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Enlightened Entrepreneurship – Deliberately or indirectly?

Enlightened Entrepreneurship Deliberately or indirectly? Enlightened Entrepreneurs are business owners and managers who lead their business to success while respecting their social responsibilities to employees and customers, business associates and suppliers, their communities, and the planet. But do they contribute to a better world deliberately or indirectly? I would argue that every business is a social enterprise because it is Continue Reading

Learn from the bees

Learn from the bees Killer bees or worker bees?   I recently saw the action-packed movie, The Beekeeper, which claims to follow the social behavior of bees whose practice is to kill any bee who disrupts the social system and the productive functioning of the hive. After eliminating the wrongdoer, they then proceed up the genetic chain to kill the parent Continue Reading

Another New Year! So far so good?  

Another New Year!  So far so good?   Looking back on 2023, my comments from previous years seem to remain true. Last year was bad everywhere and the New Year will be worse: more wars and terrorist attacks, continuing political stupidity, extreme weather and natural disasters, and challenging economic conditions in every industry. Nevertheless, we can remain optimistic and hopeful. In Continue Reading

Sympathy for the Boss?

Sympathy for the Boss? Somebody has to do it    Management is not getting easier. Although managers do not get much sympathy, they are increasingly overloaded, stressed, burnt-out, harassed by demanding employees and distracted by the constant buffeting of rapid changes in economic conditions and the technologies that they depend on to get their jobs done. It’s a lot to Continue Reading

Looking back. Or looking forward?  

Looking back    Or looking forward?    As we approach the end of another year in the post-pandemic era it’s timely to reflect on the past year and start looking forward and planning ahead. In looking back, I re-read my article in the 2020 Edition of DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY, and discovered nothing has changed. “The consensus seems Continue Reading

Getting political. It’s unavoidable

Getting political It’s unavoidable It has always been important to be aware of the values and beliefs of the people we’re doing business with and they’re usually made clear from listening to what they say and observing how they behave. In doing business however, it used to be standard practice not to discuss politics or religion – the relationship might Continue Reading

Reduce the risk. Take more shots.  

Reduce the risk Take more shots   It’s pretty much generally accepted wisdom that the top scorers in any sport – Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, choose any superstar you like – they all shoot a lot to score a lot. That means they miss a lot. (Not Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy in golf, of course, every shot counts and Continue Reading

Artificial Intelligence? It’s not that smart. Use it responsibly.

Artificial Intelligence?  It’s not that smart All the business buzz these days is about AI – Artificial Intelligence. It seems everybody’s using it or worrying about how other people are using it. Will we lose control of it? Will it replace human intelligence? Could it take control of us? Let’s not get carried away with nightmares of the coming apocalypse. Continue Reading

Learn from the criminals? 

Learn from the criminals?  Be careful with that idea My grandson, studying business and finance at UBC, gave me two books to read, Gang Leader for a Day and The Wolfpack, about drug dealers in Chicago and gangsters in Canada – not textbooks he says – and Bloomberg Business Week just published it’s annual heist issue; so apparently we can Continue Reading

Who’s your Guru?

Who’s your Guru? Are they still relevant? You probably have a favourite go-to-guru to help you with ideas, inspiration, words of advice and strategic tips and tactics for continuing to achieve success in your life, career, and business. I have my favourites and I’ve been following some of them for more than thirty years. Tom Peters, for example, the co-author Continue Reading

Manage like a pro

Manage like a pro In golf and business There are no easy rules or simple paths to follow. Just do whatever it takes to win without cheating. However, there are some good guiding principles from the best in golf to consider applying to your business.  Here's a short list: Don’t try to compete against the best in the world until Continue Reading

Hire a consultant? Hell no!

Hire a consultant? Hell no! You can do it yourself. A favourite old joke among consultants is that clients always ask, "What do you specialize in?" and "How much do you charge?"  The appropriate qualifying questions from an intelligent consultant are, of course, "What's your problem?" and "How much can you afford?" So clients need to be sure they need Continue Reading

Two Questions. Who? And why?  

Two Questions Who? And why?   If you’re here, I’m assuming it’s either because you’re curious and just clicked on this link, or you’re a regular reader and subscriber to my mailing list, or a follower, associate or friend on my website or one of my social media platforms – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. You can understand that’s Continue Reading

Business is like Golf – In Six Simple Words

Business is like Golf In Six Simple Words My advice to entrepreneurs, based on thirty years of experience and explained in four published books with a total of about 650 pages, can actually be boiled down to six simple words. The same words apply to getting better and achieving success at golf:  Have a plan. Avoid the mistakes. There is Continue Reading

Remember PDT – A motivating mantra for success  

Remember PDT A motivating mantra for success   As a parent and coach I’ve often repeated the mantra of PDT – Power, Determination, and Technique – to focus on the three key elements required in any development program to achieve superior performance in a chosen sport, career, or business plan. You may have your own key words or acronym to Continue Reading

Have a purpose. And a plan.

