to confirming appointments, he does everything himself, while the real work of his business, preparing estate plans, falls further and further behind. "Do you think I should consider hiring an assistant?" he asked me. Duh! Either hire an assistant or figure out what you can outsource or both, I told him. In his case, not having an assistant isn't saving him money; it's costing him, big time.

Breaking past the "Swiss-army-knife mindset" is difficult but essential to a business's growth. I can honestly attribute most of my success in SunBridge to the marvelous efforts of my team members. I focus on what I'm best at and I trust those around me to use their talents and skills to do the same. The result: a hugely productive and wonderfully happy company.

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