In my experience over the past ten or so years, I am have been surprised with how many companies work only in the "now" and really do not have long-term goals. As part of my consulting company, I have been hired by many very successful companies to work on various projects and I find it amazing how there is a true lack of planning by some very successful companies.
Before I go any further, let me clarify that yes, every company pretty much has an idea of where they want to be. For example, I recently consulted with an insurance company that said that within five years "they would like to be a provider of foreign auto insurance for major insurers". The problem with this goal is that it is a broad statement and really has no plan around it to get them there.
They were not the first company that I have consulted for that were like this. Surprisingly most companies I have consulted for were like this. As a successful business consultant, I always like to talk about the future. I like to see and think about the future. What can we achieve? What can we do? For example, with the insurance company, their goal was to get with some major carriers. However, when you try to get past that initial surface of that goal statement, what do you see?
This is often where I do have some friction with the businesses. They do not want to talk about or as some have them put it "waste time or energy" on this subject since they are not ready for it yet. I am seeing this trend across the board. Companies are being short-sighted and planning for the moment or the very near future without really setting up long-term goals and aspirations.
Another company I contracted with, when asked what their five-year goal was told me "growth". A natural response from me was, "well how do you plan on reaching that?" Again this is where the conversation was sort of shut down and was told by the client that it would happen naturally because they have seen "x percent of growth year after year".
I feel that these companies are not reaching their true potential because of their lack of planning to achieve growth and their goals. Their goals are only broadly defined, they are not specific with no targeted path to lead them to the road of achievement. Even if the goal is five-years from now, what you do today is extremely important. If you plan accordingly, the choices you make today can be your GPS navigation that take you to your destination five years from now. Without planning, it would be like driving alongside a cliff in the middle of the night with only one headlight working.
I always tell my clients and potential employers that I keep one eye on the future and one eye on the present. Tomorrow is just as important as today because what I do today will either make tomorrow successful or a rocky road. Letting your business have organic growth and success is great. I am not going to say that organic growth is bad, but if a business applied itself fully and planned for growth instead of thinking about something five years from now was "putting the horse in front of the cart", how many more businesses would be better off in five years since the decisions they make today would help them reach their long-term goals?
Goals, vision, and planning are some of the tools that businesses have for free. Perhaps the fact that they are free is the reason that many businesses undervalue them. My goal as a business development consultant is to use my abilities to help businesses learn about how powerful having a future vision of the company is, then using that vision to set goals, and finally planning to reach those goals.
How have your experiences been with your clients or your employers? Do you find my findings to be accurate? How much of a impact do you think that setting longer-term goals and plans to reach them on the longevity of the business?
Not too long ago cell phones were having a race to the top. Every week it seemed like one cell phone company was trying to out do another one. While the competition was great on the outside as it sped up development of getting really good and useful smartphones, it was also frustrating. Smartphone frequently bought a cell phone that was considered "top of the line" just to find out about a week or two later that the new Galaxy or iPhone just came out and beat your new phone hands down.
Those days are over. Most cell phone companies are on an equal playing field. There is little to differentiate between a Samsung or HTC. You can even stretch it and claim besides the operating system that there isn't much difference between Apple and Samsung. The differences between manufacturers is little anymore mostly falling down into implementation of technology rather than what technology it has that will make or break the device.
While the big companies have been racing for the top there has been a race to the bottom as well. Companies like verykool (Infosonic from San Diego) and Blu amongst others are creating awesome devices for small budgets. These companies are all fighting it out to see who can become the king of cheap devices.
The devices that they are creating aren't that bad either. They aren't the cheap, "generic" devices that were created a few years ago. These are actually really decent phones with pretty decent specs. Recently I had the honor to review the Spark II made my verykool and to my amazement this device was probably one of the best sub $400 devices I ever laid my hands on.
This device was a quad-core device with a super bright screen that had a sleek touch of sophistication in the design. Somehow this device only costs $169.00 on Amazon. That is amazing considering that it not only came with the usual extras of a charger and headphones but also a screen protector, a case, and did I mention that it had a dual camera flash for the rear camera and a flash for the front facing selfie camera? Really? All of that for $169?
It isn't just verykool who is doing this, others are too. They are jamming the most specs and biggest bang for your buck into the smallest package available. The race is on, especially in developing countries where phones with these specs are a hot ticket item. In the long run it will be very interesting to see how this race to the bottom of the pricing barrel will impact the pricing for those flagships on the top of the pricing food chain.
