Recent Posts by Learning Entrepreneurship

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 December.

I have gift ideas for you now!

A good book is always a good gift idea and FREE is always a good price. So here is my offer to you and your friends because you’re special and it’s better to give than to receive.

You can choose which books and which format from among my three published crime fiction novels and the two 2020 editions of my non-fiction books on entrepreneurship, management and leadership.

Uncle Ralph’s business books – How to be a successful Enlightened Entrepreneur

The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Edition

This comprehensive Guide provides all the tools, tips and tactics you need for a Business Plan that gets the results you want – from Start-up to Exit. Learn from the Real-Life Stories, sample Business Plans with Financial Templates, Business Pitches and Offers for Sale. Learn how to present your business for financing or for sale. Learn what to say and what not to say in your Business Plan. How to evaluate whether you have what it takes before you start. How to test feasibility and calculate Break-even. Do-It-Yourself Business Plan? Yes you can! Get your Free E-book at: https://BookHip.com/TKATVL

Don’t Do It the Hard Way -2020 Edition

Learn how to be better and do better.

Uncle Ralph will help you with: • Getting Started • Strategic Leadership • Management Effectiveness • Managing Relationships • Marketing & Sales Performance • Building Business Value. PLUS! How to Avoid the Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make.  Get your Free E-book at: https://BookHip.com/KWQSCN

If you prefer to have or to give to someone else a real book, then you will find more choices at your local bookstore and online everywhere. Paperbacks @ $14.95 to 19.95 suggested retail prices.  Click here to shop at: Amazon.com; Amazon.ca; Indigo.ca

And remember nobody needs to know that you read it yourself before gift-wrapping it! You’ll have lots of time if you buy it now and read it quickly.

And for something completely different… consider these books: 

The Dale Hunter Series of crime fiction novels

NO EASY MONEY - You never win playing by the rules...

First in the series of Dale Hunter Crime Novels, an explosive mix of crime, cash and computers in the 1980s. Entrepreneurs face challenges every day. It’s hard to be a hero. Dale Hunter is under threats of violence from the Montreal Mafia and crooked business associates. He wants to survive and not play by gangster rules. It will require courage and creativity and the support of some new friends. Somebody is going to get killed. Get your Free E-book at: BookHip.com/QBDRJC.

SIMPLY THE BEST - It may be simple, it’s never easy 

Dale Hunter is again up against the gangsters who tried to murder him once and are now threatening his family. Meanwhile, Hunter’s new partner in Taiwan is dragging him into smuggling schemes with the Triads. The danger escalates. Hunter’s escape may seem simple, but it’s never easy. Get your Free E-book at: BookHip.com/LWMLBC.

MERGER MANIAC - Some offers have to be refused 

Dale Hunter is trying to survive against competitive threats in the rapidly evolving computer business of the 1980s. He’s looking for partners when he’s suddenly approached by the Mafia to participate in their money laundering schemes. Hunter has to walk a dangerous tightrope to avoid getting dragged into more crime and corruption. Get your Free E-book at: BookHip.com/GBFVVV.

If you prefer to have, or to give to someone else, a real book then you will find more choices at your local bookstore and online everywhere. Paperbacks @ $9.95 – $15.95 and hardcovers at $34.95 suggested retail prices. Click here to shop at: Amazon.com; Amazon.ca; Indigo.ca

And remember nobody needs to know that you read it yourself before gift-wrapping it! You’ll have lots of time if you but it now and read it quickly.

Enjoy your reading, writing, and buying books!

Del 

Del Chatterson

www.DelvinChatterson.com 

www.LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Good branding?

Or a good first impression?  

It is an important distinction: Are we building a brand based on exceptional customer experience over the long-term; or, are we trying to get their attention with a glitzy logo and a catchy slogan?

The long-term experience and the first impression have to be consistent. Not initial false promises raising unreasonable expectations resulting in disappointed customers looking to leave us instead of becoming raving fans recommending us to everyone they know.

It’s easy to be attracted to the fun of continuously meddling with the glitzy logo and the catchy slogan and neglect delivering the goods and exceptional customer service on every interaction.

Good luck. None of it is easy.

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

Losing customer loyalty

It happens fast  

It is an important principle, in my opinion, that the primary purpose of any business is to build profitable, loyal, long-term customer relationships. Every strategic plan, policy statement, and operating decision should support that essential business objective.

Customer loyalty is not easy to earn and retain. It requires consistent customer service that builds on the minimum requirements of competitive price, availability, and delivery; then demonstrates the added value of superior service and expertise; followed by connecting on shared values and beliefs in the way you do business together.

It takes time to build strong loyalty with customers and clients and it can be quickly lost in one bad experience.

