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Small Factories Embrace Automation Because They Can’t Find Enough People

Robotic arms on display.

If you look up at the night sky and happen upon some little lights on the move it might be a shooting star. Likely it is not a UFO.

The better bet, of course, is that the lights belong to an airplane. And the odds are very high they come from Astronics Luminescent Systems Inc (LSI).

These ingeniously designed, extra-durable LED exterior lights are made at Astronics LSI’s flagship factory in East Aurora, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. The facility, utterly nondescript from the outside, though a sprawling, bustling workshop inside, employs 300 mostly blue-collar workers.

With its motto of “innovation at 30,000 feet,” Astronics LSI is well-known in the industry for aircraft lighting. It’s also a major supplier of cockpit instrument panels. The company’s hundreds of products are subjected to rigorous quality control measures as dictated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Cockpit lights need to be bright, but not too bright. And they can’t ever suddenly go out.

Image result for small industry big size gif advertisementsDemand is usually sky high with new jet fleets being rolled out regularly. Astronics products are custom-crafted. They are tested and re-tested. Nothing is rushed.

Still, the company is eager to ramp up production. And they would, too. If only they could hire more people.

“It’s been a continual challenge for us,” Astronics CFO David Burney said. “We can’t find enough qualified workers.”

The company needs machinists and engineers and assemblers – careful, not easily distracted people who like working with their hands.

Astronics is not alone.

The National Association of Manufacturers has sounded an alarm, estimating some 2.4 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2028 due to labor shortages.

Somewhere along the line, over the past several generations, high school shop courses fell out of favor as communities steered their youths toward college degrees tied to white-collar work. New forces are at now reshaping the labor market.

Automation, as well as AI technology that takes robotics closer to sci-fi levels, has and will continue to reconfigure work as humans have known it. At risk, it seems, are people who weld, fabricate, mill, join, lathe, wire, cut, hoist, assemble, package and load stuff.

“AI could affect work in virtually every occupational group,” said the Brookings Institute in a new report. And while manufacturing and production workers will be among the most affected, white-collar workers are seen as equally vulnerable.

Most big companies, such as those in the automotive industry, already have become mostly automated; smaller companies, not so much.

Robotic arms have become nimbler, safer and less expensive. It has never made more sense for so-called “SMEs” (small and medium-sized enterprises) to automate.

Image result for small industry big size gif advertisements

Advanced manufacturing has a chance to transform smaller manufacturers like Astronics, and hundreds of others like them in the Western New York region.

Written off by some as a rust-belt relic, Buffalo tried to reinvent itself during the 1980s and ‘90s as more of a white-collar hub. But its blue-collar roots run deep, going back to the early part of the nineteenth century.

The first waves of Irish immigrants, many of whom helped build the Erie Canal, found work unloading grain shipments from eastbound lake freighters hauling barley, wheat and rye across Lake Michigan, by way of the Detroit River, to Buffalo. In the latter part of the 19th century, that task was automated. Grain elevators (buckets fastened to steam-powered conveyor belts) may have displaced some Irishmen (who became “scoopers,” going down into hulls to shovel the corner piles that the buckets couldn’t snag) and, as more Irish (and German and Polish and Jewish and Italian and black Southerners) poured into Buffalo, they found abundant employment. Bethlehem Steel and Curtiss-Wright and GM and Ford plants at one time all ranked among the most productive manufacturing sites on the planet.

By the 1970s, most of the large manufacturers were gone, leaving behind empty, too-massive-to-knock down facilities most of which still stand today like “the ruins of a manufacturing empire,” as one local business leader has said.

In 2014, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, through his Buffalo Billion initiative, opened Buffalo Manufacturing Works. It runs an ambitious nonprofit program to help revitalize the area’s manufacturing base through technology, including robotics and also additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing.

Related imageBuffalo Manufacturing Works (and don’t ever call them “BMW” if only because the German multinational has that trademarked) was born of a vision by state and local leaders to reinvigorate the city’s manufacturing base. Because Buffalo had few, if any, automation consultants and no real robotics industry of which to speak, the state partnered with Columbus, Ohio-based technology innovator EWI.

For more than three decades, EWI has been providing advanced manufacturing support to companies across the rust belt and throughout the country. Expanding on what EWI has done in Ohio, Buffalo Manufacturing Works serves as a central resource for Western New York manufacturers as they tip-toe toward innovation, including automation.

The Buffalo area is still home to more than a dozen large manufacturers, including Moog, Sumitomo Rubber, Fisher-Price/Mattel and Dresser-Rand. Two GM plants still make engines here. And there is a Ford stamping plant.

Tesla’s controversial factory in South Buffalo, originally SolarCity, employs about 300 people making energy storage products for electric cars. Panasonic Corp, which makes solar panels, has about 400 employees. Whether the Tesla-Panasonic partnership creates hundreds more jobs remains to be seen. (Based on the amount of subsidies provided, New York State believes it will).

Despite the dramatic reduction of large manufacturers over the decades, there are roughly 1,600 small- and medium-sized factories based in Western New York (a region also often dubbed Buffalo/Niagara) still making stuff – aircraft lights and radio antennas and countless other items. Mostly we are talking about small parts and components of other products. To stay competitive, these small companies, many of them run like family businesses, will need to invest in the future.

“Only about 20% of the small factories in the Buffalo area have some form of automation,” said Mike Garman, Senior Engineer-Automation, Buffalo Manufacturing Works. “The rest are just starting out down this road. A lot of these companies know they need to automate but putting in a robotic arm? That’s overwhelming to them – they don’t know where to begin.”

If Buffalo is ever to regain past manufacturing glory, the companies calling it home might have no choice but to automate.

“We project more than 20,000 advanced manufacturing job openings in Western New York in the next 10 years,” said Stephen Tucker, President and CEO of the Northland Workforce Training Center, another key player in the region’s advanced manufacturing initiative. The openings owe to an aging workforce and pending retirements, Tucker added.

“[The training center] is working to prepare local residents with 21st century technical skills necessary to fill those jobs,” he said.

Related imageAbout a 15-minute drive north from Astronics’ East Aurora factory is one of Buffalo’s best-known suburbs, Orchard Park, home of the NFL’s Bills.

In a bland corporate complex, not that much more than a Josh Allen deep ball away from New Era Field, is a company called STI-CO. They make mobile radio antenna systems. STI-CO’s customers include law enforcement agencies and the military which need customized covert equipment. The U.S. Department of Defense uses the company’s products to outfit low-profile overseas operations and in natural disasters.

