In brief Featured

10:08am EDT July 22, 2002
On getting there

Daniel Staton knows about being an entrepreneur. He understands night sweats. He appreciates a lucky break. He's been there, done that.

"The difference between success and failure, if it could be measured, would be measured in millimeters," says the president and managing partner of Walnut Capital Partners, an Ohio-based investment firm. "And it's usually attitude and passion-a passion for what you do and what you believe in-that make a difference."

Staton was the keynote speaker during Innovest '98, a statewide venture capital conference held this year in Cincinnati. Eight Central Ohio companies were among the 30 selected to present business plans to an audience of potential investors at the two-day event.

Staton, also a director of several companies including Duke Realty Investments Inc., shared what he's learned since 1975, when, at age 21, he started his own moving and storage company. Here are some of his tips:

  • Pick your partner carefully.

  • Don't put all your eggs in somebody else's basket. In other words, don't rely on another business for your own success.

  • Keep it simple.

  • Don't forget who got you there.

Among his other insights:

"If you don't go to bed at night a little nervous, you're probably not taking enough risk. If you don't wake up with your palms sweaty, you're probably not taking enough risk.

"Do your homework. Be passionate. Sleep a little faster. And get real damn lucky like me."

Central Ohio companies selected to present at the event, hosted in part by Small Business News, were: Antique Networking Inc., Blue Star Material Technologies Inc., Corporate Strategic Services Inc., Docosa Foods Ltd., Enact Inc., Hy-Gene Inc., MD Systems Inc. and Visual Genomics Inc.

Fair play

Better make a game plan before you choose up sides.

New research shows that the methods managers use to assign employees to workplace teams can affect worker attitudes and performance.

A study involving 137 undergraduate students found that those who were selected randomly to an experimental team thought the process was fair. They performed better on a simple mathematics test than others who were told that they were selected based on whether they were in one of the researcher's classes.

However, those chosen to teams based on ability performed worst, even though they perceived that the team-forming method was second fairest.

"People who show a competence in performing certain tasks often end up being assigned more work of that kind. If that isn't work they find rewarding, then they are being penalized for performing well. This unintentional punishment often keeps people from trying as hard as they could," explains Howard Klein, study co-author and associate professor of management and human resources at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.

Because this was an exploratory study done in a laboratory, Klein says it is too early to make broad recommendations about the best ways to form workplace teams. However, the study results suggest that managers should be certain that their selection process is seen as equitable by employees.

"Managers can help ensure that they get the maximum effort and efficiency from workers by carefully choosing how they form teams," Klein says.

There's no place like home

There's less safety in these numbers.

Compared to last year, fewer participants in a recent survey said they felt "very" safe where they shop and where they work. In fact, home was the only place where this year more respondents said they felt "very" safe.

The survey, conducted this spring by Columbus-based Opinion Strategies Inc., consisted of telephone interviews with 600 registered voters. Questions also explored topics including the value of higher education, the character of President Clinton and the performance of institutions, organizations and professions.

Last year, 83 percent of respondents said they felt "very" safe at home; 74 percent said they felt "very" safe in their workplace; and 71 percent said they felt "very" safe where they shopped. Perceptions of safety in businesses appeared to decline this year. Gang-related crime and gang-inflicted personal harm were cited specifically by a significant number of citizens, according to Opinion Strategies.