North Central Business Journal News
OPERATING OUT OF STRENGTHS
(April 2002 issue)
by Sandra Kay Neal, Ph.D.
A major difficulty
of operating a small business is doing everything by oneself or with a
very small number of employees. What makes this so difficult is that
almost no one is an expert in everything. That means that people
in small businesses are doing things that are in areas of weakness.
of weakness causes people to experience stress because their work is rarely
at the level to which they aspire. Business is lost when people
are work outside their expertise.
small businesses face is lack of resources. It is difficult to find
the finances to purchase expertise. It is easy to succumb to the
temptation to purchase a book to provide all the answers for those areas
outside one’s expertise. But books are rarely helpful in solving
the problems because they tend to provide general information that doesn’t
address the particular issues a small business is facing. They provide
a false sense of expertise that leaves the business owner feeling incompetent
in putting the book’s solutions into practice in the daily grind of running
A helpful way
for small businesses to operate more effectively and efficiently is to
an inventory of the strengths of the business. Look at each person
involved in the business and list all the strengths of each person.
Next, list the strengths of the business in general. Those are the
areas out of which a business needs to operate. People are more effective
when they work out of their strengths. Knowing what those strengths
are helps one lead from strength.
But there will
be some areas that are missing. Taking a look at the long list of
strengths which the business possesses also lets one see areas that are
not covered. Those are areas where expertise is needed.
we dislike tend to be things in which we are weak. Most small
business owners know the things they dislike doing. Their frequent
response to those areas is to push themselves to do them. But that
rarely works well. Other things are not done while one is forcing
oneself to do things one dislikes. When those things that are disliked
are finally done, they are rarely done well, causing the person to feel
incompetent and angry with themselves for doing a poor job and wasting
so much time doing it.
It is a wise
use of limited financial resources to purchase expertise in those areas
which one dislikes. There are people out there who enjoy
doing things another person dislikes. It is worth paying money to
have the work done effectively and efficiently. The money that is
spent purchasing expertise in areas of one’s weakness is more than offset
by the money made by working out of one’s strengths. When people
work out of their strengths, they have more energy and can get more work
It is also wise
to surround oneself with people whoaredifferentfrom
oneself. It is tempting when running a small business to hire
employees who think alike and who share common personality traits.
Life is more comfortable when we are surrounded by people who are alike.
However, in a small business, it is more important to cover all the bases
than it is to be comfortable at work. Having people with lots
of different strengths allows each person to work out of strengths and
avoid weak areas.
Sandra Kay Neal holds
a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and has 19 years experience
helping organizations solve human resource issues. Her company,
Synergistic Organizational Solutions, specializes in aiding small businesses.
Dr. Neal can be reached at email@example.com