Recent Posts by Learning Entrepreneurship

What does R&R mean to you?

Do it regularly, don’t wait until it’s urgent  

R&R is originally a military term referring to soldiers taking time for Rest & Recovery. You may have your own version to describe taking time to get away from it all; my preference is taking time off to Reflect & Renew.

There are lots of other choices to consider for using your time-out:

  • Relax & Recharge
  • Rewind & Restart
  • Review & Re-think
  • Repair & Rebuild
  • Regret & Reconcile
  • Remember & Recover
  • R________ & R________ ?

It may take a while to get used to ignoring the constant buzz of devices demanding your attention, or measuring your progress and performance every day, but it’s healthy to learn how to turn off all those habits for a short period of R&R.

I recently tried it myself during a long-overdue winter break with an intended two-week period of R&R on the beaches of Los Cabos, Mexico. Unfortunately it was suddenly shortened due to a medical emergency at home, but I still learned that in spite of all the new stresses of air travel, and the annoyances of Covid testing, extended documentation requirements and smart phone apps that don’t work on short notice, it is still worthwhile to take a few days away from the daily routine to Reflect and Renew, or whatever you intend for your own R&R.

It’s necessary and important. Don’t wait until it’s also urgent.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

 

 

Celebrity CEOs 

What do they know?

I remember my investment broker telling me years ago, “making money doesn’t make you  smart.”  Maybe you’re just lucky. Or maybe all that talent and education and hard work finally paid off. And maybe these celebrity CEOs can tell us how to do better for ourselves and our businesses. They seem to be rich and smart and successful.

But don’t judge a book by it’s cover, or the recommendations of other celebrities, or the fact it’s a bestseller. Those are just signs of good marketing. (Lessons there that might help me sell more of my books!) But buyer beware. It’s important to check the credentials and the content before we get too excited looking for nuggets of truth and wisdom in their books.

I’m currently reading Ray Dalio’s, The Changing World Order, and Marc Benioff’s, Trailblazer. Dalio is the billionaire founder of Bridgewater, the largest hedge fund in the world, and Benioff is the billionaire founder of Salesforce, a world leader in cloud computing and customer relationship software. Both very bright, rich, and successful.

Dalio presents an interesting perspective on the rise and fall of empires over the last 500 years and the effects on banking, currency, finance and economics. He recommends his principles for investing to deal with current and future changes in the world order. There are some helpful insights for managing your investment portfolio, but I find the fifty to one-hundred-year timeline not very relevant for decision-making in today’s volatile world affected more by short-term political and economic issues. As another famous economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, reminded us, “In the long run, we’re all dead.”

Benioff’s book is more relevant for CEOs and small-business entrepreneurs trying to navigate current social and cultural issues of the modern world affecting their businesses every day. Benioff is the epitome of the ethical, enlightened entrepreneur and explains his belief that business is the greatest platform for social change.

Salesforce was founded in 1997 and guided from the start by Benioff’s principles:

  • Values create value
  • Creative success is a triumph of imagination guided by values
  • Consistent application of Salesforce’s core values: trust, customer success, innovation and equality are essential to it’s continuing success
  • Corporate culture defines how you express your values
  • Employees at all levels must be committed to the culture of supporting local communities and advancing social progress.

Benioff admits to the challenges and the mistakes he’s made in the process, but he sets a very high standard for any business leader to follow and be more pro-active. He makes a very convincing case that being socially responsible and active in the community will make the business more attractive to employees, customers and other stakeholders, and consequently, more successful. But it has to be more than a mission statement, more than a marketing slogan.

Are you a believer? Are your actions guided by ethical values and a social conscience? Is your business a platform for social change?

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

 

 

You think it’s futile?

Don’t give up too soon.

No sign of progress does not mean no progress.

Don’t look for excuses to give up. Patience and persistence may still be rewarded. Keep checking the feedback and listen to the critics, especially the people who are usually your cheerleaders, even if you think they’ve got it wrong and you’re sure you’ve got it right.

But eventually you may have to admit, they’re right. You’re doing it wrong.

