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Examples

Here are some possible ways that people pretend not to know something important:

  1. Probably the most common example is a refusal to believe that there are competitors vigorously seining these waters, collecting all your customers in their nets. You may be defining the market too narrowly and pretending not to know that there is a vigorous competitor or two. Ready substitutes are available that offer the key features and benefits. Worse, these substitutes could be offered at aggressive prices with long-term contracts that preempt and ensure domination of the market by your competitors.

  2. An enterprise that can only be a nonprofit organization that is pretending to be a for-profit organization.

  3. Creating a business for sending video via cell phones pretending not to know that the wireless network is not yet capable of managing that kind of traffic. It could be a while before the network has that capability.

  4. Unless you have an ironclad, sustainable uniqueness such as with a patent, another type of pretend is the refusal to acknowledge an obvious ambush. Whatever unsustainable uniqueness you may possess will be obliterated by a bigger, better-established, and better-funded potential perpetrator of an ambush. For those who believe that a new PC operating system would overwhelm the market because of its magnificence, the pretend is that Microsoft would do nothing to thwart it.

  5. Another problem can involve the mistaken belief that a market exists when it does not. Cues include an inability to identify any customer who would buy the products. One example involved a group from Tennessee that in 2001 was attempting to market the intellectual DNA of the architectural drawings of a famous and now-deceased architect. They had a wonderful vision and they were quite passionate about it. However, there was no product evident for which demand could have been created. There was no business, and they were pretending not to know it.

  6. The entrepreneur may not comprehend the dimensions of the integrity and honesty problems. This is a significant issue that is difficult to perceive, and once understood, even more difficult to manage. However, as we have learned from the travails of a great number of sports figures and celebrities, the half-life of a bad image is but a few years, if that.

  7. Sometimes the entrepreneur simply fails to convey the business concept or the uniqueness in a way that is comprehensible by the average investor. He or she may simply not understand it well enough to explain it. I was once involved in just such a case; the scientist was certain she could deliver a new way to multiply bandwidth in a fiber optic line, but she was unable to explain it, and with that the business collapsed. She was pretending not to know that no one could understand what she was saying.


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