Frankly Speaking: Why We Need More Company Failures (Small Ones Preferred)

By Frank Lessiter, Chairman

Measuring a company's success often boils down to its staff having a "can do" or a "can't do" attitude. When there's a lack of enthusiasm for new ideas, a company simply can't grow. In fact, it may not survive.

My entrepreneurial-style DNA often encourages me to push ahead with a new idea even when we haven’t gathered all the facts and details rather than taking weeks or months to over-think an idea. This has worked most of the time, but there’s always an opportunity to learn from a few failures. And in fact, if we don’t have a few failures along the way (think small ones), it means LM isn’t trying enough new ideas.

Wanted: More Game-Changing Ideas

Our goal is to dramatically expand the company over the next few years. A 3-year income goal set in late 2015 was an aggressive one, but we’ll end up coming within 9% of reaching this year’s budget by December 31. We also set a 10-year goal at the same time that calls for more than doubling company income by 2025, so there’s still much work to be done.

While we’ve looked at purchasing several magazines we haven’t found any that seem to be the right fit. We’ve made an offer on a few B2Bs, but many of the proper-ties available for sale are either too wounded, competing in far too-crowded markets or are overly priced.

Internal Growth Works

Some of our best projects have been the offspring of existing properties. Falling into this category have been Rural Lifestyle Dealer, Precision Farming Dealer, Strip-Till Farmer, the Farrier School Guide, all 5 events and numerous other projects. Had our team sat on their hands instead of stretching themselves, we wouldn’t be where we are today. And your career opportunities would be very different too.

As a result, the “Lessiter Learn 2 Launch Lab” project was introduced last March
to encourage fresh ideas for both company and personal growth. So far this year, we’ve launched the TASER project and Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s upcoming web-site-based
Dealer Success Academy” virtual event that’s coming later this spring.

We’re also launching a cover crop project proposed by John Dobberstein to fulfill an even narrower niche than those now served by No-Till Farmer and Strip-Till Farmer. With cover crop momentum building, the idea is for us to become the No. 1 source for farmers, suppliers and educators interested in the latest cover cropping techniques.

John’s proposal was green-lighted in mid-November and will start with the development of a cover crop website by February, an early spring web-based virtual event and a digital and/or printed publication to be introduced by next fall.

More Ideas Needed

While these “Launch Lab” projects are a start, we need many more ideas. To continue to grow, we must get past thinking we’re all too busy to take on new projects or the fear that expansion will mean having to work harder. When the company grows, rewards are many, including, but not limited to, the ASPIRE pool.

No idea is too small, whether it’s a new way to trim expenses, become more efficient or dreaming up a unique blockbuster project. This is where each of us needs to step up, adopt a “can do” attitude and make new things happen. As one of our subscribers told us, “The key to growth in any company is to bite off more than you can chew, and then find a way to get it all chewed.” It doesn’t happen any other way.