BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL
The Syndrome Of
The Buggy Whip
I s your business like a typewrit-
er? Could it be today's buggy-
If you send carbon-paper
First, be open-minded and go
at it with a healthy attitude. If you
run your own construction firm
invoices through the mail to cus-
and have failed to get
tomers or prepare sales
bids on jobs, you might
receipts with a pen, your
consider applying for a
business could very well be
construction position in
at risk of following the path
a larger corporation and
of the typewriter.
then winding down your
A buggy whip is today's
universal symbol for any-
If you have been mak-
thing hopelessly outmoded.
ing your living selling fax
It is literally the horsewhip
used by carriage drivers
invoices and sales slips,
Robe rt Sher
before the invention of
your business is doomed
automobiles caused the
to fail. Today's business
product to be virtually
climate requires a computer to do
useless. The buggy whip has simi-
just about all administrative work.
larities to the typewriter, which was
You can even fax using a special e-
the most significant business tool
mail program on your computer.
from the late 19th century through
You are already a salesperson.
the 1980s before it was replaced by
Be proactive. Why don't you find a
the personal computer.
new, more current product to rep —
While I can't say which business-
like the latest and greatest project
es will survive and which ones will
management software or backup
fail, I can see the writing on the wall
data storage systems for desktops
in many industries, among them our
community's longtime lifeblood, the
automotive manufacturing industry.
You certainly don't need me to
tell you that every person and every
business in this area and elsewhere
is impacted by what happens in this
very industry; however, I can con-
tinue to encourage you to get out
and network and reiterate why it is
important to continually seek new
I can remind you to let people
know what you can do for them,
to stay positive and to help oth-
ers whenever you can. There is still
plenty of opportunity. You need to
In my coaching practice, I help
business executives navigate the
complicated mazes they face every
day in the business world. I help
family businesses transition from
one generation to the next. I try
to share what I've learned in my
coaching practice to help you focus
on your goals and also to continu-
ously improve the quality of your
work, productivity and relationships.
Today, I will try to give you some
advice you can use to develop
plans and stay ahead of the game
and avoid the next buggy whip
Take a cue from my son, Michael,
an associate real estate broker,
whose business began to soften
several years ago when residential
home sales plummeted. Instead of
waiting it out or whining about the
bad market, he did some research
to figure out how to put his skills to
After taking a class on short
sales, Michael began specializing in
this type of real estate and now has
a reputation for being very success-
ful doing short sales.
Remember, do what it takes to
avoid the next buggy whip industry,
whatever it may be. It is never too
late for innovation. It is never too
late to be part of the solution, not
the problem. There is great oppor-
tunity in this bad economy. Your job
is to find it, embrace it and make it
work for you.
Wish family and friends and the entire
Jewish community a Happy New Year!
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Published: Sept. 17, 2009
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Robert Sher, CPA, is a certified executive
coach. He is former CFO and partner for
Schostak Brothers & Company, Livonia.
His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org .
iN Rosh Hashanah Greetings 2009
29200 Northwestern Hwy. Suite 110
Southfield, MI 48034
or fax to: 248.304.0049
August 13 - 2009