All posts by Bob Foster

Is Failure Really a Good Thing?

End of TP Roll

When this represents the status of your business, you may want to revisit how well prepared you were to start your business in the first place.

I watched an interview with Richard Branson a short time ago, where he encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs to “screw it—just do it.”

Well, every year over 6 Million would-be entrepreneurs seem to follow Branson’s advice to “screw it—just do it,” … and….

Most of them quickly fail! Continue reading Is Failure Really a Good Thing?

Daylight Saving Time is Costly–and Dangerous!

Clock-on pole

Well, it’s been a few days now since our semi-annual ritual of the “changing of the clocks,” otherwise known as Daylight Saving Time (DST).

Did you finally get that difficult-to-reach clock changed?

How do you feel? The change to DST can affect some people for a full 3 weeks following the changeover (Sleep Medicine Journal– 2009 edition).

How has this change affected your productivity and your business? I’ve been studying the effects of switching time standards on business productivity for some time now, and here are a few of the things I discovered:

  • The economic cost of changing over each year is estimated at $433,982,548. (“Estimating the Economic Loss of Daylight Saving Time for U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas” -2012 study by Chmura Economics & Analytics.)
  • On the job accidents increase in both number and severity on the Monday after DST starts. (Journal of Applied Psychology -2009.)
  • There is a dramatic increase in “Cyberloafing” (surfing the Web when you should be working) on the first Monday after DST starts. (Journal of Applied Psychology -2012 study.)

Based on the above information, it is obvious that changing time standards twice yearly is a detriment to the business community.

Perhaps more startling however, are some facts that indirectly impact the business community, such as:

  • Heart attacks are 3.9% higher than normal the first week after the start of DST. (Sleep Medicine Journal-2012 edition.)
  • There are 8.6% more traffic accidents than normal on the Monday following the start of DST. (New England Journal of Medicine -1996.)
  • The journal Accident Analysis and Prevention calculated that simply staying on DST all year around would save 366 lives from fatal auto and pedestrian accidents. (“Accident Analysis and Prevention” report -2004).

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Apparently Ben Franklin first suggested ways to better utilize daylight in the summer months back in the 18th century—to save candle wax.

Proponents of DST cite energy savings as the main reason for the change, but a study done in Indiana when it went to state-wide DST showed that the switch cost the state of Indiana about $9 million per year in increased energy consumption.

It seems that since the days of using candles for lighting, the world has developed automatic heating and cooling; automatic street and highway lighting; automatic security lighting; and automatic building lighting… all of which are only concerned with temperature, dawn, and dusk—regardless of what our clocks say.

Cash Squeeze

But, if DST got you down this year (remember, it takes some people 3 weeks to adjust to the change), just be comforted in the knowledge that the folks in Washington know better than you do what is best for you.

And what do the folks in Washington care about only 366 additional fatalities each year because of the time change? That’s nothing compared to all the other deaths attributed to accidental causes.

Of course each state can opt out of DST if they want, but Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states to stand up to the Washington bureaucrats so far.

It seems to be the actual “changeover” from one standard to another that creates all the problems. I don’t think it matters much whether it’s standard time, or daylight saving time… well, maybe it does if you are lighting your home with candles.

Some time ago, I did a little research on the subject of “time” and the keeping thereof, and presented it in a blog post. If you have any interest in how we got to where we are today, you can check this out—click here.

What do you think—is changing time standards twice a year a good thing?

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What is an Entrepreneur—Really?

—JUST RELEASED—

 “ENTREPRENEUR!—Can I Be One?”

Entre front DDD

So… you think you want to be an entrepreneur! Well, over 6 million full-time businesses will start up this year, and….

Most of them will quickly fail!!

 

Various reasons are given as to why so many businesses fail each year… the most popular ones being: they were undercapitalized; the business idea was not viable; or that most of these were not “real” businesses to begin with.

These reasons could all be true, but they only emphasize the fact that the new business owners didn’t properly prepare before starting their businesses—they simply weren’t ready to ride the “Entrepreneurial Lion.”

Entrepreneurship is a demanding taskmaster and every business owner and aspiring entrepreneur should know what will be demanded of them when they start their business.

That is why I wrote “ENTREPRENEUR!—Can I Be One? This book will NOT tell you how to start a business—it is intended to help you determine whether or not you should start a business.

So, where do you begin? It takes more than just a good idea to start a business! You need to prepare yourself for the rigors of entrepreneurship, and this book is a good place to start.

ENTREPRENEUR!—Can I Be One?” helps you determine whether you currently have the “right stuff” to be an entrepreneur—and what areas you need  to work on before starting a business.

In this book you’ll discover;

  • The “real” definition of Entrepreneur.
  • Whether entrepreneurs are born—or made.
  • How to handle fear of failure.
  • The Characteristics of an entrepreneur.
  • The “Entrepreneur Test.”
  • Facts about home and Internet Entrepreneurs.
  • The “secret” to being a successful entrepreneur.
  • How to answer the question: Can I be an entrepreneur?

This book is one of my small business Primer Series books, where a primer is defined as any book of elementary principles.

This is a book that should be read by anyone contemplating starting a business, as well as those who are in business and are now wondering why things are not going the way they thought they would.

Unless you purposely intend to be one of the more than 5 million business failures this year, I strongly urge you to better prepare yourself to be an entrepreneur.

ENTREPRENEUR!—Can I Be One?” is a good place to start preparing.

Get more information on this book here, or buy today at Amazon.

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When Is It Time to Call it Quits?

Cat at Window

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever had days like this when your life just wasn’t going quite to plan? Problems with customers, cash flow, employees, vendors, investors, and on and on… it sometimes feels like the whole world is hosing you down.

