Recent Posts by Learning Entrepreneurship

Make work fun

A simple principle for good management

Make work fun. It really is that simple. Don’t make it more complicated.

I know, it is more complicated, but let’s try to simplify good management down to one guiding principle.

Your job as a manager is to ensure that your employees are working effectively to meet the department’s and the company’s objectives. It requires that individual objectives be in line with the objectives of the business.

happy winnerHaving fun is one objective that we can all agree on. Especially if we accept that making money is fun! For both the employee and the business.

Don’t make it more complicated. Take a look at what you have to change or fix, so that work is more fun. Provide leadership, remove obstacles, give recognition. Everything else will take care of itself. They will get the job done and meet their objectives. And you will meet yours.

All the while, everybody is having fun. See, it really is that simple.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Visit LearningEntrepreneurship.com or contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

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Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Annoying disturbances

To Prevent, Avoid or Ignore

mosquitos- (2)A pleasant walk in the sunshine this morning was interrupted first by the dive-bombing red-winged blackbirds along the riverside, then by the swarms of annoying mosquitoes in the woods.

Back at the office it may continue. The noisy air-conditioning, the neighbour listening to the ranting on talk radio, or the constant interruptions by telemarketers. You only have three choices in dealing with annoying disturbances: Prevent. Avoid. Ignore.

They may not all be available. They easiest and most obvious reaction may not be the best long term solution. Cursing and swatting at the blackbirds and mosquitoes didn’t seem to help.

But if your productivity, performance or enjoyment are being adversely affected, it’s worth recognizing that ignoring the annoying disturbance is not working. Try the prevent or avoid solution.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Visit LearningEntrepreneurship.com or contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Evolving

People and processes

The founder and CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, is stepping aside because his combative personality and the culture he created at Uber are no longer in line with the business’s need to be both more stable and predictable and more socially responsible and engaged with the communities where it is operating. His ruthlessly aggressive style has successfully created a ride-sharing industry and grown it to a billion dollar global business, but he had bruised relationships with everyone – employees, drivers, customers, service suppliers, regulators and politicians. Those partners that Uber needs to succeed were instead creating obstacles and seeking more compatible alternatives. It has been clear for some time that change was required at Uber – in leadership, style and processes – if global expansion was to continue. Kalanick finally got the message.

stressed employeeWhat about your business? Are the right people in the right place? Are you?

Has your business evolved beyond the capabilities of the people who got you started? Back then you were looking for energy, enthusiasm, entrepreneurial spirit and people willing to do whatever was required without costing too much. In the early stages, you, your partner and the office manager were all willing and able to do the sales, administration and customer service, make the coffee in the morning and set the alarm at night. The technician was also the shipper-receiver and the receptionist was also secretary and bookkeeper. The business was smaller and life was simpler.

Now you need more specialized expertise with knowledgeable and experienced management all working together effectively using more sophisticated technology and tools for marketing, sales and customer service, managing more employees with widely varied backgrounds, keeping on top of regulatory requirements, running the business on smart phones and keeping systems secure. Even the coffee machine is more complicated and needs a specialist.

Those early employees deserve your loyalty and respect and should have the opportunity to learn and develop into larger roles, but they will not all be capable of evolving in line with the needs of your evolving business. Energy and enthusiasm can only get you so far. (Maybe that helps explain what is holding you back from evolving to the next level in your business.)

You do not have to get as big as Uber before the people and processes that got you started are no longer helping you succeed and grow. Check that your organization has evolved as much as the competitive world around you.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson 

Visit LearningEntrepreneurship.com or contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

By the numbers

Not just the ones you already know

confused-man1Most entrepreneurs and business owners regularly monitor a few key numbers – sales, profit margins, operating expenses and the bottom line. All easy to understand and regularly reported.

But it is not enough, if you want to be a top performer in your industry. You need to dig deeper to more quickly recognize growing problems and exploit competitive advantages.

Managing by the numbers is a requirement at all stages of running a business. From the initial business plan on start-up, through the performance challenges of growing a sustainable business to the final valuation on exit. Managing the numbers requires monitoring and comparing: to your goals and objectives, to past performance in the business, and to industry benchmarks for the average and for the outstanding competitors.

