Jack of All Trades

Seán Fitzsimmons discusses why wearing more than one hat, will do more than keep your head warm.

There is a well quoted phrase; ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ that is often used regarding those who report to be skilled in several, different areas. It is a presumptuous phrase but nonetheless, it is quite reasonable to conclude that any person dedicating their energies to many areas, inevitably won’t advance very far in most of them. Time of course, is finite. So how, in the world of business, can anyone hope to extend their skills beyond their core set in order to grow and expand?

The U.K. in the last ten years, has witnessed a surge in small businesses and this has very much been the case in the North West. These have rightly been declared by many, as the ‘backbone’ of our communities and the economy; many of these being run by only one or two people. It is therefore a huge challenge for those who, with ambition and a vision, set out to turn their idea into a profit-making career. 

Quickly the realisation of the additional skills required becomes clear. If you’re an inventor, who manages your accounts? If you’re an artist, who oversees your PR and online presence? The answer of course, unless you’re willing to pay others, is… you.

Panic. Suddenly your core skills; the ones that surround your passion and your ideas, are all halted by a certain sense of inadequacy. There are lots of things you don’t know how to do. Or if you do, maybe not as well as you had hoped. The decision at this point is crucial. Do you out-source (pricey!), or do you hastily teach yourself the ins-and-outs of an Excel spreadsheet whilst brushing up on your public-speaking skills?

The multitude of skills needed to run a small business; finance, publicity, accounts, marketing, ICT, networking, managing bookings and appointments, social media… the list goes on. What is important to remember is that when you run a small business, as it grows, so will you. There are many ways to pick-up and develop new skills and by far the best is sharing knowledge. Thanks to the wealth of experience and information there is in Merseyside, anyone –novice or experienced- would be well-advised to take advantage and learn from others. Drop-in surgeries, networking events and business festivals are all perfect venues to meet with other entrepreneurs and share experience. Some small businesses now ‘skill trade’, and instead of paying a fee for a service, over their expertise in return. 

While it may be daunting to think of all the day-to-day tasks involved in the world of business, there must remain optimism and belief in your product. While it may be difficult to ‘master’ all the trades, it is not an impossible task to at least become competent. The city of Liverpool is full of stories of those who started small but dreamed big and these testimonies are by no means a thing of the past. Talk to people. Share you vision. Be honest about your skill set. But most of all, remember that the quote is actually very really said in full; for indeed “Jack of all trades, master of none is oftentimes better than master of one.”

This article can be found in Switch On To Business Edition 8, page 15.

Website: http://www.switchontobusiness.co.uk

Twitter: @SOTBusiness1