It can be extremely difficult and virtually impossible trying to juggle everything at once while running a business.


As a child, I can remember watching the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night. It was what you did on Sunday night back in the day. About once a month they would have a one man band take the stage and play some contraption consisting of a large drum, cymbals, a harmonica, and a xylophone…..all at once. The “musician” would play the drum using a series of levers attached to a drum stick that he controlled with his foot. The cymbals would be strapped between his knees and he “clapped” his knees together to….well…. make a noise. All the while his right hand flailed at the xylophone of course his mouth was busy with the harmonica. It was more comedy than music and that was the intention, a novelty act. I sometimes wonder what happened to one man bands and came to realize well they died….because quite frankly they sucked. All because one person couldn’t do what four or five accomplished musicians could do, each a master of his or her instrument.

I learned the lesson of the one man band during my first adventure as an entrepreneur in the telecom world. Having had a successful experience as the #2 guy in a very similar business, I thought that I had all of the parts to reproduce the start-up, early stage and exit surrounding my proposed venture. I wrote the business plan, cobbled all of the pieces of my technology together, arranged production of prototypes and sample product, secured telecom network access, worked on package design, and started the search for real money to take the venture forward.

Only problem was I had no team around me. Despite the fact that I had most of the pieces assembled, no investor was going to take a chance on a “one man band”. Experienced investors realize that no individual can play all of the instruments (at the same time) well enough to be successful. And what happens if the one man band falls off the stage and breaks a leg…no more cymbals and no more drums. In business if that happens…there’s no more business.

The logic applies to having a management team around you. They might not be full-time, or even on the payroll. However they are people that can play a role in marketing or finance or operations once the company “takes the stage”. Get some folks involved in your venture that can play the roles that you can’t or shouldn’t. You will get better ideas and better quality of execution with specialists on the team. Take them with you on those investor or sales calls to assure those that you are selling to that you are not a one man band.

The “team” might also consist of strategic partners as well. Customers, suppliers or distributors that know something about a piece of your business and are willing to support you likely because they can see what’s in it for them down the road. They bring stability, experience and resources to the enterprise and will re-assure everyone that you are serious and that someone other than you believes in the success of your endeavour.

John Pickard is the Executive Director of the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre at Georgian College.
Mr. Pickard is a Marketing strategist with experience in the consumer goods, publishing and telecom industries. Mr. Pickard honed his skills with global marketers Bristol-Myers and Warner-Lambert. John became Vice President of Telemedia Publishing, then Canada’s largest publisher, in 1990. Pickard entered the entrepreneurial ranks when he joined a start-up in the prepaid card market….. which was ultimately sold to AT&T. Mr. Pickard is well connected to the investment community and has been involved in securing investment for a variety of early stage companies. John has an extensive list of contacts in the Entrepreneurship space having spent the 6 years prior to joining Georgian College mentoring with Mars Discovery District, Bioenterprise Corp., and Innovation Guelph.