History May Be a Matter of Perspective
But it’s more a matter of what you remember
Lately, history has made the news. Since news means “new information,” I find it rather ironic that history — “old information” captured in statues, monuments, people, and places — has captured the attention of the news media. It’s become controversial because history, like beauty, “is in the eye of the beholder.” Or so it seems.
My mother always told me “there are two sides to every story.” You were probably told that, too. If history is a story about the past, well, that story likely has as many sides to it as the number of people who were present. We see that now as some put the history of the United States under a microscope, some to question, some to add perspective, some to condemn.
Regardless of perspective, history is important. Our history as individuals is important. The story of our past plays a role in our future. I see that in the companies I harbor in our business incubators. As an incubator director, I’ve learned to value the history of the companies in my building, the companies that want to be in my building, the people who lead them, the markets they target, and the competition in those markets.
Be careful to know history.
History may forget you, but the Internet won’t
This weekend, I watched an unusual movie, “ The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot.” Some title, eh? It was different from a typical historical drama — and not just because Sam Elliott was in it, he who has the greatest mustache of all time! The plot involved some controversial figures in history-including Hitler, who might have been murdered rather than a victim of suicide.
The 2018 movie shows Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) in a small town in the United States, living a fairly normal life despite his heroic past. Apparently, his expertise had not earned him 15 minutes or any other increment of time of fame. His flashbacks of World War II tell Barr’s history. His present lands him in the Canadian Rockies hunting Bigfoot, who (more irony) has a virus that is spreading and killing humans and animals.
Barr, who for some odd reason is immune to the virus, is forced to hunt Bigfoot and kill him to save all humanity. (Faster than finding a vaccine, you know.) I found the movie interesting due to the historical flashbacks, the drama, and, well, its intriguing plot.
What a premise! An honored soldier faces two of the most famous characters in history (well, Bigfoot is sort of, um, you know) and while he does his duty, he never receives recognition for his bravery and skill. He is destined to be forgotten as are the deeds he (supposedly) did. History will not remember him.
But we should not forget history — especially when it comes to our customers/clients. That’s the real value of Internet purchasing/browsing/tracking datasets today.
A month ago a coworker mentioned something about a new car she bought — so I went online and researched it, just to find out more about why she liked the car so much.
Oh dear. What a mistake that was! For the past month I’ve been bombarded with advertisements and emails about “A NEW CAR?” Seriously, I’ve actually received phone calls from particular dealerships (how’d they get my cell number?) and I get tons of emails about autos for sale. Good grief, I don’t want to purchase an auto, I just wanted to see what my coworker has! Apparently, my “online history” is available to a LOT of people! So sometimes recalling history — if it’s the internet recalling yours — is not so good.
Find historical records and make your own
But most of the time, particularly with our clients, we need historical information. We need to know how other companies in similar markets have performed and how they overcame obstacles. We need to compare historical progress of our client so we can assist them in overcoming future obstacles. We need to know where they were, so we can plan where they can go. History is significant when it comes to company growth and company management.
So, we keep “databases” on our clients. It’s impossible to remember and recall every detail, so we enter data on each client into a large, easy-to-use database. We can search for information and bring up everything about the client. (Well, everything we enter! Garbage in, garbage out; nothing in, nothing out; details in, information worth its weight in gold out).
In our incubators, we use a specific program made for business incubators called “ incuTrack.” It indeed helps us “track” our incubator clients and monitor their performance. It’s incredibly versatile and easy to use with standard and customized reports available.
Is this a commercial for incuTrack? Well, yes and no. Definitely I am sold on it; I’ve been using it for decades. However, the point of this post is to understand the value of knowing a company’s history. IncuTrack is just the tool we use to get that value.
We get many applicants to our program who are not technically startup companies; some have been around as long as 10 years! Why take companies like that? Because often they’ve either been under poor leadership or poor management and that has caused them to be unable to progress, raise money, produce a product, attract employees, etc.
I’ve accepted a few companies like this (and been criticized for it), and nearly all of them prospered within a few months of being associated with our incubator. Again, knowing their history — the founder’s story, the CEO’s past actions, the company’s financial records, etc. — helps me make the right decisions and to get them assistance to enable growth.
So, study your history. Know the markets. Know your clients’ past and plan their future. Keep good records: track conversations, discussions and queries, and as you get to really know your client, keep those records updated. One day all that data will help YOU to help THEM!
Mark Long has long experienced the intricacies of business incubation, acceleration, coworking spaces, makerspaces and other entrepreneurial assistance venues. UF Innovate supports an innovation ecosystem that moves research discoveries from the lab to the market, making the world a better place.
Originally published at http://incubatorblogger.wordpress.com on August 11, 2020.