As the father of a four-year-old, I often find myself snuggling up with my little boy on the sofa, watching one of his favorite DVDs. He goes through stages where he finds a new movie he likes, watches it, oh, about 3,000 times over the next two weeks, then loses all interest. We’ve had to add DVDs for him to our Netflix queue to keep up. One DVD that only recently got relegated to his “been there, watched that” pile was Disney’s straight to DVD “TinkerBell” movie.
Normally I’d read a magazine in the dining room when he’s engaged in one of his movies. But, every now and then he’ll say, “Daddy, can you come sit for me.” (He says “for” instead of “with.” I think it’s because he sees it as you doing something nice for him when you sit with him. Queue the “ahhhhhhhs.”) So I’m sitting there watching “Tinker Bell” with my 4-year-old son. Feels kind of weird. But, turns out, the story is actually pretty good. (Okay, now this is getting really weird.)
(Note: if you ever plan to watch “Tinker Bell,” consider this a spoiler alert. If you could care less, and would like some inspiration for your business, read on.)
The gist of the movie is this: when a fairy is born, he/she is endowed with a special talent (aka gift). Some fairies help animals; some fairies make snow; some cause the wind to blow. And some, like Tinker Bell, are Tinker fairies that fix things. Tinker Bell’s gift is the gift of…tinkering. As it turns out, she is exceptionally gifted at tinkering.
The problem is, when spring comes, and it’s time for the animal, water, wind, and other fairies to go to the mainland to do their thing, Tinker fairies must stay behind. This upsets Tinker Bell and she decides that she wants to switch her gifts. So, she enlists the help of her fairy friends to learn their gifts. Unfortunately, she fails miserably.
In the process of trying to do someone elses specialty, Tinker Bell ends up destroying all the preparations for spring, ruining months of hard work. But, when Tinker Bell embraces her gift for Tinkering, she creates a set of amazing tools and gizmos that allow her and the other fairies to re-do months of preparation in a matter of one night. (Wow!)
THE BUSINESS LESSON
Okay, so you’re wondering what the business lesson is. It’s this: YOU have a special gift (or gifts) that you should be utilizing in your business. Chances are, it is because of that gift that you started your business in the first place. But, somewhere down the line, one of two things probably happened:
- You became envious of a colleague or competitor, and thus you want the success they have, so you forget about your gift and try to be/do what they are, and/or
- Your business has gotten to a point where you feel like you have to do things you’re not gifted with at all, just to keep the business running (can someone say bookkeeping?)
So what’s a gifted small business person to do? Embrace your gift. Aggressively.
What exactly does that mean you ask? Well, it means exploring ways you can divert more of your every day work life to that gift. And stop trying to be something you’re not.
Note, I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn a new tool or other aspect of your business. We all should be working to improve our craft. But, I DO think you should focus your learning in an area where you’ve already proven your giftedness.
Some of you are exceptional behind the lens. Others of your are more of a graphic artist, a master at Photoshop and the like. Then there are those of you who excel at marketing. Whatever it is that you are particularly gifted at is where you should put your energy.
COLLABORATION IS KEY
The key to successfully growing your business then is collaborating with others who are gifted in the areas where you are not. Going back to our friend Ms. Bell, despite the fact she was able to make all those cool gadgets and gizmos, she needed the help of everyone and their gifts to save spring.
I’ll use myself as an example. As a businessman, I’m pretty good at marketing and branding. That’s where I put a lot of my education and time. As a filmmaker, my gifts are particularly strong in character direction and editing emotionally moving pieces. I’m not terribly gifted at editing cutting edge, MTV style videos. When one of our clients needs some off da hook motion graphic or edgy video, I’ll assign it to one of my editors gifted in that area. If we need an amazing lighting set up, I’ll bring in a DP who fits the bill. Get the picture?
I believe that if you put time and energy into strengthening those areas where you are already gifted, then collaborate with others where you are not, you’ll see amzaing things happen in your business.