10 Steps to Succeeding This Year

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Here we are, already in the first week of 2016. We will now have to start concentrating on writing 2016 instead of 2015. Time flies when you’re having fun. Is that it? Are we really having fun? I believe we are.

Even with all of the challenges the PCB industry faces every day, it is still a great ride, isn’t it? I look at it as a great adventure, an adventure that has been going on for over 65 years, going back to when the first North American commercial board shop, Photocircuits, opened in 1951.

Think about what was going on in the world at that time. The transistor was only four years old. The space program was at least six years into the future, and the few computers that existed were the size of a small house. Ponder for a moment just how far technology has come since those first days of our commercial industry. It has been a long and very exciting journey.

And the printed circuit board has been an integral part of all of the technology that has evolved since 1951. There were hundreds of PCBs on the Apollo missions, and thousands on the Space Shuttles. Think of the computer age, from mainframes to mini computers, to personal computers and smartphones…all built with PCBs. Ours is a strong, proud heritage, and we should remember that, but for just a moment, because there is nothing to be gained by being nostalgic. In fact, in most instances nostalgia can be the enemy of the future. Spending too much time looking back can blur our vision of the future.

Now let’s talk about the future. As our industry enters its 65th year, let’s look forward with the same vision, energy, optimism and passion that those pioneers had 65 years ago.

With that in mind, here are 10 things to do to make 2016 a successful year:

  1. Take on new challenges.
  2. Do something you have never done before.
  3. Take on a whole new approach to your marketing. The old ways don’t seem to be working too well.
  4. Spend more time analyzing your business, especially the way you do business. Plan to spend more time coming up with better ways to do things.
  5. Concentrate on your customers; this should be the year of the customer. Find out where they are going. What is their business like? What are they going to need from you in the near future and in the long term?
  6. Help one another. This is a new idea. Imagine board shops working together, helping each other to make a stronger industry, especially here in North America. A partner is someone you join forces with to do something great, something too big for each of you to do individually. Just imagine what we could accomplish if we worked together instead of trying to beat each other’s brains out.
  7. Investigate your talent pool. Find out more about each one of your associates. There could be another Einstein hidden there in the plating shop. (Actually, I know more than one successful board shop owner who started in the plating department).
  8. Hire young people. Yes, please do. It might not be easy but find a way. Develop plans to make our companies and our industry more attractive to young people in the future. In Maine, we have the last few remnants of a religious group called the Shakers; you might have heard of them. They make really cool furniture and stuff. But there are fewer than five left in the whole country. Since they don’t believe in sex for any reason, their growth plan has never been very, shall we say, productive. Let’s make sure that our industry does not go the way of the Shakers. Look around; none of us are getting any younger. Go find some young people.
  9. Fix up your shop; spruce it up and make it look inviting. Even some paint and floor wax will vastly improve the appearance of most shops I’ve seen. And best of all, this is always a great morale boost for your team. It sends all of the right messages.
  10. Look to the future with optimism. True, our numbers in North American have been diminishing for years. But that is not indicative of the global market. Think about this: In the so called “boom times” of the ‘80s when there were supposedly around 1,500 shops in this country, the entire global PCB market was $10 billion. Today, that global number is $60 billion and growing. The business is there, so let’s go get more of it! And, of course, I have to add Number 11:
  11. Underpromise and overdeliver. Always give your customers more than they expect from you. Surprise them with your performance and you will make them customers for life.

So, let’s get out there and have a productive, positive, and prosperous New Year. It’s only common sense.


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