YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID?
YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID?
Many businesses blame the recession for their difficulties. In fact many of their problems stem from a misguided belief that running a business, like politics, requires neither commonsense nor experience. Blithely they set up shop, stick an advertisement in the newspaper, and wait for the wonga to roll in. If it doesn’t it is never their fault.
When the times were good there was money and customers aplenty; they had it so good that even the amateurs survived. They could lose half of their potential and still make money. If they had no awareness of business techniques it is because they never had to learn them. If now they don’t recognise weaknesses it is because they never had to learn from them either.
They could get away with sloppiness and incompetence but they can’t now there are fewer customers about; and even they think carefully before they spend their cash.
EAT YOUR HEART OUT, ALAN SUGAR
By the time I was engaged by the Guild of Master Craftsmen to vet business applicants I was experienced in recession-proofed publishing, sales, marketing; and retail management. Hardly surprisingly I was one of John Harvey Jones’ biggest fans. Do you remember him?
John was the war hero who, in 1982, became chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). It was then making substantial losses. By 1987 the lame duck industrial giant was making £1 billion profit. Follow that, Donald Trump and Alan Sugar.
This success was followed by the former industrialist’s popular television series ‘Troubleshooter’. It was the ‘how to’ business documentary that caught the imagination of millions of viewers. The programme saw him visiting businesses big and small. At each he would identify their weaknesses and strengths, their stupidities too, and apply solutions.
Renowned for his straight talking he once told the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Force: ‘This strategic plan is a load of bloody cobblers.’
John passed on in January 2008 and there seems no one can take his place now that his hands-on business skills are desperately needed. The Americans say you can’t fix stupid: John could and he did.
Self effacing, he once said: ‘Everyone thinks I am a smart arse who can fix any problem. I am not. I am just a very old businessman and a very experienced businessman who made every mistake in the book and can recognise one when I see one.”
I LOVE CONFIDENCE ...
… even when it is misplaced. One can only wonder what that remarkable business guru would make of many of the Costas’ public services and businesses that are now failing ‘due to the recession’. I can almost hear him muttering again: ‘Bloody cobblers!’
Certainly the recession will result in casualties; it comes with the territory and natural change in the market place. But I feel sure that the affable old entrepreneur would place most of the blame squarely where it belongs; amateurs whose ‘businesses’ are condemned by their undeserved self-assurance and worst of all; their unwillingness to learn.
Recession sure sorts out the men from the boys and that can’t be a bad thing when the recovery kicks in. So you see, there is a bright side to the downturn.
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