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The New Stuff

The Dangers of Picking a Niche Too Early

A great many young people think they have found a quick and easy road to success by concentrating their minds wholly on the jobs they happen to hold.
It is perfectly true that a business man must not underestimate the importance of details.
But it is also true that large success is always built upon a clear understanding of basic principles.
The common fallacy that it is best for an individual—especially a young one—to confine their thought and studies to one niche or specialty has in many instances proved ruinous. It is easily possible to specialize so much as to lose all sense of the importance of a broad, well-balanced business training.
We all know the lawyer who is wrapped up in  briefs; the accountant who sees nothing in business but a maze of figures; the advertising person who is so fascinated by "cleverness" that they
forgets to try to sell; and the techie who knows nothing about the commercial phases of  engineering problems.
Such people cannot take their places among the C-Suite because they know little or nothing of business outside their own specialty, and they cannot know even that thoroughly while their general outlook remains so narrow.

Only half ready

Some years ago two young men of unusual promise graduated from a prominent School of Engineering and went to work for a big copper company as mining engineers. They were located at an isolated camp, remote from civilization, and were given every chance to make good the prediction made for them at the time of graduation.
These men soon proved that they knew a great deal about the mining of copper. Their advancement was rapid, and within a comparatively short time one of them was appointed General Manager and the other Chief Engineer. To all intents and purposes they were in complete charge of the company's interests in that locality.
It was not long before the problems put up to these two mining experts ceased to be confined to the technical end of the business. The 32handling of a large number of people, the disposition of big sums of money, the necessity of using both people and money economically, the accounting and statistics of their operations, and a hundred other problems no less "practical" demanded the exercise of judgment on their part and a knowledge of business principles that neither their technical training nor their previous experience had supplied.
Unfortunately, these two—the General Manager and the Chief Engineer—had their heads turned by their rapid advancement. They did not recognize the fact that a thorough business training would have made them near failure-proof, and they even expressed contempt for scientific study of such subjects as accounting, banking, organization, cost finding, selling and finance.
In course of time the operations of the company made necessary the extension of its mining facilities, involving the erection of a concentrator and smelter at an expenditure of a little over $2,000,000. These men were in charge of selecting and arranging for the sites and erection of the plants. The work had gone forward to a considerable extent when one of the executive officers of the company from the East came to inspect the properties and the progress of the new work. He was so disappointed at the lack 33of business judgment displayed in the selection of the sites, the drawing of contracts and other matters, that he dismissed the Chief Engineer on the spot, and curtailed the authority of the General Manager.
He stated that thereafter he would select people who had some business as well as technical training.
These men missed success because they lacked certain essential tools with which to build it. Equipped with an elaborate professional kit gathered through years of painstaking study, they still lacked that knowledge of business principles which was necessary to enable them to turn their technical knowledge into results.
Every one who holds, or expects ever to hold, a position of business leadership should be familiar with the whole field of business. The reasons for this are apparent to any one who has to do with the handling of large problems. It is necessary always to take into account all the important factors in such problems. No matter how ably a marketing or an accounting difficulty may be met, the solution is worse than useless if it affects unfavorably any other phase of the business.
A business executive cannot afford to make many serious mistakes. To guard against mistakes, he must be fortified with an all-round 34knowledge of business practice—not merely a partial or one-sided knowledge.
The principles of Production, Marketing, Financing and Accounting are fundamental and apply to all lines of business. The person who says they do not apply because their business is "different" is simply exposing their failure to get down to rock bottom in their thinking. Every business has its points of difference, just as every person has an individuality of their own. But we know that human nature, broadly speaking, is much the same in all. In a like sense all business moves along similar lines. It all consists of producing, marketing, financing and accounting.
The broad principles of modern business science, therefore, govern all business. They are related to your problems, no matter how "different" your business may appear to be on the surface.