Unfortunately, I was never that great at basketball. It's cool, I was a 4.0 student until I got to business school (ohi, calculus, y u no nice?) and people seem to think I'm tolerable.
If I missed the first shot, I would change the rules so that my preferred outcome would occur if I made 3 out of 5, or 4 out of 7, or 11 out of 20. I don't think I had the follow-through as a child to be upset if the outcome didn't actually happen. I was perfectly content just knowing that I had altered the universe by my ability to drain threes. As an adult I allow myself similar rationalizations. In fact, just this morning I reflected upon my recent romantic success and falsely correlated it to an increased likelihood of career success and financial rewards coming my way in the near future. We see people falsely correlate things like this all the time: "If I buy this car, I'll feel fulfilled" or "If my partner is a model, I'll have confidence about my desirability" or "If you build it, they will come."
Another important element of the long exposure is the subject matter. In the above image, you'll notice that the background and water are smooth, the details averaged out by the long exposure. At the same time, the chunks of concrete in the foreground are sparkling and clearly defined. A long exposure seems eerie because the most unchanging element is the most active, while the elements subject to the most change flatten out in the background. If you're able to devote more time to analyzing and planning, a lot of the smaller wrinkles smooth out and you become less obsessive about minor statistical variations or the day-to-day P&L.
One of the major mistakes I see with small businesses is a focus on product. This is especially troublesome with restaurants. While your name may be Alfredo and you may be an Italian who uses a Kitchen, "Alfredo's Italian Kitchen" is one of the worst things you could possibly name your restaurant. All it does is say that you make Italian food (usually pizza) and that it's probably not very original and might be a little boring. It also causes the customer to wonder if Alfredo's Italian Kitchen is a chain since there seems to be one of these restaurants in every city, and if the customer has had a bad experience with Alfredo's in the past you might be paying the price. As someone who manages accounts for quite a few restaurants (~12,000) in These United States I can tell you that the less successful restaurants typically follow this branding format: Stereotypical ethnic name + cuisine/menu item + semi-arbitrary noun. Lest we give the world's Alfredos a bad name, here are some examples from other cultures that are terrifyingly ubiquitous:
Sally's Seashore Sub Shop
Matthieu's French Café
Cocina Mexican Kitchen
Some examples of more inventive restaurant names:
Björn's Ludicrous Lutefisk
Yo Mama's Place
Last, here are some killer restaurant brands:
Just to quickly point out the progression, the first set of restaurant names is unimpressive and makes you go, "Yep, that's a restaurant." The second set appeals to your sense of humor by using wordplay and word association. Baguetteaboudit (it's a wonderful food truck in Durham, by the way) is really close to be a world-class restaurant name because it reminds customers of NYC and is a perfect rhyme with fuggedaboutit. I'll call it inventive and brilliant, but it's not quite brand genius.
The last set is a bit different because you immediately FEEL the restaurant and see their imagery. Granted, a lot of this is because they're huge chains, but at the same time if they didn't have that strong consistent branding they may not have been successful enough to franchise. This last set is not pulling in a pop culture reference or exclusively relying upon suggestive menu items in the name, they have a Real Live Brand. This allows them to completely own the brand and removes basically all limitations if they want to re-brand. It's kind of difficult to start selling sushi if you're Cocina Mexican Kitchen. You will confuse and estrange your core customers.
Before you start your business, devote some serious time to branding. If you have a small business or a startup already functioning, spend some time projecting into the very distant future to make sure your brand has legs. Imagine if your company goes national and has a store in almost every city. While I would love to see my name on the NYSE this can introduce all sorts of Problems. My personal and political views aren't all that interesting as I'm a straight-shooting moderate, but if the media got hold of them and painted me a certain way, it could really derail my company.
One recent example of this effect is "Papa" John Schnatter, CEO of...oh wait, I bet you guessed: Papa John's Pizza.
Papa John became the object of much ire when he voiced his opposition to the healtchcare mandate. Because his name is in his business' name, his business is correspondingly associated with all of his personal views and lifestyle choices. Ultimately, the reason I don't order from Papa John's isn't because I disagree with Papa John Schnatter's views, I just happen to like Domino's pizza better. The reason Papa John's gaffes are so egregious is that there is no pathway out of this negative publicity: John Schnatter's image is the brand too. As compared to Chick-Fil-A President's equally publicized opposition to gay marriage, you don't have the option to dismiss Papa John's views as the views of one man. Take the long view--if you died or if you were embroiled in some seriously twisted out of proportion personal drama, would you want the media to hijack your personal problems and re-brand your company with them?
It's no secret that 95% of businesses fail within 5 years and you only have a 40% chance of making any money. I always hear this as a tactic to discourage would-be entrepreneurs from starting their own businesses, but the fact is that a 5% success rate really isn't bad. You can increase the likelihood that you'll survive if you do the things other small businesses don't bother with, namely focusing your target, making a brand that's unique and easy for customers to buy into, and creating manageable and realistic growth goals. If you want to kill your competition, observe them for a while before you enter the market. Identify what they do and then figure out how you are different. Plan on highlighting your differences and exploiting your competition's weaknesses once customers express ho-hum satisfaction with their products. One example we're bombarded with constantly in b-school is the Slanket vs Snuggie war, which Snuggie has all but won NOT because it had a better product, but because they had significantly stronger brand and growth strategy.
Sustainable profits result from hard work but hard work can also result in failed businesses. By aiming at a target in the distance you increase the odds that the hard work you're putting in will pay dividends instead of ends.