Learn to know your limitations
I love Alexander Pope – well, not personally, of course, because he lived between 1688 and 1744 – but I do admire his wit and his writing. He famously wrote couplets which are still relevant, and one that many of us know and use (often incorrectly – smack on the wrist!) is:
“A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierean spring.”
Working, as I do, with a bunch of highly trained professionals, this has become something of a motto. As you can imagine, I do glean bits of information as I take part in meetings or read articles or messages from HMRC. Thus, it becomes very important when someone asks me a technical question about accounting that I pass it on like a hot potato.
Actually, were it not for learning my tables and quite enjoying algebra at school, I would describe myself as ‘barely numerate’ and what I can’t do with a calculator is simply astounding. Similarly, I don’t expect the financial wizards to be able to formulate a plan for Public Relations (PR) or Marketing within the company or for a client. This was the world that I cut my teeth in many moons ago in the West End of London, and fascinating work it was (and is) too.
Thus I come to the moral of this tale … which is: in business, stick to what you are best at. Life should certainly include adventures and it can be exciting and life-enhancing to have a crack at new things, but every new step in business needs to be researched and planned carefully. I have met many people who are highly skilled in their area of expertise but find themselves struggling to keep up with their day to day administration and even on occasion the way they plan their working week.
Here’s the message: just because we can’t do everything, it doesn’t make us bad business people. It simply means we need to build a support network which will help us, in a cost-effective way, to be the best business people we can be.
Now is a particularly good time to do a thorough listing of your skills and what we might call your ‘not-so-skills’ and to decide where help is required. While all VAT registered companies are now having to report under the Making Tax Digital rules (ie: with quarterly returns), it is planned that this system will be rolled out across the entire business world eventually – no matter how small your business is!