Have a purpose And a plan  “Follow your dreams, pursue your passion!”  That’s the usual useless cliché offered by successful superstars as advice to people who want the same level of success for themselves. It’s not helpful! It’s better to tell them to stop dreaming, get to work! Learn what you need to know and apply your passion to getting better Continue Reading

Hard-ass Management

Hard-ass Management Doesn’t work anymore  “The players wanted a change. His style wasn’t working anymore.” Those were the parting words from management when Darryl Sutter was fired as head coach of the Calgary Flames hockey team at the end of a losing season, just one year after being named Jack Adams Award winner as the NHL's top head coach.  Apparently tough, Continue Reading

Biggest Entrepreneur Mistake #5: Marketing is NOT Everything

Biggest Entrepreneur Mistake #5 Marketing is NOT Everything (An extract from DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY – Avoid the Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make.) Marketing is not everything. But it is the first important step in a three-part process to deliver satisfied customers who keep coming back for more. That’s the primary objective of every business: building loyal, Continue Reading

Buy the Brand. Before the product.

Buy the Brand Before the product Apparently, the current economic conditions of high inflation and high interest rates are a result of the current frenzy of consumer spending as we come out of Covid pandemic restrictions and catch up on our spending plans. The economists and financial analysts have described it as YOLO thinking – You Only Live Once, so Continue Reading

Biggest Entrepreneur Mistake #4 – Neglecting Key Relationships

Biggest Entrepreneur Mistake #4 Neglecting Key Relationships (An extract from DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY – Avoid the Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make.) The key relationship for any business is the one between management and staff. Effective two-way communication in that relationship is essential to providing strategic leadership, receiving constructive feedback, and ensuring that management and staff are Continue Reading

Biggest Entrepreneur Mistake #3 – Focused on Profit

Biggest Entrepreneur Mistake #3 Focused on Profit Being focused on profit doesn’t seem like a mistake. After all, isn’t that the whole purpose of running a business? No, actually it’s not. If you accept the principle that the fundamental objective of any business is to build sustainable business value through loyal and profitable customer relationships, then focusing on short-term profitability Continue Reading

Keep it simple. Focus on the fundamentals.

Keep it simple Focus on the fundamentals. Canadian tennis hero, Felix Auger-Aliassime, at the Australian Open this week came back from losing the first two sets in a five-set match to suddenly overpower his opponent for the next three sets and win the match. What happened? “I decided to keep it simple,” he said. “The first two sets I was Continue Reading

So far, so good? Or too soon to tell.

So far, so good? Or too soon to tell. We’re only into the second week of 2023, so it’s too soon to tell if we’re making progress on our plans yet, but let’s check that we’re off to a good start. Presumably, we have defined our reasonably ambitious goals and objectives for the year and we have a plan to Continue Reading

Brave New Plans for 2023

Brave New Plans for 2023 Find a new comfort zone After two years of living with pandemic restrictions and one year of navigating through an apocalyptic world of continuing health risks, social disruption and discontent, geopolitical conflict, climate disasters, and humanitarian crises, it’s time to make brave new plans for 2023 to find our place among our fellow passengers on Continue Reading

Choose & Use Wisely

Choose & Use Wisely Professionals can help Twenty years ago, I wrote an article titled, Consultants: How to Chose, Use, and Not Abuse Them, based on my own experience as a management consultant and as a client of other consultants, accountants, lawyers, and other professionals. The article offers tips for effective professional relationships and has retained its relevance for a Continue Reading

Consultants: How to Choose, Use, and Not Abuse Them

Consultants: How to Choose, Use, and Not Abuse Them Help them, help you Since my first consulting project over thirty years ago, I have learned a lot about how to successfully manage consulting projects and the client/consultant relationship. Here is my advice, which I am sharing again to help you with your consultants (and your lawyers, accountants and other professionals): Continue Reading

Fragmented or focused?

Fragmented Or focused? In discussing politics and social issues these days, there is a lot of debate around fragmented media – both traditional and online – and the negative consequences of people remaining in their “bubble” of commentators and audiences, who all seem to agree on shared ideologies and opinions. These bubbles are too often abused and manipulated to reinforce Continue Reading

Aim lower. Not global

Aim lower Focus on small targets Globalization is dead. Think small. The global tendencies protecting national interests, the multinational impact of America First policies turning toward isolationism, Covid-19 supply chain disruptions and the economic sanctions resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine are all restricting international trade and reducing the benefits of global economic co-operation to local economies and restricting Continue Reading

High tech still needs high touch

High tech Still needs high touch Sometimes artificial intelligence is too artificial and not that intelligent. Just another robot trying to think faster than we do and anticipate what we want before we ask or try to do it for ourselves. When do we get to talk to a real person? When do we get to ask the robot to Continue Reading

Storytelling. With a purpose.

