When you’re learning to drive, your driving instructor will teach you about your blind spot—what one is and how to check for it. You find out on your very first driving lesson that, even when you’re looking for it in the mirror, your blind spot is invisible unless you turn to actively check for it.
Blind spots also exist in the world of business. However, entrepreneurs rarely get the opportunity learn on their first day of operations how to check their blind spots. Most go through the entire lifespan of their business with no understanding of where theirs are because they simply can’t see them, and don’t know they’re there.
What’s a business blind spot?
Until now, just like a blind spot while driving, business blind spots were invisible. Today, it is actually possible to identify, measure and assess them. These blind spots occur either when an individual is so highly motivated for a particular aspect of business, or not motivated enough, creating a blinkered view. This can make it significantly harder to hit the important milestones of venture success—investment, profitability, longevity or a successful business exit.
Certain blind spots have significant correlations with business failure and bankruptcy. In fact, in our 15-year qualitative study and a quantitative study of successful entrepreneurs, strong patterns emerged that linked those who had experienced bankruptcy with specific blind spots in the founder’s motivations.
How can blind spots trip up an entrepreneur?
Being unaware of your blind spots can create roadblocks to venture success. For example, our research found that entrepreneurs with a motivation for shared responsibility—those thrive as part of a team and in collaborative decision making situations—were more likely to experience early stage financial loss.
There could be many reasons for this correlation: entrepreneurs could find themselves spread thin across many tasks and projects rather than delegating, for example. So while being a team player is a key to business, if overplayed it can be a potential pitfall.
How to get wise to your blind spots
So, who teaches an entrepreneur about their blind spots? In many cases, a board member, investor or mentor will advise entrepreneurs to engage a coach—someone who will tell them where to look for their blind spots and what to do about them. After all, blind spots are ‘unknown unknowns’ until you are equipped with the tools to approach them.
It’s important to note that a blind spot isn’t a weakness—and in this research, it’s only a blind spot to venture success. In many other domains, they could be the source of your genius or your success.
Getting the balance right
For example, another blind spot found in the early stages of a venture was structure and planning: entrepreneurs who experienced failure in an early stage venture were found to have had a 24% higher preference for structure than those who had succeeded. In this case, entrepreneurs who had failed were prioritizing structure too highly, so were unable to meet the fast-moving requirements of an early stage business.
Interestingly however, the research also found that founders were more likely to experience a business failure if their preference for structure was too low—suggesting a sweet spot that fits just right for entrepreneurship.
If you have a high preference for planning and structure, this may make you an invaluable asset in a corporate environment and could see you through a highly successful career in roles that require project management and delegation, for example.
Do blind spots indicate failure?
So if you fall in the ‘blind spot’ range for entrepreneurship, does that mean you won’t succeed in business?
Not at all. The way to deal with a blind spot is to be aware of it, embrace it and make sure that you have people in your team who have composite attitudes and motivations—that is, where you have a blind spot, your team member’s motivations fall into the ‘success’ range.
Establishing open dialogue with co-founders, mentors, your board of advisers and early stage team will allow you to be attuned to when your blind spots may be holding you back from venture success.
At the end of the day, you are in the driver’s seat. With work and attention, you are able to dial up or down your own motivations, meaning your blind spots will have less potential to scupper your chance of success.
To find out where your business blind spots are, register for your early access to Fingerprint for Success today!