In Person and Online Meetings
866.311.TEAM (8326)
10 Things You Don’t Know You Don’t Know

10 Things You Don’t Know You Don’t Know

It’s The Not Knowing That Hurts Salespeople, Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

I don’t know what I don’t know. All I can say is ouch! You hear so many small business owners, sales people and entrepreneurs talk about how much their PHD cost them. That is the PHD from the school of hard knocks. I jokingly tell people that I got my PHD from UCBSHK (University of California Business School of Hard Knocks). My PHD roughly cost me approximately $2.8 million. I think I got off pretty cheap, trust me I have heard much worse and count my blessings daily. As you may know, in my story it turned out to be the biggest blessing in disguise of my entire life and I literally tripped into my passion. But that is for a different day, and honestly it didn’t make the sting any less.

I like to look back on events and reflect what learning certain situations created for me, and I would have to say that my biggest ones fell under the umbrella of I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So, I would like to share them with you, as they have helped me immensely to build several successful business since.

1. The biggest injustice we can ever do to ourselves and tell ourselves, “Oh, I already know that” or “that was a great reminder” I am going to get really real right now and pretty blunt. If you already knew it then why aren’t you doing it? If it was a great reminder then why isn’t it in your current routine? Bottom line is this, yes you heard it before but you weren’t ready to take action yet. Or better yet, you are at a different stage in your business now to hear it differently, so that you can take the old learning and apply it differently and take you, your business, your life and your bank account to the next level. Corporate America invested over $300,000 on my development, to make me a better sales person, a better manager, a better leader, a better planner, a better visionary and a better communicator. When I became an entrepreneur and a business owner, I would go to seminars, I would hear speakers and I would sit there, “OMG, really this is so trivial. Can’t this person offer me something I don’t already know?” How horrible was that for me? How many opportunities did I miss? I can tell you, I have learned and embraced this lesson whole heartedly. No matter how elementary a learning is, I look for what it can teach me and how I can utilize it in my life and business.

2. There will always be roadblocks, barriers, forks in the road and land mines on your journey, and that is ok! Remember we don’t know what we don’t know, so occasionally we may step in something that doesn’t smell the greatest. These are always opportunities to learn, grow and make necessary adjustments to get to the next level. As opposed to waving the white flag and sticking your head in the sand and allowing things to get even worse.

3. Copyright, Royalty and Licensing Infringement. This happens frequently when people create memes for websites, social media or blogs. This is a huge no no. Make sure every photo you use is royalty, copyright and/or license free. The best way to do this is join a membership site that sells photo license free. Yes that means you have to pay for it. But that is much more inexpensive. Someone I am very close to is going through this right now and she is very scared. She innocently took a picture off the internet that complimented her blog post. 9 months later she got a wonderful letter from “Getty” demanding she remove their picture immediately or pay heavy restitution. She took the picture off her blog in seconds of receiving this letter. Several months later, she received an email from a Getty attorney, advising her that she has to pay Getty Foundation $1500 in restitution for copy right infringement or risk being taken to court and suffer a higher penalty. All because she innocently copied and pasted a picture. This is a perfect example of not knowing what you don’t know. For as little as $99 a year she could have avoided this unfortunate problem.

4. Know who you are aligning with at all times. Regardless if it is a subcontractor that you are hiring or a referral partner that you are connecting with a valuable relationship in your data base. This is where we are so quick to just jump in to make a connection, or solve a problem or a void. Bottom line is anyone can talk the talk and with today’s technology anyone can make themselves look like all that and a bag of chips. If you are hiring a subcontractor for services make sure you do your due diligence in checking them out. Don’t just look online. With today’s technology it is really easy to create your own kudos. Make sure you ask for references and check them out.

