I did not know that
Starting a new business from scratch, or starting an exciting new role in someone else's business, is great. You are, I hope, full of determination, big with ideas, and really looking forward to the journey ahead.
But wait. What is this chilling fact emerging with unwelcome negativity from the shadows? But fact it is. And this is the fact. You do not have enough knowledge to complete all aspects of your new challenge. It might be marketing, sales, finance, or people management. But somewhere their lurks a blind spot. Something at which you are not going to do well.
Let me reassure you, however, that not knowing something is far less serious than pretending you do. There are actions you can take, and remember this - there are skills you do have, and have in abundance, I am sure.
Here is what you can do:
1. You can identify which skills you lack. This is especially hard if you are in a small business with no appraisal process to help. Self awareness can be very biased! But it is necessary. You will get feed back from customers, from suppliers, and from reality, but you have to be ready to listen, and to sift, that feedback. You want to be informed of knowledge and skill gaps, but not destroyed by criticism, nor blinded by flattery.
2. You can acquire the missing skills. Invest in some training, and in some good reading material. By investing in training you are investing in yourself. Go for good training, too, which requires some care as there are lots of people standing vulture like to remove your cash in exchange for turning you into an amazing salesperson, or finance director, what whichever skill you are seeking. Look seriously into the track record of the trainers.
3. You can buy those skills in. This way you gain the input of a person who has the missing skill in bundles. That may be by hiring someone, or, if the cost of a full time person in that field makes no sense, by outsourcing that part of the business.
4. You can manage without those skills. This is the bottom of the list for a reason, but I am not going to pretend that sometimes you may have no choice. You have no budget. It is day 3 in your new business, or role. You do not right now have access to options 2 and 3 above. However, if you must, in the short term, take this fourth option let me insist you do not skip option 1. It is vital that you recognise that you are operating with a missing piece of the ideal armoury. Driving without brakes is risky, but it is riskier if you don't know you are doing it.
I encourage you to think about this - even talk about it with someone. In my experience, most business failures are not because the idea was particularly poor, but because the skills gaps ruined the execution.
Paul OrangeTree has been involved in businesses of all sizes for a great many years, and is available to offer advice to yours.
- management consultancy