Recent Posts by Learning Entrepreneurship

“I knew that, I do that”

Obviously

Fist-Pump-ChampionSometimes when you’re working on self-improvement and reading the latest business textbook, or following a self-help advice column or participating in a workshop or seminar from your carefully chosen preferred expert, guru or philosopher king, you may suddenly think, “Hey, that’s obvious. I already knew that. Of course I do that.”

The experts agree! You’re doing it right.

But is that reassuring or disturbing? Good to have your own ideas and approach confirmed or, dammit, I paid too much for something I already know. Does it build your confidence and conviction or seed new doubt and anxiety? Maybe you need to keep searching for better answers?

I’m recommending you choose reassuring, building confidence and conviction. You’re smarter than you think. It’s time to stop searching and researching. Don’t let preparation become an excuse for procrastination. Get to work and make the improvements.

But keep learning by doing. Keep developing and adapting your ideas and approach to your own circumstances and capabilities. Nobody knows the possibilities for constant improvement better than 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.

 

You’re fired!

Hire well, but fire better

FiredDonald Trump made his name as a Reality TV star with the trademark line, “You’re fired!” As President in the real world, instead of the very unreal Reality TV world, he may have used it one too many times.

There is a lesson here for entrepreneurs. Firing an employee needs to be done at least as well as the initial hiring, maybe better. A firing has greater impact on the rest of the organisation.

Although your conversations one-on-one may be very private, a firing tends to get more public attention and generate stronger reaction. Maybe it’s the “fear of firing.” The message received by employees staying on the job will be more important than the message delivered to the employee who was fired. Their perceptions and interpretations of what “really” happened will affect their own behavior.

They have seen how someone got fired, now they need to know why.

Could it be something the boss just didn’t like? Something that was said or done that had nothing to do with the job?

Be sure they get the right message, quickly.

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.

 

Disaster insurance

Reducing risks

business-disasterStrange concept, insurance. You hope the disaster never happens, but you bet that it will and buy insurance to recover when it does. The insurance company takes your money and bets against you, also hoping it never happens. If it happens, you win (at least on the insurance), they lose.

Flood, fire or theft, commercial liability, death or disability. You can insure against any of those disasters, but should you?

It is probably a losing bet. The insurance company has the advantage of pooling a large number of clients with the same risk and being able to more precisely calculate the odds. Your choice is to take the bet or decide not to buy insurance and accept both the risk of the disaster and the potential consequences. Maybe you can recover with the money you saved on insurance premiums.

You can, of course, reduce the risk and the costs by making good preventive choices. Quitting smoking and avoiding sky diving will reduce both the life insurance premiums and the risk of premature death.

What about business risks? Same concept.

Reduce the risk of disaster and the potential consequences by maintaining security systems, signing long-term contracts and confidentiality agreements, having back-up plans and appropriate insurance coverage, meeting regulatory and environmental requirements, hedging on foreign exchange and receivables and preparing contingency plans. Review the risk management checklist in your original Business Plan and update the status and plans annually.

Don’t wait until the fires are close enough that you can smell the smoke.

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.

No conflict of interest?

Look closer

deal makingThe next time an agent, broker, lawyer or advisor offers to help and work on both sides of the deal, say “No thanks”.

If they try to tell you there is no conflict of interest for them, then reply, “Either you know you’re lying, or you do not. Either way, I’m disappointed. And the answer is still no thanks.”

They see no conflict of interest because their only interest is maximizing their own return from the deal. Sorry, but there is no other way to explain it.

They may try to sell the concept of mutual interests and you may get all parties including the advisors, to agree on a deal, but compromises will be made and you may simply have everyone being equally happy/unhappy.

Aligning mutual interests, or the naively optimistic cliché of “win/win”, may sound easy and look obvious. It’s not.

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.

Evil greedy entrepreneurs

Reinforcing the stereotypes

There is currently a lot of angry rhetoric around the Liberal government proposals for tax reform related to small business. “Trying to ensure fairness for the hard working middle class,” is their oft-claimed objective. “Removing corporate tax loop-holes only available to the wealthy.”

greedBut the policy debate quickly deteriorates into reinforcing preconceived stereotypes of the evil greedy entrepreneur ripping off the poor exploited wage slave. Critics of the proposed reforms react with their own stereotypes: pitting comfortable over-paid socialist civil servants against noble small business owners that are the engine of economic growth and prosperity for the whole country.

Unfortunately, too much of the raging rhetoric just reinforces the stereotypes.

If we can all be more tolerant and understanding in other cases of biased stereotyping, “Of course, they’re not all like that,” then why not for politicians, bureaucrats, and businessmen. They’re not all driven by ignorance, prejudice and self-interest.

Dealing with real problems is complicated and needs more than a political quick fix. The Liberals are right when they say it isn’t easy, but that is no excuse for doing it badly. A poorly conceived and poorly communicated tax reform package does not help improve the fairness of the system or the understanding of proposed changes.

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.

It takes a conversation

Not a lecture

communicate“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” followed by the evil warden delivering a severe blow to drive the message into the dumb prisoner’s thick skull. Maybe it works in the movies.

But the approach is probably as useless as raising the volume or relentlessly repeating the same message. If you do not have engagement with your audience, the message will not resonate. They may seem receptive, even enthusiastic, but nothing changes unless you get commitment to the objectives, the plan and the expected action for each participant.

