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

Talking Dog for Sale

A guy is driving around the back woods of Minnesota and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: ‘Talking Dog For Sale’.  He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever laying there. “You talk?” he asks. “Yep” the Lab replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says “So, what’s your story?” The Lab looks up and says, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders (because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping). I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running.

But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.

I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.” The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog. “Ten dollars.” the guy says. “Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?” “Because he’s a liar. He never did any of that stuff.”

So what is the value of hearing the truth, the truth about your business? How do we close the gap between our perception and what is real when it comes to our businesses?

Let’s use you for an example. You build a widget; you love it you can work on it for hours and it is pure joy. You logically assume other people will love it too. You are ready to mortgage the farm and go into full scale production. HOLD UP! First let’s find out if other people actually even care. We need to translate the passion you have for your widget into hard numbers (the DATA doesn’t care if it hurts your feelings).

How do we find this almighty all-knowing data? You could spend a fortune (and a year) to have a market research company do it or you could simply send emails to 200 friends and see how many like your product (like needs to be defined that they would spend their hard earned money on it). If nobody likes it, the next question is, do you need to change your widget? Hearing that nobody likes your widget can hurt. It has been said that the truth hurts. I have found that it hurts a lot less when is doesn’t cost you money.

There seem to be two camps when it comes to hearing unpleasant truths (whether it has to do with politics, relationships or business) — those who want you to give it to them straight, so they can roll up their sleeves and do something about it, and those who want none of it. Reality can be hard to accept, but denial in the business world can be extremely costly.

The funny moral of the story . . . the next time a talking dog tries to tell you a bunch of lies about your business you will remember to look to the data and find the real value.

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