To Every Rule In Life, There Will Always Be One (or More) Exception(s)
It is not good to be a Jack of All trades. Well, that’s probably true. But what about being an Intelligent Jack of Many Trades™? The Jack Of Many Trades™ I speak about is what Tom Gorman calls a “Multipreneur” in his book – titled “Multipreneuring: (1) Using a variety of skills and a series of careers to succeed (2) The Hottest Career Strategy For Success In The 1990s – and Beyond” (More about this book below).
Some entrepreneurs who achieved their successes many years ago, believe that the strategies they used back then will continue to work today, and in the future. Well, maybe…but maybe not! Things have changed, and keep changing constantly – a whole lot too.
Considering the rapid pace of technology/information-driven changes occurring today, a strategy that worked five years ago may – or may NOT – be so successful today.
TIP: Depending on the type of venture you embark upon as a new-idea or established start-up, you may need to come to the market place with a variety of marketable skills in order to survive. Those skills will enable you generate additional income streams that can help you maintain optimal levels of profitability during periods when business is slow for everyone due to economic fluctuations or other reasons.
My Multi-Disciplinary Approach To Entrepreneuring
Early on in my start-up days, I adopted what I called a multidisciplinary approach to entrepreneuring due to combined factors of interest and necessity. The latter arose when I found the response to my Self-Development work(Talks, Seminars, and Workshops) at the time, though positive, a bit “slow”.
So I concentrated on creating additional income-earning opportunities using other skills I had (and/or progressively acquired) such as custom spreadsheet solutions development, web design, and freelance writing. In doing this, I was however conscious of the fact that some people would suggest that I was a “Jack of all trades” kind of person. But having always been very versatile, with a natural aptitude for multi-skilling, I was quite convinced that what I had in mind could be done.
At a point, following repeated encounters with people who questioned the wisdom of this approach, I decided to find out if any other entrepreneurs had experienced a similar need to mine. So, I read book after book on business and Entrepreneuring. I also did a search using the word “Multipreneuring” at http://www.google.com.
It was especially through the search results I obtained, that I discovered a huge world of Multipreneurs. I learnt that some were self-employed, while others could be found in paid employment.
a). Take for instance, Ken Gaebler (www.gaebler.com), who about 3 years ago started up three different companies (business incubator, holding company and venture capital). On his website in March 2003, Ken had an article titled “Entrepreneurial Evolution” in which he explained why he became a Multipreneur by starting up three different companies at the same time.
One reason he gave that struck me as instructive was the idea that if a person’s chances of succeeding in business are one out of three, then it only makes good business sense to start three companies, so you can be sure of making a success of at least one of them. In his estimation, even though there were disadvantages to starting up a business this way, it still made plenty of sense to do it. I could not have agreed more with him!
A visit to Gaebler’s website(www.gaebler.com) today will show that he is making progress in the pursuit of his vision.
b). On the net, I also came across Tom Gorman’s book titled “Multipreneuring: (1) Using a variety of skills and a series of careers to succeed (2) The Hottest Career Strategy For Success In The 1990s – and Beyond”. (Last time I checked, the book retailed for about $11.00 US Dollars on Amazon.com). Gorman – himself a Multipreneur – is described as having worked variously as corporate consultant, commercial banker, executive recruiter and writer. This gives the reader further proof that what his book advocates works.
Useful Answers Given By Three Accomplished Persons/Book Authors
a). Herman Holtz(who passed on in Feb. 2001) was widely regarded one of the world’s most successful Independent Consultants with over 3 decades of experience. He was often described as a Consultant’s Consultant. In his book “The Concise Guide To Becoming An Independent Consultant“(John Wiley and Sons, Inc, 1999), Holtz confessed that he had been personally acquainted with certain “exceptional individuals” who had adopted versatility as their answer to the consultant’s need to specialise.
According to him, one such individual boasted up to twelve(12)! different resumes. Depending on the specific requirements for different consulting project opportunities he identified, he would simply send in the most suited resume! The best part for me : Holtz testified that NONE of the resumes used by these individuals gave false testimonies of their ability to competently perform widely differing tasks for their clients at a professional fee.
b). James Cook in his book “The Start-up Entrepreneur”, apparently also appreciated the reality that frequently faces start-up entrepreneurs(though he did not use the term “Multipreneuring”), when he stated that most entrepreneurs are unlikely to find success by sticking to a single venture or line of business till they succeed. In fact he warned that the startup entrepreneur may find need to change the direction in which s/he continues often, possibly with each failure recorded, assuring however that those who persevere will inevitably succeed.
To buttress his point, Cook provided interesting historical details such as the fact that Henry Ford originally intended to make a tractor, while Edison first invented a telegraph machine (in 1962). From my internet research into the life of
Thomas Edison, I can also add that he followed the telegraph machine with an Electric Vote Recorder which was a commercial failure – making him vow he would not waste time inventing things that no one wanted.
c). When Robert G. Allen wrote about “Multiple Streams of Income”, he did not exactly say people had to become Multipreneurs. But he implied it – because he was challenging people to reduce the risk arising from depending on one income source(which could be disrupted at any time) by spreading their sources of income generation from one to many.
Discovering The Term “Multipreneuring”
Ironically, even though I was already functioning as one when I was starting up, I did not know there were actually people called Multipreneurs. Luckily for me, an acquaintance who was a senior manager in a financial training services delivery organisation was to “educate” me about the proper term for what I was doing, as one who “wears many hats”. After listening to me talk about my multi-disciplinary approach, he asked me what one word I believed could be used to describe me based on all that I had told him.
