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This morning I listened to an interview with an experienced hostage negotiator. He was being interviewed about the Jimmy Lee Dykes case in Alabama. Talk about a stressful job! This person has been involved in 47 life or death hostage situations. Whew! It’s hard to imagine the pressure.

He did say one thing that resonated with me in regards to all of us. When asked if people like Dykes ever think about how these things always end up badly for the bad guy, the negotiator said that they don’t think beyond the first step. For example, “I’ll take a kid off a bus,” or, “I’ll rob a bank.” Bank robbers don’t think about what happens if caught in the bank (when this happens he said they respond that they didn’t consider getting caught). Kidnappers don’t think about the fact that they’ll be found where hiding.

Often we start a project, get the concept, develop it and then think of thinks like:

  1. Will anybody buy this?
  2. Can I make it at a cost low enough to price it competitively?
  3. How much work will it take to market it?

Years ago I met a couple guys who had invented a device to help kids hit a baseball better. As a Little League coach I saw its value. When I asked about the price point they said it would have to retail for about $200, given their cost structure (I’d been thinking $100 max). I asked them to go do some research with sporting goods shops and wholesalers. The response was that the device was fantastic but they would only pay about $50, meaning they would retail it for $100 or less. Don’t stop your analysis at the mid-point whether it be a new idea, a growth strategy, an acquisition or your exit.

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