THE BLOG
10/29/2014 09:00 am ET Updated Oct 29, 2014

The Best Advice for Small Business Success: Part 2

Advice comes at us from all angles and from all kinds of sources. But what you remember are the words of wisdom that really resonate and push you to take action. Good advice is often the key to success for small business owners. In our quest to find the best small business advice (for small business owners from small business owners), we spoke with Pamela Callahan of Lassen, Marine & Webster who shared her favorite tip:

"Don't tell me why it can't be done, tell me how it can be done."

Callahan is a commercial lines manager at Lassen, Marine & Webster, Inc., an insurance agency with a goal to assist individuals and businesses in analyzing and evaluating insurance risks, and obtaining the optimum product and price for each client's needs. Callahan's advice speaks to the heart of what owning a business is all about. Seeking out a better way or a new solution to a problem is the definition of entrepreneurial spirit.

Manta: Who gave you this piece of advice?


Pamela Callahan:
This advice was given to me when I was 25 years old working at an insurance agency in Pennsylvania. On my first day, when I told my boss I couldn't do something he asked of me, I was called to his office and he passed along this advice.

Manta: How did it make you feel when you first heard it?

PC: It wasn't easy hearing this advice on my first day. I felt like I was being reprimanded. At the time, most employees, including myself, would just run to our boss and say something couldn't be done instead of using creative thinking and figuring out a solution. Despite it being tough to hear, I realized the value in the advice right away. I really took it to heart!

Manta: Why do you consider this the best advice? Why does it resonate with you?

PC: This advice resonates with me because it turned me into a much better employee. It is a piece of advice that applies to any position -- from entry level to CEO. When I'm confronted with a challenge, I keep this advice in mind and I take the time to think through solutions when there isn't one immediately available. I do the hard work of figuring out how something can be done to get better results and save time in the long run.

Manta: How do you apply this solutions-oriented approach to your business today?

PC: I apply this to my current work in many ways. One example is when a client with a lot of lawsuits needs to be connected to an insurer. I figure out how to present the lawsuits to the insurer in the most compelling and convincing way, even when it's difficult. I set up rules and regulations on both sides of the equation, so that an agreement can be reached. If a client has recently had a lot of back injuries, I aim to set up a heavy lifting class twice a month to show that the client is actively taking steps to solve the problem. Problems aren't always easy to fix, but the benefits of figuring out the many different ways they can be solved are endless. I always make sure my work has been done efficiently and seen all the way through before anything is put to bed.

Pamela's story can be applied to any organization in any industry--that's what makes it great advice. Small business owners will likely face many challenges, and having the courage and perseverance to seek out solutions is essential for success.

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