Over the weekend my family hosted a yard sale at their house in the suburbs. After years and years of moving in and out of houses, apartments, and condos, my sister and I finally move our “prized possessions” out of our parents basement….to the driveway. We held our first yard sale — the most basic form of commerce in America. Neither of us ever had a yard sale before, and we were amazed by the people who came out of the woodwork to buy our crap…errr I mean treasures.
Aside from the fact that we had such a decent and eclectic turnout in our parents sleepy little suburban cul-de-sac, what I found interesting is how we managed to successfully divide and conquer this event in a matter of days. What made it successful is working with someone with complementary skill sets. My sister and I are both conscientious, hard working, intelligent people, but we have totally opposite strengths outside of that. My sister is a retail buyer with strong people and negotiation skills (ask my dad about the latter). I’m a strategic marketing consultant who has a knack for balancing the creative and organizational aspects of a project. In this scenario, our skills fell into place. I worked behind the scenes developing the advertising to drive traffic, creating point-of-sale signage, and managing the budget. I even created an organization plan, which involved an excel spreadsheet that my sister refused to acknowledge! My sister on the other hand, merchandized the heck out of the yard sale (her retail work came in handy) and was master sales person working the crowd and negotiating deals left and right.
Where I’m going with this little anecdote is that it’s important to team up with people who are different from you, but share the same basic foundation. Whether you’re a sole proprietor or a member of a larger organization who’s building a team around you, it’s important to surround yourself with people with complementary skills sets. While they may think differently (and even laugh at your excel spreadsheet), they will help you succeed in ways that you may not achieve on your own.