Additionally, STI-CO engineers antenna systems for freight and passenger railroads that communicate critical Positive Train Control data such as how fast a train is moving and if it needs to be remotely controlled to slow down.

“We recognize that we need to automate and have allocated the resources to do it,” said CEO Kyle Swiat, whose late father, Robert Kaiser, a machinist, founded the company in 1967. “But we are involving all of our people in the conversation.”

They’ve added CNC machines and a 3-D printer to speed up processes.

“Our employees are excited about the technologies,” she said. “They want to see the company invest in future growth.”

Today, STI-CO produces hundreds of products and is keen to stay competitive in a global market. That means exploring alternatives, including, eventually, robotics.

She also confirmed the challenge of finding qualified, reliable workers and sees automation as inevitable and a win for her 45 employees.

“This is a family,” she said. “Even if we could automate the whole operation we wouldn’t ever do that because we believe that people still make the difference.”

One of the worst jobs at the STI-CO plant had been the dreaded taping and labeling detail. Each set of antennas come with sets of color-coded wires (like when you hook up a stereo). STI-CO’s process for packaging and marking the wires not only was tedious but woefully inefficient i.e. done in an outdated manner the way they’ve always done it – by hand.

So in something of a baby step into the future, STI-CO, about ten months ago, invested in a computer-enabled system. While not a robot, the creatively engineered set-up was a modern machine that took on the bundling and labeling tasks previously done by humans, freeing up those workers to focus more on quality control.

“When a company looks to automate, the first project should be an easy win,” Garman said.

Simply automating for the sake of automating, without fully thinking it through, creates more headaches, not less, he warns; a robot deployed without a clear problem to solve is just “a hammer in search of nail,” Garman explains. “We always say, ‘start slow, start small and keep it simple’ and then move from there to something more ambitious.”

As far as its first foray into actual robots, STI-CO is still coming up the curve with help from Garman and the team at Buffalo Manufacturing Works, as well as from a host of robotics industry people: advisory professionals; robotic arm distributors; systems integrators and consultants. These firms form a village of advanced manufacturing enablers supporting smaller factories in their efforts to automate more activities.

In the next installment, we’ll take a deeper dive into this robotics ecosystem and the work they are doing to reboot the Buffalo area.

(Part two of this three-part series will run tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 27.)

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I’ve covered Wall Street for nearly 25 years, focused mainly on asset management, working for publications such as ABCNews.com, Trader Monthly and Institutional Investor. Lately, writing as a freelancer, I’ve been focusing on machine learning and automation. I am also the author of three nonfiction books, including “The Day Donny Herbert Woke Up,” currently being adapted into a motion picture. I do NOT have a podcast.

Source: Small Factories Embrace Automation – Because They Can’t Find Enough People

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5 Ways You Can Recession-Proof Your Business That Go Beyond Simply Saving Money

The economic outlook at any point in time can cause confusion. Is the market bullish or bearish? What if Wall Street is happy but wages aren’t keeping pace and thus customers are tightening their belts?

One thing we can say for sure is that traditional markers of economic growth and stability show the U.S. economy is improving. Hiring is up, and unemployment is down. California just posted it’s lowest unemployment numbers in more than four decades. However, there are always doubts about the economy when debt is high and many people have little extra spending money.

What are some unconventional but beneficial moves for small businesses to make in this economic climate, then? Here are a few options.

Invest in upgrades now, not later.

Typical posts about recession-proofing your business would have you save up and hunker down for the inevitable economic downturn. While saving up is always a good thing, sometimes the best strategy to meet economic uncertainty is to grow before it arrives. Growth requires facilities sufficient to sustain increased demand. Consequently, now’s a great time for your business to invest in better equipment and facility upgrades.

Make sure you line up funding before you begin a facility overhaul or equipment buying spree, however. Start shopping around now for the best funding options. Explore bank loans, lines of credit, or other kinds of financing from different sources so you can find the most competitive terms available to you.

The types of financing available to small-business owners are increasing these days. Financial and risk-management technologies are making the extension of business credit in the form of loans or revolving lines of credit more attractive for lenders. That means you’ll have an easier time securing financing now than, say, later on, if the economy takes a turn for the worse.

Add mobile payment options.

How easy do you make it for your customers to make purchases? According to a recent Bank of America report, 46 percent of small businesses were equipped to take digital payments in 2018, a substantial increase from 36 percent in 2017.

Expanding your customer base and making it easier for those customers to make purchases is one of the soundest investments you can make in your business. Leaning into digital payment technology isn’t something that’s usually at the top of the list for most companies when times are lean. With a healthier economy right now, make sure you’re keeping up with the technological times and helping your mobile customers give you their business.

Attract top talent.

If you want your business to dominate your industry or even just a slice of it, you’ll need the best possible people on your team. Figure out ways to court the best workers in their fields for open positions.

A key strategy for accomplishing this goal is to examine what your industry leaders do. What kind of compensation packages are they offering? Where do they recruit? Do they offer college internships, and are they paid or unpaid? Adopt and adapt their tactics to suit your own business.

Plan to expand.

The crash of 2008 put a lot of business plans on hold. While the economy has certainly improved, that sense of pressure and crisis is hard to shake off. And many companies have shied away from significant investments.

Therefore, an unconventional tactic may be to dust off those expansion plans. Be careful, though. Evaluate your revenue and cash-flow projections to make sure your future earnings warrant such a move. If so, then proceed with those plans if the expansion still makes sense for your business. However, remember that goals you set years ago may not necessarily fit your business today.

Attack your debt, and build up reserves.

Pay down both personal and business debt where you can. High levels of credit card debt can rack up thousands, especially with interest rates in the double digits. If you have college student loans, pay those down as well.

Also, aggressively add more to personal savings and build up cash reserves for your business. Extra cash on hand will come in handy during a downturn.

Get a professional opinion and advice about other smart money moves. Hiring a personal or business financial planner is a savvy investment. In addition, expand your own knowledge in other ways. Read books on the economy and financial planning, take a course at your local college or online, and spend more time keeping up with financial developments through news sites and financial blogs.

Finally, set realistic yet challenging financial goals, both for yourself and your business. Goals that feel like a bit of a stretch are usually the ones that keep us fired up and motivated. Write down your goals and then figure out how you can achieve them within a realistic time frame.