When I had finished rambling about being an “Educator/Information Broker bringing useful Self-Development information to people of various backgrounds/needs”(I did not have an elevator speech at the time), he said “I have one name that I think describes you very well in terms of what you do, and which I want you to start using from today”. He then asked for my pen and wrote on a sheet of paper, exactly as follows: “Tayo Solagbade is a MULTIPRENEUR.” That was the first time I saw the word!
Multipreneurs In Business(Why Are More And More Companies Diversifying?)
In business, I would define a Multipreneur as an individual who intelligently combines a variety of (sometimes self-taught) marketable skills to earn income as the opportunities present themselves in the market place.
Have you noticed the trend over the past decade or so? Many well known and established businesses, have gradually begun to “add” other specialties to the menu they offer their customers. Then there are those that have always been biased towards having multiple competencies, and are now being vindicated for being that way.
A good example of the latter is General Electric – who, as if determined to ensure critics do not dismiss it as a “coincidence” use the tagline “What GE does and makes touches everyone“. THAT’s a Multipreneurial company! And they have been extremely successfully in their Jack Of Many Trades approach – which is why Jack Welch achieved the legendary status he did for providing leadership that made it work.
There was a time when SONY as a company was not considered a force to reckon with in the digital/Internet world. Most people never even “saw” a role for the company to play in that arena. Thankfully for the company, its leadership was a ‘thinking” one: they “saw” into the future, and knew that to gain greater access into people’s homes as an entertainment manufacturing company, they needed to use the cheapest and most far-reaching marketing resources available.
The Internet was unique in that it offered all the convenience, and affordability they sought to take advantage of – while it provided an excellent medium through which to launch a new breed of products that today has captured a larger audience than they could ever have imagined.
The success of Sony’s PlayStation is but one example.(Then of course there was the move, before Playstation, into Laptops manufacturing with the Introduction of the VAIO series).
An Intelligent Jack Of Many Trades does NOT acquire new competencies impulsively of for the sake of it. S/he (whether as individual or company) will define a clear vision, and will then consider what option(s) for pursuing it successfully are available. A decision about the most appropriate line(s) of action to adopt is what eventually, among other things, would necessitate developing new competencies that complement each other towards accomplishment of the ultimate goal or vision.
Everything Sony has done as a company has further strengthened it’s ability to make in-roads into people’s home as a provider of entertainment resources. By adopting new approaches that recognise changing technology and especially the Internet, Sony has been able to not only keep the interest and attention of old customers but also expanded its customer base to capture increasingly younger people – those excited by the world of computer gaming software, Internet technology, Virtual reality etc. The result has been phenomenal market place success – internationally.
Any company that wants to enjoy continued relevance, and sustainable long term success(like those I mentioned above), will need to think in multipreneurial terms daily, else s/he will become obsolete. A close look at the trend of mergers and acquisitions, and the broadening of products and services offerings by many companies today suggest that the leadership of many businesses already appreciate the importance of thinking this way.
It is my opinion that entrepreneurs in the 21st century and beyond, will need to – intelligently – operate adaptable entrepreneurial ventures that can generate multiple sustainable income streams for themselves. Only by so doing, will they be able to effectively cope with the unpredictability of the fast-changing, technology-driven markets of their societies – now and in the future. In other words, through Multipreneuring, they will be able to cushion their businesses against negative turns that might result from unexpected changes in demand for some of their key products and/or services over time.
Multipreneurs In Paid Employment
We also have people in paid employment who are Multipreneurs. Like their self-employed counterparts, they often “wear many hats”. I describe them as individuals who intelligently combine their(sometimes self-taught) skills in a variety of related fields to deliver desired results(often beyond their job requirements) to employers. The reality (do a search on the net with “Multipreneur” and see what you get) is that today’s businesses/employers need such people more and more.
Companies are trying to find and retain individuals who are versatile and able to carry on a variety of tasks efficiently. As I said in my article titled “How to make yourself UNRETRENCHABLE”, any employee who can demonstrate, repeatedly and convincingly, the ability to competently do the job of two(2) or more people will make it less likely for his company to want to let go of (talks less retrench) him/her.
In the brewery where I once worked, multi-skilling (a process where each staff was progressively trained to be able to operate every single plant/machine in a manufacturing process) was a very important part of staff training and development. This method made it possible to optimise production output regardless of unexpected absenteeism, retirements, transfers etc. Depending on the areas of work, and the organisational skills of the duty Shift Manager, one operator/staff could be made to competently operate two or more machines during such “tight” periods.
In fact, whenever the time came for staff promotions and/or secondments to be decided, one of the key considerations was the multi-skilling ability of the individuals being considered. All other things remaining constant, an individual with the best multi-skilling matrix would get picked to lead a team in an area. It only made good sense to do this, since this person would then be competent to not only supervise operating staff, but also facilitate on-the-job training for newcomers in virtually any areas of the process s/he managed.
In a precursor to this article titled How To Be A Jack Of Many Trades™, And Why It Can Make You Succeed More Often! , I described my personal experiences as a Multipreneurial Employee in Guinness between 1995 and 2001. I also went further to give examples of Multipreneurs in sports, politics, and entertainment – pointing out along the way, how the reader’s early schooling experiences, in many ways, has already prepared him/her to be a Multipreneur – though s/he may not know it!
In the final part of that article, I outline “Steps To Becoming An Intelligent Jack Of Many Trades™(or Multipreneur)” ending by elaborating on specific ways by which multipreneuruing can make anyone can succeed more often at work and/or in life.
Copy and paste the following link ([ your browser URL entry bar, to read the full text of the article I referred to, and learn more about why it pays to be a Multipreneur, if you want to succeed more frequently(and for the long term), in the increasingly unpredictable and fast-changing societies of the 21st century and beyond.