Good Driving Equals Good Business



Last week, Allstate Insurance Company released its eighth annual “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report,” which ranks the 200 largest cities in the U.S. based on reported collisions.

The winner of the coveted “Best Drivers” designation is Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which has enjoyed the top spot for five of the last eight years. So, what’s so special about Sioux Falls? Well . . . nothing in particular. While I’m sure there are some very nice things about Sioux Falls, but I don’t think that its residents are somehow intrinsically better or more noble than the average American. Sioux Falls residents are just good at following safety guidelines.

Good driving is easy; it’s not rocket science. Yet 32,000 people die in car collisions every year in this country. Clearly, many people aren’t thinking about the most basic safety rules. So they’re crashing into each other, paying lots of money for repairs and higher insurance premiums and sometimes paying with their lives.

Running a business isn’t so different than driving safely. It’s not rocket science; lots of people of average intelligence run successful businesses. That’s why you got into business, right? You looked at Joe down in the strip mall on the corner and you thought, “This guy isn’t better than me. He’s just a regular guy and he’s making it with his business.” And you’re right. But somehow, your business struggles. You’ve read countless articles giving you very basic advice about how to run your business efficiently for maximum profit (and basic success). And yet . . .

Well, maybe it’s time to review the rules. Below, you’ll find Allstate’s guidelines to safe driving. We’ll look at how you can apply them to your business, too. So you’ll be a safe driver AND a successful businessperson.

TimeAllow plenty of time to reach your destination. Trying to get yourself across town in 10 minutes when it normally takes 20 minutes just raises your blood pressure and makes you do stupid things like not stopping for STOP signs. Trying to get your business to grow faster than it should makes you do stupid things like taking out huge amounts of debt. Let your business grow organically with as little debt as possible. It might take you an extra year to get the profit margins you want, but speeding things along can have the adverse affect; a huge crash.

Car RadioKnow what’s happening in the city during the time you’re driving. Allstate recommends that you tune into your car radio and keep updated about special events or road construction that can cause congestion.

It pays to know what’s going on in your town for all kinds of reasons. Is there a big event coming that you can capitalize on? Will there be road construction that will affect traffic to your business? Be in the know – detour when necessary and avoid headaches.

Photo: Ed Brown

Stay alert. If you’re texting, eating or fiddling with your iPod while driving, you might rear-end the guy in front of you. In fact, the average time your eyes are off the road while texting (when traveling 55 mph, that is long enough to drive a full football field length with your eyes closed). This makes you 23% more likely to crash than a driver not looking at their cell phone! If you’re goofing around instead of paying attention, a competitor might move into town and take all your best clients while you’re spending all day on Facebook. Stay alert. Read up on industry trends and blogs that deal with your products or services.

MapGet directions to where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, you might do something stupid, like cross three lanes of traffic in order to make your exit. Even if you don’t crash, the nice Highway patrolman still might take issue with your bad driving. Allstate recommends that you look at a map or GPS unit prior to leaving home, so that you can know where you’re going. This is important for your business, too. Get lots of help before you open your business, and along the way, too. Find yourself a mentor; someone who’s already been where you’re going and can tell you the best way to get there.

Rules of the RoadKnow the rules of the road. Speed limits were put into place for a reason (or so I’m told). If you don’t follow the rules, you can get a ticket. Or crash your car. You’d better know the rules that apply to your business, too. If you’re required to file taxes quarterly and you don’t . . . the IRS just might show up at your door.

So, how’s your overall ranking? Do you follow the basic rules of business? They might seem very basic, but it’s worth reviewing them every so often.

So how does your city or state rank on Allstate’s list? See the top ten safest cities below:

City & Overall Ranking

  1. Sioux Falls, S.D.
  2. Boise, Idaho
  3. Fort Collins, Colo.
  4. Madison, Wisc.
  5. Lincoln, Neb.
  6. Huntsville, Ala.
  7. Chandler, Ariz.
  8. Reno, Nev.
  9. Knoxville, Tenn.
  10. Springfield, Mo.