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The World To Come

The World to ComeThe World to Come

reviewed by Ray Silverstein

I would like to introduce an extremely interesting book, “The World To Come,” by Dara Horn. This is not a business book, but it made me think more seriously about what is “the world to come” is for business. The book deals with the concept of our individual futures. The next event in your life… the next door you open to an unknown circumstance…even birth and death. Each of us of has our own World To Come.

In the business environment, not everything is unknown. But many business owners do not want to examine or think about the world that will be coming upon them. It is evident that customer communication methods are changing rapidly, in some ways not to our liking. But if we want to experience and be around for The World To Come, we must adapt and change our thinking.

When I first entered the business world (I don’t want to say how long ago), the primary method of communication was a personal letter, followed by a personal phone call. A long distance call was something special, unique and expensive. A telegram was a sure way to get someone’s attention.

These methods don’t really carry any weight today. Many people now favor email. It is easier to make an email connection than a telephone connection. Depending on the age and generation of the communicator, even an email may be out of date, with text messaging or tweeting your communication method of choice.

The world is becoming smaller. It is far easier to learn about customers, suppliers, competitors, and people in general with Internet sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter plus a host of others websites. When I talk to small business owners in the peer advisory boards I facilitate, some are moving forward into these new and interesting venues, but others are still living in the old world.

I believe we all have to move into The World To Come…even me. Nobody likes to change their habits, be forced to learn new skills, or be made to feel uncomfortable. I like to look upon moving forward as a new adventure. Think about the strategic concepts, the way these new technologies can enhance your business, life and experience. For example, my wife is even Skypeing with her grandchildren. What a treat! To be able to not only talk with but actually see friends, children, grandchildren, and business associates around the world. And the price is right…it’s free!

If you are not in the Chicago or Phoenix areas and would like to explore with me how you can position your business and benefit in The World To Come, visit PRO President’s Resource Organization  People say life is an adventure…come and explore with us!

Turn Problems into Opportunities

PRO-Success-225x220“Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.”

This is one of those standby expressions that small business owners frequently say to their employees. It recently came up in one of my PRO peer groups. The question was: is it a smart thing, or is it a dumb thing?

At first glance, the phrase implies that the employer has mastered the art of delegation and empowered his or her employees to take independent action. So, it’s a smart thing, right?

Actually, the conclusion we came to is: no, not when you really think about it.

  • Do you really not want to know what’s going on in your business, especially problems?
  • Do you really want to encourage your employees not to communicate with you? To not use you as a resource?

The Art of Delegation

Delegating to employees is a healthy strategy, yes. But completely removing yourself from your business and your staff is not going to help either one grow.

But delegating to the correct degree is a tricky skill for many small business owners to develop, because it goes against their entrepreneurial roots.

Many young entrepreneurs are control freaks in the early days of their business, and it serves them well.  They want to manage every aspect of their operation and jump on every little problem. It’s a good thing when you’re getting started.

But then, as the business grows beyond their capabilities, they recognize the need to hire a staff and delegate. But some can’t let anything go and become overbearing workaholics; while others let everything go and get out of touch with their own business.

The trick is to find the right balance. The right approach is to encourage employees to bring you their problems, whether they have solutions or not. Problem solving should be encouraged, but good communication should be encouraged more. That’s how you create a foundation of trust.

Seizing Teachable Moments

Every time an employee brings a problem to your attention, it’s an opportunity for a mini training session.

No, you don’t want your staff bringing you every trivial little issue. But it’s up to you to define what’s important and communicate those limits to your employee.

For example, one of my peer group members had a new service rep. The rep was having trouble resolving customer complaints, and ended up bringing everything to the boss. It was time-consuming.

His solution was to define the limits of her decision-making authority. If it was less than a $100 problem, she could make the call. If it was more than a $100 problem, they’d resolve it together.

At the end of every week, he had her provide a spreadsheet of the problems and her resolutions, so he could confirm she was on the right track. As she grew more knowledgeable and confident, he increased her decision-making dollar max.

In other words, the problems became a springboard for employee training and development. For more ways to turn business “lemons” into lemonade, check out my website, www.bestsmallbizsecrets.com.

Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. His latest venture is Propelus University of Practical Business, a specialized resource for emerging businesses, solopreneurs and those who want to achieve more. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or ray@propres.com.