The Power of the Small

5.40am and I’m up and heading down to make my morning coffee. I had hoped to be up at 5am, but clearly my body was not ready for doing anything at that time. So I’m here, just having read my brother’s response to my 1k-words-a-day challenge, and I thought I should write something that has a more expansive thought process, something useful and insightful, because I’ve been writing a work manual over the last few days and it gets dull.

A week last Friday I had the pleasure of sitting and listening to a very successful Australian entrepreneur. Recently it seems that every Australian I meet is a successful Australian entrepreneur, but this guy may be responsible for some of those other entrepreneurs. He’s not only built and sold three $20m businesses, he’s also good at the old motivational stuff. His name is Paul Dunn, Google him here, (he’s the older one). I hope he doesn’t mind me saying, but he doesn’t look like the stereotypical kind of guy that builds global businesses.

On the two occasions I’ve seen him, he had jeans and a t-shirt on, he wasn’t power-dressing for authority, or even dressing like a rich guy… you know the look! In fact if you passed him in the street, apart from looking good for his age (for Paul), I bet you wouldn’t have thought he was a ‘successful Australian entrepreneur’ at all. He’s just one of the people.

Which is where I think Paul’s charm comes in. In typical Aussie fashion, he’s very down-to-earth and comes across as laid-back. However he has a passion that is clear the minute he starts to speak… I’m guessing this is what helped create all his business success.

But hold on there, being a charismatic guy is not enough. Right?

Right. Paul’s presentation went on to push us, to create great (big) businesses by looking at the very small. He reminded us that a business is just a collection of small processes and interactions and that each action can be fine-tuned to create an outstanding result. He walked us through a number of examples, like telephone interactions. Instead of picking up the phone and saying “Hello”, we should pick up the phone and say “Hello, Wall Glamour how can I help, this is Rick speaking”… which tends to generate a response of “Hi Rick, this is Barry, I was wondering if…” and we have just created a personal moment. When we use people’s names, and they use ours, we feel more open and friendly to them, therefore more likely to do business (that’s my ten pence worth).

Secondly, he took the process of customer email interaction and looked at how we might respond to new orders. Instead of saying Thanks for your order” we could say:

“Thank you for your order, your product has been placed on a silk cushion in our dispatch area where Michael our Chief Quartermaster took the time to wipe the dust from your product and examine it for any defects. He then placed your product in an air-sealed bag and placed it on a bed of Egyptian reeds awaiting Sharon our Dispatch Executive. Sharon took your magnificent order and inspected it a second time before placing it in a box, which was created in East Asia from recycled bamboo. She sealed the box carefully, labelled it with your wonderful name, and moved it into the ‘collection zone’ where Kent the most illustrious worker in the whole of FedEx came and collected your order. He signed a proclamation (that we keep here in the office for old times’ sake) that he would care for your package until it reached your door. I hope this order brings you beautiful things in your life, your loving servants, Pens R Us.” (I made this up as I don’t have the real example).

Which one of these would create a more positive interaction?

He then talked about how all our processes in business each have the opportunity to create a connection with others. The way we write copy on our website, the way we email people, the way we send letters and brochures, the way we pitch for work. Each interaction is a point of connection with an actual human. Defining each of those processes and improving them with that humanity in mind helps to build a GREAT business. Which, hopefully, will become a big business, by virtue of the success that this level of care brings.

Pile them high and sell them cheap has worked for some, but true global success comes from caring about what you do and why you do it. I always think of Apple, not because of the iPhone or the iPad, which is what most people think. I think of Apple because of the Macintosh. The Macintosh used to be the preserve of the design and creative industries, but the iMac changed the game and became Apple’s standout product that started the new Apple we see on the high street today.

A core principle of Steve Job’s Apple (I remember the Gil Amelio days) was always to care about what they produced, and have a good reason why they should produce it. It wasn’t just for profit, and that legacy shows clearly today.

Final note, Paul is the Chairman for Buy1Give1 – a fantastic way of giving back to the world in which we live. Many people are not as fortunate as us to have access to things like Medium.com or books in general. Some don’t have access to clean water and sustainable food. With B1G1 you can become a business for good also. Check out this video.