Storytelling With a purpose. It may seem odd that I’m writing business advice for entrepreneurs at the same time as I’m writing crime fiction novels about an entrepreneur, but it’s actually quite consistent with my lifetime passion for telling stories – to share ideas, information and inspiration in a memorable way. Different stories, different audiences; same purpose.  It’s an important Continue Reading

It’s just business. Never personal.

It's just business. Never personal.  I recently completed my fourth novel about an entrepreneur and his crime-fighting buddy, called Bad Boys in Boston. The sub-title was, It's just business, never personal. However, it’s about a young woman in the family being kidnapped into the sex trade and it’s very personal. In business too, it often is. But you have to know Continue Reading

Sorry! Really?

Sorry! Really? We Canadians have a reputation for always saying sorry. Sorry,  we're just too polite, I guess. (At least we've stopped saying, "eh," as often as we used to. Sorry if you were counting on that identifying trait. "Canadian, eh?") It seems like everyone has picked up on the quick apology now, though –– in personal relationships, political exchanges, Continue Reading

Christmas Gifts in September?

Christmas Gifts in September? Yes, you deserve it. Summer holidays are over, the kids are back at school, and you’re back at work trying to navigate away from health risks, climate disasters, and the political and economic turmoil around you. Looking forward to your next break? Let’s leapfrog past Halloween and Thanksgiving and avoid the stress of Christmas shopping in Continue Reading

Exploiting a crisis

Exploiting a crisis Be careful how you do it. I wrote this article a few years ago and it has been a useful reference many times – even before the pandemic crisis, a Russian invasion of Ukraine, rapidly rising inflation and punishing interest rates. It advises of appropriate management tactics to survive and thrive through challenging times, but use them with caution. Continue Reading

Managing in Difficult Times

Managing in Difficult Times Ignoring or avoiding a difficult business environment is simply not possible.  It will happen, sooner or later. A credit crisis, stock market meltdown, or a looming recession all affect the attitudes and actions of consumers, employees, investors, lenders and business managers. What are some helpful ideas to respond effectively? Stay focused Avoid being distracted by the Continue Reading

Pay yourself first. Profit is not a dirty word.

Pay yourself first Profit is not a dirty word. It may seem inappropriate, but it’s not. My advice to entrepreneurs is always to align your business objectives with your personal objectives. It’s the best way to ensure your ongoing commitment, patience and persistence through all the roadblocks, detours and setbacks. Like making a career choice; find out what you’re good Continue Reading

Managing Business Risk – How are you doing?

Managing Business Risk How are you doing? An often-neglected section in many of the business plans that I’ve seen from entrepreneurs is the risk management section. What can go wrong; what will you do about it? And like all the sections in your business plan, it needs to be regularly reviewed and revised to ensure that it is still appropriate Continue Reading

Management science? Or an Art.

Management science? Or an art. I was in engineering at UBC when I discovered that management was much more appealing to me than engineering. I didn’t ever enjoy the study of vector analysis or rock mechanics and I have zero mechanical aptitude, but I was hooked immediately after taking two optional courses – Economics 101 and Psychology 100. That’s what Continue Reading

Coach, Critic or Cheerleader?

Coach, Critic or Cheerleader? You get to chose      It doesn’t matter whether you’re giving or receiving. Which are you going to be, and which do you need, right now? Coach, Critic or Cheerleader? Choose one. It’s an important distinction and a choice of role has to be made. In every relationship: manager & employee, coach & player, teacher & Continue Reading

Abuse of loyalty

Abuse of loyalty Lost to arrogance and greed Consumers can be fiercely loyal to a brand. Beyond rational explanation and impervious to persuasion to try the alternatives. Until they’re feeling abused or taken for granted. Even the best of brands make the mistake occasionally. Losing their integrity and showing a lack of respect for loyal customers and fans because somebody Continue Reading

Pandemic notoriety: Naughty or Nice?

