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Where are the weak spots in your business?

By Drew Strojny on October 3, 2013

You might be aware of weak spots in your business, but are you being honest with yourself about them?

When you first start a business, it’s usually just you, or maybe you and a co-founder. You do almost everything: sales, marketing, product development, design, customer service, budgets, hiring, etc.

To have a moderately successful business, you need to be good in at least a few of these areas, but it’s really rare for any person to be great in all of these areas. It’s a common scenario: a developer who builds great software and provides stellar support, but doesn’t know much about marketing. A marketer who knows how to sell and drive business, but really doesn’t understand product development or design.

To be a great business over the long term you need to be great in all of those areas. Otherwise, you’re struggling against your competition with a hand tied behind your back. This is one reason why multiple co-founders with complementary skills can work so well. But, what if you’re a single founder or you have co-founders with similar skills?

Most business owners eventually become somewhat aware of their business weak spots over time. For me, this meant going through two distinct phases.

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Phase 1: Deny and ignore.

First, you ignore weak spots or pretend those specific areas just aren’t that important. I don’t know much about marketing, so I downplay its value and ignore it. I tell myself it’s more important for us to focus on great products. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s your weak spots that are holding your business back.

Phase 2: Recognize weakness and try to do it yourself.

Some time goes goes by (hopefully not too long) and you realize that you really should focus on your weak spots. You did everything yourself when you started your business, so you naturally want to tackle this problem as well. This type of “do it yourself” approach is great for a few reasons:

  1. You learn a little bit about your weak spots and can start to make some small improvements. For example, if you know design is a problem, you read a few good design books. This might lead to some small but impactful changes based on your learning.
  2. You’re educating yourself. You now have a more comprehensive understanding of the fundamental concepts around your weak spots.
  3. You’ll probably run across experts that you could turn to in the future for help. You can use what you’ve already learned to evaluate and validate these experts.

But, you still may have a problem: You aren’t super interested in the subject matter or you may tend to naturally struggle with it. To be fair, this could change when you start learning. You could develop an interest or at least an appreciation of the subject. The trap to watch out for is developing a passive interest, and stopping. You make a few small changes and consider the box checked. You slowly slide back into a somewhat more informed ignore and deny phase. This is really dangerous. You never fully addressed your weak spots and now you’re pretending you did.

Find an expert

One of the benefits of learning more about your weak spots is discovering experts that are really great at something you’re bad at. This is powerful stuff. It’s like Superman finding a new tailor that makes kryptonite blocking suits. On top of that, finding the right expert can actually turn your weak spot into a strength. This can have some dramatic effects on your business. Imagine an airplane struggling along with one engine suddenly getting full power to both engines.

Remember, if you want a sustainable business over the long term, you can’t ignore weak spots forever. Don’t pretend you’ve fully solved a problem when you haven’t. Be humble and have the confidence to turn to an expert for help.

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