I worked with a plumber, Dan, when I was 15 years old. I learned some plumbing, but mostly I ran to his truck for tools and dug ditches…lots of ditches. Dan told me that I was good, but I wasn’t as good as “Speedy” from Big Springs, Texas. Speedy earned this ditch-digging title over all of the other plumber helpers.
One day, the boss bought a mechanical trencher. A trencher required one operator to walk behind it and guide it. Everybody wagered bets. Some on Speedy and the others on the trencher. Speedy was amazing digging a ditch along side the machine who worked at a steady pace. Speedy actually pulled a little ahead, until he had reached about twenty feet. Speedy started to lose steam, and slowly dropped farther and farther behind until the machine had reached the forty foot finish line, first.
This story parallels many situations in our new business economy. Of course, as a CPA/Planner I have seen this scenario in the world of business and in history, e.g., the steam locomotive, blacksmith, and prop-driven passenger aircraft. However, today’s new business economy has injected this phenonemon with steroids. Not only do you have to be ahead of your competition, you have to be ahead of your industry and any verticle industry that may steal your market share.
Take Apple for example. Twenty years ago when they were pushing the Macintosh, who would have guessed that they would now dominate not only the personal computer world with their ipad, but the music delivery system, itunes?
John Mariotti’s article, What’s Your Impossible Dream? tries to inspire business people to think big in whatever they do. He encourages people to do what they are good at, and what they love to do.
CPA/Planners take issue with motivational speakers. They seem to push people downhill but really give no guidance to where they are to go, and how they are to get there. That just won’t work in the new business economy because jobs are increasingly driven overseas, the wealth has been sucked into the top 5% of our population, and governments are being increasingly squeezed and cannot create jobs.
Looking at it from a planning perspective, I recommend Jim Collin’s books, Good to Great and Built to Last. Jim speaks of the three circles: Passion, economic denominator, and best in the world. In other words, do what you are passionate about, do something that can make money, and do something that you can be the best in the world at. The intersection of these circles should be your BHAG (“Big Hairy Audacious Goal”). In addition, keep your plan simple. Jim called it the “hedge hog” concept because the hedgehog was the best of doing just one thing to outsmart a fox.
Of course, as a CPA, I would suggest you quatify the economic aspect of this application.
The new business economy will require you to choose your path very carefully, but with all the elements above. To take the safe road may reduce you to the masses and risk whatever potential you have.
“Far better to date mighty things, to win glorious triumps, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory, not defeat. –Theodore Roosevelt, 1899