Pandemic notoriety: Naughty or Nice? Which list are you on?  (This article is based on the ideas in Uncle Ralph’s books for entrepreneurs, DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans.)  “Awesome! What a profit opportunity!” Probably not what you will be reading in the press releases. It will be all about the socially responsible Continue Reading

A test of loyalty

A test of loyalty Time for a change? (This article is based on the ideas in Uncle Ralph’s books for entrepreneurs, DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans.)  In times of economic crisis, we are faced with difficult choices in a stressful new environment. Loyalties are tested and we’re wondering if it’s time for Continue Reading

The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End We’re not there yet (This article is based on the ideas in Uncle Ralph's DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans, 2020 Editions)  I’m feeling safer, and closer to the end of the pandemic effects on life and business after receiving my first dose of the Moderna vaccine for Continue Reading

Explaining sales is hard to do

Where did that come from? Explaining sales is hard to do As a wise marketing agency executive once said, “I know that half of our advertising works, I’m just not sure which half.” I have the same impression of my own efforts at sales and marketing. Something’s working, I’m just not sure what. So how do you keep doing what’s Continue Reading

Checklists for the re-start of your business after Covid-19

Checklists for the re-start of your business after Covid-19 Good management is required now more than ever. Looking back over the past three months, you may be thinking, OK, that was painful, but it has to get better from here. For most of us, the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our businesses were unexpected disasters and the final Continue Reading

Best Advice Ever

Best Advice Ever And it still applies - Don’t Waste Time! One of the bizarre side effects of the economic shutdown and being told to self-isolate and work from home is that the pressure to be productive and meet deadlines seems to have evaporated. The sense of urgency has dissipated. Everybody is preoccupied with the pandemic and keeping themselves safe Continue Reading

Switching from Defense to Offense

Switching from Defense to Offense Are we there yet? Do you know your Basic Defensive Interval? For a business start-up, it’s the number of weeks or months before you get to break-even cash flow. For an operating business, it’s how long can you survive a disaster without any revenue. You may have business interruption insurance or a disaster plan, but Continue Reading

Managing in Difficult Times

Random Ramblings from your Uncle Ralph  In the current environment of a corona virus pandemic with its devastating effect on lives, businesses and economies around the world, this article seemed appropriate for reconsidering. (An extract from Don’t Do It the Hard Way – 2020 Edition, p.117) Managing in Difficult Times Ignoring or avoiding a difficult business environment is simply not Continue Reading

Are you a storyteller? 

Are you a storyteller?  Do you use stories to engage, communicate, sell or teach?   I shared my own Storytelling Journey from Entrepreneur to Author-preneur with a SPOTLIGHT Presentation at Staples/Bureau-en Gros on Nov 20th.    You can see the details here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/my-storytelling-journey-from-entrepreneur-to-author-preneur-tickets-80505796003   My Storytelling Journey from Entrepreneur to Author-preneur You can review the PowerPoint of the presentation. Click here: My Storytelling Journey My experience Continue Reading

Expertise or Opinion. Which is it this time?

Expertise or Opinion Which is it this time? If you ask for an opinion you’ll get one. Almost nobody can resist giving you a response. They’re flattered that you asked and they don’t want to disappoint you. Apparently, you think they’re an expert in the subject. Or at least you think they might have an intelligent, insightful opinion.  Nobody is Continue Reading

Available NOW – Novel NO EASY MONEY and Uncle Ralph’s Business Books

Available NOW Novel NO EASY MONEY and Uncle Ralph's   Business Books NO EASY MONEY, “You never win playing by the rules.” The first in a series of Dale Hunter Crime Novels, this novel an explosive mix of crime, cash and computers in the 1980s. Entrepreneurs face challenges every day. It’s hard to be a hero. This is the story of a Continue Reading

Results are all that matter

Wrong. Character matters Whether you are a CEO, politician, celebrity or simply a humble hard-working entrepreneur or employee, performance is continuously being assessed by the results you achieve. Does it matter how they are achieved? Some people think not, results are all that matter. They’re wrong. Character matters. Ethics, attitude and approach matter. Tactics and methods matter. Success and the Continue Reading

Choose your critics

Choose your critics And maybe still ignore their input  Somewhere in the process you are going to hear from the critics. You may even ask for it. For product development, customer satisfaction, or market testing, you'll be asking, how do you like me so far? The first step in getting constructive feedback is to choose your critics wisely. Are they Continue Reading

Qualifying Questions

Qualifying Questions Is it Strategic or Operational? Before leaping into action, it is important to ask yourself some qualifying questions and make better decisions about both the immediate and the long-term action required. Entrepreneurs are inclined to act instinctively and “just do it” when they are presented with a new challenge, opportunity or problem. No time wasted. Let’s not make Continue Reading

Consultants: How to Choose, Use, and Not Abuse Them

Consultants: How to Choose, Use, and Not Abuse Them Help them, help you Since my first consulting project over thirty years ago, I have learned a lot about how to successfully manage consulting projects and the client/consultant relationship. Here are some ideas that may help you with your consultants (and your lawyers, accountants and other professionals): Before you introduce consultants Continue Reading

Deadlines can be deadly

Deadlines can be deadly Don’t overdo it Most of us agree that deadlines are necessary. They help us to scope the work and make a plan.  Awareness of the deadline helps us to focus and get the work done on time. But, the stated deadline may be entirely arbitrary or self-imposed and it may actually not be very important. Seldom Continue Reading

Juggling too many balls?

