Recent Posts by Learning Entrepreneurship

Yes, you need a Business Plan

From Start-up to Exit

It may seem unnecessary, uncreatively old-fashioned, boringly bureaucratic, and inappropriate for your brilliant business idea where you “dare to be different.” Nobody wants to look at a thick document full of industry jargon, market research mumbo-jumbo and spreadsheets up the ying-yang, do they?  Sorry, but yes they do.

The most important people for support of your plans will need convincing that you have done your homework and that you’re capable of delivering the results you expect. So don’t argue, just do it. Or if you still need convincing, read on.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan? 

It has a purpose. 

The most common reason for preparing a business plan is, “because the bank asked for one.” That is probably why most readers of the Guide to Business Plans are here. And that is obviously a legitimate reason for doing one.

But why is the bank asking for one? And do you need one for the same reasons? The answer is as simple as the familiar cliché: If you fail to plan; you plan to fail.

It’s hard to know where you’re going and how you’re getting there without a plan. It’s even harder to manage your progress if you haven’t defined your destination and set the milestones to monitor along the way. What route are you taking? What type of vehicle are you using? Who’s driving and who are the passengers? Why?

The bank, and any other investor or business partner, wants the answers to those questions to assess whether or not you are likely to succeed and whether or not they want to support you.

You need a business plan for all the same reasons.

Every business needs one, from the start-up to the exit.  

Documenting a Business Plan is an extremely useful process to focus the owners and the management team on their business model, strategies, and operating plans. The process will force consensus and decision making that might otherwise be neglected. It requires issues to be resolved and the conclusions to be documented after testing alternative solutions and their financial consequences.

A well-documented business plan will help you communicate the most important elements of your strategy and plans to the people who need to know them the most. Including you.
Maybe you’ve been successful in business for many years and never had a business plan. It's still a good idea for all the same reasons.  And now is a good time.

Maybe you’re ready to exit your business. Even better. A solid business plan will be the most important document you have to support the value of your business for sale or transfer to a new owner.

The greatest value of a business plan, however, is always in the process – involving your management team in a thorough examination of your business; its purpose, its strategies and its plans to ensure success. When it’s completed, all the key players will be more knowledgeable of the issues, the opportunities, the risks and the alternative paths considered and the reasons for the choices that were made; before committing to the final plan.

For a small business start-up, that management team may only be you. Maybe you’d rather keep your plans to yourself. But the business plan is still a valuable exercise. It forces you to answer all the questions that you should ask yourself and that will certainly be asked by the next people to get involved.

With a well-documented business plan you will be better prepared to meet all the challenges and more likely to succeed.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more in Uncle Ralph's books of advice for Entrepreneurs: Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 

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 more than meeting their obligations at work.

With lots of time to ourselves, procrastinating is easy. Nobody’s watching. Who cares anyway? It can wait until we’re more in the mood for it. It’s a bad attitude and a bad work habit to get into.

This article from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY, is a timely reminder to make better use of the time available to you, pandemic or not.

The Best Advice I Ever Got

In three words: DON’T WASTE TIME.

In providing the following background story, I may appear to be ignoring that advice by taking more time to write about it and requiring you to take more time to read about it.

But the advice is really about making choices on how to use the limited time available in one lifetime. It does not exclude learning, relaxing, or quiet contemplation instead of continuous frantic activity. In this case, I am choosing to reinforce the message and help make it memorable by telling the story (in keeping with the theme of the book). You may choose to read it for the same reasons.

I was at UBC in Vancouver in 1964, my first year in Engineering. All first-year engineers were given the Engineering Handbook providing all the advice and information we needed to successfully complete the following four years of study. The book was full of useful material and started with welcoming comments from the Dean of Engineering, the University President and other dignitaries with all the usual flowery clichés expected in these messages.

One page was reserved for Steve Whitelaw, President of the Engineering Undergraduate Society. Steve was a popular President with a reputation as a very bright, creative leader. That reputation was based on his leadership in a number of engineering student stunts that made the national news, like the time they kidnapped another university’s mascot or hung a VW beetle from the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

His biggest coup was bringing to a conclusion the long campus debate over some weird concrete modern-art sculptures that appeared one-year on compass. They had received the scorn and contempt of ‘ignorant and uncultured’ engineering students, but were vigorously defended by the arts faculty and administration.

The intensity of the debate exploded on campus and in the local newspapers on the day the engineers went on a rampage and completely destroyed all the sculptures leaving them in heaps of broken concrete and steel. That’s when Steve finally advised everyone that the engineers had built and installed them all in the first place.