By John Boitnott Journalist and digital consultant

Source: 5 Ways You Can Recession-Proof Your Business That Go Beyond Simply Saving Money | Inc.com

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This Scientist and Entrepreneur Proves You Don’t Need to Study Business to Succeed in It

Owning and running a company is no small task. It’s a difficult, stressful, never-ending process that actually gets more complex as you find success. It’s hard enough for people who specifically studied business in school. And for those who didn’t study business, the challenge is even more daunting. When so many former business students fail, it must frequently feel overwhelming for students of other disciplines.

YPO member Yi Li isn’t afraid of a challenge. A lifelong lover of science, she braved a new country and different culture when she left China to pursue her PhD in physics on a full scholarship at Louisiana State University. As she studied energy storage, battery technology and management, and charge control, she realized she had the makings of a great alternative energy company.

Li wasn’t hindered by her lack of business experience–in fact, she started her solar power company in her apartment while she was still a student. Today, Li is the president and CEO of Renogy Solar, which manufactures and sells a wide range of solar-powered products. Renogy was certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. The company has also won several bronze- and gold-level awards from the Golden Bridge Awards, and was included on the Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Company list released by the Women Presidents’ Organization.

On an episode of my podcast 10 Minute Tips from the Top, Li shared her advice to non-business people starting a company:

1. Don’t be intimidated

Li didn’t have a business background, but she didn’t let that stop her from founding her own company. “I didn’t have any background or experience or education about running a business, or even financial experience or knowledge. I’d never thought about those difficulties,” she recalls. When she began, it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing. “I definitely went through a lot of difficulties and challenges, but every time I saw challenges, I thought about my passion. I thought about my purpose.

If that’s my goal, forget about how I feel how difficult it is. Just try to find a solution,” she asserts. Li is also not afraid to admit what she doesn’t know. “If I see I lack knowledge [in a particular area], I’ll get a book or take online classes. I’m really a self-learner, so I learned all that stuff by myself,” she explains. Don’t let your own self-doubt get in the way of pursuing something great.

2. Don’t feel compelled to follow all the rules

While she acknowledges the difficulties inherent in starting a company without a business background, Li also believes there may be some benefit in not being tied to one philosophy. “You need to think outside the box,” she argues. “Don’t follow too many old-school type, book, education principles. Even if it’s a lot of good experience, it may not apply to you.” She encourages entrepreneurs to find their own path. “You can learn, but try to develop something that is unique to you,” she says.

Li believes she has a good example in Jack Ma of Alibaba. “He didn’t have all the necessary professional skills when he started the business–he was a teacher,” Li explains. “When he started the business, not everybody believed his dream. But he ignored all of the voices. If he decided to do something, he was very, very determined.” Ma and Li aren’t afraid to follow their instincts.

3. Be frugal

Li is very blunt about this: “You need to run a business frugally,” she emphasizes. The challenge, of course, is that talent can be expensive. Thankfully, she’s found a way to compensate for that. “My employees truly believe in what we’re doing,” she beams. “We’re still a startup, and we’re not paying as high compared to a lot of Fortune 500 companies,” she admits, but her company is about more than dollars and cents.

“I look for people who truly want to develop themselves, because they’re not here just for the paycheck. We instill a passion and a dream into our employees’ minds. That’s how I recruit people.”

4. Believe in it

Do what you love! It’s exactly what led Li down the path from science to entrepreneurship. “I truly want to be a scientist. I really love physics. What I studied was superconductivity and semiconductor materials. And one of my projects was related to alternative energy studies. So there I saw my passion taking form,” she fondly recalls. Whatever your calling, follow what brings you joy. “I truly believe you have to be a passionate person and do what you truly want to do,” Li states.

It doesn’t mean it will be easy. She explains, “You cannot just do this for money. You have to do this for love. Otherwise, you cannot deal with all of the obstacles you’ll face.” For Li, her mission is clear: “I really think a sustainable future is something we should all work for and fight for,” she says. Wherever your passion lies, pursue happiness.

On Fridays, Kevin explores industry trends, professional development, best practices, and other leadership topics with CEOs from around the world.

By Kevin DaumInc. 500 entrepreneur and best-selling author

Source: This Scientist and Entrepreneur Proves You Don’t Need to Study Business to Succeed in It

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How Your Small Business Can Maximize Profit & Minimize Loss With a Financial Plan

As one of the most essential aspects of a business proposal, the financial plan utilizes current financial data to project long-term profits and losses for your company. As a business owner, having a strong financial plan helps you identify potential issues and discrepancies while it’s still early enough to make changes. Having a good financial plan handy also improves your odds of securing funding from banks and other investors by showing you’ve done your due diligence.

Still, first-time entrepreneurs often struggle to create these all-important documents.

Below are five components every financial plan should have, along with suggestions for collecting the necessary data to plan your business’ future.

1. Income statements

Income statements reveal revenue, expenses and profits over a given period of time. Start by making a list of all the costs and expenses associated with running your business. This may include raw materials, suppliers, employee salaries and rent costs. Then record your revenue, which is the money you receive in exchange for providing goods and services. By subtracting your expenses from total revenue, you can determine whether your company can expect to make a profit or suffer a loss.

This information is crucial not only for planning purposes, but it can also help draw potential investors to your business.

While income statements for existing businesses convey data from the past one or two years, startups must instead forecast this information based on their research. When drafting your company’s first income statements, you may need to project profits and losses using information from similar businesses in the area. The goal is to determine if your company can support itself moving forward and make budgetary changes as needed.

2. Cash flow

Cash flow projections estimate the amount of money that will be entering and exiting the business on a regular basis. Determining net cash flow requires simply subtracting cash outflow from cash inflow, which reveals only those funds that are actually available at a given time.

Just as with your income statement projections, you’ll have to create a plan of how you expect your cash to flow based on rational observations, predictions and your own research. Again, while it seems frustrating, compiling a schedule of when cash comes in and out can give you (and investors) insight into how much cash you’ll actually have available to operate your business.

By keeping accurate cash flow statements as your business matures, you can identify problem areas before they grow too large to contain. For instance, if your projections suggest you need more immediate cash, you can try strategies to help bring it in, such as turning over inventory more quickly or reducing the length of your billing cycle. However you use it, a cash flow’s primary functions are to assess your company’s financial health and help you make business-development decisions moving forward.

Another thing to keep in mind: When calculating your cash flow projection, you won’t be able to use any revenue amounts from unpaid invoices. The reason? That revenue hasn’t been collected yet and thus isn’t available to go in or out. Yes, you may be able to declare the money from unpaid invoices in your revenue projections, but not as cash on hand.

3. Balance sheet

balance sheet provides a snapshot of a company’s assetsliabilities and equity at a given time. As its name implies, a balance is struck between a company’s assets, which equal its liability added to the value of its equity.

