Jack of Many Trades or Master Of One?
Firstly, let’s talk about this famous figure of speech, ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’, it is basically referred to those type of people who have immersed themselves in a bunch of skills but is hardly able to achieve expertise in anyone. Robert Greene originated the phrase in the form of ‘jack of all trades’ in the year 1952 for William Shakespeare, who was an actor turned scriptwriter. It was used randomly by many people as an idiom for admiration and later the term ‘master of none’ was added to it, as a way to criticize people.
Now let’s talk about the jack of all trades theory of entrepreneurship which was proposed by Edward P. Lazear, an economist of Stanford University, with the title ‘Balanced Skills and Entrepreneurship’. On that theory, he elucidates who becomes an entrepreneur and which entrepreneurs will be successful. His core idea is that successful entrepreneurs are good in many things, they are basically generalists rather than specialists. Let’s take, for example, a restaurant entrepreneur needs workers and vendors who can take care of tasks related to furniture, equipment, construction and food. The entrepreneur needs to be good in some marketing activities like pricing, promotion, product design in order to attract customers. He also may need to design a menu keeping in mind the customer base and to actually prepare meals or meal prototypes. One another skill which the entrepreneur must possess is the skill of hiring and training employees because great manpower can do actually do wonders. And last but not the least, the skill of persuasion is also necessary in order to convince the investors that your business is important which can elevate the business to a wondrous level.
As a Business Consultant specialising in Startups and SMEs, I can say that is not much easy to find a person who possesses all these skills but if a person truly does, it will be easy for him to be an entrepreneur and also succeed in the same. It has to be remembered that a master or a jack of all trades in entrepreneurship, is like a hammer who knows how to put a nail into something and at the same time he also knows how to pull it out. He must be able to adapt himself and be useful in a variety of tasks.
As an entrepreneur, I have met a lot of people who are excellent in their field of expertise but when it comes to doing something diverse or different, they are absolutely not preferable. When it comes to running a business, such people can sometimes be a disadvantage for innovation’s sake as they do not possess the skill of thinking outside the bubble. As a startup business consultant and a business developer, I can strongly suggest that as an entrepreneur or a CEO, it extremely important to possess a broad range of skills, which will definitely be useful in various stages of business growth because jack of all trades are masters at learning and they are creative thinkers and problem solvers who can tackle a changing as well as challenging environment.