So his advice in the Engineering Handbook would have attracted our attention. It was a blank page with his signature and just three words:

DON’T WASTE TIME

Call it leading by example.

Be better. Do better.

And take care of each other,

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more in Uncle Ralph's books of advice for Entrepreneurs: Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 

Starting-up is hard to do

Re-starting in a pandemic is even harder

It’s time to pull out your original business plan and start re-thinking and re-writing it. Assuming you have one, I’m sure it didn’t include a contingency plan to survive a pandemic shutdown. Now you need a new plan to re-start your business in a world recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

The value of having a plan and the process of preparing one remain the same as ever. Answering the original start-up questions again. Why am I doing this? What do I hope to accomplish? Who cares? How can I succeed?

Go back to basics. Develop a strategy and operating plans that are relevant and appropriate to the new realities of the next phases of the global pandemic. Don’t chase short-term opportunities. Somebody else will be better at manufacturing personal protective equipment or designing a contact tracking app. Focus on leveraging your unique strengths and capabilities into a new sustainable plan for long-term growth and profitability. Take advantage of the willingness of employees and customers to accept change and to demonstrate their loyalty to your business. Respond in kind with sincere gratitude and appreciation for their support.

Don’t make it complicated, the objective is to prepare a one page summary that answers these questions clearly and concisely:

  • What is the purpose of the business?
  • Who are the target customers?
  • What are the investments required to re-start?
  • What is the revenue required to be profitable again?
  • How soon can we get there?

The detailed analysis and planning needs to include your management team. Their input and commitment to the plan are essential before communicating it to employees and customers.

Some additional useful tips from The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans:

  • Review how competitors are adapting their business model in response to new restrictions and new opportunities.
  • Test alternative scenarios and their impact on the expected financial results.
  • Do not force your forecasts beyond reasonable expectations into the realm of hopeful fiction to arrive at a happy ending.
  • If the plan doesn’t work, revise it and try again.
  • Confirm the support of strategic partners, especially for financing.
  • Define specific measurable performance objectives and a timetable with set milestones.
  • Continuously monitor the results and make necessary changes to achieve your performance objectives.

It was not easy getting started the first time. It will not be easy to get back on track delivering valuable products and services to customers and meaningful employment to your staff. It will require the same determination, creativity and teamwork that worked the first time.

Be better. Do better. And take care of each other,

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more in Uncle Ralph's books of advice for Entrepreneurs: Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 

Do-It-Yourself Business Plan? Yes, you can!

What? Why?

What is a Business Plan? What are the results you  want?  

Good questions. Here are my answers.

A business plan is a document that describes your idea for realizing a business opportunity. It describes the market need that you have identified and the proposed strategies and plans to turn your idea into a profitable business.

The business plan is a communications tool to be used with all the prospective participants in your project. It will identify and confirm the business opportunity, define your proposed business model for responding to that opportunity and describe the strategies, operating plans and financial results that you expect.

It is not exactly a sales document, but it will be used to sell your concept and approach to convince sources of financing and strategic business partners to participate in your plan.

An acceptable Business Plan will include a detailed and comprehensive description of the planned project or new venture with extensive financial analysis and projections, plus supporting material that might include executive profiles, product brochures, facilities plans and market research studies.

The three key components in a Business Plan therefore, are:

  1. A clear, persuasive description of the business opportunity and your strategies and action plans to respond to it.
  2. A complete detailed set of financial projections confirming the investment required and the expected future profitability.
  3. Supporting documentation that confirms the objective research and analysis for the conclusions, proposals and projections shown in the plan.

The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans will explain:

  • How to prepare all the elements required for a complete business plan package
  • How to get the most out of the process
  • How to get the results you want.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan? It has a purpose. 

The most common reason for preparing a business plan is, “because the bank asked for one.” That is probably why most readers of this Guide are here. And that is obviously a legitimate reason for doing one. But why is the bank asking for one? And do you need one for the same reasons?

The answer is as simple as the familiar cliché: If you fail to plan; you plan to fail.

It’s hard to know where you’re going and how you’re getting there without a plan. It’s even harder to manage your progress if you haven’t defined your destination and set the milestones to monitor along the way. What route are you taking? What type of vehicle are you using? Who’s driving and who are the passengers? Why?

The bank, and any other investor or business partner, wants the answers to those questions to assess whether or not you are likely to succeed and whether or not they want to support you.

You need a business plan for all the same reasons.

