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March 31, 2012

Jack of all Trades, Master of Some – A Characteristic of many Entrepreneurs

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Do you have so many ideas and side businesses that you can't stay focused? Don't be ashamed! It is a common characteristic that many entrepreneurs seem to possess. Over the years I've had the opportunity to meet many entrepreneurs around the country. ¬†Every entrepreneur seems to be extremely passionate about what they do. Some are focused on one thing, and others seem to spread out their minds with all sorts of ideas. In this post I'm going to tell you about my experience as a “Jack of All Trades” and how focusing on your core business will help you out in the long run.

For those who have all sorts of ideas, I applaud you. You have a lot on your plate. I think there are both positives and negatives associated with being a ” Jack of all Trades “. I consider myself a “Jack of All Trades”, but sometimes think I need to work more on mastering one specific thing.

So Many Hobbies and Businesses that I Couldn't Stay Focused!

I've always been a real hands on person interested in trying new things. College certainly opened my mind to new business ideas and hobbies. It got me interested in so many new hobbies that it was hard to focus on just a few of them. Whenever I learned a new hobby, I thought about business opportunities that could go with it.

I had a car detailing business throughout college and loved it. However, I was also good with computers and wood working, so I had other small businesses going as well. The advantage was that it allowed me to work on something else when things were slow with another business. After graduating from college I moved to Bozeman, Montana, created an LLC, and started my first business that wasn't simply a sole proprietorship. While my main business of decorative concrete was starting, I continued to dabble and offer other services to help out while things were slow. I'd get a call to fix a computer, then a call to build concrete counters, followed by another customer looking to have their car detailed. Before long, I was in demand for too many things and spreading myself too thin. I was doing to many businesses, but not really focusing enough on my core business at the time. While I knew how to do a lot of different things, I wasn't the best out their for any of my businesses.

Chainsaw Carving – I picked up a chainsaw one day back in college and decided to learn how to carve animals out of wood. Before long I was obsessed with it and doing it as a side business. Chainsaw carving is one business I've had to eliminate. It is now a hobby that I only do when I have extra time.

I learned a lot from trying to do everything those few years after college. One was that I can't do everything, and expect to be the best at it. I could get pretty good, but I'd never be the expert. Because I was so scatter brained with business ideas and projects, I decided to step back and right down my advantages and disadvantages with the various businesses. My goal was to first build one successful business. To do that, I'd need to put more of my efforts into just a few of the ideas.

My solution was to focus on internet retail and helping others. Thus, that is what I am doing. I found good people to refer my other company's business to and sold client lists. I also began outsourcing some work to others. Doing so has freed up so much time and given me the opportunity to work hard on just a couple things.


I've learned to say no. For example, because friends and family know I'm an ambitious entrepreneur, they are always coming up with business ideas to go in on with them. While I'd love to entertain the thought, I am most often responding with the answer that I am currently focusing on one opportunity and am not looking for others at the moment. Saying no has been so helpful.

Since I've focused on my internet retail business ( www.signsofthemountains.com ) I've noticed things are progressing much quicker and sales are increasing at a faster pace. While I never will quit brainstorming business ideas, I know when to say no and that focusing on the task at hand is more beneficial to growing a business.

I wrote this brief article because I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs out there in the same boat. I think entrepreneurs sometimes need to learn how to say no and to focus more on their core business. I hope this entrepreneur tip will help you in accomplishing your goals of being more efficient and effective with your core business.

Best of luck and remember to follow your passion!

Please post below about your ” Jack of All Trades ” characteristics and experiences.

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  1. Great article. Your experiences are all too familiar. It is my pursuit to be the expert generalist. I love trying new things and enjoy experiencing all aspects of life, but I agree focus has its benefits. Thanks for writing such a thought provoking article.

    1. Marissa, thanks so much for your comment on the article! Like yourself, I think it is great to try new things, be involved, and to do multiple things. A person just has to find the right balance. Thanks so much for reading the Think Entrepreneurship blog and have a great rest of the March Madness weekend Marissa! – Pete

  2. Thank you for sharing. I’m actually at this stage now. I’ve started a business last year, but I’m also pursuing a ton of other things that I now have to say no to.

    I could use abit more focus. I will share your article on my FB page. I think it will help alot of people I know.

    1. Abel,

      Thanks so much for your comment. That’s great that you started a business! Best of luck with everything and thanks so much for sharing Abel.

  3. Ugh..I’m struggling with this right now. It’s hard for me to say NO, because I absolutely love working on new projects and trying new things. But like you, I’m starting to spread myself too thin, and certain areas of my job are suffering. I recently got some great advice though, about “getting back my core”, and I’m working diligently to eliminate the non-essentials/distractions. Thanks for sharing your story, it seems that we are really similar in our entrepreneurial spirit. We will probably always have to remind ourselves to stay focused!

    1. Hey Carrie, thanks for the comment and feedback on your entrepreneurial happenings. It is so great to hear from other entrepreneurs going through the same issues in running their businesses. Best of luck with everything! – Pete

  4. Love the article! I, myself do so much better focused on one thing (my gift basket business) although I do have a hard time not trying to go in too many directions within that business. I know one business owner that seems to be all over the map with so many different projects, never could understand how each one could get the attention it needs. Thanks for the article…good information.

  5. As many have already stated, this article hits home for many individuals with creative minds. It is often difficult to harness the ideas and free-flowing imaginations of those with the entrepreneurial spirit. It is a blessing for each of you to have so many gifts and the struggle of sorting out how to use them will definitely serve you well in the long run. Thanks Pete, for the work that you have done here and for the inspiration you continue to share with others. Glad to see fellow Dakotans doing great things!

    1. Andrew, thanks so much for your comment. It is great to hear from you and I really appreciate you taking the time to check out Think Entrepreneurship. You’ll have to shoot me an update to tell me what you are up to and about ProjectEcoRover.org. Best – Pete

  6. Thank you for this article. I really can relate to what you wrote about your college years. Focus has its benefits but I have often had to use multiple talents to supplement income when things were slow with my main business. I had the hardest time completing a LinkedIn profile and today I am “editing” my focus in hopes to stick with one thing I love.

    1. Michelle, I’m glad you could relate during during your college years. I think it certainly is a good thing to have multiple talents, especially while bootstrapping in the beginning. It is a very good way to be able to supplement income while you are building your core business. Keep up your hard work and thanks for chiming in!

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