Why management skills matter to businesses of 1

A non-obvious way to gain more power

Every business owner can benefit from honing their skills as a manager.

That’s true whether you have a team of 5, 10, or 50.

It’s also true if you’re a team of 1.


Management is more than making sure other people are getting their work done to a certain standard.

Management is connecting goals and metrics to daily performance and behavior. It’s optimizing processes and systems to shorten lead times and reduce redundancy. It’s aligning tactics with strategy and vision.

Management is an everyday part of owning and growing a business–no matter how many or how few people you hire.

The more you hone your management skills, the more stable your entire business is.

Breanne Dyck–one of our speakers for The Reluctant Manager–describes it with a karate analogy. She says that, in order to stay on your feet when being pushed, punched, or kicked, you’re tempted to tense up and muscle through it.

You become rigid and you’re actually very easy to push over.

Instead, if you forget trying to hold tight and muscle through it, you can focus on your structure–literally how your body is supporting itself. You can set that structure to withstand the blow fairly easily.

Breanne goes on to say:

Chances are that you’re relying too much on muscle and hustle in your business too… and let’s be honest, it can be exhausting.

Here’s the thing…

It’s so tempting to rely on “muscle” in our businesses.
To rely on your ability to push. To hustle. To make things happen.
But when you do that, it’s actually a sign that you’re not actually solid in your structure.
That you’re not really trusting your structure.

For our purposes, I’m going to define structure as management: it’s the mindset, systems, and tools you use to provide the framework for how you get things done.

When you’re a team of 5, 10, or 50, you might be able to fudge your structure and rely on the “muscle” of the people on your team. I don’t recommend it… but it happens.

But when you’re a team of 1, you need a solid framework, stable structure, and predictable strategy for getting things done. You can’t rely on muscling through because, first, it will exhaust you and, second, it will put you out of business.

Do a quick gut check:

Are you relying on your muscle to get through your day or week?

Or is your structure stable enough that you feel confident in your ability to work toward your goal with ease and intention?

Are You A Reluctant Manager?

Are You A Reluctant Manager?

10-12 minutes of planning every day can cut 2 hours of wasted time and effort, according to Brian Tracy.

Well, I’ve never been much of a planner. 


I’ve had my to-do list, my calendar, and my business plan in my head.

As you might imagine, this has caused some problems.

I’ve missed important appointments. I’ve missed crucial deadlines. I’ve forgotten about key initiatives.

But most importantly: this attitude limited my ability to actually make my vision reality.

And here’s the thing…

It really is all an attitude.

My reluctance to use a planner, document systems, or keep an eye on my calendar isn’t a hard-wired personality trait. It’s an attitude that I’ve chosen to take.

In January, I finally recognized this and decided to make some big changes…

…and I’ve had an absolutely incredible year. 

I do spend 10-12 minutes planning out my day, reviewing our progress toward our goals, and checking in on where others are at.

I’m better organized personally, my team is more independent, my company is growing faster than ever, we’re accomplishing more together, and our customers are happier.

I don’t get it right all the time but I’m training myself to become a better manager of my world.

Now, I know my situation is not unique.

The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician

Most small business owners in the New Economy are a combination of, as Michael Gerber describes it in The E-Myth, The Technician–the “do the work” person–and The Entrepreneur–the visionary. 

What most lack is the skillset and identity as The Manager–the person who ensures ideas get turned into a plans or systems and that those plans or systems actually get implemented.

Gerber writes:

The fact of the matter is that we all have an Entrepreneur, Manager, and Technician inside us. And if they were equally balanced, we’d be describing an incredibly competent individual. The Entrepreneur would be free to forge ahead into new areas of interest; The Manager would be solidifying the base of operations; and The Technician would be doing the technical work.

Small businesses get started primarily because people who lean towards The Technician side sense they could get a better deal working for themselves. Some have taken a skill they learned in the corporate world or by formal education and translated into self-employment.

Others have gone off to learn a new skill they’re passionate about and recognize the opportunity contained in independent work over traditional employment.

Some small businesses do get started because of the singular vision and focus of The Entrepreneur at its helm… but, in watching the trajectory of hundreds of small businesses over the last 9 years, I think these businesses are the minority. Most often, once The Technician gets bit by the entrepreneurial bug, vision is unlocked and amplified–not the other way around.

The Management Gap

This leaves a gap–and a severe imbalance–between the desire to “do the work” and the vision to create something bigger and more impactful.