Every business needs one, from the start-up to the exit.  

Documenting a Business Plan is an extremely useful process to focus the owners and the management team on their business model, strategies, and operating plans. The process will force consensus and decision making that might otherwise be neglected. It requires issues to be resolved and the conclusions to be documented after testing alternative solutions and their financial consequences.

A well-documented business plan will help you communicate the most important elements of your strategy and plans to the people who need to know them the most. Including you.

Maybe you’ve been successful in business for many years and never had a business plan. It's still a good idea for all the same reasons.  And now is a good time.

Maybe you’re ready to exit your business. Even better. A solid business plan will be the most important document you have to support the value of your business for sale or transfer to a new owner.

The greatest value of a business plan, however, is always in the process – involving your management team in a thorough examination of your business; its purpose, its strategies and its plans to ensure success. When it’s completed, all the key players will be more knowledgeable of the issues, the opportunities, the risks and the alternative paths considered and the reasons for the choices that were made; before committing to the final plan.

For a small business start-up, that management team may only be you. Maybe you’d rather keep your plans to yourself. But the business plan is still a valuable exercise. It forces you to answer all the questions that you should ask yourself and that will certainly be asked by the next people to get involved.

With a well-documented business plan you will be better prepared to meet all the challenges and more likely to succeed.

Be better. Do better.

And take care of yourself,

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

 Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

 Read more in Uncle Ralph's books of advice for Entrepreneurs: Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 

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 how much cash did you have set aside to carry you through such an event? We always knew there were unpredictable economic and business risks that we could not prevent or avoid.

None of us were prepared to manage through a global pandemic that would shut down normal business activity for two or three months. Maybe six months to two years before we get back to anything approaching normal business activity. Now is not a good time to discover we cannot survive that long without income.

We are approaching the end of phase one of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, we hope. We have slowed the spread of infections to allow health care workers and facilities to handle the case load. Is it time to start switching from defense to offense? Caution and constant monitoring will be appropriate as businesses reopen and people go back to work, but it’s time to get ready.

The tactics for good management through any business crisis or disaster remain the same:

  • Demonstrate conspicuous and effective leadership. Lead by example. Show compassion and understanding of the pressures and the anxieties everyone is feeling.
  • Assess the new business environment and the new protocols and regulations in place and the changes going forward.
  • Determine current employee and customer needs and expectations and the most effective responses from comparable businesses in your industry.
  • Stay focused. Avoid being distracted by the bombardment of pandemic news. Don’t freeze. Don’t over-react. Be calm, rational, reassuring and pro-active.
  • Don’t neglect the good news. Look for the silver lining in the dark clouds – maybe we’ve learned something beyond working more effectively from home.

Some Enlightened Entrepreneurs and political leaders are demonstrating how it should be done. You can learn from them too.

In summary:

Be brave, be flexible, be creative. Be informed, make decisions, take action. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Be better. Do better.

And take care of yourself,

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

 Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

 Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 

 

 

 

Be better. Do better.

And take care of yourself,

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 

Enlightened Entrepreneurship: The Action Plan

If Enlightened Entrepreneurship requires us to practice it, promote it and defend it, does accepting that mission make us missionaries?

Yes.

Your mission has a Three-Part Plan:

  1. Practice enlightened entrepreneurship and lead by example.
  2. Help other entrepreneurs be more enlightened and thereby more successful.
  3. Advocate for enlightened entrepreneurs and help to defend entrepreneurship against the unfair critics. “We are not evil!”

Start with awareness followed by leadership and management that confirm the value of merging our business goals with our social responsibilities. It is not sufficient to organize an occasional charitable event or community project to serve as a “guilt-eraser” or to counter-balance irresponsible behaviour in daily business operations. It is essential that daily business operations reflect our enlightened business culture and social values.

There will still be critics and non-believers. They cannot be ignored.

So enlightened entrepreneurs must continuously advocate, explain and defend the contributions of entrepreneurship to create a better world.

As more successful entrepreneurs join the conversation, the more convincing we will be.

We need you. So step up and join the cause.

Be a missionary for Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

I look forward to joining you.

 

Enlightened Entrepreneurship: The Next Step

I continue to promote and recommend the concept of enlightened entrepreneurship, but we do not have a common understanding of the term. Some define it as a very spiritual or humanistic approach to business and others confuse it with social entrepreneurship, where the purpose of the business is to meet the social needs of society more explicitly than the economic needs of the business owners.

