The iconic Henry Ford was a prolific thinker who sought to expound on the world around him.
Often, while discussing business, he provided profound pieces of wisdom that are just as relevant today as when first spoken. The following are mere samples.
“Vision without execution is just hallucination.”
Put another way: What is an idea but a dream without action? Businesses often fall into to the trap of allowing daily operations to interfere with strategy. Vision and strategy go hand-in-hand, but rely on an action plan to proceed.
Devise a plan, be accountable and be ready to pivot with market changes in order to accomplish the goal, whatever that may be – increase revenue, improve cash flow, expand business offerings, etc. All worthy goals will fall flat without assigning accountability for next steps, even if it is you who are responsible.
“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”
Integrity is at the heart of Ford’s sentiment. It leads to trust, pride of accomplishment and personal satisfaction of a job well done.
Being distracted by maximum profit misses the broader point. However, putting the interests of customers and employees first allows quality to flourish – and when quality flourishes, so does the company.
Again, ethics and good corporate citizenship were considered drivers, pardon the pun, of the Ford Motor Co. Being aware of the needs of the community – whether local, regional or national – and responding to improve situations is the responsibility of every successful business.
Ford, of course, was able to invest heavily in his philanthropy, far outside the ability of most companies. The point, however, is that being a good employer and good corporate citizen should not be an afterthought.
“Half the money I spend on advertising is waste, and the problem is I do not know which half.”
Fortunately, this is a Ford quote that’s no longer quite accurate. Modern analytics for tracking, assessing and monetizing ad spend are far more effective than the “spray and pray” methods of the past.
The entire advertising landscape has advanced lightyears from this once self-deprecating comment. Today, we are able to leverage programs, data and metrics to inform and guide us on the best results and practices. Guessing is no longer valid or appropriate; knowing is required and mandatory to all successful businesses.
“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”
This old saw is just as valid today as it was then. No matter the externals of the economy, knowing and being in front of your market is crucial. During the ups and downs, recession or plague, businesses must remain top of mind – if only to stay relevant in the grander scheme and display strength in the face of adversity.
The acquisition of new accounts and driving sales is the prime lifeline of a business. It must always be paramount in the strategy of survival, let alone success. Today’s technology, social media and extensive marketing channels make it available to all; the key is knowing which will be productive.
Learning never ends and history holds many lessons. What better mentor than one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs?
Greg Demetriou is the chief executive of Edgewood-based Lorraine Gregory Communications.