First, take time to list all assets, including accounts receivable, savings, inventory and equipment. Next, you should detail all liabilities, such as accounts payable, loan payments and credit card balances. Lastly, you can add up the company’s equity, which may take the form of owner equity, investor shares and earnings from stocks. When you’re finished, check to make sure that the total value of assets equals that of your liabilities plus your equity.

As you may expect, your balance sheet can have a significant effect on your business’ ability to secure the funding it needs to get off the ground. Learn more about how to create a detailed balance sheet to track your startup’s liabilities and equity.

4. Break-even analysis

It’s no secret that startups rarely turn a profit at the onset. If and when your business does cross the threshold from red to black, it will have crossed the break-even point. The break-even point occurs when the expenses of running your business equal the revenue from your products and services. To increase your odds of reaching that crucial turning point, take the time to create a break-even analysis as part of your financial plan.

Along with your company’s fixed and variable costs, the document should include projected prices and account for the value of inflation. Not only does a break-even analysis show potential investors that your company has the potential to succeed, but it also enables you to make better decisions regarding resource allocation. If your break-even point is too high, you may want to consider ways to reduce your cost of business. This might include shopping for new suppliers, increasing prices or even temporarily working out of your home.

5. Financing schedule

Most of us can’t launch a new business entirely on our own. Because loans are an unfortunate fact of life in the startup world, every business plan should include a loan summary and financing schedule. Take note of the types of loans incurred, including interest rates and expected terms as well as securities information. After all, potential lenders want to know that you have a solid plan to pay off existing debts before investing more money in your business venture.

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, then you’ve probably heard the bleak statistics. According to one report, as many as eight in 10 startups fail in the first 18 months. To give your business a fighting chance, you need to have a strong financial plan in place before you launch.

By: April Maguire

Source: How your small business can maximize profit & minimize loss with a financial plan

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In this video, Kelly discusses how to maximize profits in business in just three simple steps. By taking advantage of what resources you already have within your company, you can maximize profits and grow your business. Your company can figure out how to improve sales by analyzing what your business is doing so already…and what your business is not doing. By putting these steps into action, you can figure out how to attract customers and increase profits Ask yourself: • When was the last time you last raised profits within your business? Are you getting what you want? • Is your business selling the right kinds of stock including individual packages, group packages, etc. for your services? If not, these kinds of products would bring in money that your company is not seeing already. • Are you engaging with previous customers? If not, these customers are just as important to figure out how to attract customers to your business. Want a quick overview of topics? Check out the time stamps below: 00:49 – Charge what you’re worth to grow your business 1:42 – When was the last time you raised your rates? 2:08 – Consider having reoccurring revenue to maximize profits 2:40 – Fortune is in the follow up! Make it your business growth strategy Learn how to improve your outlook on money but also create more income within your business. Not only will you learn to improve your vision of money but rethink your ideas so you can create new ones. ======================================================== THANK YOU for taking the time to watch these videos!! If you like what you’re watching, comment below to start a conversation! =================================================== To learn more about our program that teaches you how to build and scale your business to create more freedom go to: http://www.KellyRoachCoaching.com/yes ======================================================== Visit the Kelly Roach Coaching online store for products and programs to help you grow your business! http://www.kellyroachcoaching.com/shop ======================================================== **Click Below to SUBSCRIBE for More Videos** https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwyA… ======================================================== Kelly Roach Business Growth Strategist, Rapid Business Growth Coach, Author, Host of Unstoppable Success Radio http://www.KellyRoachCoaching.com ======================================================== Join the conversation: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kellyroachint… Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kellyroachint YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/kellyroach ====================================================== To learn more about how to grow your business and how to increase sales, watch Kelly’s “How to improve your Money Mindset” video at https://youtu.be/1mo_Fvrgpw4

 

These Married Co-Founders Poured Their Life Savings Into Their Company. Then a Mistake Almost Cost Them Everything

In 2017 Farzan Dehmoubed, a marketer, and his wife Jennifer, a schoolteacher, created the Lotus Trolley Bag, a set of washable bags with attached rods that can be hung inside a shopping cart. The bags, with features like secure pockets for egg cartons and wine bottles and an insulated pocket for frozen foods, quickly became the top-selling reusable bag on Amazon, and are now sold in stores like Wegman’s, Albertson’s, Kroger, and TJ Maxx. But getting to that point required overcoming a mishap that nearly sunk their startup. –As told to Kevin J. Ryan

We invested $45,000 into our first inventory. It sold out in 10 days. We were really excited. We called up our manufacturer and placed another order. We wired them $50,000–everything we made on the first batch and more.

Six weeks later a big container arrived. We had our friends and family help us unload it. We opened up the boxes and looked at the product, and it was nothing like the first set of bags. It looked the same from a distance, but when you actually looked at the stitching and the quality of the printing and the logo, it was not what we had ordered. My wife and I looked at each other and said, “This can’t be real.”

I remember thinking to myself, ‘We can fix this, maybe it’s just some loose thread.’ But it wasn’t salvageable. We placed a complaint with the manufacturer, even though we knew it wouldn’t go anywhere, since we were just a family business with very little leverage. We later learned it had outsourced the order to save pennies on the dollar.

We decided pretty quickly we couldn’t sell the bags. We didn’t feel comfortable putting our name on them. That meant we would have to take the $50,000 loss. I don’t think Jenn and I talked for the rest of the day. It took a day or two to absorb the shock. 

Even though the manufacturer promised us they would do better the next time around, we weren’t going to be fooled twice. I flew to multiple manufacturers in Vietnam until we found a new one we were happy with. We hired a third-party quality check company. When the goods were ready to ship, they would go in and do an audit: open up each box and check them, and send us videos. We kicked ourselves for not doing that in the first place.

We placed a new $50,000 order, which required emptying our life savings and practically maxing out our credit cards. It was two months before the new inventory came. We were pretty upfront with our customers during that time. We told them very frankly: The bags didn’t come out the way we ordered them, the shipment is going to be delayed, and we really thank you for your patience.

I think letting your customers know you’re just like them, and that you’re just trying to provide a product that they’ll be happy with, goes a long way. People related to us. They were very understanding.

We still had a lot of orders canceled though, and we gave discounts to customers who had been patient. We were nervous when the new container came–if the product was bad, we would have lost everything. But it was exactly what we’d ordered. We sold out almost right away. Because of the discounts, we didn’t make much money at all on that order, but we had our reputation.