A recent example: I am stubbornly loyal to certain brands, businesses, and institutions. In each case my loyalty has been built and maintained by consistently good experience engaging with the business as the customer or client. I also try to support local businesses, franchises, and entrepreneurs to assist in their sustainability and success, especially after all the turmoil of the pandemic and the rising trend of e-commerce competitors and the demands for online services.

So I have resisted the easy option of making my frequent purchases of very expensive HP printer cartridges directly from HP online. I prefer to drive to the nearest Office Depot downtown where I have been well served for all my technology requirements and office services, until a couple of weeks ago. I made the mistake of dropping in for a quick purchase of two cartridges which were subsequently rejected by the printer as incompatible. I’d bought the wrong cartridges! My mistake, but I thought I could count on the store to help correct the error. “No way!” said the intransigent manager who had no interest in sympathizing or trying to satisfy me. He preferred to dictate company policy: No receipt – no refund, and we cannot accept return of opened boxes.

It is never my recommended approach for customer service to lecture the customer on corporate policy. It’s better to be more tactful, “I’m very sorry about your problem and I will try to help, but the best I can do for you is…”  Now we’re working together to achieve a better ending and keep the customer. In this case, I went back to my office and ordered new cartridges from HP.

Do you think I should give Office Depot another chance?

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

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. Don’t overdo it!

Managing in Difficult Times

https://learningentrepreneurship.com/managing-in-difficult-times-2/ 

Ignoring or avoiding a difficult business environment is simply not possible. So what are some helpful ideas to respond effectively?

  • Stay focused Avoid being distracted by the bombardment of bad news. Misery may love company, but everybody remains miserable if you just talk about it and do nothing. Be creative and don’t neglect the good news; look for the silver lining in the dark clouds.
  • Be relevant Costumers will be postponing or redirecting their purchase decisions. Can you keep their business with new services, packaging, pricing, terms and conditions?
  • Leverage the sense of urgency Employees and customers are sensitive to the same issues and challenges and will be amenable to new solutions. More likely to accept cost cutting, postponing projects, revising compensation and benefit plans, changing business models, re-aligning marketing programs, raising prices and reducing services. Take advantage of the sense of urgency that exists; just be cautious not to do permanent damage to employee, customer, and supplier relationships.
  • Recognize the changing environment Revise your corporate budgets and business plans. Update external benchmarks to remain competitive.
  • Look for new opportunities Build on the losses of shaky competitors; or buy them out.
  • Talk to your bank Make sure they are not worrying unnecessarily; or at least worrying for the right reasons and hearing directly from you.
  • Avoid being the unwilling prey Manage appearances; be prepared to take the initiative. Know your value and your preferred business partners.

In summary: Be brave, be flexible, be creative.

We are currently living through extremely challenging times with multiple crises all happening at the same time. The extended duration of stress and disruption to our lives and businesses can lead to over-reaction to new disturbances and bad decisions that may cause irreparable damage – employees quit; clients and customers go elsewhere.

Be cautious about exploiting the crisis. Employees and customers may be receptive to accepting changes because they understand they current conditions affecting everyone. Supply chains have been disrupted, skilled labour is lacking, but arbitrary and unjustified price increases and cancellation of services are not acceptable.

Be reasonable; be rational. And manage the message.

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 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 bombardment of bad news.

Stay focused on customers and employees, especially the ones that you have and want to keep. Don’t freeze. But don’t over-react.  Be calm, rational, reassuring and pro-active.

Don’t just share the pain, provide relief.  Misery may love company, but everybody still remains miserable if you just talk about it and do nothing. Try to be more creative and take appropriate action. Don’t neglect the good news; look for the silver lining in the dark clouds – maybe currency exchange and interest rates are down temporarily, so now you can expedite foreign currency sales or re-finance some lending to improve cash flow.

Be relevant

Take a close look at your customers’ changing needs and your product or service offerings.  Do you have recession proof products or are they vulnerable? Costumers will be postponing or redirecting their purchase decisions in the current challenging climate.  Can you keep their business with a new cost-reduced service or a more creative approach to packaging, pricing, terms and conditions?

Leverage the sense of urgency

Nobody is unaware of the current economic circumstances affecting your business. Employees are already aware of the issues and the problems in front of them, so it will be easier to get them to accept the solutions. That means it’s more likely that they are receptive to expense reductions, removing frills, postponing projects, reducing assets and conserving cash. It may be opportune to revise compensation or bonus plans, change distribution channels, move marketing programs to lower cost online approaches.

Take advantage of the sense of urgency that exists. Now is the time to resolve lingering problems; just be cautious not to do permanent damage to key employee, customer and supplier relationships that you want to retain.