Juggling too many balls? Maybe more than one is the first mistake   It’s not the number. It’s the amount of time you spend on each one before throwing it back into the air. Try it. Be better. Do better. Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson  

High pressure sales tactics

High pressure sales tactics Because they work If you have recently strolled the beach near any southern resort hotel, you have probably been introduced to the “body snatchers,” timeshare salesmen offering attractive incentives – free dinner, golf, Cirque de Soleil tickets – for you to attend a brief sales presentation at their resort. And then you can easily waste half Continue Reading

Good salesmanship still works

Good salesmanship still works And you can’t fake sincerity Ambushed at the service counter. But it was such a smooth, subtle switch to the sales pitch that I was persuaded to sit down and listen. Before I got out of the car at the dealership service bay, I noticed the well-dressed young man coming to greet me who did not Continue Reading

Lonely at the top

Lonely at the top It doesn’t have to be You could be proud of the fact that you are all alone running your business. You could be constantly complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. Or you can make different choices. It can be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be. Sharing your challenges and looking for solutions Continue Reading

You’re fired!

You’re fired! Hire well, but fire better Donald 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 Continue Reading

Disaster insurance

Disaster insurance Reducing risks Strange 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, Continue Reading

It takes a conversation

It takes a conversation Not a lecture “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 Continue Reading

Participative management

Participative management You cannot fake it Is 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 Continue Reading

Are you sensitive?

Are you sensitive? To rising interest rates? The Bank of Canada rate went up Wednesday from 0.50% to 0.75%. OMG!!! That’s a 50% increase! Well technically yes, but in reality no. The rate is essentially a basis for the banks to raise their rates by the same 0.25%. So if your current Line of Credit or variable rate mortgage is Continue Reading

Make work fun

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 Continue Reading

By the numbers

By the numbers Not just the ones you already know Most 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 Continue Reading

Alternative Facts or Alternative Conclusions?

Alternative Facts Or alternative conclusions? We seem to be learning from the current political debate that not only is it OK to invent alternative facts, (what we used to call lying), but that they are useful to explain and justify bad ideas. It may have proven to be effective in political campaigns, but it is definitely not recommended for subsequently Continue Reading

Back to school, Not just for kids

Back to school Not just for kids It’s time for back to school, but once the kids are settled in it's also a good time for you and your team to learn more and do better for yourselves and your business. Expand your knowledge or take a refresher in the fundamentals for better personal and business performance. You probably have Continue Reading

Let’s be reasonable

Let’s be reasonable You cannot win an argument by raising the volume. It’s not because they cannot hear you that they are not buying it. You need to be more persuasive. They need to be more reasonable, or rational, or intelligent. Right? Because they are clearly too emotional, ignorant or biased. Maybe. But thinking it and saying it out loud Continue Reading

Excuses are easy

Excuses are easy “Too busy fighting fires to do fire prevention” “When you’re surrounded by alligators it’s hard to see a way out of the swamp.” But there is no excuse for neglecting to manage the entrepreneur’s Challenge #1: Balancing strategic leadership with management effectiveness. The difference between management and strategy is the difference between engineering and philosophy. Are you Continue Reading

The Evolution of e-Business Challenges

This article is extracted from Uncle Ralph's, "Don't Do It the Hard Way". Read the book. The Evolution of e-Business Challenges Good management principles still apply Early e-business challenges for small-business owners started with the arrival of e-mail and websites in the early 1990’s. Today we are trying to understand the implications of the rapidly expanding world of social media and mobile applications. Perceptive Continue Reading

In defense of Business Plans

In conversation with Stephen Goldberg, a discussion of the value of Business Planning. "It's about the process, not the product." Read the full article and watch the video here. Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson   Read more Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. The Seven Biggest Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Find the Exit before it's an Emergency When to Launch Your Business The Continue Reading

Is your Bank a Welcome and Willing Partner in your Business?

