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Leadership & Business Wisdom

THE INFANT NEW VENTURE

BUSINESS ARE NOT PAID TO REFORM CUSTOMERS.

Above all, the people who are running a new venture need to spend time outside: in the marketplace, with customers, and with their own sales force, looking and listing. The new venture needs to build in systematic practices to remind itself that a “product” or a “service” is defined by the customer, not by the producer. It needs to work continuously on challenging itself in respect to the utility and value that its products or services contribute to customers. The greatest danger for the new venture is to “know better” than the customer what the product or service is or should be, how it should be bought, and what it should be used for. Above all, the new venture needs willingness to see the unexpected success as an opportunity rather than as an affront to its expertise. And it needs to accept that elementary axiom of marketing: Businesses are not paid to reform customers. They are paid to satisfy customers. Lack of market focus is typically a disease of the “neonatal,” the infant new venture. It is the most serious affliction of the new venture in its early stages – and one that can permanently stunt even those that survive.

ACTION POINT: See the unexpected success of a new venture as an opportunity not as a problem.

THE RAPIDLY GROWING NEW VENTURE

THE MORE SUCCESSFUL A NEW VENTURE IS, THE MORE DANGEROUS THE LACK OF FINANCIAL FORESIGHT.

The lack of adequate financial focus and the right financial policies is the greatest threat to the new venture in the next stage of its growth. It is, above all, a threat to the rapidly growing new venture. Suppose that a new venture has successfully launched its product or service and is growing fast. It reports “rapidly” increasing profits” and issues rosy forecasts. The stock market then “discovers” the new venture, especially if it is high-tech or in a field otherwise currently fashionable. Predictions abound that the new venture’s sales will reach a billion dollars within five years.

Eighteen months latter, the new venture collapses. It is suddenly awash in red ink, lays off 180 of its 275 employees, fires the president, or is sold at a bargain price to a big company. The causes are always the same: lack of cash; inability to raise the capital needed for expansion; and loss of control, with expenses, inventories, and receivables in disarray. These three financial afflictions often hit together at the same time. Yet any one of them by itself endangers the health, if not the life, of the new venture. Once this financial crisis has erupted, it can be cured only with great difficulty and considerable suffering.

ACTION POINT: Develop sound financial plans and controls for your new venture. Don’t look at your accounting and finance people as “bean counters.”

“[American ambulance crews] salvaged people we’d never see in Missing, because no one would have tied to bring them to a hospital. Judging someone to be beyond help never crossed the minds of police, firemen, or doctors here.”

ABRAHAM VERGHESE

“Silence in the shell of a city, no baby crying, no car honking, no ambulance shrieking, no lovers moaning, no drunks throwing up in the alley, no lights, nothing but wind and rain and snow in its season and rust and a rattling of open doors and carcass smell. It was a possibility like a brain tumor or a scorpion bite.”

ANNE ROIPHE

“You ever wonder what a Martian might think if he happened to land near an emergency room? He’d see an ambulance whizzing in and everybody running out to meet it, tearing the doors open, grabbing up the stretcher, scurrying along with it. ‘Why,’ he’d say, ‘what a helpful planet, what kind and helpful creatures.’ He’d never guess we’re not always that way; that we had to, oh, put aside our natural selves to do it. ‘What a helpful race of beings,’ a Martian would say. Don’t you think so?”

AUTHOR: ANNE TYLER

“Rita folded her arms around herself and peered up at me. “If you’d asked methree months ago I’d have said you were hitting the bottle too hard. But then Igot stabbed and should have died, but instead a bunch of cops and ambulancepeople showed up because somebody who wasn’t even there sent them on ahead to save my life. If something like that happens to someone like me, you start tohave a little faith in something bigger. I don’t know if I believe in magic or miracles all the time. But I believe in you, Detective Walker. I believe in you.”

C.E. MURPHY

“Dios, she’d never come so hard in her life. How many people died this way? How would he ever explain to the ambulance crews that he’d chained his girlfriend out on the deck and killed her with too many orgasms?”

CHERISE SINCLAIR

“The only times I’m consistent about praying are when I’m on an airplane or when an ambulance goes by.”

CHINA CHOW

“Can you hear me, Todd? There’s an ambulance on its way.” For a moment his eyes opened a little wider, and he seemed to be making an effort to concentrate on the face in front of him. “It’s Maxine,” she said. “Remember me?”

CLIVE BARKER

“If people are constantly falling off a cliff, you could place ambulances under the cliff or build a fence on the top of the cliff. We are placing all too many ambulances under the cliff.”

DENIS PARSONS BURKITT

“Oh, do you think I broke his wrist?” Cecily asked, puzzled, as she wrapped her arms around her chest and stared at the writhing form on the floor.”You might have,” Tate returned in a voice like steel. “But I called the ambulance because I broke several of his ribs.”He didn’t sound sorry, either.”

DIANA PALMER

“I don’t think my wife likes me very much, when I had a heart attack she wrote for an ambulance.”

FRANK CARSON

“I was very, very sick when I was growing up in Russia. The ambulance constantly came to our house. I had horrible asthma that is easily treated in America, but they didn’t even have inhalers back in Russia.”

GARY SHTEYNGART

“We say here that if you fall down in the United States, the ambulance man must feel for your wallet before he feels for your pulse.”

GEORGE GALLOWAY

“Be the Ambulance. Make toast.”

GORDON KORMAN

“I know as I’m taking my dying breath, the ambulance guy will ask me why they cancelled Action.”

ILLEANA DOUGLAS

“He bullied me a little, thinking I was weak just because I was quiet and smart and no one was allowed to touch me. But then I electrified the urinal flusher in the boys’ bathroom at camp, watched him go inside, and then proceeded to laugh my ass off when the ambulance came.”

J.A. HUSS

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