e2eForum Blog

More ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs

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

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

Leadership

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

Summertime

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