The clichés get repeated because they’re often true: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Continuing to bang your head against the wall only gets you a headache.    

So how do you know when to quit? Go back to square one: Check your goal and your plan. Review the feedback and the apparent lack of progress. Have you learned enough to find a better path to achieving the goal?

Is the original goal still important to you? If it is, then make adjustments and keep pushing. Try a different approach if you think it will improve the odds of success.

If you decide the goal is no longer worth the effort or that your efforts are entirely futile, then it’s time for a pause, some reflection, and a new plan.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

 

 

Manage like a Hockey Mom

But in a good way

(An extract from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in Part V of DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY – 2020 Edition)

Hockey games are always exciting and entertaining, whether it’s the NHL or kids in minor hockey, and they often provide inspiration and ideas applicable beyond the hockey rink.

At a grandson’s Peewee hockey tournament in Montreal, the welcome brochure included the Quebec Hockey Association’s Code of Ethics for Parents (also useful for grandparents) to encourage responsible behaviour and allow both players and their parents to simply enjoy the game.

In reading it, I realized it could be adapted as a useful guide for business owners and managers. Here is my adaptation.

The Code of Ethics for Entrepreneurs

As a business owner and responsible manager, I recognize that I have the potential and the opportunity to make an important contribution to the personal development and well-being of the individuals who choose to work with me and I accept that as a priority over “winning the game.” 

I will therefore ensure my conduct continually demonstrates the following principles:

 I understand that my employees are here for their benefit and pleasure, not mine.

  1. I consider winning as part of the pleasure of playing the game; I will not exaggerate the pain of failure; and I will recognize errors as a necessary part of the learning experience.
  2. I will respect the efforts and the decisions of the supporters and supervisors and of the outside authorities responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations. I will do my best to understand and accept the rules and regulations applicable to my business.
  3. I will recognize and respect good performance on the part of any individual employee, as well as that of the individuals on competing teams.
  4. I accept each individual’s limitations and will not project my own ambitions or unreasonable expectations upon anyone. My expectations will be appropriate to the qualifications, experience and training of each individual.
  5. I will demonstrate and expect from all employees a reflection of the important values of respect, discipline, effort and loyalty.
  6. I will not encourage or tolerate any level of personal harassment, conflict or aggressive behavior.
  7. I will encourage and support the personal development of skills and capabilities for every individual.     

 Good advice from responsible hockey moms.

(I do notice that a lot gets ignored during the playoffs when winning is everything, but that’s another issue for a future article. Meanwhile, the hockey analysts are all over it.)

Be better. Do better.  As a responsible hockey parent and as an enlightened entrepreneur.

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

Resilience

Versus fatigue.

What is resilience?

It’s not just bouncing back after a major setback or getting through difficult times. It’s not only about celebrities and superstars recovering from serious injuries or illness and returning to top performance again; it’s also about business owners getting back to work, serving customers and providing a boost to employees and the local economy.

In product design and engineering, resilience is the built-in ability to absorb or avoid damage without suffering complete failure. You have that ability too.  Remind yourself of the severe challenges that you’ve survived in the past.

You can handle this. Don’t let the _?????_ grind you down!

Resilience is stubborn resistance to fatigue. Fatigue leads to poor performance and bad decisions – like giving up, or defiant opposition to doing what needs to be done. Resilience is better – suck it up, call on your reserves and find more creative ways to respond to difficult circumstances. Inspire yourself and others to do what’s necessary.

Be resilient. Be strong and persistent, retain your guiding principles and follow your moral compass. You’ll get back on the path to where you want to be.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

It looks simple

Obviously …

It’s usually a bad start to a productive conversation if your opening comment starts with, “It looks simple enough to me…,” or “Obviously, they should…,” or “Why don’t they just….”

You’ve probably now confirmed that you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

You may have already heard me quote the genius scientist and mathematician, Albert Einstein, who allegedly said, “For every complicated problem there is an easy and obvious solution – that is always wrong!”

