Small business success & cell phone cocktail?

Great quote about sales worth noting if you're looking for small business success

“Samson killed a thousand men with the jaw bone of an ass. That many sales are killed every day with the same weapon.”

— Anonymous

I recently did something I won’t do again.

Granted, I tend to accept “modern conveniences” grudgingly, but being plugged in seems to create a modern expectation of 24/7 attention – or an excuse for rude behavior.

I originally bought a cell phone as a choice between the cost of a rental car and the risk of driving from Rochester to D.C. with an old Camry burning a quart and a half of oil a week. I like driving my own car, so a flip phone purchase was easily justified. It was a business expense, a great tool to have when driving to new client locations if directions were wrong (this was before GPS mapping on phones – or in cars) and offered some peace of mind on longish trips.

The car lasted a lot longer than the phone, with nary a breakdown until the day I had it towed to my mechanic. I sheepishly asked if he could fix it, to which he exclaimed “I’ve never seen oil spewing out of more places on a car!” All that black smoke was a bad sign even I could recognize.

For years, I didn’t give out my cell number. I considered this device a convenience for me – not a tether for others. I’m a big believer in customer service – but not at the expense of having a life.

Recently, I was asked to cover the jobs of two others due to an odd mix of unavailability circumstances. This required my cell phone morph into handcuffs. When not in the office, I was expected to forward all calls to my cell and sleep with the darn thing.

I don’t live like that.

Of course, calls came in all night (mostly hang ups), usually just after I had found myself escaping into the glorious moment of finally found sleep. At the time, I was also suffering from severe back pain, which made this blissful moment challenging and required hours to get back to it.

Those that choose jobs that require on-call always availability have my admiration – and sympathy. For most seeking small business success, this isn’t necessary, nor prudent.

Are you suffering from a cell phone addiction?

Great quote about sales worth noting if you're looking for small business successJust because you have a cell phone doesn’t mean it should preempt polite face-to-face conversation. Feign your importance by never being unplugged if you must, but don’t expect others to buy it.

Perhaps I’m cantankerous, but I find it rude when someone I’ve schedule time with puts primary attention on their phone and little attention toward me. This includes family, friends and business associates. Old school, perhaps, but to me, polite in-person conversations involve undivided attention. My time is valuable (not only to me, but clients as well). If responding to your phone is more important than our time together, have at it. I’ll redirect my focus to someone who appreciates who’s in the room.

I was working with someone recently seeking my help. He was texting, answering calls and distracted to the point of zero retention. Are you kidding me? You might need a different kind of help than what I can give.

It’s rare, short and sacred time (at least for me) I spend with family. When cell phones take precedence over even the most engaging, emotional or loving conversations – under the guise of business priority – it’s sad.

Do you know friends who ask for your presence then pay homage to their iPhone as though you’re not there? Does that get you excited about the next get-together?

Call me crazy, but I can’t help but feel trivial when your phone gets more attention than me.

Your clients and prospects might have the same reaction. Ever used that mute button?

Don’t think I’m ignoring your call intentionally. I really do fail to charge my phone, bring it or hear it. It’s not personal – oh wait – yes it is. When I’m with you, my cell usually isn’t.

Most small business success isn’t about being always on and always available. When you envisioned the lifestyle small business ownership would allow did it include business focus 24/7? Why suffer with this responsibility? Clients will understand if you’re clear about availability. Prospects, family and friends will appreciate you more if your phone isn’t the most important discourse in the room.

How about you? Would you like to put someone’s cell phone in their cocktail? Are you an addict? Have any funny stories to share? Think I’m living in the dark ages? Leave a comment and if this post resonates with you, share in the easily clickable links to the left. Thanks!

14 responses to “Small business success & cell phone cocktail?”

  1. WoW! Can I ever relate! A few years ago, I got rid of my cell phone for this exact reason. When I was with someone, they had my undivided attention, whether this was personal or professional interaction.

