A Nickel’s Worth of Free Business Advice*

Businesses today have some practices that make me scratch my head.

Let’s start with pharmaceuticals. When a drug’s patent allows for generics to be manufactured and sold, chemists try to reverse engineer the name-brand drug. They then try to formulate a generic drug that is sorta kinda like the original. They then test the drug for safety using young, healthy individuals.

But who will actually need the product? Old people with chronic illnesses. Unless the young test participants start dropping like flies, the generic drug is presumed safe for the intended customers. If it doesn’t work for older patients . . . . well, that’s the way it goes.

Incidentally, who can afford name-brand drugs once there’s a generic available? I’m not sure, but you could probably fit them all into a single phone booth–if we still had phone booths.

On a similar note, I bought a new alarm clock. My adult children don’t use alarm clocks–they use their cell phones. They don’t wear wristwatches because they use their cell phones. They don’t use Daytimers because–you know where I’m going with this.

On the other hand, I use my cell phone to make telephone calls, text messages, and to check the Internet. I know, it’s weird, but it’s common among those of us who are old enough to no longer worry about having a date for Saturday night.

Since I don’t use my cellphone as a clock, I need a clock-clock to wake me up in the morning.

The clock I picked out has a number of nice features. It sets the time automatically using WWVB signals from the National Bureau of Standards in Fort Collins, Colorado. I can place my cell phone, which I don’t use as an alarm clock, on the top to charge it. The display is muted but visible.

However, there are a few steps to set it up for the first time. There is an instruction booklet that came with the clock. There are just two problems:

  • The directions are written in that ubiquitous hybrid of Chinese and English that is a bit confusing for those of us who grew up with English as a primary language.
  • The directions are also printed in a teeny-tiny font for which I need both reading glasses and a Super Trouper theatrical spotlight to see.

The free advice? Think about who will use your product when you manufacture and package it.

*With apologies to Back to the Future‘s Mr. Strickland.

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