A Jack of all trades is someone who acts like a multi-tool. They can do a little of everything, but they’re not an expert at any of them. While being a Jack of all trades when starting your business can save you time, money, and grief it’s not ultimately sustainable. When you reach the point where you’re spending more time running the business than growing it, then it’s time to delegate to the experts.
- In business, a Jack of all trades is someone who does and knows a little about everything. They have enough experience and knowledge to get things done but are not considered an expert in the space.
- Being a Jack of all trades is an excellent thing when it comes to running a small business or being an entrepreneur. You can test out every side of the company and get an idea of what is needed for each part to succeed.
- All that said, being a Jack of all trades is ultimately not sustainable. As your business grows you should focus only on what you’re great at. The rest should be delegated to actual experts.
What is a Jack of all trades?
A Jack of all trades is the name given to someone who knows how to do a lot of things but is not an expert at any of them. They’re like a Swiss Army knife. They can cut things if needed, screw things down, and slice open objects. But, they might have trouble if what needs cutting ends up being harder to do than expected. What they end up with is a situation they don’t have the ability to take care of.
The concept itself also has a pretty interesting origin. Did you know it actually comes from someone you probably know very well? It was the title given to a young Shakespeare in the 1500s when he would hang around playhouses helping wherever was needed. Today the phrase tends to carry some negative connotations, but back then it was actually a compliment. In fact, the saying doesn’t end at “Jack of all trades, master of none”. The second part of it is what shows how people really thought about a multi-skilled person:
“Jack of all trades, master of none. But oftentimes better than a master of one”
Here’s why they were right back then to not see being a Jack of all trades as such a bad thing.
What are some benefits of being a Jack of all trades?
Being a Jack of all trades can absolutely be a great thing. It can give useful transferable skills like becoming really good at problem-solving. It also forces you to become resourceful and to do well under pressure. When you’re faced with unexpected gaps in the business like if someone quits or makes a mistake they can’t fix, being able to do a little of everything will save the day.
It also has the added benefit of, as an entrepreneur, being able to find what aspect of your business you’re best at and you love is not something to take for granted. On the same side of that coin, finding where you lack and need help can help your business grow and thrive.
What are some negatives of being a Jack of all trades?
On the flip side of the benefits, there are still some negatives to being a Jack of all trades. For starters, burnout is real when it comes to these situations. Long hours trying to learn everything about the business, and high stress creating more room for mistakes can be a recipe for disaster.
It also prevents you from being able to resolve very niche issues that can come up since you might not have enough knowledge to solve them. It also limits the amount of time you have to give complete each task. And a rushed job is never a good idea.
In the end, however, the biggest negative is that it stops you from being able to grow your company if you’re too busy overseeing the small things.
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Jobs where a Jack of all trades comes in handy
With all the benefits being a Jack of all trades can provide, there are certain types of jobs where it’s not only useful but welcomed.
- Sales – Understanding the product, and adapting those needs to communicate them to potential buyers is key to a proper sale.
- Customer service – Product knowledge, logistical knowledge, empathy, and de-escalation skills are all needed.
- Recruiting – To be good at this job you need to know how every department works in the company. And, what is needed for each position. On top of that, you also need to be good at reading people, and at understanding unspoken cues.
- Project management – Not only do you need to know how to organize the project at hand, but you also need to understand every aspect of the stakeholder’s part too.
Jobs were being a Jack of all trades isn’t ideal
While the jobs above are the perfect position for someone who can do a little of everything, there are also some positions where it can play against you.
All the jobs mentioned below require years of experience and very specific skill sets in order to perform them safely.
- Social worker
Why is a Jack of all trades excellent for entrepreneurs?
When you’re just starting out in your business, being a Jack of all trades is a fantastic thing. It keeps things interesting in your day-to-day life and it ensures you’re learning about every aspect of your company.
It can also teach you how to lead by showcasing your authority and knowledge in more than one thing. And, it also helps show you how to learn things in a fast and efficient way. This helps when it comes to troubleshooting and problem-solving.
In the end, being a Jack of all trades will really help your company grow until it’s time to ask the experts for help to reach the next step.
Getting People Right (GPR) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in entrepreneurial leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional GPR resources below will be useful: