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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.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer jobs

What did you learn? 

It’s time to get back to school soon and the kids are enjoying the last few days of their summer jobs. Remember those days yourself?

Summer jobsFun in the sun, hanging out with friends, pool parties, BBQ and beer, working on your sun tan and hitting on the other cute kids. Is that what you remember?

But it was not all fun. It was a job and it may have involved garbage collection, cleaning toilets, digging ditches, mowing lawns, making beds, hauling heavy loads or serving hostile customers. All while avoiding boredom, exhaustion and a demanding and difficult boss.

But there were important life lessons learned.

Simple lessons, but important:

  • Show up on time, work hard.
  • Focus on the task at hand.
  • Be responsible for your actions.
  • Pay attention to the customer, the boss and the environment – in that order.
  • Use the right tool for the right job, be aware of safety and security issues.
  • Get your priorities straight – personal, work, family and social.
  • Better performance leads to better jobs.
  • Save your money.

Let’s hope these kids are learning them too. They will be better employees, bosses and entrepreneurs, if they learn from their summer jobs.

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. 

 

 

 

 

Modern managers are smarter

Are you? 

Remember the bad old days when managers judged performance by all the wrong indicators?

angry bossA managing partner who questioned a consultant ready for promotion because, “I’m not sure of his commitment to the firm, I never see him taking his briefcase home at night.” Not noticing the same consultant was usually going home after six and had a roster of very happy clients.

Or the ambitious manager promoting himself by denigrating a colleague for arriving late to his staff meeting, ignoring the fact he was the same individual willing to forego family obligations to attend corporate events on evenings and weekends.

Modern managers are more likely to look at real performance, not work habits or personality traits. Judging and rewarding for results, not effort and time spent at the office. Enabling work-life balance and accommodating family needs to improve employee satisfaction.

There is a very enlightening book on the subject, called First, Break all the Rules © 1999, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, based on a study of high performance managers and how they succeed through their employees. The essential theme is to ignore the rules and standard company policy, treat everyone differently. Don’t try to change who they are and how they work, find out what they like to do and are good at, then let them do it their way.

Modern managers do not follow the lead of their rule-bound old-fashioned predecessors. Which group are you in?

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 price is the price

Almost never 

And it’s a problem. Pre-occupation with price leads to bad decisions, if we miss the important factors that determine the value.

low price!We have all seen frequent examples of nonsensical pricing and have our own favourite stories of a deal we have boasted about, without admitting that it turned out badly.

TV ads. Only $19.95! Buy now and get another one for free, with a bonus carrying case, and free shipping. Beware of side effects. Certain conditions apply. What could go wrong for only $19.95?

Or my favourite story of a guided tour in Tangiers that led us to a local carpet manufacturer. Beautiful small handmade carpet, “retails in America for $2500, factory price only $700!” We negotiated him down to $200. (Including the tour guide’s commission, of course.) Wow, what a deal. Then on the way back to the tour bus, we met a street vendor with what appeared to be exactly the same carpet, for only $100. We said “no thanks,” until he came down to $20. Now we can boast of the price on two matching carpets. But I wonder, were they both mass-produced somewhere else, was one stolen?

And that’s the problem with focusing on the price. Consumers insist on it, but usually fail to ask why the price is so low. Is it cost reduced to the point of being unsafe and unreliable? Was it manufactured in a dangerous, environment-destroying factory using child labour? Who cares, at that price.

It may be the seller’s strategy, to attract or distract, with the price. But buyer beware, there is always more than the price to consider before you decide.

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.

Timing is everything

And it’s your choice 

watching the clockIn decision making, we often spend a lot of time analyzing the who, what, where and why, without giving sufficient consideration to the when. It seems obvious, as soon as possible, now that we’ve decided. But maybe not.

We always have a choice to make. It’s now or later. Maybe never. Deciding not to decide is also a choice.

We cannot go backwards and do it sooner than right now, so let’s not waste time on regrets and the shoulda, woulda, coulda self-flagellation. Your choice of timing may have more impact on the consequences than all the other considerations. The important decision is: When?

Whether it’s start-up or shut down, launch or terminate, hire or fire, buy or sell. Timing may be more important to getting the best results than any of the other decisions. Discussions and decisions on packaging, pricing, target markets, marketing copy, graphics design, sales pitches, tools and tactics may never end. You can always wait for more information, lower costs, better test results, more resources. But when to go or not go is the real question.

It is your choice and it will be wrong a lot of the time. Remember not to waste time on the self-flagellation. Extract the lessons you can from the experience and do better next time.

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.

 

 

Culture of creativity

Encourage feedback

survey-listDo you have a suggestion box? Have you done a survey lately?

It is important to get new input and ideas to change your perspective and consider creative and innovative approaches to challenging issues. You cannot possibly have all the answers or even know all the issues that need to be addressed, unless you get adequate feedback from employees and customers.

It is not enough to casually visit, observing, listening, and asking questions. The process needs to be both more formal and more open-ended. Solicit input from those most in the know: employees on the job, customers using the product and those suppliers and service providers with high expectations for you. Ask about processes and performance, relationships and communications, product innovation and quality, customer service and sales support, social and environmental initiatives. Give them the option of anonymous response, in case they think you cannot handle the truth.

Try not to take it personally, unless it is.

Take it all in, use what is useful and be prepared to ignore what is not, but avoid simply confirming your preconceived notions.

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.

 

I can do this

I’ve seen it done.

matsuyama-bridgestoneHideki Matsuyama surprised everyone but himself, at the WGC-Bridgestone golf tournament on Sunday, with a 9-under-par 61 that tied the course record and gave him a sudden victory by five strokes over all the contenders, including World Golf leaders, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson.

Matsuyama knew it was the course record and he had seen it done. He was playing in the same group when Tiger Woods shot a 61 in 2013. He knew it could be done and exactly what he needed to do to achieve it himself.

Remember, “You can achieve, what you believe,” and it’s easier to believe, if you have seen it done.

So next time you hear about it, or read about it, be sure to ask your coach, mentor, or role model, “OK, now show me.”

Be better, do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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

Visit LearningEntrepreneurship.comand 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.

 

 

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