Not putting that product on the market was one of the best decisions we ever made. If we had, I can guarantee you we wouldn’t be where we are right now. It would have killed our reviews. It would have ruined our brand.

We now have a 4.6-star rating on Amazon with more than 700 five-star reviews. We’re on pace for $3 million in sales this year. We just launched our second product, a reusable produce bag, and those same early consumers are buying it.

As a business owner, you have to make your decisions for the long-term. For us to take that financial hit was scary, but we had bigger goals in mind. We got through it. And we made a lot of loyal fans in the process.

By Kevin J. RyanStaff writer, Inc.

Source: These Married Co-Founders Poured Their Life Savings Into Their Company. Then a Mistake Almost Cost Them Everything

7.98K subscribers
Every business has risk associated with it. In this video Mr. Ashok Ajmera in very simple words talks about various kind of risks and how to manage them which can be very useful in any business.

How to Show Your Customers That Small Business Saturday Isn’t the Only Time to Shop Local

Who has time to shop small?

I’m the president of a company, a wife, a mother, and an active member of my community. I get stressed out just thinking about the commitment it takes to go to stores in my small town and shop. Truth be told, I don’t have time to do much purchasing that can’t happen on a flight or after I’ve put the kids to bed — even for groceries. If that’s the case for me, I know that it’s the same deal for your potential customers. That’s why, as business owners, it’s important to educate the community about shopping local.

I live in Sonoma County, where the Kincade fire recently devastated the region. Local businesses have been hit especially hard by the fires themselves and by PG&E power outages. The last time I was at the grocery store, it occurred to me that I shouldn’t be buying strawberries from seven states away or a different country. I need to put my money where my mouth is and shop local businesses. I love farmers’ markets, but struggle to make time to get there. I still have to buy groceries, so I’ve switched from my nearby Safeway to a store that sources food only from within Sonoma County called Oliver’s Market.

That’s just one way that I’ve found that I can give a boost to small businesses without going out of my way. In honor of Small Business Saturday, here are others ideas for how to help your area entrepreneurs this holiday season.

Challenge customers to eat local for Thanksgiving and other meals.

I already talked about how I’m doing this every day, but even confirmed local diners sometimes find it challenging for the big events.Your job is to convince your customers that it’s worth the effort.

Do you have a cracker company that would be perfect for a celebratory cheese plate? Consider partnering with a local dairy to get the word out. Whether you’re a turkey farm, are smoking up the best hams in town, or have a small business selling tamales to add variety to shoppers’ holiday tables, your community needs your flavors right now.

Dessert is easy. There are plenty of people looking for local bakeries ready to fill up a flaky crust with pecans or chocolate cream. Being mindful of where your food comes from isn’t just good for local business people, either. It’s better for the environment (bye-bye food miles) and is likely to be healthier, too.

Buy from small businesses on Amazon.

Most of us think of Amazon as the big, bad brother. I mean, it’s been accused of being a monopoly. You can’t get any further away from being a small business. But in reality, there’s more to it than that.

Amazon Sellers are small-business people. They are just using the biggest platform they can to get their products to the masses and I respect that. One user I know is Crystal Swain-Bates, whose excellent line of children’s books ensure black children are highlighted throughout stories. Goldest Karat Publishing made her an Amazon featured seller. For the holidays, I especially love Amazon Handmade, a community just for artisans to sell their handcrafted wares.

But I promise this isn’t just an ad for Amazon. I also love Etsy. You can search it by location so you can specifically choose gifts made by someone in your community. I’m always surprised by all the cool handiwork my neighbors are presenting.

Make time to go analog.

Yes, I know I said I’m too busy to shop downtown, but I can make an exception a few times a year. Heading to Main Street has many advantages. If your business is brick-and-mortar, congratulations. If not, it might be high time to get involved in a holiday market or two.

Connect with real, live people with whom you can have lasting relationships for years to come. As you get to know their likes and dislikes, you’ll help them learn to shop smarter — and with you.

Look at your own company.

OK, you’re not buying your business a Christmas present, but when it comes to shopping for yourself and your team’s daily needs, you can keep small and local in mind. For example, at my company, we use a local business for many of our printing needs. It’s harder than going to Office Depot, but well worth it. In our Houston division, we just moved offices, and we’ve made it a point to work with local designers to get everything on point.

Whether it’s candies or technology, we try to shop among the people who need us most. In my experience, that’s how you find the best gifts of all, just shop small.

By Elizabeth GorePresident and chairwoman, HelloAlice.com

Source: How to Show Your Customers That Small Business Saturday Isn’t the Only Time to Shop Local

Script: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. Absolutely crucial. Vital. They make it unique and they make you happy to live where you live. It brings a little flair to the towns that we have. On November 26th, you can make a huge impact by shopping small on Small Business Saturday. One purchase. One purchase is all it takes. Pledge to shop small on Small Business Saturday. It will help support your community. And that is a big deal. It’s pretty big. So, pick your favorite local business and join the movement. I pledge to shop small: at Big Top Candy Shop; at Juno Baby Store; Allen’s Boots; Sammy’s Camera. You don’t have to buy the whole store. Make the pledge to shop small. Pleeeease. On Small Business Saturday. [SHOP SMALL] [SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY – NOV. 26] [American Express – founding partner]

Key Points To Consider When Developing An International Business Strategy

Let us take a minute to salute the international companies, those that have gone multi-market or are on that path. They deserve our applause and respect. When I led market entry programs , I observed that these international firms tended to outperform the purely domestic firms, but for a reason you might not expect.

Companies that were operating in many markets tended to do better than those that had a presence only in their home market, but this had more to do with the international journey than the additional revenue.

The process of going international forced a company to adapt for each new market. As a result, the international firm became a learning organization which encompassed several different successful models, and the lessons from each new market could be applied in other markets. So the international company tended to develop a feedback mechanism and process improvements more readily than the purely domestic company.

Indeed, if you ask the leadership of that purely domestic firm what they want to do tomorrow, you are more likely to hear that they want to do tomorrow what they did yesterday. In other words, many business people (like all of us) have a bias for the familiar. We all like patterns of behavior and we like to stay in our comfort zone. I see this regularly when I discuss China opportunities. We will have a nice conversation with a lovely mid-size company, but unless it has an international culture it will have an overwhelming focus on building out a successful domestic model. The management philosophy at these firms tends to be:

Today In: Asia

— Reliant on the organic growth that has served them well over the years;

— Highly structured organization, task-driven, with people looking at monthly and quarterly results;

— Heavily product-focused.

