Beware: What You Know About Business Might Fail You

Have you heard something similar to this: “I have 20 years of experience and I know exactly that people can succeed because of [fill in the blank]” I know I’ve heard that. Often. And I know I’ve heard that – from myself. Beware: What you know about business for all this time might hinder you from embracing changes, which eventually will fail you somehow.

business knowledge

I often use my 9 years of entrepreneurial experience, including 5 years of online entrepreneurial experience as a selling point. And I know that such pitches are great in elevators… “Well, I have 9 years of entrepreneurial journey, and I KNOW that [fill in the blank] works out quite well, I tell you!”

Your entrepreneurial know-how is golden; it’s your biggest asset, especially when you are dealing with specialised, highly technical stuffs, ranging from building a green home to building mobile apps. However, when your know-how is on how to get a business going, you need to be aware that your know-how is no longer an asset; your continuous development is.

That’s right – we often learn from our own success. Disguising as “best practices,” perhaps it could work; but from my very own experience, I learn that learning from my success, along with the fact that I love telling others about how exactly I do it and insisting others that how I do it is the best practice, can back fire. I know – I’ve been there.


Well, if you are doing what I am doing – running an online business and making money online – this month’s trends might make last month’s obsolete: What I did right last month might no longer work this month. Need examples?

Google algorithm update is the most relevant example. An update – e.g. Google Panda or Penguin update – might render what you have been working on for years obsolete.

But that’s typical, really. I have experienced it before, and unfortunately, I didn’t learn how to avoid things like that to happen in the future.

You see, I was the owner of a dozen of web directories. It was honestly easy money back then. I made 4-digit a month from directories. I felt like I was an expert; I know how to make directories work; I know how to attract clients and grow my directories reputation.

However, in just a couple of months, everything changed. Google – as usual – combating low-quality websites in order to improve their search user experience. Directories are laser-targeted, and yes, naughty kids – including most of mine – have got grounded. My directory business was brought down to the ground in a snap.

And yes, don’t forget my favourite story about my failure in franchising

What you know might be your biggest liability

I learn from my past failures that things were starting to become bad when I start learning from my success. I felt that I know a lot, then I start replicating what’s working. I start learning from my own “best practices.”

But I forgot one thing: As I mentioned above, things changed quickly. I fail to embrace changes. I dismiss the trends, thinking that what I have been doing so far is bullet-proof.

Well, now I can tell that my business is not bullet-proof.

If I want to survive the changes and competition, I need to continuously innovate. In fact, Biz Penguin is built upon the lessons I learned from my recent failures in adapting my websites to changes, most notably Google-initiated changes. I do hope Biz Penguin can adapt well with the future changes.


Your know-how is a double-edged sword: It can help you slash the competition, but it can cut your finger if you are not careful. In fact, your know-how is often your main cause of your inability to take your business to the next level.

Your know-how often hinders you in adapting to change, giving you an impression that your business knowledge will make you successful; well, maybe it can give you that for a while, but for the long term, it’s no longer relevant IF you don’t embrace change.

I am now embracing change. I have to. We all have to. I have realised that my biggest asset is my ability to adapt to change – including overcoming failures; my know-how comes in second.

What you know about business might fail you. Even the pioneers – who have the know-how and actually invent things – failed miserably as they fail to address changes and react on them.

Did you know why Atari failed? It’s due to its inability to response to changes in gaming industry. Did you know why Digg failed? It’s because it failed to continuously innovate, while competitors embrace innovation right from the start.

Continue to grow yourself; continue to innovate for your business. Don’t let yourself tells you lies; telling you that what you know alone can make you success.

Stay humble – because without it you won’t have the drive to continuously improve yourself.

Stay focused, and always prepare for the future – don’t let successes blind you.

Remember this: Knowledge is power, but having power can make you stupid. Beware.

Good luck and Godspeed!