There is a constant, often overwhelming, push-pull between delivering your work (performing your service, making your product, supporting customers) and working on the business.

From both my personal experience and talking to so many business owners over the years, the reluctance to close the gap, create plans, and develop systems is often perceived as a personal failing and a product of their natural-born personality.

“I’m just not a manager.”

“I’m a creative, I like to go with the flow. I’m not the kind of person who plans.”

“I’m more of a doer than a planner.”

“I’m an INTP.” (Oh wait, maybe that’s just me…)

If you’ve attempted some of the managerial tasks, like creating standard operating procedures, using project management software, or hiring people, it was likely reluctantly or even begrudgingly. Maybe you quit shortly after you started, maybe you half-heartedly continue to keep up with it.

You likely give yourself an excuse by employing one of the lines above instead of truly examining the kind of real changes you could make in how you approach the operations of your business and the organization of your life.

In other words, you’re a reluctant manager.

You’re not alone.

No one starts a small business to become a manager.

But whether you’ve been in business 1 month, 1 year, or 1 decade, no doubt you’ve felt that small business crunch. You might have started your business to do the work you love, but you realize there is so much more to it than that.

You’re constantly pulled away from what you want or need to work on by things out of your control. You worry you’re not taking good enough care of your customers because of all the balls you’re trying to keep in the air. You always feel a few steps behind.

In essence, you’re struggling with how to manage it all: yourself, your time, and your systems.

You’re ready to be in control of your business and your priorities.

You’re ready to have your business provide for you instead of always providing for your business.

You’re ready to feel fully confident in the sustainability of your business and your lifestyle.

More than anything: you’re ready to shift your work environment from overwhelming & anxiety-inducing to calm, focused, and fun.

You’re in luck!

You’re invited to join me and 600 of my friends for The Reluctant Manager, a virtual conference about managing yourself, your systems, and your team—even if you really don’t want too.

My team at CoCommercial has pulled together an incredible line up of speakers who will share both their expertise and their hard-won experience to help you become a 5-star manager, without becoming a rigid planner or the boss you hated at your old job.

And, of course, I have a lot to say on this topic, as well!

Here’s what we’ll cover during The Reluctant Manager:

  • Welcome Session with CoCommercial founder Tara Gentile – 11am-11:20am Eastern/8am-8:20am Pacific
  • Building Strong Relationship So You Can Get The Most From Your Team with Lucus Lyons – 11:25am-12:15pm Eastern/8:25am-9:15am Pacific
  • How to Stop Suffering For Success with Lena West  – 12:25pm-1:15pm Eastern/9:25am-10:15am Pacific
  • Creating the Systems You Need to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work for You with Natasha Vorompiova  – 1:40pm-2:30pm Eastern/10:40am-11:30am Pacific
  • Integration Session with Tara Gentile – 3:15pm-4pm Eastern/12:15pm-1pm Pacific
  • Knowing What Hat To Wear & When with Breanne Dyck  – 4:10pm-5pm Eastern/1:10pm-2pm Pacific
  • Structuring Your Day For Maximum Joy & Efficiency with Marie Poulin  – 5:10pm-6pm Eastern/2:10pm-3pm Pacific
  • Closing Session with Tara Gentile – 6:10pm-6:30pm Eastern/3:10pm-3:30pm Pacific

Plus, you’ll be able to chat along with other attendees, ask speakers your nagging questions, and take the time to integrate what you’re learning so you can apply it right away.

Join this virtual conference absolutely free when you become a member of CoCommercial. Start your 30-day trial today and then mark your calendar for September 13 when we’ll meet in our virtual conference space and get to work.

To learn more about The Reluctant Manager virtual conference and CoCommercial—your small business brain trust–click here.

What Kind Of Person Are You?

I’m not the kind of person who wakes up early to exercise.

I’m not the kind of person who is outdoorsy.

I’m not the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

You have a story (probably many) about who you are and what you’re about.

Those 4 were some of mine.

Have a minute? I’d like to share more–but it’s personal.


In January 2016, I hired a personal trainer because I thought I needed someone to hold me accountable for exercising on a regular basis.

I didn’t like the way I felt, the way I looked, or the amount of energy I had. It seemed like a reasonable solution to the problem.

Guess what? I went to the first 2-3 sessions of the package I purchased and didn’t show up for the rest.

In January 2017, I decided I was going to set my alarm for 6am and start the day with a workout.