I have a quick story for you. I know someone that invested a little over $15,000 with a social media expert to take her business to the next level. This expert promised phones ringing off the hook and an exponential windfall of new clients, etc… you get the idea. Well this prospect took it all for lock, stock and barrel. She took it all for face value, even took all this experts testimonials from the expert themselves and never checked out one raving client. Months of this campaign went by and not one phone call, not one prospect and not one new client. When this business owner started questioning the social media expert, she was told it takes time, it will happen. Then more months went by and more questioning and finally the social media expert showed her report after report of tens and hundreds of thousands of “click throughs” and started blaming her client that she wasn’t converting leads and that wasn’t the fault of the social media campaign. Well that would have been fine if there were every any phone calls to “not convert, but sadly this was not the case. She started doing due diligence, yes after the fact, after she was out $15,000. She started asking people for recommendations to social media experts and hired them to tell her what was wrong. Well her platform was developed on 10 year old technology so Google would never see her and all her campaigns were being “clicked through” in Russia and the Ukraine. Did I mention she was a local business with a very specific local target market?

This is a very painful lesson of not knowing what you don’t know. Do yourself a favor, when you are bring other people into your business, whether it is a vendor, a partner, or a referral partner do you due diligence. Get to know them, like them and trust them and by all means check them out.

5. Understanding that people don’t get us. Entrepreneurs, Sales People and Small Business Owners are a different breed. Let’s face it, being an entrepreneur, sales person or small business owner is hard. Truth be told, if it was easy everybody would do it because the upside is phenomenal. But in reality is it is hard mentally, physically and emotionally. At times, fear, doubt anxiety and the feeling of being all alone can easily set in, leaving us to think, “what were we thinking” or “maybe I should just give up or get a job.” Our closest support systems, our family and friends, just don’t understand, unless of course they are an entrepreneur, sales person or small business owner themselves. In their eyes, they don’t understand the hours we work, why we can’t just up and leave at a moment’s notice (while we are in ramp up mode) and worse yet we think we are constantly risking humiliation and embarrassment of failure. It’s important to remember, if they don’t have the entrepreneurial spirit, if they believe getting a pay check; which there is nothing wrong with because that is a better suited environment for non-risk takers, they have a harder time understanding why you are doing what you are doing. Remember their story is their story and that is just perfect for them, live your own story and live it full out.

6. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know.” This is such an imprinted behavior from childhood. Most people go back to how it felt in class to not know an answer. Or when they got in trouble and their parents asked, “why did you do this?” and you sheepishly answered, “I don’t know.” Things got pretty heated after that and believe it or not, that imprinted on you and you carried it into your adult life and your professional life. In most cases, when an entrepreneur, small business owner or sales person doesn’t know the answer, they will talk in circles to make it sound like they do and say a whole lot of nothing. Or worse yet, it is an answer they are seeking for themselves and will waste endless hours searching to no avail and will be far too stubborn to take the next obvious step. By now I am sure you are laughing or at least smirking and snickering, because you have either seen this done or have done it yourself in the past. It’s ok to say you don’t know. This is an embedded fear that is easily shifted. It’s ok to let the person you are talking with know that you will have to find out and get back to them. Trust me when I tell you, this will earn you so much respect. The person will see you as an even greater professional than they had already. Since we are on the subject, let’s discuss the next fear this could create. If you venture off seeking the answer and whether for you or someone else and you can’t find it. It is really ok to ask for help. So many attach pride and ego to reaching out to someone else for help. Trust me, it is ok and most will graciously help you. By asking someone else for information or help it will get you your much need answers quicker, build and cultivate an even stronger bond and relationship and allow you to remove pride and ego and be a lot more authentic which ultimate makes it easier for people to connect and relate to you. How awesome is that.

7. I am going to make a very bold statement that applies to you don’t know what you don’t know. There is NO self-made millionaire. There I said albeit, very boldly too I might add. No matter what your venture is and no matter how short or long it has taken you to get there. It is very important to always remember you were not alone. You had loved ones, friends and family who supported you as best they could, in their own way, continually throughout your journey. You had trainers, mentors and in some cases advisors and coaches by your side almost every step. Some of you had employees or coworkers. Some of you suppliers and subcontractors. And in other cases some of you had factories and other companies supporting you behind the scenes. No matter what you did, you were never alone. Because small business owners, entrepreneurs and sales people rely very heavily on word of mouth marketing, they achieved levels of success due to relationships, introductions, referrals and collaborating, masterminding and connections. No matter what the self-proclaimed self-made millionaire thinks, they would have never gotten to where they were without their customers hence, they did not do it alone. So, no matter how alone you may feel at any given time. Every step of the way, you never were.

