In boxing, the old adage is that you rarely get hurt by the punch you see coming. It's the one you don't see that hurts you. Reason is that with the one you see, you have time to brace yourself or perhaps even deflect it so you don't take the full brunt of its power. The punch you don't see, on the other hand, hits you flush.
The same thing is true in small business.
Too often (far too often, in fact), small businesses struggle because of things that they don't know. And the worst part? They don't know that they don't know! Don't believe me? Here are a few common examples:
1. Many entrepreneurs and small business people think they are experts on the internet.
They refuse to acknowledge that getting noticed is incredibly tough. There are highly paid experts out there who are better than they are, and while they are expensive, the greater price is doing it yourself -- and failing. In other words, if you think an expert is expensive, try hiring and amateur.
2. Many small business owners believe that their product is the greatest thing since sliced bread and refuse to understand competition.
While it's great to have that confidence in your product, take note of what else is out there to make sure your offering is truly unique. Simple tests are to research Google and Amazon on a regular basis. For example, Amazon is developing and using a sophisticated tool to research and manage prices.
3. Many frequently believe their ideas are so good that people will line up to invest.
Thus, they fail to figure out how much money they need, what they will use it for, or how they will pay it back. These answers dramatically affect how and what format you should raise money. Many clients in early stages have no clue of their initial sales goals but have very specific funding requirements based on almost no facts.
4. They fail to consider back up plans. How will you live while the business or investment is just starting.
What is your backup plan, and how much risk can you afford? Most planning is built on static, inflexible models. However, programs like The Lean Startup and our Startup Connection models rely on flexible and adaptable models. They basically focus on developing, testing, measuring, and adapting.
When you wade out into the small business waters, make sure you have both eyes open. There are a lot of challenges out there, many challenges that you won't see coming. If you pay attention and constantly try to get better, you can more easily spot these bumps in the road and make sure you're prepared to handle them.