Recognize the changing environment

You probably started the year under different assumptions that affected corporate budgets and business plans.  Sales targets may now be unrealistic and should be adjusted downwards to maintain the rewards and motivation for top performers who continue to deliver in spite of challenging times. Try to use an external benchmark to justify the adjustment and not give the impression that you are forgiving poor performance.

Look for opportunities generated by the crisis

If you have been smart enough to stash cash and build a relatively secure business, then you can take advantage of some unique opportunities that exist.  Build your team by attracting top performing employees who may be ready to move from shaky competitors into your welcoming arms. Or buy out a competitor, if the company is suddenly for sale at a bargain price.  The big boys are doing it; so can you.

Talk to your banker

Make sure she is not worrying unnecessarily. Or at least worrying for the right reasons and hearing them directly from you.

If you are in better shape than most and credit is available, then increase your credit limits now to handle the potential unexpected impacts and to support the new opportunities you may want to pursue.

Avoid being the unwilling prey

Recognize that competitors may also see you in difficulty and seize the opportunity to raid key employees or buy you out at a distressed price.  You need to keep close to your key employees and ensure their career plans remain with you. If you are a likely target for merger or acquisition, then start working on your choice of preferred partner and determine your business valuation under normal circumstances, not current crisis conditions. Then take the initiative before you lose control of the situation. You and your business will be better for it.

In summary:

Be brave, be flexible, be creative.

Analyze, decide, take action.

 

Food for thought

Are you getting any?

Where do you find new ideas for information and inspiration? How do you learn to be better and do better?

When I started writing business commentary and advice over fifteen years ago, that was my objective – to provide ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs. The original objective of my website, LearningEntrepreneurship.com, my articles and blog posts, and my irregular newsletter, Ideas for Entrepreneurs, was to provide that kind of food for thought.

One of the first articles I shared was: Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management.  Perhaps best known as an American statesman and scientist, Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence, flew a kite in a lightening storm, and has his picture on the U.S. $100 bill; but he was also a very successful entrepreneur. A printer by trade, Franklin launched several businesses and introduced the concept of franchising to his printing shops in the late 1700s. He was successful enough to retire from the business at age 42.

As excerpted from the book on Franklin by Blaine McCormick, Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management,

  1. Finish better than your beginnings.
  2. All education is self education.
  3. Seek first to manage yourself, then to manage others.
  4. Influence is more important than victory.
  5. Work hard and watch your costs.
  6. Everybody wants to appear reasonable.
  7. Create your own set of values to guide your actions.
  8. Incentive is everything.
  9. Create solutions for seemingly impossible problems.
  10. Become a revolutionary for experimentation and change.
  11. Sometimes it's better to do 1001 small things right rather than only one large thing right.
  12. Deliberately cultivate your reputation and legacy.

I’m sure you’ll agree that most of Franklin’s Rules can still be applied today, but for more current advice for entrepreneurs here are some of my recommended books and a few memorable quotes:

Tom Peters

In Search of EXCELLENCE, 1982

“There is no more important trait among excellent companies than an action orientation. ... if you've got a major problem, bring the right people together and expect them to solve it.  They do, somehow, have the time." 

"Excellent companies are a vast network of informal, open communications. Forget the MBA - Masters in Business Administration – and remember the MBWA – Management By Walking Around."

Thriving on Chaos, 1987

"A well-handled problem usually breeds more customer loyalty than you had before the negative incident."

“Measure! And reward on the basis of the measures."

Henry Mintzberg

SIMPLY MANAGING, 2013

“Leadership has pushed management off the map…. Now we are overled and undermanaged.”

“Strategies are not immaculately conceived in detached offices. They are learned through tangible experiences.”    

Harvey Mackay

SWIM WITH THE SHARKS without Being Eaten Alive, 1988

"A goal is a dream with a deadline. Write it down" 

"Dig your well before you're thirsty"

"You'll always get the good news; it’s how quickly you get the bad news that really counts."

BEWARE THE NAKED MAN WHO OFFERS YOU HIS SHIRT, 1990

"Do what you love, love what you do and deliver more than you promise."

"You're a lot better off being scared than being bored."

Jim Collins

Built to Last, 1994

"Visionary companies almost religiously preserve their core ideology. Yet, they display a powerful drive for progress that enables them to adapt and change without compromising their cherished core ideals."

"Good enough never is. For these companies the critical question is – How can we do better tomorrow than we did today?"

From Good to Great, 2001

“Good is the enemy of great.”

“Confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith.”

Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

First, Break all the Rules, 1999

“The one insight that we heard echoed by tens of thousands of great managers: People don't change that much. Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough."

Seth Godin

The Bootstrapper's Bible, 2004

"In advertising... persistence is the secret to success."

"In choosing partners remember: Ringo was the luckiest Beatle... a mediocre drummer riding on the backs of three musical geniuses."

