Becoming an excellent business owner requires more than a little self-reflection. When we are honest with ourselves, we discover that we have a few things we do really well, a few more things we do adequately, and a few true weaknesses, areas where our efforts fall short. However, one of the most liberating truths for business professionals is that you don’t have to make your business revolve around your weaknesses. In fact, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you are always growing as a business leader and that your weaknesses are always covered or double-checked by an expert in that area.
Ask yourself each of these questions in order to see yourself grow to new heights rather than feeling limited by your weaknesses.
First, What Can I Learn More About?
One step that too many of us skip when we discover a weakness is asking whether there is someone we can ask, a course we can take, or a book we can read that will help us bolster this weakness. If, for instance, you haven’t done a lot of marketing, there are many high-quality free resources out there to learn more about the ways that people market in the modern age. This step doesn’t mean you will necessarily try to do everything yourself or be everything, but when we think that we don’t know enough about something, that topic tends to have control of us. With the marketing example, not understanding marketing may create fear and reluctance to market one’s business. If, however, you take a course and do some extensive reading about marketing, you’ll realize it is nothing to be afraid of: you will figure out which aspects of the weakness can now become your strengths.
Another great aspect of this learning cycle is that once you get started, you continue to gain value from everything you learn: even if many aspects of school were boring or irrelevant to you, all your learning at this stage of life can be directly applied to your business, making it more engaging and inspiring. Make learning and research a key part of the work you do.
Second, How Can I Design a Workaround For Early Weaknesses?
At the start of one’s business, you may realize that you have a few weaknesses that keep you from following someone else’s business model. That is not only okay, but actually can be great: when you choose to personalize your business model so that you can avoid your weaknesses, you try something totally unique. For instance, if you feel your weakness is in developing attractive product packaging, you might choose to market your product as being low on packaging or in a plain box so that it can be perceived as part of a simplified lifestyle. Choosing to “lean into” one’s weaknesses gives you the opportunity to do something new and to show others why it is a good idea.
Third, How Can I Partner With Others Who Support My Weaknesses?
If the weakness you’ve discovered isn’t possible to workaround, you can look to other small businesses and people you would like to join your business. One of the most popular phrases these days in marketing is called “amplification through collaboration” – by recognizing that two products actually sell better together and aren’t in competition, small business owners can offer a service that helps each other. For instance, if you’ve begun a nail salon and your customers are always asking about whether you offer massage therapy as part of the “spa experience,” why not find a massage therapist who would like to partner together, split the rent, and draw customers in for each other? Just because your customers desire something that is technically a weakness of yours doesn’t mean you cannot find someone who can offer the solution to that problem.
Fourth, How Can I Outsource My Weaknesses to Focus on My Strengths?
More and more, you’ll find that the internet is an efficient marketplace for talent: everything from design and layout of advertising to excellent remote bookkeeping can be outsourced online. When you’ve been in business for a little while, and you know that no amount of learning or collaborating or “workarounds” will remove the need to address your weakness, find a third-party vendor who can offer you a good deal to take that burden off your hands! It can be scary to contract with a service to help your business, especially in those early months and years, but think about it this way: you offer a very specific value to your community and the world: if you spend all your time fretting over your weaknesses, you don’t get to spend as much time creating the unique products and services that make your business so valuable. So evaluate third-party vendors based on how much time they can give you back for your unique contributions.
Fifth, How Can I Stay Ahead of the Curve Through Regular Self-Evaluation?
The first four questions will usually address all the possible ways you can turn weaknesses into workarounds instead of limits. However, the only way to make sure you sustain these solutions long-term is to understand that new weaknesses emerge as your business grows. Maybe you were wonderful as a one-person operation, but you discover that you have some people-pleasing tendencies once you have a few employees, and you really need to take a class on being a great manager. As you grow, make sure you don’t assume that your weaknesses stay the same: in a year or two years, you may realize you’ve become a pro at marketing and a world-class manager, but you need help with distribution and fulfillment of orders because the orders are just rolling in too quickly! Every quarter of the year, take at least a few minutes to jot down things you’ve grown to do very well and things that are emerging as the next challenges or weaknesses to address. It is scary to admit weaknesses, but the people who admit them discover the path forward.