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Another quotable from my dad, the original Uncle Ralph, which he used a lot when he was coaching me at baseball, but also applies to business and golf.

“It’s never good enough to swing and hope.”

Think about it.

Many golfers have succeeded in business as well as golf and they have relevant advice for us about both. On this Blog we’ll worry more about business than your golf (or mine).

First quotes are from Arnold Palmer, thanks to Rick Spence and his Canadian Entrepreneur Blog.

Best-Ever Entrepreneurship Quotes: Week 49

Here is your motivational Quote of the Week, personally selected to get your week off to an inspirational start.

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting it is.”Arnold Palmer, professional golfer and living legend.Today Arnie celebrates his 78th birthday. To send him a birthday greeting, click here (registration required in “Arnie’s Army”).

And here’s another great Arnold Palmer quote on competition for all entrepreneurs to chew on:“I never rooted against an opponent. But I never rooted for him, either.”
Thanks Arnold and Rick for your thoughts on golf and business.

I keep being reminded that business is like golf, so decided it’s time to start a blog and website on the subject. Sorry, I just couldn’t stop myself!

Several years ago at DirectTech Solutions we worked that theme into our marketing strategy.
(See: )

It included golf themed brochures, putting contests at trade shows, sponsoring golf tournaments, etc. It was fun and created some buzz, but we got tired of it and moved on.

However, now that I’m spending more time trying to write, teach, advise, consult and comment on management, leadership and entrepreneurship, the golf analogy keeps coming back.

Let’s see how far we can take it this time.

My next teaching challenge is to present the subject of Entrepreneurship in the Continuing Education program at Concordia University.

Can you really teach entrepreneurship? What if you have to be born that way? What about all those stories about “delivering papers when I was nine years old”…? I didn’t, so am I disqualified?

My own theory is that an entrepreneur is simply a creator of businesses to meet an opportunity. Anybody can do it anytime; if they have the marketable skills, relevant knowledge, and determination to succeed.

So what can I teach? Having reviewed a number of textbooks on the subject, I have concluded that the expectation of those signing up for the course is to learn some basic business processes and principles that will help them to evaluate their choices and make the decisions necessary to develop an idea or opportunity into a valid business model and business plan, finance it, start it and make it grow.

Sounds simple.

I’m currently reading Stephen Covey’s latest – “The 8th Habit”; following of course his best selling “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.

On the subject of management and leadership he summarizes the themes and concepts of many other authors. (Give him credit for some humility.) What sticks with me are the stated principles of: 1. Set the direction, 2. set an example, 3. define the values, 4. provide the systems; then let people manage themselves.

My own summary of management has always been simply to communicate the objectives and then remove the obstacles to achieving them. The guiding principles may be simple, it doesn’t mean they are easy to follow.

I am just completing the teaching of two summer courses in Financial Management at Concordia University. It’s time for their final exams so I’m now thinking about what are the most important lessons to learn for future business managers and entrepreneurs. Or alternatively, what do most entrepreneurs neglect in the management of their businesses?

Most of us focus regularly on the income statement – revenues, gross margins, expenses and the resulting profits. But we often neglect the management of our balance sheet – inventory, receivables, return on assets, and the short and long-term sources of funds. These issues can all have significant impact on profitability and the long-term value of the enterprise.

So I will try to emphasize the importance of regularly reviewing performance of assets and liabilities in addition to the more obvious and intuitive issues of sales and income. How does balance sheet performance compare to prior years? the plan? or the industry averages?

Can we improve turnover on inventory and receivables without losing sales or diminishing service levels. Can we extend payables and get additional short-term financing without hurting our credit ratings or adding to our costs? Are we making good use of long-term debt to add financial leverage and improve the return on our equity investment?

All important issues for effective financial management.

I’ve just returned from an interesting trip to Sept Isles and tour of the Quebec North Shore. Sept Isles is on a large circular bay protected by seven islands (surprisingly) and is a young, prosperous industrial town. Quite unremarkable as a tourist destination.