    My friends would get irritated when I didn’t answer their calls or texts immediately. When I explained to them that when they are with me, they receive my full attention…they asked me why I even have a cell phone then. That is when I realized what the expectations were. Now, EVERYONE, whether it be professional or personal interaction is very clear where I stand and what my expectations are for undivided attention.

    I truly enjoyed reading your post, Nanette. And, NO! You are not living in the dark ages!

    • How funny Elda – and brave. Thanks for the nod of a kindred spirit. Curiously, until recently, I lived in an area without cell service (still not available there – I moved – yep, those places still exist) so didn’t get caught up in the always connected frenzy as it initially played out. Now I have an iPhone (convinced by my VA I would love once purchased for the time savings and convenience – HA!), but still don’t get the fascination. Maybe I’ll follow your lead once I’m freed from my current job commitment :-).

  2. I think I’m a bit of a maverick these days with my cell phone use: I keep my cell in airplane mode most of the time, only turning it on when I need to look something up or make a call. I really don’t like being reach-able wherever I am, and I can feel the cell phone radiation, so I don’t like it turned on when I’m carrying it near my body. A few times a day, I check for missed calls and texts, and of course I google things, but that’s it.

    I also don’t answer email on the weekends, if I can help it. LOL

    • Maverick, indeed, Harmony! I resemble that remark ;-). I have to admit, you’re better than I am in checking it a few times a day for missed calls and forget about texts – I have that disabled. Interesting to hear you can actually feel the radiation. I’ll have to try testing that one (I don’t generally carry my phone any closer than a purse). Thanks for the insight.

  3. I’m a strong advocate for healthy boundaries and I’m a kindred spirit Nanette with regard to cell phones and their usage. I think it’s up to us to make clear how we want to navigate in the world.

    • It’s good to hear I’m not the only perceived curmudgeon when it comes to this increasingly appendage “convenience” Deborah. Boundaries is a good way to describe it. Thanks for the perspective.

  4. YES!!!! I completely agree with you. Drives me insane when I have a get together with friends or family and sure enough, most have their eyes on their phones. Why on earth would I want to spend more time with them in the future if this is the attention I get. I am sooooo with you Nanette on this one. I think we need a revolution! 🙂

  5. Singing to the choir, Michelle (perhaps it’s time to do a post on idioms :-)). What really irks me is when friends call asking me to drop everything to come to them to hear about or help in an urgent difficult situation then can’t finish a sentence (or hear one of mine) without stopping mid-track because their phone is calling. I don’t get it. Count me in on the revolution you’re starting ;-)).

  6. I’m always surprised how many people are unable to ignore a ringing phone. My mother had trouble with it even in the pre-cel, landline only days.

    They have an off switch. They have a silent switch. They have airplane mode. I use all these features.

    Have you ever asked someone to use their’s when they are with you? If so, how did that go over?

    • Kate – used to drive my family and company crazy when I’d let a (landline) phone ring while we were eating dinner or having a conversation, so your mother is certainly not alone. Right – it’s not totally new, but I don’t get the new rudeness factor that seems to be now viewed as the norm. I’ve done worse than ask someone to use an off, silent or airplane mode option. I’ve suggested they ignore the phone for the moments we’re together. Usually they can’t and in many cases, I then decide to leave. We all make choices ;-).

  7. I’m not a big cell phone person either – in fact, it is dead right now and I don’t have a charger with me! I rarely text – and I don’t look up things on my phone. I have observed lately that this cell phone addiction is making us into a society of people that just aren’t connecting physically – and rudeness is becoming the norm. People in stores just stopping to check their phone – people walking through doors and letting is slam in your face as they are looking at their phone and don’t realize anybody is behind them. I could go on – but obviously I totally agree with what you and others that commented say

    • Too funny, Vickie. I just realized my cell phone was out of juice too (someone tried to call me and that red feed me now line appeared). Good point on the physical connection loss. I was walking outside today and kept moving to try to avoid the weaving strides of a gal so focused on her device she had no idea I was continually changing my path to avoid crashing with hers. When she did finally look up, she gave me a rude look as though I had maneuvered to be in her way.

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