I’ve massively succeeded. I feel more comfortable in my body, I love the way I look, and I have pretty boundless energy.

The difference? When I hired a trainer, I told myself, “I’m not the kind of person who exercises on her own.”

When I got serious about changing my routine, I told myself, “I am the kind of person who wakes up early to take care of herself.”

And, now I am.


I moved to the coast of Oregon 5 years ago.

Every day, I felt like a “city person” in our small fishing town.

I loved spending time outside in the temperate rain forest, at the beach, or in the state parks. But I looked at Sean’s friends–who would hike up a mountain and then ride their bikes 20 miles on the beach in one weekend–with jealousy.

They were “outdoorsy” people.

When I moved back to PA 2 years ago, I grieved the loss of the wild outdoors. I wanted mountains, beaches, and rivers. But I realized that PA Dutch countryside, deciduous forest, and rail trails were cool too.

We bought a Subaru. We got a bike rack. I bought hiking shoes.

And we used them.

One day Sean said, “I think we’re becoming the kind of people who go hiking & biking every weekend.”

I said, “We already are.”


When I started my business, I set my earning goal at about $30,000.

That’s how much I had been making in my previous job.

After all, the person I am–the interests I have, the skills I have, the way of thinking I have–isn’t the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

Luckily, I met a lot of women (and men) who were exactly the kind of person I knew myself to be (smart, ambitious, values-driven, philosophically-minded…) who were making a lot of money running fabulous businesses.

I changed my mind: I am the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

Not only that, I’m the kind of person who leads a company that makes a lot of money.

And now I do… and now I do.


What I’ve discovered is that, quite often, when I say, “I’m not that kind of person…”

What I mean is that “I wish I was that kind of person. Too bad I’m not.”

What’s more, I’ve discovered that I can be any kind of person I really want to be simply by changing my story and taking action to make it real.

Now, left to my own devices I might have been perfect (dis)content to limit myself to my preconceived notions of who I am and what I’m capable of.

But I make a point to surround myself with savvy, fiercely intelligent, healthy, and happy friends. They’re business owners who are constantly improving themselves, their companies, and their craft.

They’re the members of CoCommercial–an online community of small business owners serious about making waves in the New Economy.

Yesterday, during CoCommercial‘s The New Economy & Your Money virtual conference, I asked our members to consider their money stories.

They shared the “kind of person” they believed themselves to be.

And many, many of them realized that the kind of person they believed themselves to be was only a shadow of who they truly wanted to be.

They realized that by shifting their money stories, their entrepreneurial stories, or their personal stories, they could change the action they took and the reality they lived in.

Think about the reality you’re creating with the stories you’re telling yourself about the person you are.

If you don’t like the “kind of person” you believe yourself to be, take action to change it. When you do differently, you become something new.

When you become something new, it might be the person you’ve been all along.


Interested in surrounding yourself with the kind of business owners who can help YOU make this kind of leap?


Is Your Default Business-Building Mode Isolation?


In a crisis or quandary, my default mode is isolation. No matter the problem, I’ll opt to try to solve it myself before involving others. I would rather brood than ask for help.

I will think and think about possible solutions until I’ve come up with a solid plan. Then, and only then, will I tell someone else what the issue is and how I’m going to fix it.

I trick myself into thinking that this “strategy” is about being well-prepared, as opposed to a coping mechanism for being scared, confused, or worried.

Luckily, I’ve learned this is not a helpful strategy. And, I’ve figured out that it’s not about being well-prepared; it’s about not being courageous enough to ask for help.

I’ve also recognized that this coping mechanism often bleeds over into decisions about opportunities, too. In default mode, I spot an opportunity and ponder it until I’m ready to act on it.

Either way, I miss out.

As much as I’d like to think otherwise, I do not always have the right ideas. I do not always have the most experience. And I do not always see all the possibilities in front of me.

In default mode—isolated from those who could really help—I’m blind to everything but my own narrow perspective.

And I’m really good. But I’m not that good.

If your response to a problem, opportunity, or idea is to go to your thinking spot and think until you have a plan before you loop anyone else in on what’s going on, your default mode is isolation too. And, just like me, you’re prone to missing out on great ideas, even better opportunities, and innovative solutions.

Isolation is a fast track to failure.

Of course, your default mode is not the only operating mode you have. You can choose to do things differently, to seek out help when you need it most and often when you don’t.

Change your operating mode to “community & collaboration.”

