The old saying that "knowledge is power" is not just a cliche. What you know will have a tangible impact on the long-term growth of your company. Knowledge matters for entrepreneurs (and others). While many successful business owners get plenty of on-the-job training, you must go into your venture with a clear understanding of what you know and don't know about running the company.
Knowledge in three areas is key: your industry, the products/services (and how they impact the customers) and your own experience level. While there are many example of those who have achieved high levels of success while having deficits in some of these areas, there are also examples of people who have failed because of their lack of awareness.
Being well versed in the trends of your industry will is important to the decision making process on where to focus your growth efforts. Competitive analysis and a grasp of historical cycles allows the entrepreneur to make the tough choices with regards to R&D, expansion, and marketing investment. This knowledge of the industry also helps in attracting key hires from the competition as your business grows. People want to work for the industry leaders, and those who are leaders are always aware of what is happening in their industry.
Understanding your products and services helps you stay relevant. Things change fast in today's business world, and it is important to offer what your clients desire and deem necessary. Offerings can become obsolete quickly, and the tools with how customers gather information about competitive options are undermining buyers loyalty. What sold yesterday may not sell tomorrow.
Self awareness is often difficult for a gung-ho first time entrepreneur. The lure of running a business can overshadow inexperience in certain business skills. The thrill of being your own boss does not replace an understanding of managing employees, sales and marketing, or dealing with unhappy customers. When you are clear of areas of needed improvement you can either focus on learning the missing skills or hire people who can compensate.
Know what you know, and what you don't know. Entrepreneurial knowledge will help you avoid common mis-steps. Your future can easily hang in the balance of the information you gather.
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