8. Do what you do best and hire the rest. Align yourself with a strong professional team. Very few of us went to law school, or studied to be an accountant, or passed the Bar or CPA exam, or became a QuickBooks pro advisor, unless of course you did and I know there are a few of you who are listening that have and now have different careers. These are areas that you truly don’t know what you don’t know and you really need to know.

If you are entering into a partnership or if there could be levels of liability in your product service or solutions you want to take advantage of the protections that are afforded to you if you set yourself up right from the get go. Or what about having the advantage of leveraging the tax laws to the fullest extent, or understanding what pitfalls lie ahead. Having the luxury of understanding the benefits of key man insurance and how you can protect yourself just in case. Having your books set up right, so that you can always forecast money coming and money going out. At all times you can navigate your business wisely. These are only a mention of a few areas. But because you don’t know what you don’t in these areas and professionals do, you want to make sure you have a strong attorney, CPA, bookkeeper and tax preparer on your side or at the very minimum at least consulted with them for advice so you can make changes to certain aspects.

9. If you treat it like a business it will pay you like a business and if you treat it like a hobby it will cost you like a hobby. Do you have a business plan, I mean a real plan that outlines the problems your business is going to solve and how, the solutions and benefits of your product service and solutions, industry and market analysis, analysis of the competition and your product, service or solutions sustainable advantage, very specific target markets and your marketing and sales strategy, does it outline the who’s who of the business (the executive team and what they bring to the table), financial projections and projected income forecasts, and even in some cases an exit strategy. Some of you may be saying, “um this doesn’t apply to me, I’m a sales rep in another business.” Guess what, if you want to experience a level of success, you will want a plan at some level. Maybe a smaller scaled version, but a still a plan. How can you possibly take action on something that is in your head, something that you have no accountability, no vision towards? Just a ready, shoot, aim approach; which if you were wandering rarely works.

Separate accounts, do not co-mingle funds. This is a business, run it as such. Have separate bank account for your business and personal. Pay yourself based on your performance and if you want to really stretch yourself, pay yourself before you pay your bills. It will make you work even harder to produce even more so that your bills will get paid too.

10. This was probably my biggest epiphany on my journey towards success. You have heard me say time and time again, what you feed grows and what you starve dies. There came a time that I realized that every time I went to a seminar, training, or a workshop and every time a hired a coach, the money I invested came back to me tenfold. I mean it was that crazy. I committed to $1,000 training, I went, I learned, I applied the knowledge that was given to me (even if I had heard it before and it was a good reminder) and BAM next thing I know my business grew by $5000-$10,000 more. So I would do it again, yes even in the beginning when I didn’t have the money. We are entrepreneurs, sales people, small business owners our most reliable muscle should be the one between our ears, and I can promise you I am not talking about your mouth. I am referring to your brain, and it really should be flexed and exercised more than it is. If you have convinced yourself you don’t have the money then you have done you, your family, your bank account and your business a huge injustice. Where there is a will there is always a way. I will tell you I now invest 10s of thousands of dollars every year on my development because I know what it will give me back in return. I get so excited when I write the check for training because I know what it is going to make me. If I could leave you with one huge word of advice, do your due diligence. Make sure you aren’t taking advice from someone who is financially challenged themselves, because let’s get honest here. All you will learn is how to stay broke and do what probably doesn’t work. Make sure they are a true expert in their field and not self-proclaimed. I have been coaching for quite some time, and have over 10 credentials and hundreds of successful happy clients and testimonials who would talk to anyone about working with me. I don’t tell you this to impress you I tell you this to impress upon you, make sure you know who your advice is coming from.

Stacey O’Byrne

CEO, Pivot Point Advantage

Originally posted June 15, 2015

Comments are currently closed.