These companies tend to dominate their space or be a segment leader. All of this means these companies have a strong incentive not to expand their current set of activities, and not to think about what changes might be in order. The key principle at these firms is MOTS – More of the Same. We do what we did last year, but we do more.

More revenue, more customers, more market share, more net. A pretty common-sense approach. But this is not a strategy. This is a behavior pattern. Let’s do what we have always done, presumably because it has more-or-less worked. This approach makes sense if the world is static. If the world is standing still, if society is standing still, if technology is standing still, and if competitors are standing still– then it is ok if the business stands still as well. But there are moving pieces out there, so you had better move as well. Unless the business incorporates a bit of a change culture, it risks falling behind.

Therefore, some sort of strategy is in order. Strategy can mean the allocation of resources without the normal formula for a return, displaying some capacity for experimentation. Strategy can mean you are doing something different, and the constituency for this change has not yet been established. Strategy can mean clearer costs than benefits.

Strategy can mean a journey into the unknown. You are taking steps that require you to stretch beyond current capabilities. A new product launch could represent a strategy. A new sales channel. Or a new market.

For most companies, the decision to go into a new market is a matter of strategy, because growth is no longer MOTS. The best expression of this might be a decision to go to China. On any given day it might not make sense to have a strategy. It makes sense to do what you did yesterday. But cumulatively, this could lead to a disaster.

On any given day, it might not make sense to go into a new market. But over the long run it could cripple the company to stay only in its home market. I caught up with Jack Ma recently at the Forbes Global CEO Conference. Jack has stepped down as Alibaba ($BABA) chairman, but he is still fiercely passionate about helping companies enter the China market. I had not seen him in almost a year, but we immediately saw this issue eye-to-eye.

Sooner or later, every company needs an international strategy. Sooner or later, every company needs a China strategy. Strategy is possible. Cost-free strategy is not. Those companies that are taking the international journey, we salute you.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Whether in banking, communications, trade negotiations, or e-commerce, my professional life is helping companies enter and succeed in new markets, with a particular focus on China. As Founder and CEO of Export Now, I run the largest international firm in China e-commerce. Export Now provides turn-key services for international brands in China e-commerce, including market strategy and competitive analysis, regulatory approval, store operations and fulfillment, financial settlement and remittance. Previously, I served as Asia Pacific Chair for Edelman Public Affairs and in my last role in government, I served as Undersecretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Previously, I served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore. Earlier, I served in Hong Kong and Singapore with Citibank and Bank of America and on the White House and National Security Council staff. New market book: http://amzn.to/2py3kqm WWII history book: http://amzn.to/2qtk0wK

Source: Key Points To Consider When Developing An International Business Strategy

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Welcome to the Vodcasts of the IUBH correspondence courses. (http://www.iubh-fernstudium.de). In this video of the course “Managing in a Global Economy”, part of the “Master of Business Administration” program, Jürgen-Mathias Seeler discusses the topic “Strategy Development in International Business”. By the end of this lecture you will be able to understand the meaning of strategy in international business, the potential benefits from global strategies, the most important strategic choices in globalized business operations and how to manage strategy development and strategy adoption successfully. To find out more about the “Master of Business Administration” program, please visit http://www.iubh-fernstudium.de/unsere….

3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

Pivoting is expensive, but so is making smaller changes to your business plan to address the present-day realities of your market, your customers and your company. Revising your plan and implementing those changes can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can result in considerable operational upheaval.

But sometimes that’s exactly what your small business must do to ensure future success. How will you know it’s time to re-write your small business’s playbook? Here, three key signs:

1. Your growth is stagnant.

In a startup, momentum is everything. Growth provides the resources to continue to expand, beat the competition, improve quality and service, and increase efficiency through economies of scale.

Unfortunately, most small businesses can’t afford to simply plow additional funds into advertising in order to grow. Keeping customer acquisition costs down — and churn rate down as well — is key in the early stages for any bootstrapped startup.

In that case, growth might require jettisoning — or at the very least de-emphasizing — some products to focus on more profitable products. (See Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple in 1997.) That may require you to shift employees into new seats: sales, service, operations, etc.

Do this and the result might be a ripple effect of positives: Shifting employees provides opportunities for them to learn new skills, demonstrate new talents and learn about other functional areas. Moving a few employees into different roles can help re-energize and re-engage a number of other people.

Growth could also require introducing new products or services, especially when they complement existing offerings. Complementary offerings are a great way to re-engage existing customers as well as to bring in new customers who may then purchase other products or services.

In short: If your growth has stalled, what you planned to offer may not be sufficient. So how will you know what changes to make?

Ask your customers. They’ll tell you.

2. The needs of your “ideal” customer have changed.

Every business plan includes information on the target market: Demographics, interests, needs, pain points, etc. Over time, those needs can change (or maybe they never actually existed, at least on a sufficiently broad scale).

If you’re a tech company, evolving technologies can change the way customers interact with your service. If you’re in the restaurant business, today’s hot trend can be tomorrow’s outdated fad.

More likely, as your business has grown, so too has your infrastructure — meaning the level of one-on-one service you planned to provide is no longer necessary. (Or even desired.)

A great business plan lays out a blueprint for meeting customer needs and solving customer pain points. A great business constantly evolves to ensure those needs are met and those pains are eliminated.

Stay on top of metrics like return, service calls, churn rate, etc. to keep up with changing customer needs. Talk to your customers to find out how their needs may have changed.

Then revise your plan to make sure you provide not just what your plan says, but what customers really want and will pay to get.

3. You need full-time people in freelancer seats

Early on you may not have needed — or maybe couldn’t afford — to hire full-time people to perform certain functions. Wisely, you turned to freelancers. Freelancers are great for completing specific tasks, especially when sufficient expertise or specialized knowledge is a necessity.

The problem with freelancers is that they can only perform specific tasks. They can’t step into other roles. They can’t step into other functions. Because they aren’t a part of your company, they can’t learn and grow and develop with your company.

At some point it makes sense to hire a full-time employee. While they might not currently possess every drop of skill and experience they need to succeed in the role, when you hire people who are adaptable and eager to learn, they soon will.

And then they will help create an outstanding foundation upon which your company can grow.

