So picture this scenario. Your friend has a toothache and is thinking of going to the dentist but because you’re reliable, trustworthy and a great business person, they figure they will get you to take a look at it first. The fact that you have never been to dental school isn’t much of a concern to them, so why worry about it yourself!  After assessing the situation, you aren’t exactly sure what’s going on but it looks like there is some kind of infection.  After much internal debate (aka – talking to yourself) and realizing you don’t have any dental tools, you figure the only route you can really go is to the pull out the tooth (since pliers will likely do the trick). Now that being said, you aren’t exactly sure what tooth it is, so you decide to start with the most likely one and if that doesn’t work, in a few days you’ll try another.

Okay – so this may be a slight exaggeration of reality, but if you really think about it, how many times in a week do you try to do something that isn’t your core competency or within your best skillset? In most cases, it isn’t likely as extreme as acting like a dentist, but the consequences could actually be more severe, especially on your business.  Next time you’re trying to determine whether or not you should just do the job yourself (whatever that may be) here are some key considerations:

  • What is the opportunity cost? Perhaps you’re a plumber, accountant or engineer. If you move away from the core focus of your business to do something you’re not trained at or experienced in, what activity are you not doing that you are an expert at?  Is there extra value you could provide to one of your existing clients?  Is there a networking event you should be attending to attract new clients but you keep convincing yourself you don’t have time?  Every time you do something, you make a decision to not do something else, so before you tackle that
    plumbing job or marketing project, consider what is getting pushed to the     backburner.
  • Do you love the activity? I had a colleague about ten years ago that decided if it wasn’t part of his core business or he didn’t love it, he was going to pay someone else to do it.  Whether that was cutting the grass at his house or creating a new marketing plan for his business, he was convinced it was a good move.  The result was (as you guessed) increased expense. The other result was increased revenue and profitability.  He focused on his business and other things he loved to do (which by the way included washing and waxing his car), and paid people to do the rest. At the end of the day he took home more money, felt less overwhelmed and got excited about going to work again.  Do you love wearing all the hats in your business or would it make sense to bring in a few experts so you can focus on what you love and are best at?
  • What are the risks to wearing too many hats? We seem to be in a bit of a do it yourself age. For example, businesses are being empowered to do their own taxes and create their own websites, yet if you stop to think about why people were trained (extensively) on tax compliance or search engine optimization, in many cases doing it yourself often has more risk than reward. When you’re wondering why your online sales aren’t performing as well as you thought or why the government left a message about some questions they have on your tax return, the answer may be clear. You’re not the expert!

When all is said and done, it simply doesn’t make sense that you can be an expert in all areas. I work in a large company and despite the fact that we have over 10,000 extremely talented employees, we still bring outside experts in when it makes sense.  It isn’t admitting a weakness or defeat when you bring in expert – it’s showing you’re smart enough to know when you can’t be all things to all people. When a small business tells me they can’t afford it, my next question is “Can you afford not to?”.  In many cases you will save time, frustration and un-necessary stress by hiring the expert and focusing your efforts on your area of expertise.  Plus, the job will be done right the first time which is extremely valuable.  Next time you’re looking at all the hats you wear in your business (and life) consider which ones make sense and which ones you’re wearing ineffectively.  It’s an exercise that could reap considerable