And it is not just the obvious financial ratios: profit margins, debt ratios, asset turnover, but especially those that are particular to your industry. Maybe that is revenue per engineer, turnover per tabletop, scrap per square millimeter, or per cent billable hours. You may have your own secret formula, but the industry, your banker, investors and future owners will have expectations based on industry benchmarks and will decide on what reflects good or bad management. Be sure to keep score on yourself before someone else lets you know how you are really doing.

From start to finish, monitor and manage the key variables that will determine your long-term business performance.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for consulting assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

What crisis?

Who needs a crisis?

9Don't Do It the Hard WayIn times of crisis, it is easier to justify tough decisions. But why wait for a crisis? The challenges of business day-to-day should be sufficient to justify making those decisions all the time.

We have all observed that the companies that survive a crisis come out stronger, correcting their weaknesses and building resiliency and new capabilities. During a crisis, decisions are made and change happens quickly because everyone understands the urgency and fewer explanations are required.

But the principles for making tough decisions and the right ones for your business are a constant.

Stay focused

Ignore the daily distractions. Recognize what is relevant to meeting your strategic objectives and what is not. Review your plan and your path, make adjustments, but do not keep changing plans.

Stay relevant

Be aware of the competitive landscape, new competitors and changing customer preferences and adapt quickly.

Keep communicating

Your management team, employees, banker and strategic partners need to be aware of your current challenges, opportunities, your assessment and your plans.

Don’t wait for the crisis

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for consulting assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Chasing the big deal

Many small deals may be a better idea

big dealWhen you know that increasing sales will solve your problems, it is tempting to chase the one big deal that will get solve them all quickly. It could be a mistake. Maybe it’s better to say, “No thanks, for now.”

It can be great for your ego and your brand if you win a big deal and make the headlines. But it may be only a short-term win based on a small price difference, product improvement or service innovation. You may simply be a temporary negotiating tactic between the customer and their regular supplier. Don’t get too comfortable. The big guys will not leave you alone for long and they will not make it easier the second time.

Wining that big deal can solve some problems, but it may introduce new ones. Do you have the resources, suppliers and financing to deliver as promised? Will you now be too dependent on one big customer? Will your other customers be concerned, disappointed or feel neglected and start to leave? Have all the risks been considered?

Before even making a presentation or proposal on that tempting big deal, be sure to check that it fits with your strategic plan. Are you matching your competitive strengths to a clear long-term opportunity? Or are you “swinging and hoping”? Will you be able to build on this success or are you making an all-or-nothing bet?

Building your business slowly but continuously one customer at a time and one deal at a time will make you a stronger competitor and more likely to become the next big guy doing the next big deal.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for consulting assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Having a bad day?

Don’t expect so much. Be grateful for what you’ve got.

Business Person Unhappy and Happy Smileys WorkingAfter one more setback it’s easy to slide down the road of regrets…,

“If only…,” “I should have, could have,” “How did I get here?”, “Is this all there is?”, “Why am I not rich and famous yet?”, “Are my best years behind me?”, “There is no way out.”

That thinking will not help. Time to change your mindset.

Instead of moaning and groaning and dreaming of what might have been, take a look at what you have to be thankful for. Think of the people who have real concerns and complaints in their lives. Imagine the millions around the world who are much worse off.

Do you deserve your good fortune? Did you earn it?

A little humility and gratitude will get you started on a better road of acceptance. Be happy with what you have, instead of unhappy with what you do not have. Start by indulging in some spontaneous kindness or a generous gift to the unfortunate. Then go with the glow of feeling good about yourself.

The world will be a better place. And you will be a better person in it.

Be better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for consulting assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies,

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Manage like a Hockey Mom

But in a good way

hockey-fansIt is that time of year for hockey playoffs and not just in the NHL. It’s always exciting and entertaining and often provides inspiration and ideas for outside the hockey rink.

At a grandson’s recent Peewee AAA hockey tournament in Montreal, the welcome brochure included the Quebec Hockey Association’s Code of Ethics for Parents (also useful for grandparents). In reading it, I realized it could be adapted as a useful guide for business owners and managers. Here is my version.