My concept of Enlightened Entrepreneurship:

Business leadership that recognizes that doing better for the business also means doing better for people and the planet. Enlightened entrepreneurs manage their business to achieve its economic objectives while also recognizing and meeting its social responsibilities.

Consider the meaning of “enlightened” in the historical context of the Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, which dominated philosophical ideas in Europe from the early 17th Century. The principal goals of Enlightenment thinkers were liberty, progress, reason, tolerance, fraternity and ending the abuses of the church and state. The ideas of the Enlightenment played a major role in inspiring both the American and the French Revolutions for freedom and democracy, giving more power to the people.

Over the last two centuries, most Western societies have experienced increasing individual freedom and less dependence on central authorities with a corresponding expansion of capitalism and free enterprise. Early in this period (1776), Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations and first described the principle of the invisible hand, guiding entrepreneurs to unintentionally contribute to the greater good of society.

In his words, describing the business owner:

He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it … directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it." (Book 4, Chapter 2)

But the excesses of the industrial revolution, exploiting workers and concentrating wealth and power in the hands of only a privileged few, caused social reaction in worker revolts, the rise of trade unions and the growth of the opposing ideology of socialism.

In the 21st Century, we still observe irresponsible capitalist excesses driven by greed and selfishness that exploit workers, concentrate wealth, manipulate democracy and neglect the needs of society.

The opposing forces in society are still battling: some defending capitalism and free markets as delivering prosperity to millions of people and others blaming corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs and their political supporters for all the ills of the modern world.

We cannot keep our heads down and ignore these issues, while “taking care of business.”

Enlightened entrepreneurs know that they can no longer rely on the invisible hand to help them protect the public interest and meet their social obligations and responsibilities. The modern world is more complicated and modern society is more demanding. Entrepreneurs need to be more aware and more explicit in responding to the demands of the world around them.

The next step for Enlightened Entrepreneurship is for us to practice it, promote it and defend it.

Are you ready for the next step?

Enlightened Entrepreneurship: The Need, now more than ever.

 “I’m only in it for the money.”

Really? Hardly anyone admits to it; most of us are accused of it.

But we know that being motivated primarily by personal gain and short-term profit are losing propositions. We must have a higher purpose and a wider range of goals and objectives to satisfy the wide spectrum of stakeholders who affect the long-term success of our businesses.

We have to consistently satisfy the needs and meet the expectations of our employees and customers, suppliers and strategic partners, governments and regulators, our communities, society and the environment. Yes, it might be called recognizing our social responsibilities and, yes, it can still be justified by the free enterprise principle of working in our own self-interest to make more money and inadvertently benefitting society at the same time.

You do not have to be a dedicated, altruistic social entrepreneur to recognize your social responsibilities. Every business has to deliver products or services with a net benefit to society and within the limits of acceptable social and environmental impacts. An enlightened entrepreneur is aware of those requirements and manages accordingly.

 The need for Enlightened Entrepreneurship

My mission, whether it’s providing advice to entrepreneurs or commenting on current issues, is to promote that vision of enlightened entrepreneurship. It needs to be understood, supported and encouraged by business owners and managers and the stakeholders who have a vested interest in the consequences.

I didn’t invent the term, but here is my definition of Enlightened entrepreneurship:

Business leadership that recognizes that doing better for the business also means doing better for employees and their families, for customers, suppliers and business partners, for communities and the planet. Enlightened entrepreneurs manage their businesses to achieve the economic objectives while also recognizing and meeting their social responsibilities and having a positive impact on society.

Enlightened entrepreneurs manage this way not because it is good marketing or public relations or just to feel good about themselves, but because it is the best way to build a thriving sustainable business. That expectation may seem hopelessly ambitious or naïve, but I believe it is, in fact, the only way to grow a business. We should expect nothing less.

If the entrepreneur is focused only on making money, then the consequences for everyone, including the entrepreneur, are likely to be unacceptable. Growing a business is never as simple as making short-term profits. It requires looking at the bigger picture and managing assets and people for increasing business value.

Enlightened entrepreneurship is more than a moral or ethical imperative, it is an overriding principle of good business management. It’s not a new idea, it’s a logical extension of the principles of building sustainable long-term value in a business by continuously satisfying all the stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, governments and local communities. Ultimately, they will decide whether they are willing to support your business success. It is never entirely up to you.

So start thinking enlightened entrepreneurship. There is no other way that works.

Your Uncle Ralph, 

Del Chatterson

For your reading pleasure - reduced prices & free E-books.

