Thursday, December 22, 2005

“I’ll be rude if I have to be” -- Inside the entrepreneurial mind

The most precious thing any entrepreneur has (or sells) is time. So if you wonder why I am always arguing for clear, impactful messages when communicating with entrepreneurs, it’s because these busy business owners will only give you seconds to make your point. If you haven’t sold them at a glance, you’re done.

So here’s Exhibit A.

Bob Parsons is a U.S. entrepreneur who founded fast-growing Internet Net registry In a recent post on his blog (Nov. 17), he wrote about the constant need to protect his time against “all sorts of ‘time grabbers’ that vie for our attention.”

Here (condensed for your convenience) are a few of his “not so polite” time-saving tips.

* "If a stranger calls me they better get right to the point. “I insist that if someone is calling me and I don’t know them, that they immediately get to the point with what they want. If I have someone on the line and they start rambling and simply talking about who they are, I will chime in that they have 30 seconds to get to the point. If they don’t immediately get to the point, I hang up.

* Once they get to the point, if it’s something I’m not interested in, I will simply say, “I’m not interested,” and immediately hang up.”

* If the person on the other line does not have something of immediate interest to you, you owe them nothing.

* I particularly dislike calls from boiler rooms promoting bad investments.Often, I will simply hang up on these without saying anything. Other times I simply say – before hanging up — “when I’m ready to trust my money to a complete stranger, I’ll give you a call.”

* Hanging up quickly allows you to avoid time-wasting calls. The most important thing to remember is to say you can’t help, be polite, say you have to go and then hang up.

* Do not allow yourself to get drawn into listening to an endless stream of dialogue that doesn’t interest you… Sitting there listening won’t get your job done.

* When customers call, they are doing me a favor. By calling me the customers are giving me inside information as to what might be wrong with my business, and letting me know what I can do to make it better. So I always pay attention to these calls.

* If someone wants me to return a call, I've got to know what they want. If someone just leaves a name and phone number and I don’t know who they are and what they want, I will never return the phone call.

*For me to return any call, the message has to be understandable, it has to be of immediate interest to me and it has to be something that I want.

* Email is another place where you can save a bundle of time. I expect any email I open to be both brief and to the point. If it's not both, unless it deals with a subject that interests me, I immediately hit the delete key.

* Some of the things I appreciate are subject lines that give me an idea what the email is about, formatted paragraphs of two to four short sentences — nothing wastes more time than trying to decipher a huge unformatted blob of text — and no more than a screen of text. Basically if an email needs more than 5 to 10 seconds of my time it gets deleted mostly unread.

* It's really all about taking charge of your schedule. Some readers after going through this article will think I’m rude. I understand that. When it comes to protecting my time I like to be polite, but it’s not a requirement for me – I’ll be rude if I have to be.

* All of us need to be jealous of our time – we have so little of it. If protecting my time means being short and to the point, then so be it. It will be me who enjoys the extra time I have available later. I will have earned it."

Rick's Note: I like the forceful language of entitlement that Bob uses. “It’s all about me.” “I’ve earned it.” A lot of people may be uncomfortable sounding like that, but I find this attitude reflects that of a lot of successful entrepreneurs.
Ignore it at your peril.

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