Let’s look at a scenario. When you worked in a corporate environment you were surrounded by specialists that varied from chartered accountants, to human resource managers, even marketing directors. Now you start your own business and you need to play all of these roles yourself until you can afford to hire staff.
Unfortunately, it’s not often that you get an entrepreneur with the experience and expertise to cover all the management disciplines required to run the business successfully. You often find that the entrepreneur is technically competent, but lacking in other aspects such as marketing and financial management.
If this is the case what should you do? This is an easy question with a complex answer. If you don’t have the skills, then you don’t. But there are a few ways in which to gain these expertise:
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. A weakness is a threat to your business and needs to be addressed. In some instances the absence of a skill is greater or more important. Assess the position. How vital is this to the success of the business? The answer to this question will guide you towards your solution.
- Plug the holes. This may mean using a specialist on a part time basis. The rate on a part time basis may be high, but the overall cost is lower than appointing someone on a full time basis – or losing your business.
- Get yourself skilled. Even if you use outside specialists, up-skill yourself. This could include the following: research on the internet, trade magazines and books, attending formal workshops and information sessions, or taking a formal course.
In my view, the skills gap which causes most downfalls is actually practical experience. Yes, the technical skills are very important (how to manufacture the product for instance), but the practical aspect of turning the idea into a profitable business is a completely different story.
The ideal situation would be if you had the opportunity to try out the business idea before you commit, in order to gain the experience and knowledge needed, so that when you make that big decision, there are less surprises waiting for you.
You may not earn a lot during this period, but regard it as school fees and make a point of it to learn as much as possible.
Article written by Gerrie van Biljon – Executive Director at Business Partners Limited.