The Bookworm

Book highlights new methods for doing battle in business

Posted March 06, 2011, at 9:04 p.m.

“ARMY OF ENTREPRENEURS” by Jennifer Prosek; Amacom, 2011, $23.00 / $26 Canada, 209 pages.

These days, it’s a battle to stay in business.

From your command post at headquarters, you see the daily skirmish as your employees go hand-to-hand with the competition. Sometimes they capture new clients and other times, they’re just not strong enough to withstand other forces. Top brass would love to have your people win, but the troops are getting tired and morale is low. Should you deploy more people, or stay the course?

In the new book “Army of Entrepreneurs” by Jennifer Prosek, you’ll learn a whole new way of doing battle in business, and this one may win the war.

To grow during a recession is an impressive feat for a business, and Jennifer Prosek’s public relations and consulting firm did just that — twice.

It started a few years after Prosek took over her firm. She began to notice that she was doing all the work at the office and her employees were missing opportunities that she could see clearly. She talked with other business owners and realized that those in other industries were seeing the same problems.

She recognized she needed to train her employees in entrepreneurial skills and she had to show them what she wanted. She created an Army of Entrepreneurs by instituting what she calls Commission for Life, which is a way for employees to increase their paychecks with one simple action. Prosek says that by giving her employees this “personal stake” in the company, morale improved, too.

So how can you draft your own army?

First of all, Prosek says, create a core culture in your business. Adopt transparency in all aspects and “strive for overcommunication” because it keeps people informed and it squashes rumors.

Celebrate with your team and institute regular off-site fun. Offer cross-training, professional development and mentorship programs. Encourage autonomy and make your employees fearless in the office and out. Present rewards often. Develop zero tolerance for “deal breakers.” Use social media and employee strengths. Always be aware of talent in need of a workplace like yours (but learn to interview prospects to choose wisely). Be a good boss.

Having been on both sides of the executive desk, what’s inside “Army of Entrepreneurs” sure sounds great to me.

Think about it: Employees love autonomy and a lack of micromanaging. Bosses love that the work gets done, on time and without fuss, which makes them look great. Company owners love business growth without having to worry about a revolving employment door.

But will the AOE program work for a company of your size?

Author Jennifer Prosek says it will, and she offers ideas and tips meant both for larger corporations wanting to give this method a whirl, and for smaller companies with very few employees. Prosek backs up her information with anecdotes and quizzes to keep managers of any size business on the right track.

If you’re taking a walloping from the new economy, why not try something different by reading this book? At the very least, “Army of Entrepreneurs” will give your business a fighting chance.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old, and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.

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