But it has one characteristic that seems to be entirely unique to the population of Sept Isles. The town has two very popular Tim Horton’s coffee shops and strangers cannot help but notice that absolutely everyone takes their coffee in the familiar “roll-up-the rim” paper cup with a plastic straw! They attempt logical explanations that it keeps the coffee from spilling out the flip top opening while driving, but there is really no explanation for it becoming unique to Sept Isles.

It seems to me a useful reminder that human behaviour cannot always be explained, predicted, understood or managed. Just accept it and work with it. Like the counter staff at Tim Horton’s in Sept Isles – just punch a hole in the top and give them a straw.

It’s not trivial. One thought or idea leads to another.

I mentioned Dale Carnegie’s original successful book written in 1936 and wondered if he was related to the famous American industrialist named Carnegie. Maybe he was just a lazy rich kid with the time to philosophize and write about “winning friends and influencing people”. How to find out? I thought of Wikipedia, partly inspired by a recent article on Wikinomics in Canadian Business by Don Tapscott, Canadian philospher,writer and commentator on technology trends.

So I searched Google (of course) to find the Wikipedia entry and learned the following, plus a bonus marketing tip!:

Born in 1888 in Maryville, Missouri, Carnegie was a poor farmer’s boy, the second son of James William Carnagey and Amanda Elizabeth Harbison.[1] In his teens, though still having to get up at 4 a.m. every day to milk his parents’ cows, he managed to get educated at the State Teacher’s College in Warrensburg. His first job after college was selling correspondence courses to ranchers; then he moved on to selling bacon, soap and lard for Armour & Company. He was successful to the point of making his sales territory, southern Omaha, the national leader for the firm.[citation needed]
Perhaps one of Carnegie’s most successful marketing moves was to change the spelling of his last name from “Carnegey” to Carnegie, at a time when Andrew Carnegie was a widely revered and recognized name.

More fascinating facts, or useless trivia. You decide.

Two long summer weekends and two short weeks every year at the end of June. (Unique to Québec?) Followed by the so-called “construction holiday” where almost everyone leaves for the last two weeks of July. Hard to be productive with clients or any other business partners during this period.

Should be a good time for blogging, but other summer attractions have more appeal. All of which is to admit I don’t have much new to say.

Some more progress on summer reading and my reviews for your consideration:
  • Crime and Punishment, by Dostoevsky. A classic on my “must read” list. Written in the Russia of the 186o’s and considered the original psychological murder mystery. Intriguing and very different from the modern murder mystery as it is told primarily from the point of view of the murderer.
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. One of the originals (consider also Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.) written in the 1930′s and still worth a read. Not so serious or so slick as the current crop of self-help books that are so effectively mass marketed. Adds some perspective to the basic skills required to be effective in working with other people.

I’ve also agreed to teach two summer courses in Financial Management at Concordia so I’m reviewing the current textbook, “Principles of Corporate Finance” by Gitman and Hennessey. The principles haven’t changed in the thirty years since my MBA and the first time I taught the course, but the text is well done and covers the elementary to the advanced topics.

Happy summer reading on your own list.

Too much time has passed since my last posting. Apologies to any avid subscribers, but I expect my absence was hardly noticed. My feeble excuse was being away for a dynamite golf and family visit in beautiful BC.

It was easy to be distracted by the spectacular scenery of BC at it’s best in May/June. Lush green hillsides rising to snow-capped mountains reflected in the clear blue lakes. And we experienced a perfect father and son day at Whistler with a morning of spring skiing on Blackcomb and an afternoon of golf at Nicklaus North with a black bear on the 7th tee and waterskiers around the 17th green. Not to mention the outstanding sushi feast at Whistler Village.

So back to business after the reminder of how it’s like golf. As my father would say about baseball “It’s not good enough to swing and hope”. You have to study, practice, and do it a lot to succeed. Watching it on TV or reading about it may help a little, not a lot. Better equipment is not the easy answer. Keeping score is the only way to really know how you’re doing. And I’m sure there are other ways business is like golf. Material for a future Blog. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile enjoy the summer weekends, golf or no golf.

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