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Know yourself, know your limits as a small business owner

There are a lot of things that go into running a successful small business. For us, building canoe paddles began as a love for the outdoors and the lifestyle surrounding canoe camping. Our first project together was to build a cedar strip canoe and a set of paddles to match. Very quickly we discovered an incredible joy and satisfaction found in building gear that both inspired and propelled us on our adventures. This passion started us dreaming of building more and sharing it with others. We pursued our dream and found success. However, as our business grew, we discovered that a dream isn’t enough, no matter how passionate we are about it. We realized that in order to grow our business we would need a website, photography and team members to help us move product and get the word out. This meant us hiring additional staff, utilizing freelancers or trying to do as much as we could ourselves – a road many small business owners often take.

Understanding and appreciating your limits
As a small business owner, it’s difficult to know what to do with all the demands of running, managing and expanding your business. You might find yourself trying to do it all instead of seeking outside help, this can become very stressful for a business owner. All the daily needs of the company demand your time and attention and it can be difficult to focus on one area of concern, let alone all of them.

Be honest about your own strengths and weaknesses. Many small business owners become what they are because of an overwhelming confidence in themselves and their abilities. It’s important to recognize that you do not have to be the solution to every problem. You might be able to do the job, but it doesn’t mean you should.

Building a strong team for your small business
You may not want to admit it, but you are not the best at everything. As you interview candidates, evaluate potential team members strengths and what they can provide to your company. For example, in our business, it’s much easier for me to make paddles than to teach someone what I know. However, if I run myself ragged all day building paddles, when will I find the time to take care of our customers and encourage our team to grow? At a certain point, it’s important for me to take a step back and focus my energy on what I am best at and can reasonably expect to finish. I can’t do everything all the time, but I can do a few things really well. I found that one of our team members loved attending tradeshows and promoting our brand. By allowing this person to own this area of the business, I was able to focus on other things while knowing that our tradeshow representation was in good hands.

In running a small business, you will be required to wear a lot of hats. That’s inevitable. It’s important, to be honest with yourself about your time and ability. You may feel like you have to do everything, but often your time is best-spent teaching and empowering your employees in order to expand your business and marketing efforts.

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