The Code of Ethics for Entrepreneurs

As a business owner and responsible manager, I recognize that I have the potential and the opportunity to make an important contribution to the personal development and well-being of the individuals who choose to work with me and accept that as a priority over “winning the game”.

I will therefore ensure my conduct continually demonstrates that:

  • I understand that my employees are here for their benefit and pleasure, not mine.
  • I consider winning as part of the pleasure of playing the game; I will not exaggerate the pain of failure; and I will recognize errors as a necessary part of the learning experience.
  • I will respect the efforts and the decisions of the supporters and supervisors and of the outside authorities responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations. I will do my best to understand and accept the rules and regulations applicable to my business.
  • I will recognize good performance on the part of our individual employees, as well as that of our competitors.
  • I accept each individual’s limitations and will not project my own ambitions or unreasonable expectations upon anyone. My expectations will be appropriate to the qualifications and experience of each individual.
  • I will demonstrate and expect from all employees a reflection of the important values of respect, discipline, effort and loyalty.
  • I will not encourage or tolerate any level of personal harassment, conflict or aggressive behavior.
  • I will encourage and support the personal development of the skills and capabilities for every individual.

Good advice from responsible hockey moms. (I do notice that a lot gets ignored during the playoffs when winning is everything, but that’s another issue for a future article. Meanwhile, the hockey analysts are all over it.)

Be better. Do better. As a responsible, enlightened entrepreneur.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Forgetting failure

Don’t forget the lessons learned.

Spieth - MastersJordan Spieth is back at the Masters tournament at Augusta National this week and trying to forget his horrific collapse last year on the 12th hole that knocked him out of a commanding lead and caused him to finish second.

He says he’s “over it”, but there will be powerful reminders, questions, and worried watchers as he plays for another win. As in life and business, he has a choice to be haunted by the memories or to work on avoiding the same mistakes.

According to the golf analysts, who will not stop talking about last year’s failure, a momentary loss of focus caused a miss-hit into the water, which was compounded by another error in the recovery shot. Suddenly four strokes lost and the lead was gone. All for a moment’s lack of concentration on a single shot on one of the 72 holes over four days. Never an easy accomplishment.

The lesson for entrepreneurs has often been reiterated by those most successful in their business ventures. Don’t fear failure to the point of paralysis. Assess your errors and make changes to fix them and avoid repeating the mistakes. Learning from failure leads to success.

As Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that do not work.”

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more articles like this one at: Business is Like Golf Blog

Visit LearningEntrepreneurship.com and join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Check outUncle Ralph’s books, Don’t Do It the Hard Way and The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans. Available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

 

Strategic choices: Porsche or Pick-up truck?

Focus and forget pleasing everybody.

Porsche-Boxster-S-front

Whatever business issue or challenge you are facing, I believe you should always start from a strategic perspective. Step back, way back, and ask yourself if the solution you are considering is consistent with your strategic plan and will move you toward your long-term objectives.

 Have you made explicit strategic choices and communicated them effectively to your employees and your customers? Or are you too busy with operational issues and management challenges to think strategically. Often the strategy has just evolved organically, as you respond to changes in the business environment, the competition and customer preferences. Perhaps it’s time to assess where you are strategically and decide if that’s where you want to be.

In order to clarify a company’s strategic positioning, branding and corporate personality, my colleague Lp Camozzi and I used to ask clients the question, “If your business were an automobile, what would it be?”

Confusion and contradiction were often evident. And even more revealing was to compare the owner’s answer to the automobile suggested by managers, sales staff and customers. Owner thinks Porsche and customers think pick-up truck? We have a problem.

For better strategic focus and improved results in the market, clarity and consistency are important. First determine the characteristics, features, and performance of the automobile you would prefer for your corporate role model. Then maintain that strategic focus and ensure consistent communication of the key elements in all your internal and external messaging.

And forget about being first with a Porsche-Pickup that is sporty, luxurious and has good cargo carrying capacity.

Remember that the camel started out as a race horse, designed by a committee to please everybody and failed miserably (unless you need to travel long distances in the desert).

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

 

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