Your business community—the people who support you, cheer you on, challenge your conventional thinking—allows you to see your blind spots. Seeing your blind spots is the first step to avoiding a collision.

Your community also helps you detour around traffic. They can show you the most congested parts of path to your intended destination and give you a new route. You get there faster and with less anxiety.

And best of all, your business community can help you see how to connect all the dots to where you want to get. Running a business is like renting a car in a town you’ve never been to. You know where you’re at (hopefully!) and you know where you want to go, but you have no idea to navigate there. Others have been there, they’re accustomed to the roads in the area. Your community is your personal GPS device.

Over the last few years, I’ve made a real commitment to not living or working in isolation and engaging a business community to support me. I’ve made small changes like always looping in my partner on questions I have about my business. And I’ve made much bigger changes like opening my team to people who aren’t looking for direction so much as they’re looking to make a contribution.

Whether you’re looking to hire or whether you just need a fresh perspective, you need to be proactive in involving others in your business.

That could mean posting on a Facebook group that’s full of people you respect and trust.

It could mean joining a business association where everyone is working for the success of other members (btw, you can get a free 30-day trial of ours).

It could mean joining a group business coaching program like Quiet Power Strategy™, making a biweekly Skype date with a colleague, forming an accountability group, or having a weekly local business owner meet up.

Next time you feel yourself going into isolation mode, change the setting.

Look for help. Ask for an opinion. Bounce an idea.

Situate yourself in a community and take advantage of it.

Your thinking spot will still be there when you get back.


I’m Getting Schooled in Asking For Help: On Opening a Downtown Business

I love to go it on my own. Be in control. Take all the credit.

It saves me from having to depend on anyone. Which is just a fancy way of saying no one is depending on me.

It also saves me from having to manage anyone. Which is also just a fancy way of saying I’m afraid to lead.

Growing my business over the last 5 years has meant that I’ve slowly pulled back the layers of resistance in asking for help, collaborating with others, and forming a team. I’ve run into roadblocks, confronted frustration, and finally opened up to getting the support I needed.

But nothing has cracked me as wide open as the process of opening a downtown, brick & mortar business.

This week, I’m opening the doors on a mini-coworking space in Astoria, OR, called CoCommercial. There will be a core group of 8 members, a wider network of day users, and a community full of workshop leaders & event goers.

It’s a giant step toward “we” and away from “me.”

Opening the space has required sharing my vision and asking for what I want from numerous people. I’ve had to negotiate the lease, get neighboring businesses on board, and hire local contractors. I’ve had to talk with my partner–an extremely vulnerable discussion–about helping with the initial phase of workshop bookings. And I’ve made difficult decisions about who & what I would invest in.

This would have all been impossible for me 5 years ago. Maybe even 2 years ago. And not just because I wouldn’t have had the money or the right location then. But because I couldn’t see past my desire to be on my own and in control.

I’ve started to realize that so many of us are drawn to microbusiness because of those two things: the desire to only have ourselves to blame and the desire to have all the control & take all the credit.

Venturing into microbusiness is an important personal lesson in self-reliance, a lesson that so many of us need after breaking free from a world of paychecks, micro-managing managers, and paved roads to “success.” But it’s possible to be self-reliant to a fault.

Once you’ve cleared your own path, are you the only one that can travel it?

So many opportunities have been lost because I’ve been unable to partner with the right people, people who were asking for my partnership. So much time has been wasted because I’ve tried to maintain complete control over every project. So much money has been left on the table because I wouldn’t give up control of systems I had no business managing.

So much goodwill has been squandered because I couldn’t just say “Here’s where I need your help.”

I’ve gotten so much better in the last 2 years. But all signs point to this venture continuing to push me toward a mindset of community/team/network-powered growth. While CoCommercial isn’t designed as a real revenue generator for my business, I believe that the lessons I’m learning and the personal growth I’m experiencing will lead to massive changes in the areas of my business that do generate revenue.

Where I saw brick walls before, I’ll see launching pads.

I wonder if all the microbusiness owners I know, support, and love would break through the same internal barriers, what amazing projects could they complete? What daring initiatives could they put out into the world? What new solutions could they innovate to serve others?

The fact is that community is the greatest resource you have for bringing big ideas to fruition. Forget money, forget infrastructure. Heck, you can even forget your “list” (but I don’t recommend it).

Ask for what you need. Think beyond your own capabilities. Create plans that depend on others.

Pair your idea capital with network capital and watch the return on your investment.