Spoiler alert: This may be fake news

Businesses can now solve all their problems with new magic wand

Mainstream media today is reporting that a new magic wand will soon be available to Amazon Prime members for $29.95. This unique product, an unnamed source said, was developed specifically for passive CEOs who, with a mere wave of this remarkable device, can solve any business problem. Sources say that the wand’s first-year sales could surpass revenues of the Echo and iPhone.

Unfortunately, this is fake news and most CEOs should recognize it as such. As we have learned, however, not all such reports are rejected as too good to be true. Below are five examples of bogus news or business assumptions that too many leaders might accept as feasible, immediately followed by a reality check for each.

1. It’s best to leave high producing, yet incredibly difficult to manage, prima donnas alone as they’ll outgrow this flaw.

Sorry, but once a jerk, always a jerk unless management has a heart-to-heart with the offender, explains the personality deficits and constructively outlines how he or she can redeem his or herself. Pretend it’s not a problem and it will eventually come back to bite you.

2. Never rock the boat when sales and profits are lagging because it’s often a temporary blip.

Wishful thinking. If a CEO puts his or her head in the sand, the only guarantee is that he or she will suffocate, as will the business. Time does not heal all. What is needed is a cogent plan with specific measurable actions to reverse the tide.

3. If you build it, they will come.

This only happened to Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams.” Developing a new product line or a startup takes a combination of art, science and hard work. Start with the idea and some methodical planning that fleshes out the justification for the new endeavor. Next comes a plan that includes financials, capital requirements and every other component to drive success.

4. The best way to improve profits is to avoid spending money on research and development.

There are tens of millions of garages. Toiling inside some are very bright entrepreneurs building the next — better — mousetrap. Companies that stand still will likely find themselves caught in one of those aforementioned mousetraps.

5. When a company makes a mistake, there’s no point in coming clean because people just aren’t sophisticated enough to know.

Get real. That was then and this is now. With the internet and social media, which moves at the speed of light, everyone, anyone and even your employees will expose a company’s shortcomings with a few clicks on a keyboard and an upload to their chosen site of mass destruction. If you don’t believe me, just do a web search of “America’s worst companies” and say a silent prayer of thanks if your company is not listed.

The “cost” of doing business today has changed. Just to survive, every company must plan, invest and execute. What was OK a few years ago won’t even make the cut today. If you want to believe in fantasies, go to a movie. If you want to excel, you’ll have to shake more than a magic wand.

Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax and in 16-years, as CEO, grew the retailer to sales of $5 billion in 1,000 stores worldwide.