This article is an extract from Uncle Ralph's, "Don't Do It the Hard Way" and the advice on managing your banking relationship is always relevant.  Read the book. Is your Bank a Welcome and Willing Partner in your Business? If not, then you need to make changes. Entrepreneurs are usually quick to agree that banks are an obstacle to their success, rather than a Continue Reading

Be Prudent not Paranoid

Be Prudent not Paranoid Soon after starting my business in computer products distribution, I got burned by a couple of retailers passing bad checks. Whether they were dishonest or just bad managers, the result was the same:  Whack, NSF! I was still an inexperienced young entrepreneur, so it was easy to over-react and go beyond caution and become suspicious and Continue Reading

Too Entrepreneurial, it’s not a good thing

This article is an extract from Uncle Ralph's, "Don’t Do It the Hard Way.”  Read the book. Too Entrepreneurial, it’s not a good thing Brian was chairing again at the e2eForum meeting, but he had a look of concern; unusual for him, as he was normally confident and upbeat. Gesturing to the flipchart, he said, “These are the issues that are starting Continue Reading

Keep your Balance

  Responding to Challenge #1: Strategic Leadership & Management Effectiveness Keep your Balance It is easy for owner-managers to get pre-occupied by the daily demands for attention – chasing opportunities, resolving customer complaints, managing employee performance, satisfying business partners, governments and the bank.  Stepping back to look at the big picture and assessing performance against the original strategic plan is Continue Reading

Entrepreneurial excellence: Challenge #1

This article is from Chapter 4 of Uncle Ralph's, "Don’t Do It the Hard Way”.  Read the book. Challenge #1: Strategic Leadership + Management Effectiveness Start with a plan.  As we started our e2eForum on a bright sunny spring morning, this was on the flipchart: The Entrepreneur’s Challenge: Strategic Leadership + Management Effectiveness It is my favourite theme and I had been Continue Reading

Sold! You thought it would be easy?

Three challenging steps to selling your business  If you’re thinking of selling your business someday, remember it’s a long, complicated process that you should start well in advance. The recent sale of a client’s manufacturing business, reminded me once again that a successful sale requires considerable time and effort – before, during and after the deal is made. Rigorous planning Continue Reading

Earn the right to brag

Earn the right to brag It worked for me running marathons. Long after my rational brain and aching body were telling me to quit, my ego kept reminding me that I would lose all bragging rights, if I didn’t finish. I knew it was much more satisfying to work into the conversation, “Yup, the full twenty-six miles, 42.2 kilometers, and Continue Reading

Enlightened Entrepreneurship – Part 3: The Action Plan

Enlightened Entrepreneurship – Part 3: The Action Plan Enlightened Entrepreneurship requires us to practice it, promote it and defend it. Does accepting that mission make us missionaries? Yes. And the mission has a three part Action Plan: Practice enlightened entrepreneurship and lead by example for employees, customers, suppliers, strategic partners and stakeholders. Help other entrepreneurs be more enlightened and thereby Continue Reading

Enlightened Entrepreneurship

The need for Enlightened Entrepreneurship My mission with LearningEntrepreneurship.com is to promote what I call “enlightened entrepreneurship.” I didn’t coin the phrase I’m sure, but here is my definition. Enlightened entrepreneurship: business leadership that recognizes that doing better for the business also means doing better for employees and their families, for customers and suppliers, for communities and the planet. Enlightened Continue Reading

Forget Forecasts

Forget forecasts They're useless. It is that time of year when everyone seems compelled to make forecasts. The experts insist on giving us their version and they decide either to be safe and predict more of the same or to be outrageous and predict something extreme - Canadian dollar at US$0.59 or oil back to $100! We should ignore them Continue Reading

Happy Holidays? It’s up to you.

Share the love and the joys of life. ‘Tis the season. Ignore the headlines, Donald Trump and ISIL for a few days. Set aside your worries about the declining dollar and tumbling markets. Find the time and the means to celebrate the joys of life. Focus on the people close to you; friends, family and business associates that also need Continue Reading

The Biggest Challenge: Strategic Leadership + Effective Management

Strategic Leadership + Effective Management It is my favourite theme and the owner/manager's biggest challenge: balancing strategic leadership with effective operating management. Lack of strategic leadership may be the biggest mistake made by entrepreneurs and can be fatal to their business. (Following is an extract from "Don't Do It the Hard Way" by your Uncle Ralph.) “Today I’m going to start by admitting Continue Reading

Seven Biggest Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Some ideas for better results in your business A few years ago, I came up with “The Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make and How to Avoid Them” for a breakfast seminar presentation. The presentation was well received and has since been used many times, eventually expanding into several chapters of my latest book for entrepreneurs, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way”. Continue Reading

Profiling is a Problem

I am not referring to the policing tactics that lead to so much turmoil, but to the never-ending management of your own personal  profile. It is essential to your personal branding and the presence of so many online profiles on different platforms is extremely important to perceptions of your reputation and credibility. Profile maintenance is never-ending, requiring continuous revision your life story on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter plus your website, Continue Reading

“Don’t Do It the Hard Way”

