Rule 16a – There are no “Big” Problems

When you are building a startup or trying to launch a business, it’s likely that you have considered some of the major risks and challenges you are likely to face.  The more of these potential roadblocks you can identify ahead of time, the better prepared you will be when you finally come up against some of them.  And you will most certainly come up against some of them.

That said, don’t sit around wringing your hands with worry that some large iceberg is lurking up ahead in the darkness, ready to put a hole in your hull and sink your ship.  As a matter of scientific fact, icebergs don’t form from water in the cold and become massive overnight.  It takes time for them to grow, slowly becoming larger and larger to the point that any vessel that comes near them can no longer break through the ice, instead needing to navigate around the iceberg entirely to  avoid damage.  Similarly, in the world of startups and new business, there are no large icebergs.  Every “Big” problem you may encounter started as something small and manageable.  In other words, be warned: delaying a resolution to the small problems will invariably give them time to become big problems.  And by then, it will be too late for you to do anything about it.

The fact is that if you have an ounce of common sense and a basic understanding of the market or environment in which your business is going to participate, then every already existing “big” problem that could ruin you on its own has already been negated.  Your basic knowledge of your product and your industry, combined with the fact that you have a brain, will keep you from getting anywhere near the already existing big issues that could destroy you.  You will essentially navigate around those issues and still find a path to your destination.  The bigger issue is all of the little problems that your common sense and smarts won’t save you from.  Even worse, these little problems can and will add up quickly and kill you if you ignore them.

Solving one problem is easy, solving 28 at the same time is near impossible.  Having bandwidth issues?  Call your hosting provider.  Having payroll trouble?  Rework the budget.  Having issues securing licensing agreements?  Try approaching it from a different angle.  Office sprinkler system went off, soaking all of your stuff?  Call the building owner and your insurance company.   Easily solvable problems.  All of this happening on the same Tuesday morning because you didn’t make those calls last week?  You’re in trouble.

The point is not to scare you in to thinking that a perfect storm of small problems is going to ruin your company in one swoop.  More realistically, they will come along and hide in plain sight.  Your charge is to solve these little problems as quickly and effectively a possible as soon as they are brought to your attention.  Little icebergs don’t become big icebergs overnight.  It takes time for them to grow.  Problems and challenges are the same way; deal with them while they are small, and they’ll never grow to be big.  But let them grow big, and you’ll be forced to send out an S.O.S. and watch from shore as your company sinks.

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