Knowledge is one of those areas that applies to almost every company I’ve ever tried to help.

The red flag drops on knowledge when, invariably, usually in the first meeting, I share some tidbit of information, and it’s met with, “Well, how was I supposed to know that?”

My return question is always, “How can you afford not to know that?

It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to a question, but, if you don’t know it’s a question you need to be asking, that’s when it’s time to take a look at your knowledge gap.

Three of the largest knowledge gaps I have seen are marketing, finance, and how to employ and manage people.

One of my goals is to shift people from their current state of unconscious incompetence to a place of conscious incompetence in the first instance. Until you know what you don’t know, you’re kind of just moving along blindly, hoping to get things right.

Businesses fail because people who don’t know what they’re doing start them. Isn’t it crazy when you think of those 90% of businesses in Australia that close within five years?

That’s a lot of people who clearly had very large knowledge gaps.

Most of these people who suffer from lack of success, or even fail, mistake mastery in a field — be they electrician, copywriter, mechanic…it doesn’t really matter — with mastery of business.

They are two completely different things, and the reality is that the average mechanic with above-average business skills is going to do better than the excellent mechanic with poor business skills.

Running a business, especially if you know the industry, can seem deceptively easy. If you learned the technical part of the business on the fly — in my case, I learned plumbing at my dad’s side and while apprenticing for his company — it’s not a giant leap in logic to think that you also learned how to run the business or that you can simply figure it out on the job.

How are you going to recruit employees, pay them, provide benefits, and keep them happy? Who is handling the books and taxes? What kind of strategy are you utilising when it comes to marketing? What kind of insurance should you have and how will you learn about other government compliance issues?

What is the plan if there’s a lull in business? Who is handling sales? What level of technology is needed? How can you spot redundancies and waste?

These are not the kinds of issues employees have to worry about.


Knowledge Is Attainable

Like the other tenets in this series of articles, knowledge is absolutely attainable, and here’s the rub: Yes, it’s one of the most important parts of the formula but, being a learnable skill, it’s also one of the easiest to manage parts of business.

What’s the litmus test for figuring out if you need more knowledge?

Simple. Answer one question: Are you as successful as you should be? If the answer is no — and there’s likely no way you got this far into this article if the answer is yes — it’s because there’s something you don’t know.

Business today runs faster than ever before, and you need to be able to change rapidly and acquire new knowledge to put you ahead of the curve.

Things are going to change, and you’re going to have to change with them. If you don’t know where you’re headed or how to get there, change is a scary proposition.