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What Don't I Know?

All of us know what we know. We know what we don’t know. But what gives us the most problems are the things we don’t know we don’t know.

We know well the area of knowledge where we are strongest; our specialty, our expertise. This could be finance, marketing, engineering or running a business.

We may have studied the area in school and have a degree in it or we could have worked in it for years. We pretty much know what we know and what we don’t.

Our life experiences give us another base of knowledge. We may be a master gardener, good around the house, capable of handling our finances and taxes, or can fly a plane. Some of these skills and knowledge transfer to the business environment. Again, we know what we are capable of doing andwhere we have limitation; what we don’t know.

In the areas that we know we don’t know well or have limitations, we can call for the assistance of others either to do the work or educated us with the knowledge we need to do it ourselves. Since we know that we don’t know something, we can take action to overcome our limitations.

It’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that really gives us our problems. Think about it. These are surprises. Things we didn’t anticipate and sometimes have to deal with immediately. Here are a few of the things that have surprised CEOs in our groups:

  • The tendency we have after making a decision to avoid or disregard evidence that the decision was the wrong one.

  • The need to reinforce multiple times the training your people receive for it to be effective.

  • The limitation of a 1031 exchange.

  • Getting rid of marginal performers before reducing wages.

  • If you misclassify an independent contractor you will be responsible for all employee related taxes.

  • You can write off an operating loss for a Sub Chapter S Corporation only to the extent of your basis.

  • The Workshare Program is a better alternative than layoffs.

  • There is a direct relationship between a successful sales effort and keeping track of the number of sales calls.

  • A lot of times we are nibbled in negotiations and should be prepared for it.

Sometimes these “Don’t know what I don’t know” areas were identified before they were costly. Other times they were not. But as a CEO/business owner you should be aware they exist and can be dangerous. Action to take:

  1. Take some time to think about the areas where “You don’t know you don’t know”.

  2. Decide which of these areas offers the most opportunity or threat.

  3. Take some action on the most important ones to increase your knowledge.

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