Data Processing – 1962
At the University of Michigan Business School in 1962….we did have access to a computer….although it wasn’t sitting on a desktop or a lap.
The most advanced computer for that time was the IBM 7094. The U of M 7094 was in a building near the engineering school. One had to take their deck of IBM punch cards (punched on an 026 card puncher and verifier) to the computer lab….wait two days for the lab to run the program and hope that it ran correctly. Often the program failed, and it was back to the 026 to correct the programming error and another two days to find out if the program worked.
The 7094 was advanced for its day….now I can run the basic programs that I ran in 1962 on my iPad!
This was our building on Whitehall Rd (photo 2009) which we sold in 1985.
The original part of the building was 3,000 sq.ft (far right – 1961). We than acquired another 3,000 sq. ft. to the immediate left. In 1973, a 15,000 sq. ft. addition was added to the far left. Finally, another 3,000 sq. ft. was added (1976) to the new addition for a total of 24,000 sq.ft. The taller portion was added after 1985.
Also to the left of the buildings was property we acquired for future expansion.
Today the property is occupied by Eagle CNC – http://eaglecnc.com/ a division of Eagle Alloy of Muskegon.
While it has been 31 years since we sold those facilities….there is a sense of satisfaction that we laid the groundwork for a successful and growing business.
“America’s character abides in its small businesses”
While some of these businesses may be unusual….non-the- less they are different and unique.
Yet any successful business can do well when it differentiates itself from the competition or simply does things better.
Good products….fair price….excellent customer service is where it should start for any small business.
From WRAL: http://www.wral.com/apex-photo-company-develops-bad-reputation-with-customers/16017952/
It can be difficult for a business to overcome a bad reputation. Once a customer is dissatisfied, they are a lost customer.
The WRAL article indicates that there are over 500 complaints to the Better Business Bureau. That number is completely unacceptable for the company and the owners of the company.
Some businesses….while they may have an innovative product/service can easily run into difficulties if they cannot deliver that product/service. Just because one has a bright idea….does not mean that it can be easily translated into a successful business.
Operating a business requires a well-developed set of business skills and/or the willingness to find others that have those skills. Afterall a bad reputation is hard to overcome.
Target entering the Canadian market was not successful. The following case study clearly spells out what went wrong:
Business Case Studies were a main component of the Harvard Business School curriculum. Most business schools have probably adapted the case study concept in one form or another.
Case studies are a good learning tool….primarily because they reveal flaws in the business process.
With Target Canada….it wasn’t just one bad situation…..it was several that combined together created the downfall of Target operating successfully in Canada.
Target is a solid brand….continued success depends of the operations and individual performance at the store level. From my perspective I continue to see some operational misses.
From Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/two-brothers-yeti-indestructible-fishing-cooler-half-billion-dollar-brand-ipo-2016-9
Most products can be made better. A better product also carries a premium price. If sales are any indication that the market wants a better cooler….than Yeti is certainly on the right track.
Is not enough
In a recent interview Robert Lutz….a former automotive executive spoke about a Big 3 manufacturer that at one time made and sold a brand in Europe that was “just good enough” to get by in the market.
From the interview:
“What was the most important thing you learned in Europe?”
“The overriding importance of product excellence. When I was at Ford of Europe and Opel, they were always gunning for best in class. Meanwhile, the mother ship in America’s motto was, ‘We don’t have to do good cars, just good enough'”.
Businesses can get by for a period of time being “good enough”….though it is unlikely they will be a long-term sustainable businesses.