By: Craig Bloem Founder and CEO, FreeLogoServices.com

Source: 3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

275K subscribers
Tutorial starts at 1:20 Whether you’re starting a new business or just trying to get your existing business a bit more organized, writing a business plan is the perfect way to clearly outline how your business operates, declare goals, and set out a strategy to reach those goals. In this video you’ll learn about the six essential pages every business plan should have, what to record on each of those pages, and also how to write your business plan as quickly and easily as possible — even if you’re a complete beginner! 🔹 Download the FREE Six-Step Business Success Plan: https://www.gillianperkins.com/downlo… // WHAT TO WATCH NEXT Six Ways to Earn Six Figures Working from Home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1i8x… How I (actually) Got My First Client Online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AST3P… How I Created Multiple Streams of Income for Myself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfaH_… How to Decide What Business to Start https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mid_A… // LINKS Learn more about Gillian and find resources to build your online business: https://www.gillianperkins.com Join our private Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/start… Follow Gillian on Instagram to get a BTS look at what it’s like to be a digital entrepreneur: https://www.instagram.com/gillianzper… // MAIL Gillian Perkins International P.O. Box 13573 Salem, OR 97309 NOTE: This description may contains affiliate links to products we enjoy using ourselves. Should you choose to use these links, this channel may earn affiliate commissions at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support! KEYWORDS how to write a business plan, free business plan, do i need a business plan, #entrepreneurship, #gillianperkins, business plan how-to guide, business plan step by step, business plan tips ,gillian perkins, gillianperkins, do you need a business plan, How To Write a Business Plan To Start Your Own Business, how to write a business plan step by step, business plan for beginners, simple business plan, business 101, business plan template, business plan example, how to write a business plan for beginners

He Built A $2.5 Billion Business At Age 50 That Is Disrupting A 7,000 Year Old Industry

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Dr. Joe DeSimone took his own path to entrepreneurship. His latest venture, Carbon, is changing the way things are made.

He’s assembled one of the most impressive Board of Directors and line up of investors to transform the $300 billion manufacturing industry.

Joe recently appeared as a guest on the DealMakers Podcast. During his exclusive interview, he shared how his team is transforming how the world makes things, the fundraising process, what it’s like building a nearly 500 person company in less than 6 years, and many more topics.

From Academia to Entrepreneurship

Joe DeSimone was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Ever since high school, Joe found he had a knack for chemistry. For both understanding it and for teaching it.

He attended Ursinus College, and then Virginia Tech for his Ph.D. On a tip from a faculty advisor, he went to check out the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill—-one of the top 10 chemistry departments in the country.

If he would teach organic and polymer chemistry, then they would give him $500,000 to start a research program. He was convinced. At UNC, he enjoyed a highly successful career as a professor for 25 years.

Joe taught a lot of students chemistry and mentored many researchers. He learned that people have very different learning styles. From his perspective, if you want to be a great teacher, you have to take responsibility for explaining complicated topics in accessible ways.

It turns out that is a really important trait for entrepreneurs too. It’s a valuable skill whether you’re doing it in a classroom setting, talking to VCs or investors, or your own employees. The importance of bringing people along with you.

His position in academia enabled Joe DeSimone to pursue a handful of interesting startups based on his research before he launching his newest venture, Carbon, in 2013.

His first company was BioStent. A partnership with an interventional cardiologist at Duke University. They developed a coronary stent that is polymeric instead of metal-based. It dissolves in the body after 18 months, once blood vessels can operate on their own again. The company was acquired by Guidant, and then Abbott.

Next, it was Liquidia Technologies, a partnership with one of Joe’s Ph.D. students including Jason Rolland, now SVP of Materials at Carbon. Liquidia went IPO last year.

They developed technology that leveraged tools from the computer industry to make precision nanoparticles. It spawned new and more effective ways to deliver medicines to the airway.

It has proven valuable in improving treatment approaches for diseases like pulmonary arterial hypertension, and in creating next-generation vaccine platforms for infectious diseases and certain cancers.

After spending 25 as a faculty member at UNC, the opportunity to go to Silicon Valley and take on a new entrepreneurial challenge was something Joe couldn’t pass up.

UNC agreed he could take a sabbatical to pursue his idea. That was five years ago.

Departing Academia for Silicon Valley 

When Joe left North Carolina for Silicon Valley to found Carbon, he didn’t know what the future would hold. Carbon is now one of the world’s leading digital manufacturing companies.

Based in Redwood City, Carbon’s mission is to enable companies to make breakthrough products that can improve human health and well being, transform industries, and change the world.

Joe launched the company and its groundbreaking Digital Light Synthesis™ (DLS) technology on the TED stage in 2015.  DLS fuses light and oxygen to rapidly produce products from a pool of resin. Using DLS technology, Carbon is enabling companies like Adidas, Riddell, Ford and Johnson & Johnson to create breakthrough products at speeds and volumes never before possible, finally fulfilling the promise of 3D printing.

Joe believes that empowering product teams to make breakthrough products and bring them to market faster will change the way we live.

Carbon has cracked the code on 3D printing at scale. The manufacturing industry is a $12 trillion market and manufacturing polymers is a $330 billion market. There is enormous potential here for Carbon to lead the digital revolution in manufacturing.

Creating a Company Differentiated by its Technology, Business Model and Team 

With a team of nearly 500 employees around the world, Carbon has also assembled an impressive team of board members and investors while raising $680 million in the process at a $2.5 billion valuation.

Carbon’s board includes former Chairman and CEO of DuPont, Ellen Kullman, former CEO of Ford Motor Company, and former CEO of Boeing’s Aircraft Division, Alan Mulally, and Sequoia’s Jim Goetz.

Some of their investors include Sequoia, Google Ventures, GE, Adidas, BMW, Johnson & Johnson, and JSR. They’ve also got Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, and Madrone Capital Partners as well as investment from additional international sovereign funds.

Storytelling is everything in fundraising and Carbon was able to master this. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

Critical Ingredients for a Successful Company

During the interview, Joe shared three of the most important components of building a successful company as being:

1. The importance of IP and patent-protection

2. Building highly differentiated technology

3. Assembling a world class team of people that are committed, passionate, and talented

DeSimone also shared his thoughts on the similarities between academia and entrepreneurship such as the importance of bringing people along with you and painting a vision for the future and how the world can be different.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • Joe’s advice for starting your own company
  • How he created a purpose-led company
  • Building a successful business model
  • Putting your customers first
  • Future-proofing from obsolescence

Alejandro Cremades is the author of The Art of Startup Fundraising, co-founder of Panthera Advisors (M&A and fundraising advisory), and creator of Inner Circle (fundraising tools & resources)

 

I am a serial entrepreneur and the author of the The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley & Sons, the book was named one of the best books for entrepreneurs. The book offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs. Most recently, I built and exited CoFoundersLab which is one of the largest communities of founders online. Prior to CoFoundersLab, I worked as a lawyer at King & Spalding where I was involved in one of the biggest investment arbitration cases in history ($113 billion at stake). I am an active speaker and have given guest lectures at the Wharton School of Business, Columbia Business School, and at NYU Stern School of Business. I have been involved with the JOBS Act since inception and was invited to the White House and the US House of Representatives to provide my stands on the new regulatory changes concerning fundraising online

Source: https://www.forbes.com

Apollo 11’s Transcendent Leadership Lessons

To paraphrase Walter Cronkite, it was, and remains to this day, the greatest adventure in the history of mankind.