Maybe you have a better solution or a simple answer to a difficult question, but if you are going to convince anyone that you know what you’re talking about, you should start with asking for clarification of what exactly is the problem.

Once you confirm your understanding of the problem you can more likely present a well-reasoned argument for the solution that seemed simple and obvious to you. It may now seem more clear to others. Further discussion may even lead to a better conclusion.

It starts with a conversation, not a speech trying to prove how smart you are.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

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 at and what you also like to do – do that.

If you’re running a business, you want it to succeed. I know you’re not in it just for the money, but it needs to be profitable to be successful. Your employees, customers, suppliers, business partners and investors, the governments and communities you support, are all counting on you. Don’t screw up!

You can ignore the pontificating anti-capitalist critics who think profit is a dirty word. If your business is profitable, they’ll assume you’re among the evil, greedy, selfish capitalists ripping off customers and employees and killing the planet. Don’t bother to argue, explain or apologize; they’ve already stopped listening. Stay calm, carry on.

Your business success is measured by it’s profitability over time. You will be judged on how you made it and how you use it, not on how much you made. Did you lie, cheat or steal to earn it? Are you investing your profits back in the business? Are you paying employees fairly? Are you meeting your obligations to society, people and the planet?

You can pay yourself first; it’s important that you continue to be motivated and adequately rewarded for your leadership and good management in running a profitable business. It’s also important to have some of your cash flow going into other investments – to build your retirement funds, to diversify your portfolio and to avoid the risk of losing everything in a business failure. Just keep your own compensation within reasonably acceptable limits for internal and external equity.

Remember you are also counting on the support of the people who are watching you.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

Learn to live with it

Doesn’t mean ignore it.

 We keep being told we have to learn to live with it.

It seems to me a useless cliché, whether it’s applied to the continuing risk of Covid variants, to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to the humanitarian crisis in Europe or to the threat of escalating military conflict into WWIII.

It’s a lot to worry about and it’s more distressing and disturbing to feel we are unable to affect the outcomes. However, ignoring the dangerously volatile world around us and hiding inside our personal safe havens are not good choices.

We can do more.

We can be responsible, intelligent citizens and contribute to better outcomes. Be safe, take care of yourself and others. Speak up. Lend your support to the causes of public health, freedom, democracy and human rights.

You can make a difference.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

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 to current conditions and the plans and priorities of the enterprise. Now is a good time to review how you’re doing. Your risk management and mitigation strategies are certainly affected by current global conditions as we move from a two-year pandemic into the “living with Covid” phase at the same time as we’re re-structuring economic relationships and geopolitical alliances in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Risks to your business that were not anticipated two or three years ago are now affecting everyone.

My recommended approach to managing business risk, from start-up to exit, is first to distinguish between the risks you can manage and those that are outside your control. What could go wrong? How can you prevent it or protect yourself from the consequences?

Most risks are predictable, but probably not avoidable. Here’s my checklist for reviewing your risk management strategies.

Market risks:

  • Factors outside management control: economic cycles, decline in demand, changing customer preferences, trade restrictions, incentives and disincentives to certain business activities.
  • Economic conditions: Changes in government regulations, taxes, fees, foreign exchange, and interest rates.

Business risks:

  • Issues within management control: dependence on key employees, customers, and suppliers; computer security and disaster recovery; labor availability and staff turnover; new competitors and new business models; new tools and technologies; and changing demand trends.
  • Employee agreements, supply contracts, leases and insurance plans may provide some protection from worst case scenarios.

Are you prepared to respond to the next round of unexpected risks to your business?

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

You always have a choice

Usually a multiple choice.

A simple yes or no would be easier. And sometimes that’s good enough.

“Yes, that’ll do. I’ll take that one.”

It’s right there in front of you. Don’t make it complicated. Just do it.

But maybe it's not so simple. As Einstein or some other genius has been quoted as saying, “There is always an easy and obvious answer. That’s usually wrong.”

Take your time to consider the alternatives. Make a better choice and you may have better results. More pleasure, less pain.

What’s your choice?

 

 

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship 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.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

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