of the following reflections and entrepreneurial ideas are not
original, but are concepts compiled and adapted from published
sources over several years. Most, however, represent the original
thinking of Cummings Properties' founder, Bill
will not find these items particularly awe-inspiring, but certainly
there are many concepts to benefit both the newest businessperson
and the seasoned serial entrepreneur, as well. More so for the
latter, because he or she will have the experience to recognize
the value in so many of these nuggets:
is a name men can give to their mistakes. And entrepreneurial mistakes
must be freely accepted because risk is so inherent in the concept
of entrepreneurship. When companies become conservative and sluggish,
whatever innovative talent they have will go overlooked very quickly.
managers will seek out bad news more aggressively than good news.
The answer to "What is the worst thing that happened today?"
gives so much more useful information than does the opposite question.
Hearing bad vibes on a timely basis gives the good executive the opportunity
to react to the problem, and promptly do something about it. Managers
need an acutely tuned sensitivity to both problems and opportunities
that do or can affect their businesses, and not be blindsided.
may occasionally just fall into our laps, but more often they are
created through hard work and hustle. People who are striving to achieve
something are also far more likely to recognize opportunities when
they do see them, and then be in a position to do something about
them. Conversely, others will be too unsure of themselves or too timid,
and they simply won't be willing to act.
whose subordinates simply try to imitate them are at a great loss,
and sub-managers who will not call the shots as they see them lose
much of their value. They are "imitation" managers rather
than "authentic" managers. They either don't know enough
to come up with correct answers, or they are simply too timid to speak
up on their own. Executives who fail to strongly encourage their subordinates
to express their opinions and "second guess" the executive
will simply not hear the information they need to make the most intelligent
do you want to accomplish and where do you want to be in three months,
or three years, or three decades? Set goals and consciously work toward
them. This thinking would seem to apply to developers like Cummings
Properties, which builds and leases buildings, as well as to every
one of the 2,000 or so client firms that occupy Cummings' 10 million
addition to selling the product itself, "selling quality"
usually also means marketing to quality accounts. Once a firm creates
a good product or service, and creates an image to accompany it, that
firm should try very hard to forget about the prospects who care only
about price. Seek out clients who will pay the necessary premium for
reliability, consistency, and service. Mostly, this implies finding
prosperous customers who can't afford anything less than quality service
from their suppliers.
surest way for a business to be successful is for someone to design
or invent a high quality product or service and then produce it cost
effectively. Very often, if a product is truly only 10 percent better
than the competition, it can be portrayed and sold for much more than
that. Even if the product is only different from the competition,
it may often be perceived as better, with appropriate merchandising.
money, time, and effort can be thrown away by owners or managers who
rely on inaccurate or misstated "facts." Top management
in any company must have the intuitive sense to know when it is receiving
puffed up or misinterpreted information, offered as facts. Management
must be sure that its information is absolutely reliable, and not
some third party's suppositions, when that information forms the basis
for decisions. Add up the real facts and then intuit from there. How
often we see elaborate spreadsheets purporting to project the enar
certainty of rosy future profits.
are few more important attributes in business than the ability to
communicate properly and to solve problems. Conversely, however, there
is probably no area where people who enter business professions are
less prepared than in the area of business writing. The general ability
of the average college graduate to write an effective, well-structured
business letter is shameful. Then, when it comes to writing even the
simplest business agreement, that ability seems to deteriorate even
we put our ideas on paper for others to read, poor thinking is much
more evident than it is in speech. Writing things down is the ideal
way to test the clarity of our thinking, before it is scrutinized
by others. Illogical statements and conclusions are far less likely
to achieve their objectives in writing than they are verbally. The
fine points of documents do not always have to reflect technical brilliance,
but they do have to always be well ordered and logical from start
that are tailor made for workers will often pay big dividends. We
are always far more productive if we feature people's strengths rather
than their weaknesses. Get people working on the things that they
are good at, and they'll get better and better. If managers keep employees
busy enough working with their strengths, their weaknesses will be
far less likely to hurt them. This is one more area where flexibility
and accommodation in the workplace can be to everyone's advantage.
essence of managing in most businesses is people contact. Many executives
greatly increase their effectiveness either by circulating a lot,
or by being very available for brief comments or consults to help
focus others or give them direction. Brief, unplanned interludes give
a good manager the opportunity to react to work-in-progress, so that
shifts and adjustments can be made before all of the work is expended
to create a final product, which then must be changed. Sometimes this
is referred to as "management by walking around."
people who get things done are inherently gamblers of a sort. Certainly,
they will sometimes come up short, but some failures always come with
the play of the game. These people who do get things done will always
have some sort of a reasonable fall-back position, and in the end,
they will rarely ever "lose," unless they walk off the field.
often is so much information that it can't possibly all be taken in.
Sometimes it's like trying to drink from a fire hose. When setting
up a business deal, it's usually far more important to reach agreement
on the overall concept of the deal, rather than it is to try to work
out all of the details in advance.
of the greatest challenges for business leaders is to quickly identify
employees at all levels who have the capability to advance quickly,
and then see that they do. It is truly unfortunate when potential
company leaders are needlessly lost, simply because no one has encouraged
them to stay and grow with the firm.
will always do well to heed Ben Franklin's sage advice, "A penny
saved is a penny earned." New firms bootstrapping their way to
profitability cannot overlook any expense, no matter how seemingly
trivial. Pennies matter, they do become dollars, and sometimes very
big dollars. Recurring expenses or repeat purchases are great places
to start; e.g., phone plans, pens, pencils, copy expenses, utility
bills, coffee costs and the like. By saving pennies and other precious
resources, entrepreneurs can build funds for truly critical expenses,
such as growth or research. For example, recycling paper that would
otherwise be thrown out, for notes or for internal messages, saves
more than avoidable stationery and trash expenses. Much more importantly,
such practices reinforce a culture of frugality and attention to detail
that will pay dividends well before the nascent firm is ready to pay
in business we don't need to be smarter than people in other firms,
as long as we are willing to OUTWORK them. Enduring enthusiasm for
work, and for achieving results, can be far more important than financial
backing or power.
speculator is one who runs risks of which he is very much aware, while
an investor is one who runs risks of which he is often not at all
John Maynard Keyes
finding solutions to problems, and sometimes very difficult situations,
it stands to reason that our first answer or the first solution to
most problems will probably not be the best answer. Those with strong
leadership qualities will review the decisions of others, and then
try to build and improve upon them for better ultimate decisions.
Similarly, we must second-guess ourselves. Never assume that our first
workable answer to any problem is the best answer, and then run with
it. Instead, lay back a little and think about what might make the
solution a better one, or invite co-workers to think about it, too.
is the constant process of paying attention to even the smallest details
that make ventures successful. A few examples of the little details
we think about in the commercial real estate business include such
things as: dirty glass, or loose thresholds, or loose push plates,
etc., at entrance doors. Snags or loose threads hanging from carpet,
especially on stairways; loose papers or trash or icy patches in parking
areas; burned out bulbs or bad photocells in outdoor lighting fixtures,
all are other telltale signs of property neglect. Even the simple
courtesy of routinely encouraging smiling and saying "hello"
to strangers whom employees regularly encounter in their travels through
various buildings is a "detail" easily overlooked, but readily
improved, for free. Anyone and everyone who is involved in the management
of a company must pay attention to details like the above. We need
to see that whatever we do is done correctly, and always encourage
suggestions for improvements at any time.