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing says much about the capability of our country, the miracles of science and engineering and the commitment of the NASA team. But it also offers important lessons on leadership, which are as relevant today as they were in July, 1969.

These are leadership lessons that transcend time and circumstance, which corporate executives and board members may well want to consider as they commemorate this great event.

Lesson #1: Visions Can Come True. JFK’s memorable 1962 “Moon Speech” set forth the vision of Apollo. It included the famous “…because it is hard” acknowledgment, and the equally inspiring charge that “…to do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out—then we must be bold.” Some 57 years later, vision, boldness and the motivation they generate in others remain essential tools by which leaders take organizations to great heights. Their absence can create insurmountable barriers to growth.

Lesson #2: Teamwork Matters. The three Apollo 11 astronauts were not close friends. They had different personalities. Armstrong was emotionally remote. Aldrin acerbic and abrasive. Collins more “happy go lucky.” But they made it work; they interacted successfully under the most extreme circumstances. For leaders don’t need to be BFFs with their colleagues in order to be effective. They do, however, need to be accepting and respectful of who their colleagues are, and the contributions they offer.

Lesson #3: Confidence. They believed in their systems in spite of the risks: the Saturn V liftoff, the LM ascent engine firing, trans-earth injection, the re-entry and splashdown. Even at NASA’s famous 99.9% reliability standard, much could still go wrong. Yet they moved forward in reliance on confidence in the technical competency of the workforce and the efforts to remove risk from the conceptual design. Where leaders can establish an organizational commitment to quality, safety and risk management, managers can more comfortably implement even the most aggressive of products.

Lesson #4: We Need The Michael Collinses. It was not for Collins to land on the moon. It was for him to orbit the moon in solitude, waiting/hoping for the return of Armstrong and Aldrin from the lunar surface. His glory would be less; history would not treat him nearly as prominently. And he was good with it. Indeed, every organization needs leaders content to do their job, who are willing to be part of a larger effort and not likely to complain or worry about more glamorous tasks being assigned to others.

Lesson #5: Command Decisions Count. The legend is indeed the fact. Armstrong really did land the Lunar Module, manually, with just 16 seconds of fuel remaining. Aborting the descent was not an option. Like all good leaders, Armstrong was in charge. He knew the terrain. He knew his machine. He knew the stakes and he was going to get the job done. The absolute ultimate command decision. Leaders who “sit in the left seat” must be prepared to “make the call,” to make the most difficult of decisions, often in the most trying of circumstances.

Lesson #6: Encourage Ideas. It wasn’t store-bought. There wasn’t a model or prototype. The enormous “crawler” that transported the Saturn V from the Vehicle Assembly Plant to the launchpad was the brainchild of a member of the launch operations team, whose name is now lost to history. He reportedly got the idea from watching the strip-mining process. Ingenuity and creativity often have wildly diverse parentage, and smart leaders will encourage ideas from all elements of the workforce, starting with the mailroom and continuing up the ladder.

Lesson #7: “Code 1202” Events. It was the Apollo version of a “black swan.” On final lunar descent, an unusual program alarm (code 1202) flashed, indicating a problem with the guidance computer. With the landing in balance, a young control officer in Houston, familiar with the code from earlier simulations, provided the critical “go on that alarm” assurance. No company is immune to a Code 1202 event. The unforeseeable will occur. But leadership can set expectations concerning risk evaluation that will help the company respond in crisis situations.

Lesson #8: It Takes A Village. A very big village, in fact. The Apollo project team was estimated at over 300,000 people. It was an amazing partnership between the government, private industry and the astronauts—and, ultimately the American public. And on their final flight transmission, the Apollo astronauts paid a humble video tribute to that partnership. Effective leadership recognizes that success often requires a combination of management vision and workforce commitment. Rarely is it one or the other, and almost never “just about me.”

Lesson #9: Learn from Mistakes. The great success of Apollo 11 was made possible in large part by the tragic failure of Apollo 1. That catastrophe forced NASA to confront its culture of complacency for risk and safety, and to restructure its entire operations. Indeed, great lessons can be learned from failure as well as success; from accepting responsibility for non-performance and moving forward from there. Even on the largest possible scale, leaders never stop learning-even from their own (or their organization’s) mistakes.

Lesson #10: Otherworldly Commitment. Armstrong attributed Apollo’s success to its nature as “a project in which everybody involved was…interested…involved…and fascinated by the job they were doing.” (“Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon” by Craig Nelson (Penguin, 2009) In today’s business environment, when leaders are increasingly focused on workforce culture and satisfaction, major initiatives are more likely to succeed when employees, like the Apollo team, are motivated “to [do] their job a little better than they have to.”

There is an understandable tendency to marginalize important events that happened long ago. Men in a spaceship—how interesting, but of course it was long ago, and we’ve progressed so much since then. It’s hardly relevant to our world today. But as to Apollo 11, that would be a huge mistake; it still matters, very much so.

In his Farewell Address to the nation, President Reagan spoke to the lasting value of the American heritage. He warned of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. “If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are.” And, one might add, of what we are capable of achieving, as a nation, as individuals—and as organizations. That’s the transcendent lesson of Apollo 11. And it’s a lesson that is meaningful in the boardroom, and the executive suite.

I wish to acknowledge “Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon” by Craig Nelson (Penguin, 2009) as a resource in the preparation of this post.

Follow me on LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a partner in the Chicago office of international law firm McDermott Will & Emery and earned my law degree at Northwestern University. I represent corporations (and their officers and directors) in connection with governance, corporate structure, fiduciary duties, officer-director liability issues, charitable trust law and corporate alliances. Over the course of my 39-year career, I have served as outside governance counsel to many prominent national corporations. I speak and write on a range of emerging trends and issues in corporate governance to help leaders understand the implications and how they might be relevant to their own circumstances. Writing is a passion of mine and I do my best writing on the porch of my home in Michigan.

Source: Apollo 11’s Transcendent Leadership Lessons

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