Best in Class

We’ve all got skills. Whether it’s creating an entire outfit in an afternoon from a tablecloth, playing polo on a unicycle or unscrambling anagrams! We all have unique things that we’re strong at. But perhaps the strongest skill is knowing where these skills start and end and when it’s time to call upon an expert in order to avoid the very common false economy trap.

Skills, the natural, the learned and the ‘mad’ – are vital to our being and individuality. Recently, we’ve talked about the benefits of skilling up and learning on the job and we’ll always be firm believers in honing your skills and creating a niche for yourself. We publicly give props to businesses that do this via our Yokel initiative and are regularly working on new infographics that help improve skills and knowledge in particular areas. But while there are benefits in constantly increasing your skill set it’s important to remember that you can’t be best in class all the time.

Sometimes it’s better to hand it to someone who is more skilled than you. Just let them do it and save yourself the headache, time, and money so you can get on with your own job that uses your own expert skill set. Our advice, sharpen up the skills that you are best at, and always strive to better those skills but when there are things that you’re not so good at, then maybe it’s time you sought the mad skills of someone else. Put it this way, if you needed to move a Grand Piano, sure – you could get a licence, hire a van and lift weights for 6 months, or you could pay a removalist, kick back with your back in tact and get on with the pitch to that client. That one’s a no brainer, but there are many other areas where small businesses get unstuck.

best in class

You really will become the best in class if you know where your skills start and stop and make some good decisions about when to call in some expert help

Many small businesses are even smaller than you realise so it’s important that everyone has a range of strengths to support the team and a good team is always skilling up. This means that you’re able to cover a lot of ground and successfully deliver what your clients want or need by using as much in house skill as possible. But of course, there are occasions where you have to seek assistance from outside sources. It’s a judgment call that we have to weigh up and one that many businesses have to deal with quite regularly. The biggest take-away from these situations is knowing when to invest.

As business owners is it worth your time losing one of your core staff to learn a new (perhaps ‘one time use’) skill? Something that would potentially take them away from the work that they are already efficient and proficient at? Would it be far wiser to ask someone already highly skilled in that area to complete the task quickly and to a high standard. Sure, it might mean having to pay out some extra money, but if the results are excellent and makes your client or customer happy, won’t that have a trickledown effect to you in the end? And your in-house staff will probably be less stressed or stretched too. Smiles all round.

diy failHave you ever been faced with a task and thought to yourself ‘I’ll just do it’ rather than hiring someone who is actually skilled in that department? Usually saving money is the motivation in situations like this. And at the start, saving money and deciding to tear up the carpet and sand down the floorboards yourself is probably what occurs until you’re sick of sleeping in sawdust and decide to call a professional three months later. Often such situations risk the loss of your sanity – and you hire that professional anyway. Situations like this is called false economy.

They occur everywhere, not just DIY jobs, and if you’re a business owner, chances are you’ve probably unwillingly had a few false starts too. The smartest thing you can do for the productivity, growth and overall happiness of yourself or your business is to know it’s inner workings well and be honest about your capabilities. No one is the best at everything, even if there are a fair few of us who believe that to be the truth. If you know where your skills start and stop and make some good decisions about when to call in some expert help, you really will become the best in class.

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by Radi Safi

Radi Safi is the Creative Director at IYBI. In 2012 he launched Happy, a music blog and media company.
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