Crime fiction and advice for entrepreneurs

 Dear friends, fellow writers and readers,

We're missing the pleasure of meeting face to face during this challenging period and even if I am used to working at home alone and mostly online, it’s been more than a month of isolation in Montreal and it’s getting harder to find creative ways to avoid pandemic anxiety.

So I’m using the opportunity to share all my books online with any interested and enthusiastic readers while we remain unable to meet at the local bookstore for a chance to share my books in person. Below are links to all my books at special Covid-19 reduced prices on print copies and free E-book copies to download. If you’ve already exhausted your bookshelf of John Grisham novels or business reading, you might find these an interesting read during our extended period of self-isolation. Of course, you’re welcome to share the links or the books with anyone else who might be looking for something new and different.

Check out the three novels, including the latest, MERGER MANIAC, and NEW 2020 Editions of the business books at my Author website www.DelvinChatterson.com.  You’ll find direct links there to all the books on Amazon & Indigo, but for the best price and delivery of Author-signed copies go to my Author Direct Bookstore at CANAM books:  https://canambooks.com/store/catalogsearch/result/?q=Delvin+Chatterson

For download access to the free E-books, if you prefer that format, here are the direct links to each book:

Dale Hunter Thrillers - crime novels about a Montreal entrepreneur fighting crime and corruption in the 1980s international computer business:

Merger Maniac: https://BookHip.com/GBFVVV

Simply the Best: https://BookHip.com/LWMLBC

No Easy Money: https://BookHip.com/QBDRJC

2020 Editions of Uncle Ralph’s business books:

Don't Do It the Hard Way "A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Only a fool insists on making his own." Learn how to avoid the Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs make. Free E-book @ Bookfunnel-HardWay: https://bookhip.com/ZDMQST

The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans Do-It-Yourself Business Plan?  Yes you can!  Get the Results you want. From Start-up to Exit. Free E-book Bookfunnel-DIYBusPlan: https://bookhip.com/JDLDFV

Note: If you choose to buy a print copy, currently @ CDN$ 7.95 & $ 9.95, I thank you for the support.

Please be assured that I continue to promise all my supporters, readers and fans, that 15% of net book royalties from the Dale Hunter Series of novels and the business books will be shared with my favourite worthy causes - KIVA, UNICEF, MSF & Amnesty International – and during this period of pandemic crisis I will be contributing more than 100% of the book royalties for March, April, May, June of 2020 to local organisations providing pandemic relief.   

Enjoy your reading and I hope to see you soon. Probably still no high-fives, handshakes, hugs or kisses on two cheeks anytime soon, but we will get to the end of this strange reality we’re living in now.

Stay safe, be well and take care of yourselves,

Del Chatterson

Looking for Readers & Reviewers, please.

New 2020 Editions from your Uncle Ralph

 Please take a look. Take 3 seconds, 3 minutes or 3 hours if you have time and let me know what you think. Covers or content, style or presentation. I’m looking for honest critics and cheerleaders to join my mission and help support and promote Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

Any and all feedback is much appreciated. It helps readers know what to expect and helps me to write a better book next time. Please share this email and the links below with more readers   and make the same request. Help me spread the word for more readers and more feedback.

New 2020 Editions of Uncle Ralph’s books for Enlightened Entrepreneurs – Advance Copies – Limited Time Offer. 

 For entrepreneurs to be better and do better. How to start, manage, grow and exit the business. Two simple messages in two easy-to-read books for business owner-managers: Have a plan. Avoid the mistakes.

 Practical advice for Enlightened Entrepreneurs to be better and do better. With real life stories to illustrate the tips, tools and tactics to get the results you want. Ideas, information and inspiration from Uncle Ralph’s thirty years of experience as an entrepreneur, consultant, advisor, writer and cheerleader for entrepreneurs.

 Don't Do It the Hard Way

"A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Only a fool insists on making his own."

Learn how to avoid the Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs make.

Only $9.95 US/CDN on Amazon.com-HardWay & Amazon.ca-HardWay Free E-book @ Bookfunnel-HardWay

 The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans 

Do-It-Yourself Business Plan?  Yes you can!

Get the Results you want. From Start-up to Exit.

Only $7.95 US/CDN on Amazon.com-DIYBusPlan & Amazon.ca-DIYBusPlan  Free E-book Bookfunnel-DIYBusPlan

Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship – UncleRalphsBooks

Be an Enlightened Entrepreneur.  Be better.  Do better.

And don’t neglect to wash your hands! Stay safe, be well and take care of each other.

Your Uncle Ralph, 

Del Chatterson

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