You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

A few years back, I took a trip to Las Vegas. I don’t gamble so I went for the shows and the food. One thing that stuck out to me was the vast number of restaurants each with only a handful of items on the menu. Some of the best food I had was from a small fish and chips restaurant that had only two menu items. Fish & Chips, or Chicken & Chips. That’s it. Sure, they had different beverages and dips available but the key takeaway here is that they did very few things, but they did them very well. 

Now let’s talk about to the other side of the coin. Ever go to a restaurant and find they’ve got a multi-page menu with 300 plus items? Immediately you’re overwhelmed by choices. Even then, with so many choices, some (or all) items are going to suffer. There’s no way to have that many options and prepare them all properly. The more they do, the more the quality suffers.

This is often true for small businesses too, especially for solopreneurs. 

It’s easy to look at the market and all the things related to what you do and think ‘I should do that too!’ I mean, why wouldn’t you? More services means more revenue, right? That’s sure as heck what I thought when I started Tallack Media Corp.

Part of web design is creating graphics for web sites. Logically I thought this meant I should also offer graphics design. This in turn progressed to logo design, brochures, and every other facet of graphics design. Then there’s social media. If we’re already writing content and creating graphics, social media is the next step from there, right? Let’s just throw that in the mix too! If we’re doing social media, that means we should also be doing Facebook ads, right? But why stop there, why not Google AdWords too?

You see where this is going. I could do these things but I didn’t love doing many of them and that showed in the work. Even worse it meant my time was being taken away from the things I really enjoy doing. Instead of doing the things I loved most, I found that much of my time was being taken up by work I didn’t enjoy and the quality suffered. 

In the immortal words of Ron Swanson “Don’t half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” It took some time but I eventually realized that I’d lost my way. I started to scale back the services like graphics design and completely eliminated any social media. We scaled back to just the things we do best, web design and copy writing. We even changed how we looked at things like SEO. Instead of being an afterthought, we realized that the best approach was to ensure that we’re optimizing the site from the beginning of any web site project. This meant better results, and better efficiency but it meant no longer offering SEO services to sites that had already been built by us, or by others, instead recommending we start ground up and do it right. Sometimes to do something right, you need to start from scratch.

It also helped me realize that some of the behind-the-scenes things that are necessary to a successful business are also time-sinks, especially for those who don’t really know what they’re doing. From this I hired a bookkeeper and an assistant to relieve my focus from tasks I don’t enjoy, letting me further focus on the things that I do. This actually saved me money in the end by handing the work off to people who can do it efficiently while I take on tasks that can actually make the company money.

To be clear, I don’t regret dabbling in those tangential services. It helped us learn what we’re best at, and even helped us discover services that we can do well and add value for our customers.

Once you do figure out what you’re good at, and what you enjoy doing, don’t be afraid to let some things go. Your business (and your mental health) will thank you for it.

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