2 Reasons Smart People Often Struggle in their own Business

If there’s one thing I’ve observed over all of my years working with solo-professionals it’s that they’re almost always smart, creative, confident and determined people.  And, they’ve usually been very successful in their careers, and often it’s those characteristics and that success that prompts them to step into the world of entrepreneurship.

So why then do so many of these smart, creative, confident, determined, and successful people struggle in their own businesses?

I believe there are 2 main reasons.  Being successful in your own business requires…

  1. A Different Skill-Set
  2. A Different Mind-Set

In today’s post I”m going to talk about #1: A Different Skill-Set

Career Skill-Set vs. Entrepreneurial Skill-Set

The skills required to be successful in a career or job are usually very focused. You have one main area of expertise or responsibility that you were hired for.  It’s that ONE thing that you’re really good at, and you are hired to fill a job where THAT is your primary responsibility (e.g. you’re the accountant, or the sales person, or the marketing expert, or the administrative whiz).

The longer you’re in that job, or career, the more you hone that skill.  You get better and better at it, and as that happens, you get promotions, or you step up into higher level jobs.

However, as many people have discovered,  just because you’re good at that ONE skill, does not necessarily mean you will be a good manager.

We’ve all seen or heard of those people who were excellent at their jobs, and then when promoted into management positions, they just couldn’t cut it.  While they were good at doing what they do, they were NOT good at managing people and all the other skills required in managing a department or a company.

The same applies when many of these talented, smart, successful people choose to start their own business.

They’re really good at the main service they offer but that alone is not enough to build a successful business. There are many hats successful solo-professionals must wear, such as:

  • Business Manager
  • Planner
  • Researcher
  • Creator
  • Implementer
  • Marketer
  • Sales Person
  • Accountant / Bookkeeper
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Networker
  • Writer
  • Art Director
  • Speaker
  • Technical Support Person
  • Production, Fulfillment & Shipping

And, I’m sure you could probably name a few more!

Think of all the tasks you’re responsible for in your business and I’m sure you’ve probably worn all of these hats at least once. And most often, when we’re just starting out in business, we don’t yet believe we can afford to hire others to do those jobs that we don’t know how to do, or that we’re not very good at.

So we just figure we’ll do it all on our own, because after all it’s just our time and therefore it doesn’t cost us anything.

However, very often I don’t think we really consider what that time IS costing us.

For example, if we stumble through trying to market ourselves when we don’t know how, that marketing probably won’t be very effective. That means it won’t bring us clients. And that means we lose revenue. Viewed from that perspective, the time spent on marketing is very expensive. However, we often don’t view it that way. Instead, we look at the hundreds or thousands of dollars we are “saving” by not hiring someone else to do it, or to invest in coaching or a course to learn how to do it for ourselves.

If you know you have a great service to offer that really helps people, but you’re struggling to get clients and to really make your business successful, I encourage you to look at what it’s really costing you to stay in that place.  How much revenue are you losing for every client you DON’T get?

Here’s how it could play out financially…

If you’ve determined that you need 5 new clients each month to reach your revenue goals, and each new client is worth $1000 to you, then it’s costing you $5000 every month that you DON’T get those 5 clients. In 6 months, it has cost you $30,000. In a year, it has cost you $60,000!

Now compare that to what it would cost you to hire a coach or mentor, or to take a course to learn how to market better.

Or even to hire someone to do your marketing and sales for you. My guess is it’s costing you a lot more to do it on your own than it would to invest in some help.

I remember a specific example of this when I was at a conference last year and the opportunity was presented to invest 5 figures into a year-long mentoring and mastermind program with two very successful mentors. I remember very specifically having a conversation with an acquaintance at the conference who said to me, “I’d love to do the program but I just can’t afford it right now. I need to get some more clients and make some more money and then I can do something like this.”

And my reaction was EXACTLY the opposite.

I recall saying to her “I can’t afford NOT to get this training because I know when I learn these skills and add them to what I already know, that’s HOW I’m going to build my business and make more money.”

In fact, that’s how I’ve consistently grown my business over the last 6 years. Every year, I’ve identified an area that I want to learn more about or strengthen my skills in, and I’ve strategically sought out coaches, mentors, training, books, and conferences to invest in to gain those skills and knowledge. By strategically identifying WHAT I wanted to focus on each year, I’ve been able to easily identify WHAT training I needed to seek out. And, I have been able to immediately recognize a great opportunity to grow myself and my business as a result.

And the only times I have not boosted my business as a result of these investments have been when I did not make the decision from a strategic place…those times when I got caught up in an idea that sounded good (or in hindsight, “too good to be true”) or when I was “seduced” into buying something that wasn’t strategically in line with my goals for that year.

In a few days I will be addressing point #2: A Different Mind-Set.

In the meantime, I encourage you to reflect on your business and your goals for this year, and identify any areas that you feel less than totally confident in. Then consider how you could improve your skills or raise your confidence and commit to investing the time and money in that area. It may be as simple as reading a book on the topic. Or attending a conference or seminar. Or, you may choose to seek out a mentor or coach to expedite your learning and get you to your goals faster.


About Debbie

Debbie worked in marketing for 32 years and ran a successful coaching and consulting business for 19. Now she helps people find greater happiness and success by learning how to Follow Inspiration.

6 comments on “2 Reasons Smart People Often Struggle in their own Business

  1. Awesome post Debbie! I certainly know that I fall into the category you’re speaking of and I could also benefit from re-evaluating how much money I’m losing by NOT hiring help. Thanks for such an insightful post-looking forward to the next one!

  2. So glad this post got you to stop and think! While on the surface the ideas of requiring a different skill-set and mind-set seem pretty simple, the ramifications can be huge.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts after the next post!


  3. Hello Debbie, I have been struggling with just what you talked about here. I am a quilt pattern designer and when I decided to publish my patterns I now have very little time to design. I thought a distributor would free up some time for me in the marketing arena but trying to pick up a distributor to represent me has not been easy. Without distributorship I don’t feel I can continue with trying to make a go of this business. Love to hear your oppinion. Looking forward to your next post.


  4. Thanks Debbie. It is so true. I have been working with that mindset of ‘doing it on my own’ for about the last six months, and it doesn’t work! My focus has been too scattered, and I have been too caught up in juggling roles, rather than working on the business. I’m so looking forward to your mentoring program!


  5. Thanks for sharing Kirsty. I’m looking forward to working with you, too, and helping you focus on what you do best so you enjoy your business more and it’s more profitable, too!


  6. Fairly informative publish. Never imagined that it was this easy following all. I’d spent of my own time trying to find a person to describe this topic evidently and you are the only one that actually do that.

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