About to Start a Startup?
If you’re about to start a startup – or have already done so – you’ll need three types of knowledge:
- Technical Knowledge
- Industry Knowledge
- Business Knowledge
You’ll use technical knowledge to actually provide the product or service. For example, if you’re running a hairdressing salon you need to know how to cut hair properly. If you’re manufacturing electronic devices, you need the knowledge to assemble the circuit boards and test them. Without technical knowledge you’d like a pilot at 20,000 feet without his plane. There’s something essential missing and the result is guaranteed to be unpleasant.
You’ll use industry knowledge to compete successfully in your target niche. You need to know what’s the best equipment to use, who the best suppliers are, what is the expected profit margin, who are the main competitors and much more. Without that kind of knowledge, you’re like a stranger in a foreign land trying to get home but all the signs are indecipherable, your GPS has blown up and everyone is talking gibberish.
You’ll use business knowledge to manage your business. This includes strategic knowledge to steer the business in the right direction, financial knowledge to make sure that money is managed properly and systems knowledge to make sure the business is effective, efficient and is scalable. Without business knowledge you’re like a kid playing in a building site. That dumper truck speeding towards you isn’t one of your toys and it isn’t even going to slow as it leaves its tracks etched into your back.
The technical and industry knowledge you need are specific to the niche you’re going to compete in. Probably the best way to acquired that knowledge is to work for a company in the industry for a while. You could get someone with that experience to join you in your new business venture but it might be hard to get them to leave the security of a paying job for the excitement of working with you.
The 15 Startup Killers
All three types of knowledge are important but I’ll concentrate on the 15 Startup Killers – the areas where a lack of business knowledge could leave your business in ruins. The video below will give you a complete overview of that knowledge. Watch the video and learn about the gaps you need to fill to make sure that your business will succeed.
As you saw in the video you need knowledge in a lot of areas when you’re starting a startup. Does the challenge feel overwhelming? Are you pulling your hair out, running around screaming or looking for someone else to blame? Don’t worry – it’s not as bad as it looks. That’s because the amount of knowledge you need to get started in each of the areas is relatively small.
Your Biggest Threat
The biggest danger is that you’ll avoid some of those areas completely because they look too complicated (or too boring). If that happens you’re probably condemning your business to failure right from the start. That’s why I’m taking a different approach on this site. Instead of masses of information in each area you’ll find:
- Only essential information
- Amusing articles, videos, cartoons and quizzes
- Very little theory
- Practical and relevant suggestions
- Actions you can put into practice right away
This is Level 1
Don’t forget, what you’re learning on this site is the Level 1 working knowledge that you need to get started. In some areas that’s all you’ll need. In other areas you’ll need to build on that knowledge and move to level 2 and upwards as your startup begins to grow. For example, you’ll need to reach level 5 in the marketing area – no matter what your niche.
However, just to be clear, Level 5 means you are an expert in a particular area as it applies to your niche. For example, if you own a cake shop you need to be an expert in marketing cake shops in your local catchment area. You don’t have to be an expert in all aspect of marketing – nobody expects you to mastermind a Superbowl campaign (unless you want to). That’s because, as you move up the levels, the knowledge gets more specialized.
The Working Knowledge Circle
Use the Working Knowledge Circle to review the areas that you need most. You can download it here. If you haven’t started your business yet, you’ll have time to work on each of the areas so you’ll be fully prepared when you start. If you’ve already started you may have to prioritize the areas that’ll give you the best return. In either case, the sooner you get started the better. We’ll be adding to our collection of videos each month.
The Next Video
The next video in the series is on Strategy. That might sound daunting but it’s essential for every startups – particularly for one in your situation. Right now you have the opportunity to create a winning strategy right from the start. That’ll save you enormous amounts of time, money and effort. It will increase the chances that you’re one of the success stories and avoid the horrible fate of most other start-ups (don’t ask!). Make sure you do all the exercises even if your business is already up and running.