  "Don't Do It the Hard Way" has been released to the printers! You should see it soon at your favourite bookstore. Here's what to look for .... Learn to be a better entrepreneur and do better for yourself, your family, customers and suppliers, your community and the planet. Ambitious I know, but that is my mission. “Don’t Do It Continue Reading

Montreal Gazette Survival Tactics

It's been a week now since the new and improved Montreal Gazette got delivered to its few remaining subscribers.  Can you see the difference? I can't.  But let's give them credit for not quitting and giving up on old-fashioned print media. Unfortunately the decline will continue.  I think the National Post and Maclean's magazine do a better job of survival Continue Reading

Beware of Desensitizing Acronyms

Most of us tend to over-use the special acronyms that are familiar to us and our colleagues in the same industry or profession.  They are useful for confirming membership in the group and for excluding outsiders. (You know them.) But they often create a barrier to communicating effectively with a wider audience that is unfamiliar with our jargon. On the other hand, Continue Reading

Business of Golf vs Hockey

When the seasons overlap, it's hard not to notice the differences between hockey and golf as businesses. The PGA Tour is almost unique in that it is owned and operated by the players themselves (maybe ATP tennis is similar). For NHL hockey (and most other major league sports) the owners are often in opposition to the players and their union. It's almost socialism versus capitalism.  Continue Reading

Olympic lessons for entrepreneurs

Enjoy the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but don't miss the opportunity to learn some lessons to help your business go for gold! You can help your business to perform like an Olympic champion if you take these ideas from the Olympics as your inspiration: Have a four-year plan to achieve Olympic records Decide: Go for gold, or Quit. Learn from Continue Reading

Even Seth gets it wrong sometimes

Seth Godin has to be the best at capturing concepts and then communicating them creatively. You may know him best from his books, if you've heard of "The Purple Cow", "Survival is not Enough", "Meatball Sundae", "The Big Red Fez" or his original claim to fame -"Permission Marketing".His Blog is also recommended reading for thoughtful inspiration on marketing and communications Continue Reading

Seven Mistakes in PowerPoint

Our PSN Breakfast Series on October 15th went well with three speakers on "Entrepreneurial Challenges" including my own presentation on "The Seven Biggest Mistakes that Enrepreneurs Make". (Lots of nodding heads and smiles of recognition from the audience even if no one wanted to admit to having made all seven!) If you would like to review the PowerPoint slides, including Continue Reading

The Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make

The Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs MakeWhich ones are you making? How can you avoid them? I was recently asked to do a presentation with my associates at a breakfast seminar for business clients. We had arrived at the title “Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make” before I had the list prepared, so I decided to do a survey of Continue Reading

Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make?

I need your suggestions. I'm working on a presentation titled "The Seven Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make" and so far I have only my top four. Most of them I've made myself and I'm sure I can complete the list, but it would help to have some consensus from other entrepreneurs and their consultants/advisors. From your experience what are the most Continue Reading

Back to Basics

I introduced myself to a new corporate finance class yesterday and was reminded that, although much has changed in business and the economy since the 1970's when I first taught the course, the same basic principles of financial management still apply. Not to be confused by current economic circumstances or the impacts of globalization, green themes or new technologies, the Continue Reading

Avoid Swine Flu at Work

Friend and associate, Lynda Goldman has recently published an article on "Swine Flu: 7 Keys to Keep your Workforce Healthy" It is based on a recent interview with Dr. Ashok Oommen, a respected specialist in preventive medicine. He offers practical and effective tips that can be applied immediately to protect your employees and your business. Check it out: http://www.lyndagoldmanink.com/Swine%20Flu%20-%207%20Keys%20for%20Managers.pdf Stay Continue Reading

How are we doing so far in 2009?

We could all be even worse off, but let's hope it gets better from here. For most of us the impact on our businesses has been inconsistent and inconclusive. What are the right management strategies and action plans to get through this economic turmoil with a more resilient and successful business? Here are the lessons we have learned from clients, Continue Reading

Steven Kates has it wrong on Starbucks

A recent article in the Financial Post by Steven Kates, SFU Business Professor, prompted me to reply. I also use Starbucks as an instructive example for other businesses. But Steven Kates has it wrong in suggesting that Starbucks needs to "emphasize that it is continually learning how to be a good corporate citizen, not simply appear as one." Sorry, but Continue Reading

Guy Kawasaki

Introducing Guy Kawasaki, former Apple Mac evangelist, venture capitalist and business philosopher. I've added him to my recommended Blogs, based on two great articles; 10-20-30 guide to PowerPoint and Zen for Business Plans (look 'em up on Google before you see it here). His first Blog by way of introduction. Better Late Than Arrogant Welcome to my first attempt at Continue Reading

Working like a dog?

