Guest Columnist

Column: Owners shouldn't try to do it all

Guest columnistApril 29, 2013 

Guest columnist Sheon Wilson

“I’ve got it under control” is dangerous for your business.

Is that the answer you give when someone offers to help you improve operations or revenue? Though it’s important to have a handle on your business, let’s be honest: No one is good at everything.

“The most successful businesses are ones that value outside expertise,” said Darren Witmer, CEO and co-founder of Reset, which rethinks how businesses operate and suggests ways to raise revenue, lower expenses and smooth out operations.

I met Witmer through a networking contact, and what he had to say about old-school vs. new-school thinking made sense.

“Old-school thinking is that to be successful, you have to do everything yourself,” Witmer said. “But should you do it yourself?”

New-school thinking urges you to collaborate with people who are experts in the things you muddle. Small-business owners have to recognize when it’s worth it to hand off jobs, Witmer said.

“You could write your own employee manual, and it might take you 80 hours. But that is 80 hours you could be spending doing the things that bring money into the business – the things you are good at.”

If a physician who owns his practice is preparing to retire, the standard model would have him sell the practice for an amount based on his past few years of revenue.

But Witmer suggests other exit strategies. Why not revamp the setup of the office to increase revenue and lower expenses?

He could use a time-share model to lease unused office space to physicians who want to move into his underserved area. He could lower his expenses by teaming with other practices and buying office supplies in bulk. He could partner with complementary businesses such as medical billers and home health care services so that the overall revenue of his building rises.

This kind of collaboration is more common among younger workers, Witmer said, because social media has shown them the value of working together.

How do you banish old-school thinking that might be blocking your success?

• Let your guard down and accept that it’s OK to need and get help. Every business needs assistance, even the ones that are successful. “Admitting you need help is not a flaw,” Witmer said.

• Connect with people who can help you. Network and seek referrals from clients and colleagues. Practice asking this question: “Do you know anyone who does (fill in the blank)?”

• Get creative. Brainstorm different models of how you could attack a problem. “There are usually better choices than the ones that are handed to you in the business world,” Witmer said. “There’s no way there’s one way that’s best for the hundreds of thousands of businesses out there.” In the case of the physician, “Once we sat down, we figured out that maybe this wasn’t a one-seller, one-buyer model,” Witmer said. “Create different paths for success.”

Sheon Wilson is a personal stylist, writer and creator of The N&O’s Refresh Your Style. Reach her at or on Twitter @SheonWilson.

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