There’s no big secret. Many of us think we know it all, but don’t know what we don’t know. In many situations, business owners have to make decisions on a daily basis and make those choices without any information or knowledge of whether it’s the right one or not. But they make them.
The prevalence of that daily occurrence has prompted us to agree with the unflattering concept that business owners, like most people, don’t now what they don’t know. Allow an explanation.
Let’s say you want to warranty a product you manufacture and make the assumption someone on your staff can whip up a warranty document. What you don’t know is that such a document, meant to protect your assets against legal action, should be reviewed by your legal counsel. You want it to stand up in court, so unless your staff member is a lawyer, you should have your counsel review the document your staff person creates.
Whether you produce hundreds or hundreds of thousands of products, how to protect your company from legal action is something you need to know … or to know your attorneys can do it and be able to explain what they’ve done to cover your assets.
Your accountant should know about tangible property regulations and other opportunities to save money or reduce your risk. If you are operating your business and don’t have or want to spend the time to learn about these measures, make sure your accounting firm knows what you don’t know. That’s the reason you engage them, so make sure they keep you abreast of potential risks and cost saving steps you should be taking.
There are consultants and other professionals available to assist you with the things you don’t know about your business. Your insurance representative should discuss errors and omissions (E&O) insurance if your company is liable for performance or other risks. Do you have adequate fire, flood, and other coverage? Do you know if any of your employees knows how to operate a fire extinguisher? Do you?
Did you know your website should be updated regularly? Does your web developer check on your search engine compatibility or updates every month? Is your web content still relevant to your target market? Have those market segments changed? Odds are they have.
When you start thinking about all that’s involved in operating your business, it can be overwhelming. Especially when you consider what you may not know that could pose a threat to staying in business. Things like changing tax laws, interest rates, banking regulations, market shifts, and consumer trends can be significant if they put you at risk without your knowledge of their impact.
Keep an open mind. Avoid assuming that everything is fine the way it is. Rely on your professional team – bankers, insurance agents, marketing professionals, legal counsel, accountants, and business/marketing consultants – for the wisdom that keeps you from being blind-sided. Ask for help when you need it. If you don’t think you do, it’s probably the time you need help the most.