In business, we're often taught that specialization is better and a key to success. From a young age, we're asked to pick a track that will lead us to a specific profession. In our jobs, we often use only one specific skill set to accomplish the tasks we're assigned. This is helpful in gaining domain expertise in a subject, but companies of one truly need to be able to know and understand a multitude of topics and skills in order to be in control of their work. As a good generalist, you'll usually start with a specialization and then add auxiliary and complementary skills as needed, until you're able to understand all or most aspects of the business as a whole, not just one specific job within it. In business, conditions are, of course, never perfect.
Being able to understand how others think is critically important. You need to know how and why people make decisions about your products or services. What leads them to buy what you create? What makes them hesitate? Where do they place value in their lives? If they do buy from you, what is considered a win for them? Where does churn happen in your business and why? Understanding these key factors can make you a better leader, a better salesperson, and a better marketer.
Even though we may not think we're communicators or writers, most of us spend a large portion of our days writing. Everything from emails to tweets to talking on the phone is communication. The more we can learn about how to communicate clearly and effectively, the better we'll be at leading, as our directives will be better understood.
We should never assume that having an abundance of knowledge is the same as having an abundance of wisdom. Even if you have access to a plethora of data or experience, there are still so many factors beyond your control. The truth is, much of business is a guess. That's why it's important to be able to bounce back and reenergize a team when failure strikes. You can learn to view saying no as an actual actionable strategy, as opportunities, tasks, distractions, plans, meetings, and so on all come up frequently. By saying no to anything that won't serve your business or your team, you can open up space to focus on a better opportunity in your business. By scaling down large, stressful decisions into smaller, more digestible decisions, you can choose a direction more quickly, in a smarter way, and with less stress involved.
While working at scaling up resilience, control, speed, and simplicity is important to leading a company of one, if you fail to approach this work with mindfulness, big problems can ensue. There are advantages to putting in the time and effort to master a skill, but there's also a great need for balance. When hustling turns sleeplessness into a badge of honor and work demands push health, family, and friends to the back burner, it's definitely time to take a break.
It's crazy to assume that any one person can take on all of the stress and demands of a leadership role, and sometimes even the weight of an entire company, without having someone else to talk with and to help debug problems. In many quickly growing companies, leaders feel that they are required to detach from human relationships and focus on using people as resources to achieve necessary growth by any means necessary. The problem is that a leader who stops feeling what is either motivating or demotivating within their team stops being able to lead. The glorification of indefatigable leaders is exactly the source of most problems, because their failures and flaws are ignored instead of debugged and learned from. There's still a long way to go, but great progress continues to be made toward a revised view of leaders as not so much the mythical heroes of modern culture as fallible humans who are just like everyone else. Growth can definitely be enticing and exciting.
Inflation is as close to a constant as you'll get in business. Everything eventually costs more. The five cents your grandparents paid for a soda is not the same price that you'll pay at a vending machine today. So inflation always happens, and if a business can't keep up, its profits will shrink. Investors, even if they own the company, are the biggest reason businesses want to grow. To hit those goals, growth has to be excessive.