The title might be a little bit confusing, but bear with it, all will become clear soon enough. There is a simple truth behind it: to succeed in business, you really have to know what you don’t know.
“Okay…” you are probably currently thinking, “that doesn’t make any more sense the second time that you’ve said it.”
Fair enough. Let’s break this down.
There are going to be things involved in the running of your business; processes, equipment, management tasks. Whether you’re a freelancer working from the comfort of your couch or have a huge professional workplace with staff to assist you, there’s going to be a series of processes that your business has to go through to function.
Think of all the different things that have to work as they should:
- Your computer equipment.
- Your internet connection.
- For that matter, the very power needed for these items.
- Your smartphone.
- Any machines specifically needed for your business.
- Your HR and recruitment process
The list goes on and on.
Here’s the thing: you probably don’t know how to do all of those things. Let’s say you’re a graphic designer and you own an agency. When it comes to graphic design, you know everything. You’ve got all the right talk, perfect experience, and you know exactly what you’re doing and when.
What you’re not is a tech whizz; an HR consultant; an accountant. You’re a graphic designer and an entrepreneur; you don’t suddenly obtain all of the other qualities to run a business overnight.
“So you hire people to do it for you.”
That’s the most common solution, and it’s definitely a point that businesses get to. For smaller businesses, that can be tricky – when you’re still in the process of growing, adding to the wage roll is never undertaken lightly.
This also brings into question: how do you know who to hire? If this is your first business, a lot of it is going to be guesswork.
“Well, business owners have to identify the areas where they are lacking and then find solutions for them.”
Exactly – they have to know what they don’t know.
“Ahh, I see. So you have to know what you don’t know, so you know the areas of weakness in your business?”
Exactly (again). You have to know that you can’t be your own technology whizz and that you’re going to need help from the likes of Netstar; you have to know that you need someone to help file with paperwork and bring an accountant on board and so on and so forth.
“Isn’t that… kind of obvious that a business would need those services and assistance?”
You’d be surprised.
It’s no secret that businesses have a tendency to fail in their infancy; the failure rate for startups is downright depressing. Of course, there’s more than one reason for this, but a huge part of it is people taking on too much.
“In what way?”
People have an idea, they decide they’re going to make it work… but they haven’t got any money. So they figure they will learn on the spot. Rather than using services and employing people who are genuine experts, they decide to ignore what they don’t know – and just try to do it for themselves.
The end result of this is pretty simple: it doesn’t work. It’s never going to work, because they aren’t experts, and because their business will suffer when they’re trying to figure out.
“But what if you can’t afford outside help?”
If you’re going to be serious about starting a business, then you’re going to need that help to have the chance to survive. It should be built into your business plan; a fundamental part of your startup costs.
It would be better to save so you can afford professional assistance in the areas you don’t know anything about, than to jump in too soon and crash and burn. There’s a real strength in knowing what you don’t know; it’s your very own way of preventing disaster in the future and ensuring you truly do have your bases covered.
“So sometimes, it’s good to admit you don’t know something?”
Yes. Entrepreneurs tend to be headstrong, ambitious people. They don’t want to show any weaknesses, which can lead to them feeling they can do something that is actually beyond them. The fallout from that thought process is that their business suffers. If you refuse to fall into that trap, and acknowledge you need help along the way, then you’re going to go far.