Know Yourself

Principle 1.  You need to know yourself. Focus on your strengths. Outsource your limitations.
Everyone is different, and everyone has different capabilities. A management expert named Meir Ezra, who has built several million-dollar companies, estimates that the average entrepreneur possesses about 5% of the expertise and experience really required to grow a company. That’s not a big number and it exposes shortcomings that most of us have. A software developer has a great idea for a product but knows very little about accounting, marketing, and legal affairs. A caterer knows a lot about cooking and the culinary arts but little about finding customers and scheduling jobs efficiently. It is no wonder that so many businesses fail to make it to the end of their 3rd year.
One of the first tasks of an entrepreneur is to take stock of his or her strengths and not try to do everything. Lower level tasks and ones that the entrepreneur doesn’t want to tackle should be outsourced, using a broad definition of the word. Not everyone is good at organizing, completing things, making sales calls, and the like. You need to focus on what you do best and perfect that, not try to be a jack of all trades. You can’t be all things to all people, so don’t try to be that to yourself.
Apple Computer was founded by two people named Steve. Do you know the last names of both of them? Steve Jobs has become a household name for a variety of reasons. He was the showman, out front rallying the troops, persuading people to buy, and acting as his own PR and advertising firm. The technical genius behind Apple was a fellow named Steve Wozniak, and he was responsible for making sure that the products conformed to the elegant designs that Apple is famous for. Known as a technical prodigy while at Hewlett-Packard, the Woz quit his job there to found Apple. One story he tells has to do with Jobs’ desire to make a small number of transistors do the work of many. In the 70’s, economy of design was not much of a concern in the computer industry, and engineers simply increased processing power by adding more components. Jobs wanted everything to fit into a small space, so he challenged Wozniak to create a new design that would make fewer components do the work of many. Wozniak was initially very skeptical, but he eventually found a solution. This attitude of “doing more with less” became a standard at Apple. For Jobs, who was known as a fierce taskmaster, elegant design and robust functionality went hand in hand. He wouldn’t tolerate the bulky and cumbersome phones that other manufacturers brought to the market. By insisting on “the impossible,” he wound up transforming an industry as well as how consumers thought about the devices they owned. (I’ve heard about a wedding toast where the best man counsels the groom to hold his new bride’s hand with the same love and devotion he shows his phone.)


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