“Iceberg, right ahead!” is the shout Fred Fleet, the lookout for the ill-fated Titanic, is said to have given when he saw the ship’s doom rising from the mist. The reason the Titanic sank is because no one saw the iceberg coming until it was too late to prevent doom; which might be a metaphor for some of the mistakes entrepreneurs are liable to make. You don’t know that something is going to sink your business until it’s too late to avoid it.
These business “icebergs” are problems that are much larger than they actually appear, and if you don’t manage to see them coming, could plunge your business to the depths. However, there are ways of heeding the warning before the point of no return; an opportunity for you to seize the wheel and right your course. Here’s a list of the most common business icebergs; if you suspect these may be lurking in the mist that is the future of your business, it’s time to take back control.
Iceberg! The Entrepreneur Who Can’t Take Advice
No savvy entrepreneur is an island. Successful entrepreneurs understand that they need to surround themselves with good people; lookouts, if you will, who can help identify issues that they cannot. Some entrepreneurs are infamous for firing anyone who disagrees with them, but a good entrepreneur knows that employees should always feel comfortable disagreeing with their boss.
The Lesson: You have to be able to take advice, or your entire company might drift off course before you have even noticed there’s a problem.
Iceberg! The Entrepreneur Who Doesn’t Appreciate Marketing and Promotion
To some entrepreneurs — especially inventors — the necessity of marketing and promoting a business tends to skip by them. They think that they are able to survive on the genius of their product or service alone, quite forgetting that people need to know about that genius if they’re to be able to place an order. An entrepreneur who overlooks the basics of promotion or fails to understand the different types of marketing required is an entrepreneur who will soon find themselves out of their depth.
The Lesson: Marketing and promotion are not to be dismissed by even the most brilliant of companies. No matter how good an idea or a product is, it’s only able to reach its full potential if customers know where to find it.
Iceberg! The Entrepreneur Who Loses Passion
Entrepreneurs tend to be dynamic personalities, who strive on trying to beat the odds and creating new solutions for old problems. When their business begins to take off, some of the thrill of survival begins to dim. Their attention wanders; they fall asleep at their post, no longer scanning the horizon for potential calamity. Some entrepreneurs only focus on starting companies, not continuing them, so if the thrill is gone then these entrepreneurs should recognize it might be time for their departure too.
The Lesson: If you are no longer as passionate about your business as you once were, then selling up and moving on is usually the healthiest course forward.
Take these lessons to heart, and you can be sure that your business will experience nothing but smooth sailing.