Guest Columnist

Use your strengths to find balance

Guest columnistDecember 3, 2012 

Are you being penny-wise and pound-foolish with your business?

One top reason businesses fail is that they are under-capitalized from the start, according to a recent article from Inc. magazine.

So it makes sense that on a tight budget, small business owners will try to do as many functions as they can themselves.

That can be a big mistake.

You’ll be far more successful if you play to your strengths and hire experts to do the important jobs you can’t, says Dian Christian, a Raleigh human resources coach and consultant.

“Creative, innovative people are often the ones starting small businesses because they are able to see a need for something that doesn’t already exist,” Christian said. “But staffing levels have continued to go down, so managers might not have the resources to do what they need to do.”

No one is good at everything it takes to run a business, such as raising capital, bookkeeping and staffing.

“You can’t ignore these things when you’re a business owner,” Christian says. “But I think there’s a balance where you have to figure out where you will use your time.”

Christian, who has built a business around teaching people to maximize their talents, uses the Gallup Strengths Finder assessment (gallupstrengthscenter.com), which more than 8 million people have taken, to find what people do well. It guides test takers through a series of questions to reveal their skills.

I took the $10 Strengths Discovery Package assessment and found that my career as a journalist plays to my strengths. My challenge, Christian says, is to use those strengths to accomplish things I’m not gifted in.

A former corporate employee development manager, Christian saw sales rise for top salespeople after she used strengths-based coaching to help them improve performance.

“Research shows it’s hard to improve on your weaknesses,” Christian said. “You might learn to do something that you’re not good at better, but you won’t ever be really good at it.”

Over the past eight years, real estate company Regan & Company has seen its sales rise, even through the worst of the housing slump. Strengths training is helping Regan build on its momentum, said Trinity Gregor, the company’s performance coach and recruiter.

Sales are generated through word-of-mouth, not mass marketing, so it’s essential that clients are happy enough to brag on Regan’s work. Agents have been sharing their strengths results with each other so they can play to their own talents and help fill in each other’s gaps.

“We focus on coaching our agents,” Gregor said. “We are helping each other be stronger and better. That’s the good thing about Strengths Finder: It can be applied to every aspect of your business.”

“Name your strengths and be clear about what you do well,” Christian says. “No one says you have to do it all yourself.”

Sheon Wilson is a writer, copy editor, image consultant and creator of Refresh Your Style, a monthly N&O Sunday Style feature.

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