Running Your Business Via Cell Phone – Really?

I just bought a new Apple iPhone 4-S, replacing a five-year-old Blackberry—allowing me (as my sons had laughingly encouraged) to come into the 21st Century. Me, the designer and developer of business systems software, a notoriously outdated cell phone user!

Although I’ve enjoyed having a cell phone, I hadn’t used most of its features. Over the past 15 years, systems have so simplified my business life, that I have been able to run my business FROM my office—NOT from my phone, for the most part. I’m thankful for that!

Cell phones are great tools, and I appreciate mine for staying connected with my wife and others—and YES, for discussing business matters of higher importance at times, but generally after business hours or when I’m away from the office.

In recent years, I’ve noticed that many business owners and managers actually run their businesses via their cell phones—constantly allowing calls and text messages to interrupt even important meetings, meals, and any personal time. Many of my business friends still rely SO heavily on their cell phones, the devices have become become like a prosthetics attached to the sides of their heads; owning many hours of their day.

“So what?” you ask.

What I have witnessed is not so much that cell phones are “wonderful tools,” rather that for some they have become an albatross—a shackle and a burden. I’ve seen some pain and embarrassment on the faces of business owners who now want to get rid of them, but don’t know how.

Their children, spouses and, quite frankly, everyone around them have become sick of seeing these execs with a cell phone stuck in an ear, and hearing them say, “I’m sorry, I have to take this call. Yu know, its new business.” Or, “Excuse me, I need to take this call. There’s a problem at the office.” Or, “Sorry, I can’t believe I’m getting called again, but I’ll need to take it!.” And the like.

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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  • BarryEsslinger

    Great observation. How much productive time is lost? How much creative time is killed by our crisis (connected) business style of today?

  • Greg Mpls

    Absolutely cells are horribly improperly ‘used’. Unless you an on-call Doctor, guarding ‘the red button’ in DC, preparing for a loan closing or very important meeting today, I seldom take a cell call when I’m with another person. If the person you are meeting with IS important to/for your business then you and they should have each other’s undivided attention, and focus on the face to face (emotional intelligence intel). I feel second-rate, insulted when someone takes a call in my presence, unless it’s from a family member in a near-emergency.I learned 16 years ago that cell calls should mostly be used for emergencies, appropriate follow-ups; emails are for detailed interactions that a) respond and answer a previous email, b) pose a question with a suggested possible solution, and with both emails offer a deadline/followup time. This applies to texting, also. Professionals understand that everyone needs to do work, and it’s ok to leave detailed voice messages, and not answer calls for an hour or so every day, allowing you to work. I also make it a habit to say on my messages that I will return calls within 24 hours, and do. Good luck with your future time/people management.

  • Highly annoyed

    This strikes such a sore spot for me – I’m posting anonymously because I’m talking about my company OWNER and want to keep my job until such time as I choose to move on.

    It is completely impossible to hold a conversation or even a scheduled meeting without my BOSS interrupting repeatedly to take phone calls and respond to text messages. You’d think a 50 year old professional would understand how completely ridiculous this behavior is. He actually walked out while we were interviewing a job candidate together, saying that the call was too urgent for him to ignore, when in truth, it was simply a project that he didn’t have the skills to delegate to someone else. The candidate was obviously offended, and I don’t blame her.

    Obviously, I don’t intend to be a party to this indefinitely; it’s too embarrassing. How can a grown-up not understand how completely disrespectful it is to continually communicate to customers and employees that the need to answer the damn cell phone is more important than the human beings right in front of him.

    You’d think our company was filled with nincompoops instead of highly skilled, educated and competent people, who can easily handle the jobs that need to get done, if the boss will simply LET GO of them. And THAT’S why my company continues to be operated by cell phone – it’s the way the boss wants it. Period.

    Okay – I’m done…

  • Jeff S.

    Well put. Thanks for writing.

  • Robert Bloecker

    Fantastic article. My Cell phone sits in my desk drawer while I am in the office. And when I am off work, there had better be a good reason to call me, and generally, the 1 – 2 times a month I get an after hour call, there is. But I absolutely won’t tolerate a constant barrage of cell phone calls for no good reason.