Many businesses start life with the business owners doing as much as they can themselves – wearing the hat of MD, Finance Director, Marketing Director, Operations Director, Secretary, Tea-boy….

Doing as much as you can yourself or with a very small team has obvious advantages; it keeps costs down at a time when financial management is the difference between survival or bankruptcy; it keeps the knowledge in-house, locked away for the future with people who understand the business, and; it allows you to really understand all the elements of your business.

There are disadvantages though.

The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” sums up one of them – no matter how good you and your compact team are, there will be gaps in skills, knowledge and experience.

Also, inefficient practices can creep in, as people are self-taught and don’t realise there are more efficient ways to do things. Unless everyone assiduously keeps up with new learning, research and trends, it can be easy to fall behind in your understanding of what your customers want, how they want it and the most efficient and effective ways to deliver them.

Another danger is becoming stretched too thinly – it’s like the captain of the ship being the cook, the cabin boy and the navigator…fine if it is a small business and you want it to stay like that, but if you wish to grow, the captain has to learn to delegate responsibility to others so they have time to move the business forwards and steer it in the right direction. Often at this stage, the business owner is reluctant to let go of duties they have until now closely managed and struggles to believe anyone else can do what they did as well.

As a business grows, its captain, the Managing Director/Owner, needs to assess what it needs for the future in terms of skills, knowledge and expertise. Then they have to fill those gaps – but in a cost-effective way.

These are the main options available to do that:

·         Use the free material that is out there

·         Give it a go – learn from experience but be aware this can be a slow process

·         Learn from others – read case studies, marketing articles, books

·         Learn from others –mentors/someone to bounce ideas off

·         Bring expertise in to the business – full time role, part time role, consultants or a flexible, dynamic team.

The cost-effective option is that one that saves you time and money long-term and delivers results. Choose wisely.

By Kara Stanford, MD, KMS Marketing

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