Don’t lecture to a passive listener. You’re wasting everybody’s time. Nodding and taking notes may be a positive sign, but it is not enough. You need personal commitment. Yes, I understand. Yes, I will do that.

Start a conversation. Ask questions and listen attentively yourself. Adapt your pitch, presentation, or plan and check if they really understand. What are they going to do differently? What are you going to do differently, now that you have their input? When and how?

Two-way communication is always better than a lecture, if you really want to change behavior and improve performance.

Even if you only want to inform, advise or inspire, like this article. Feedback and comments start the conversation and make us both better.

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.

The people problem

The challenge of making good fits

A recent conversation with an entrepreneur drawn unexpectedly into a family business, reminded me that the biggest challenge to building and growing a better business is managing the relationships within the organisation.

meeting - explainingLike him and most other entrepreneurs I know, you are confident and competent in the primary domain essential to the business – technology, operations, financial or sales and marketing management. But managing people and inter-personal relationships is a tougher challenge. And it can be painful to be continuously drawn into issues that you are not interested in and not good at. You would rather focus on other priorities and ignore the distractions – performance reviews, payroll and benefit plans, managers that are competing instead of co-operating, conflict between employees on the job, petty complaints about policy and procedures, questions about who is doing what and why.

People do make it challenging and maybe you can delegate to a human resource professional, but as the owner/manager you have to ensure that people and relationship issues are not holding back business performance.

The solution lies in making good fits. Getting the right people in the right jobs, doing what they are both good at and like to do. Building teams at all levels that deliver better performance and solutions because they communicate well and share effectively their different strengths, knowledge and experience.

It starts with open two-way communication throughout the organisation. From the corporate mission statement, strategy and objectives down to the set-up and staffing of the reception area. Advise, listen, explain. Listen again, explain again. Still a challenge, but too important to be neglected.

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.

Participative management

You cannot fake it

meetingIs your business run democratically? Probably not. Employees do not get to vote, managers are supposed to be responsible and make consistently good decisions. Let’s not confuse them with too many contrary, ill-informed opinions. We have seen too many unhappy conclusions from democratic decision-making lately.

It is easier to accept your role as lonely leader and try to be the gentle and wise, all-knowing autocratic decision-maker. “I am the owner, so I get to decide.” That’s true, but you will make better decisions with relevant input from the troops.

It’s called participative management. It means soliciting input before decisions are made and plans are set. It means seeking feedback on current operations and on the results from new initiatives. It cannot be a token effort with input that is subsequently ignored. It needs to be sincere and must include setting realistic expectations and responding promptly to suggestions, questions and complaints.

You will find that early participation in new initiatives will help develop better implementation plans and gain the support and commitment of the people required to deliver results.

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.

Business value

What is it really?

Bus valueWhenever you are looking at an investment in a private small business or a large public company, or if you are selling a business, it is always a challenge to define the value.

Everyone leans on the price-to-earnings multiple, but it is never that simple. Simple to calculate, but not easy to get it right. Earnings are $250,000 per year and a P/E multiple of four means my business is worth a million. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, try selling it at that price and you will find that buyers will argue to reduce both the earnings number and the multiple.

If you look at public companies and the financial analysts’ valuations, you will find they disagree on both past earnings and the forecasts of future earnings, as well as the multiples to be applied. Why is Amazon currently valued by the market at 247 times current earnings and TD Bank at 13 times? (And your business at only three times?)

This is where everyone quotes Warren Buffet (so I’ll do the same). He looks for value based on the “sustainable competitive advantage” or “economic moat” which protects the business from its competitors. That value comes from the intangibles which support high expectations of future growth and low risk of losing market share to competitors or new entrants. Those intangibles include brand name, patent protection, customer loyalty, intellectual property, strategic relationships, creative and innovative organisations, a long history and a good reputation. Some investors and advisors, like the Motley Fool, insist that their best investments have been because of visionary leadership which has consistently seen new opportunities, adapted and delivered solutions. They are thinking of Steve Jobs at Apple, Jeff Bezos at Amazon, Elon Musk at Tesla and other visionary leaders.

So remember to look past the numbers and the simple calculations. Real value is driven by the things you cannot calculate, but you can evaluate. Use your imagination and make the leap of faith.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The blame game

Goddamn the …?

My Dad grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan where the most hated institution was the CPR, responsible for the railway across the prairies. He liked to tell us the story of the poor farmer who complained “I lost my crop in a hail storm, my truck broke down, my dog died and my wife left me. Goddamn the CPR!”

angry_man ragingQuebec politicians for decades explained their every failure, “c’est la faute du fédéral!” It’s Ottawa’s fault.

We have lots of scapegoats available to us today. For every failure, foul-up, screw-up, disaster or disappointment, choose your favourite. Blame the oil companies, the media, or Donald Trump. Evil rich white guys. Google or Microsoft. It’s a long list if you try.

But the blame game is too easy and it gets us nowhere. Just a lazy way to end the conversation and stop doing anything to tackle the issue. It’s not my fault, there’s nothing I can do.

Let’s stop looking for who to blame.

Let’s look harder for who can fix it and how we can help.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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