Harvey Mackay has some great suggestions on learning from dogs. Here is an extract from his recent newsletter (Nov.6/08). We can learn a lot from dogs. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the Continue Reading

Running into a burning building.

Another exciting week for investors. Was it the bottom finally? Did you have the nerve to jump back in and was your timing right? The advice of most so-called experts was either to stop watching and worrying or start buying at the bargain prices available. The latter advice sounds to me like being at a big game when someone yells Continue Reading

Twenty-something employees

I was in a good discussion today on the special challenges of managing young employees from the twenty-something generation. There is often a large gap in job expectations between the 30 to 40-year old managers and their younger staff. Loyalty, extra hours, and commitment to the company are concepts familiar to the managers but foreign to new employees. Their key Continue Reading

Summer doldrums

Quietly drifting in no particular direction. That's what the doldrums mean to me, based on vague memories from high school history classes of the great explorers in their sailing ships . (Confirmed by Wikipedia it's apparently an area near the equator, famously described in the "Rime of the Ancient Marine" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.) For business it often means a Continue Reading

Good for your health

I recently participated in a breakfast seminar with some associates, clients and friends where the guest speaker was Dr. Oomen from the Cardiogenix Medical Centre in Montreal. He is a very dynamic and animated speaker who presented the topic of "Health is Wealth, De-stress for Success" and he had us all motivated to follow his advice and lead healthier, stronger, Continue Reading

Evolving loyal, long-term customer relationships

Sometimes we get so preoccupied with marketing and sales activities and all the associated details that we forget the original strategic objectives. The basic objective, of course, is to generate and grow sales revenue. But to have sales you need customers. And to have sustained, profitable and growing sales, the best strategy is to develop loyal, long-term customer relationships. So Continue Reading

The Platinum Rule

Again I learned something new at the McGill MiniBiz Seminar this week. The topic was managing diversity, especially the generational gap between those born before WWII, the Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. For both managers of those diverse groups and for members of each generation the recommendation was to remember the Platinum Rule. OK, we all know the Golden Continue Reading

Henry Mintzberg is worth listening to

I had the pleasure yesterday of hearing a presentation by Henry Mintzberg, McGill professor and management guru. One attendee described him as the "Tiger Woods of management science". I know him as the Strategy professor during my McGill MBA program from 35 years ago. (Yikes, neither of us seem to have aged that much! OK, maybe less hair.) He is Continue Reading


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. Continue Reading

Financial management

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 Continue Reading


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 Continue Reading

Essence of entrepreneurship

I had lunch yesterday with a client and friend who represents for me the essence of entrepreneurship. (He is too modest and discrete for me to mention his name here.) In my opinion, the essence is to combine the strength of a marketable expertise with the ability to think and act strategically. In his case, he has a very high Continue Reading

Neglecting e-business

In the early days of e-business consulting most of us doing the e-missionary circuit were preaching the message of "Catch the wave or be drowned by it". Every business was being told to get on the Internet and get rich quick or stand back while the "new economy" took over their industry. Hype and hysteria were used to persuade entrepreneurs Continue Reading

Happy Mother’s Day

Mothers and business seems to be my current theme. Perhaps it's the subliminal (or blatant) advertising for Mother's Day this weekend. My Uncle Ralph persona is partly inspired by my father and his well-recognized character and manner of dispensing wise advice. But my mother also had a strong influence on my personality and management style (other than the genetic connection), Continue Reading

I have a duck

Why do I keep the duck? It's not a live duck, it's a painted plaster duck, so no care and feeding required. But it's old and faded from years in the garden through snow and rain then beside the bathtub or on a bookshelf. It's not attractive but it's a frequent reminder to be humble in my business decisions. The Continue Reading

Blogging discipline

Now that I've said I'm committed to blogging for the greater good, more than just the personal satisfaction, I'm going to have to keep it up. Flurry of topics to consider - more business advice from Uncle Ralph, comments on the Virginia Tech massacre, business issues discussed at lunch, or the best seller I finally bought "Good to Great" by Continue Reading

Who is Uncle Ralph?

This is Uncle Ralph checking in. Who am I? I'm a creation of Del Chatterson. He's too humble to offer all this advice and insight himself so he has created this pseudonym. Remember Mark Twain? And how about Samuel Clemens, why was he hiding behind a pseudonym? I am a composite character of all the best managers that Del has Continue Reading

Trying harder

OK, after more browsing of other people's blogs I have been suitably inspired/motivated to try harder. You can give the credit (blame) to the bloggers listed in my sidebar - Mitch Joel, Rick Spence and finally Jim Estill. You may not know them but they're worth a visit; maybe they'll inspire you too. Mitch is a marketing guru in Montreal, Continue Reading