I’m sure everyone in business has occasionally felt like the poor fellow above… but what if it starts happening on a regular basis?

Obsession and passion are prerequisites for becoming a successful entrepreneur, and so is perseverance—up to a point!

But, if your business is just not performing according to your planning, and you have tried everything you can think of, maybe it’s time to change your plans.

Continue reading When Is It Time to Call it Quits?

Myth of the Mission Statement

Mission Statement

 

Mission Statements… you just gotta have one—right?

Well, if you listen to the strategic planners, experts, and pundits, you will surely believe that without a mission statement your company is doomed.

But, before you get too excited over mission statements, try answering the following questions for either the company you own, or the one you currently work for:

  • Does your company have a mission statement?
  • Do you know, generally, what the major points are—without looking them up?
  • Are all employees well acquainted with your company’s mission statement?
  • Is your mission statement ever referred to, or is it hidden away in some manual?
  • Most important—does your company culture reflect its mission statement?

Here’s the problem as I see it: I have been a CEO or business consultant over many decades and I have seen a lot of mission statements—a few of them even very well written.

But, rarely have I seen a company that had successfully built its culture around its mission statement.

Typically, mission statements are created, and then abandoned. They quickly become obsolete—much like business plans.

Most mission statements are composed of such tired clichés and meaningless words that they are useless almost before the ink dries.

Paragraphs of worn out platitudes will do nothing to either set, or alter, the culture of your company.

What The Experts Say

I recently viewed a website on strategic planning that said a mission statement had to address 9 major components: customers, products, markets, technology, survival, philosophy, self-concept, public image, and employees.

That website went on to say that strategic practitioners and academics all agreed that a mission statement must be comprehensive and include all 9 major components… and that the document could be up to 250 words.

I randomly looked up a couple of these bloated mission statements and it’s hard to believe that anyone would call that meaningless drivel a “mission statement.”

On The Other Hand…

Companies—especially startups—constantly miss a golden opportunity to set a solid foundation for the development of their company culture when they don’t create a meaningful mission statement.

A great mission statement could be the foundation for both the culture of a company and the building of its brand.

Unfortunately, many companies get so enamored with the actual physical creation of a mission statement document they overlook the importance it could play in building the culture they want.

Too many companies end up with a manifesto instead of a mission statement.

I believe a useful mission statement should be short—maybe about 10 words or so… or less. I don’t care if you call it a motto, a goal, a vision statement, or a mission statement—it needs to be read and understood by everyone, and become an integral part of your company’s culture.

A bloated mission statement that few people understand will do more harm than good.

Here are some actual mission statement samples of what I mean about keeping it short and also serve as the foundation for your company culture:

Becton, Dickinson, and company

Mission: “To help all people live healthy lives.”

(As an employee, I could fully understand what this company’s mission is, and why I should do the best job I can to support their culture.)

CVS Pharmacy

Mission: “We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use.”

(As an employee, these words should be my mantra as I do my job. As a customer, it gives me a confident feeling… if the culture manifests the mission.)

The Hershey Company

Mission: “Undisputed Marketplace Leadership.”

(That should be pretty clear to every one—no platitudes or b.s. here—this is something to build a culture around.)

If you’re going to have a mission statement, you need to create one that every employee and every customer can relate to.

Everything an employee does should be in support of your mission statement, because it should be the foundation that supports your culture.

Also, the customer should have every experience be a reflection of your mission statement and be reassured every time they see your mission statement… and they should see it.

So, here’s my parting shot: Try hard to come up with a short, meaningful statement that represents the essence of your company… then build your entire culture around that foundation statement.

If you can’t easily do that… forget a mission statement altogether… it will only look silly (as most of them do) and detract from the culture you hope to build.

Do you have any comments out there about mission statements?… I’d like to hear them.

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The American Dream–Can it Survive?

Business Survival Coverlg - 2015

 

“U.S. Business Data Worst in World—and Getting Worse.”

—Jerry Useem, Editor, Inc magazine – 1996

This was the title of an article written by Jerry Useem 19 years ago!—and the situation did indeed get worse.

Government agencies put most of their business statistical energies into only 17% of all businesses in the U.S. and come up with information that is generally a couple of years old—or older.

The business community is even worse, because they can’t even decide what the definition of a business is, let alone what’s happening to them.

It seems that very few people even care what happens to small businesses as long as new ones are always coming along to replace those that die… hopefully quietly and alone.

That’s why I created a report—Business Survival Reality: The Mystery of Business Births and Deaths in the U.S.—that I update annually.

In this report I try to make some sort of sense out of the lack of information, and the misinformation, published by government agencies, business pundits, and guru economists.

Usually, I release this report in early June, but this year I circulated it among some of my colleagues, and others, to preview and make comments before I released it to the public.

Generally, the response was one of disbelief—no way could the numbers be that high. They didn’t question my approach, just the magnitude of the problem.

If this report holds up under additional scrutiny, it would indicate that Donald Trump was right in one of his speeches when he said the “American Dream is dead.”

If you take the time to download a copy of the report and read it, you will likely be skeptical of the numbers as well—and I welcome any suggestions you might have as to a better approach than the one I took.

On the other hand, if the numbers in this report are anywhere near realistic, our country is throwing away a terrific opportunity to rebuild itself into the great nation it once was— where the “American Dream” was real… and attainable.

Or, we in the business community, in addition to the government, can continue to put our heads in the sand and let our national treasure of entrepreneurs continue to “twist in the wind.”

Download a pdf copy of the report here and then tell me what you think!

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