The busiest border crossing in the world, the San Ysidro - Tijuana border crossing located on the San Diego, California border is a binational megaregion that deserves more attention than what it is currently getting.
To understand the issue, it needs to be in perspective. What is the San Diego / Tijuana Megaregion? Think back during the aftermath of World War II when you had Berlin split in two by a wall. That is the reality that we live in right now in Southern California and Northern Baja. San Diego and Tijuana are literally one city split by a border that separates it into two different countries. Just as you can find a taco shop on every street in San Diego you can find a hamburger shop on every street in Tijuana. The two cities are fused together at the heart and have been for over a century.
Trillions and trillions of dollars is spent between the two countries annually. Many people lack understanding this due to their extremist views (both left and right). Due to the high cost of goods in Mexico, many are forced to cross the border into San Diego to do their "compras" where they can save anywhere from 20 - 40% and get higher quality goods. If the border was completely shut down, San Diego would suffer greatly. A good portion of the purchases made in San Diego County, especially South County, come from money earned down south. San Diego is prospering mostly in fact due to these purchases whether they want to admit it or not. It is a fact.
The same can be said about Tijuana and the Baja State as a whole. If the border was shut down the State of Baja California would suffer great economic losses. The State depends dearly on the American tourist money coming in and also benefits greatly from NAFTA that has led to many factories relocating to the region like BOSE and Samsung among others. This provides a dual benefit of decent jobs in the region and cheaper products in the United States.
There are cutting edge tech centers like the HUB STN and the BIT Center in Tijuana. These places are hubs where startups and freelancers can mingle with each other and work sparking a great amount of creativity. There are even accelerators and angel funding companies located inside these locations to further help these companies grow. The tech that is happening in Baja is amazing.
Sound pretty cool, right? Well wrong. There are a lot of good ideas and ideas should not have borders. A lot of these ideas aren't even given a chance at life due to an archaic immigration and border system from both countries. In my opinion it seems that there are groups on both sides of the border that are against trade and open borders. OK, open borders is the wrong word, what we need in the area are smart borders. Borders that allow commerce to flow freely. Borders that do not hold up law abiding citizens in long lines wasting time and money just to cross the border. In recent months the border lines have spread to the south bound lanes into Mexico as well. These type of policies are anti-business, anti-people and anti-prosperous for both regions.
The problem is with both Washington and Mexico City. The people who control the border region are out of touch with the realities of the border. Tijuana isn't the Tijuana of the 1960's or even the 1990's. It is a fast evolving city that is quickly become a tech hub not only in Mexico but Latin America. It is quickly becoming a gastronomic center as well with award winning foods and wine.
I view that the United States brings experience and the mighty dollar to the table, while Mexico brings money, but more importantly creativity and ingenuity. In Mexico the old saying "where there is a will, there is a way" holds so true that you actually have to be there to understand the meaning fully.
Historically, the trade of business, culture and money has benefited both sides greatly and it is only growing. So with this in mind, why is there so much drama and hardship caused because of the border? Why can't an engineer from Baja California easily work for Qualcomm if they want just by registering at the border as they are crossing? Why can't a "gringo" open a factory on their own in Baja with ease and not a lot of red tape that exists with most "tramites" (transactions) in Mexico? People on both sides of the border are making it a lot harder than what it needs to be. There is a solution and the solution is simple... smart borders.
How do we implement those smart borders? How do we open up the Baja Cali megaregion to expand it even further? It starts by showing the people of both countries the benefits of friendship and reaching across borders. I sometimes feel we are friendlier with China than we are with Mexico. It drives me nuts. We have a willing and able partner south of us but yet we have to treat them like North Koreans. Mexico isn't innocent in this as well, Vincente Fox had many blunders during his presidency that I feel set the relationship back with the United States. The bottom line is whether you are PRI or the GOP, PAN or DEM it is time to have a mature adult orientated conversation on how our nations can work together and create smart borders. That is the fuel needed to energize the huge Baja Cali megaregion.
To get smart borders we have to open up the eyes of the politicians. Instead of them legislating from Sacramento, Mexicali, Washington or Mexico City they need to come and visit the border region on both sides. They need to start to understand how the two countries can work together to help each other prosper. Only by opening their eyes will they finally see and be willing to engage in change. The only thing I caution is to remember that you only lead a blind man to water, but you can't make him drink.
David Strausser is a graduate of Penn State. He holds a degree in Information Sciences and Technology and is currently seeking another degree in Business.