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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.


This past Friday night I sat is the stands watching two very evenly matched High School teams battle on the field. Walking out of the stadium I asked myself the question– “why did the one team win?” A lot of thoughts went through my head; defense, quarterback play, coaching? The next morning the question of winners and losers came up again, this time it was– “why do some businesses win and others lose?”

I came to the conclusion that the winners in both the football game and in business had the same thing in common– the winners had sound fundamentals.

The legendary Vince Lombardi’s “fundamentals” story that is often retold tells of his approach to football and leading his players. Lombardi, one of the most successful coaches in the history of football, started every new season with a standard speech to veterans and the rookies alike. He would hold up a football and say, “This is a football!” He would roll it around in his hands and talk about the size and shape of the football, and the many ways that it could be handled on the football field including carrying, passing, kicking.  He would then take the team out onto the football field and say, “This is a football field!” He would describe the measurements of the field, and the rules of the game. He did it every year – even after the Green Bay Packers, a previously losing team, became the NFL Champions and Super Bowl Winners. He is said to have even repeated the speech at half-time during a particularly tough game… The “secret” to Vince Lombardi’s success was clearly that he always helped his players to focus on what was fundamental and basic to the game of football – and, to do those elementary things very, very well.

Fundamentals of Business

Estimates vary, but generally more than 600,000 businesses are started each year in the United States. Yet for every American who actually starts a business, there are likely millions more who begin each year saying “OK, this is the year I am going to start a business,” but fail and don’t.

Everyone has his or her own roadblock, something that prevents them from taking that crucial first step. Most people are afraid to start; they may fear the unknown or failure, or even success. Others find starting something overwhelming in the mistaken belief they have to start from scratch. They think they have to come up with something that no one has ever done before–a new invention, a unique service. In other words, they think they have to reinvent the wheel.

Let’s look at the fundamentals of building a business through the most basic of lenses. The basics of starting a business are very simple; you don’t need an MBA (keep the $60,000 tuition), venture capital, or even a detailed plan. You just need a product or service, a group of people willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid. This can be broken down as follows:

1. Product or service: what you sell

2. People willing to pay for it: your customers

3. A way to get paid: how you’ll exchange a product or service for money

If you have a group of interested people but nothing to sell, you don’t have a business. If you have something to sell but no one willing to buy it, you don’t have a business. In both cases, without a clear and easy way for customers to pay for what you offer, you don’t have a business. Put the three together, and congratulations— you’re now an entrepreneur.

As we being to work on Tama County’ economy let’s all embrace sound fundamentals so we can build a winning economy.


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