Guy Kawasaki

The ART of the START, 2004

"Build a business to make meaning (the money will follow).”

“Have a mantra, not a mission statement.”

“Advertising is what you say about yourself, PR is what other people say about you. PR is better.” 

Michael Gerber
The E-Myth

Gerber claims he originated the cliché: Work on your business, not in your business. But his over-worked theme is a useful reminder to develop your business organisation and processes so that it can run without you in it every day.

Bo Burlingham
Small Giants

An interesting study of small eccentric companies that decided to succeed by staying small. The conclusions are a stretch to fit the hypothesis that small is better, but worth reading to remember to build your business for yourself; not to chase some dream of global grandeur.

And for weekly reading that provides different perspectives and more in-depth analysis than the daily news headlines, I recommend The Economist and Bloomberg’s Business Week.

Enjoy your reading.

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

 

 

Don’t be too perfect

Or too precious. You’re not that special.

In occasional attempts at false modesty or humble bragging we might admit to being too much of a perfectionist. In fact we have probably already learned that perfectionism is not only the enemy of good, but it also pisses people off.

Nobody wants to be driven to pursue the impossible expectations of a perfectionist. Good enough never is, as my father used to say, but excellence is usually entirely acceptable.

Somewhere between the arrogant and demanding perfectionists like Steve Jobs, who never accept that customers know what they want, and the impatient managers who apologize for imperfections and push out “minimum viable product” to test customer response, is the responsible, competent manager who insists on quality and performance that will cause customers to rave about it and ask for more.

Don’t be too perfect. But do try to find the right balance. Be better to do better.

(P.S. I hope you didn’t find any typos or misspellings in this newsletter on perfectionism.)

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’s hard to be humble after a big win

Are you still your toughest critic?

After a big win it’s hard not to bask in the glow of success; enjoy the applause and rave reviews; share the news on all your social media channels; smack the high-fives and accept the toasts to how wonderfully talented you are.

But when the celebrations are done, step back and take the time to reflect on this particular success. Can you do it again? Maybe even better? Or get there easier, or sooner next time.

You’re not done yet. Right? You want a repeat performance with equally good results.

Learn from the best and you’ll see that the biggest winners are their own toughest critics.  In constant search for improvement; the passionate pursuit of perfection. What we used to call Kaizen, the Japanese management principle of involving everyone in the process of continuous improvement – focusing on product quality, manufacturing efficiency and performance of the final product.

Celebrate the wins and the small victories, but build on them to continue improving on the results. Enjoying the cheerleading, then take a look at the critiques. Keep the criticisms in perspective, but be the most honest, thoughtful, constructive critic yourself.

You have now raised expectations. Don’t disappoint.

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

Talent is not enough

Commitment to your best effort makes the difference 

If you’re competing against the best in world, everyone is talented. To be a winner you’ll have to do more than demonstrate your talent. You’ll need to commit to extraordinary effort and apply it constantly and consistently. Then you have a chance.

Whether you’re watching the NBA finals, or the Stanley Cup playoffs, or Wimbledon tennis, the level of talent and skill on display is awe inspiring. But what is even more awesome is the level of intensity and consistently high level of performance that comes from the commitment to winning.

As one coach observed, “It’s unbelievable how much these guys want to win. Pushing through pain and injuries, they ice it up, tape it up, and suck it up to get back in the game.” Both teams and all the players who make it to that level know what is required to come out ahead. They know the difference between winning and losing may be as little as avoiding one mistake or pouncing on one lucky bounce.

Do you apply that level of commitment and effort on the job everyday? Of course not. Nobody does. The more important question is – can you push yourself to beat the best in the world at whatever you’re most talented at when you're competing one-on-one?

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

Results are all that matter?

Wrong. Character matters.

This commentary was originally posted in 2019 when the whole world was watching and worrying about the true character of well-known figures like Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and President Trump. It also appears in Don’t Do It the Hard Way – 2020 Edition.

Sometimes we learn more than we ever wanted to know about our leaders, role models, and heroes in society. Then we have an awkward question to consider: Should we dismiss everything they ever accomplished because of their character flaws and their immoral, unethical or even criminal behaviour?

Many people have chosen to ignore the character and behaviour their heroes and their leaders because they valued, respected and admired their ideas and the results they achieved. Many of them have since learned to regret those choices and recognize that character matters.

Morality and ethics matter

The accomplishments are forever tainted and diminished by the suspicions that they were not achieved legitimately. We’ve learned about the lying, cheating and abuses that are part of their history and assume those tactics were used to get the results they wanted.

Why is it important to assess character, morality, and ethics in choosing our leaders and role models? Because we want to be reassured that the results will be achieved according to acceptable moral and ethical principles that go beyond personal ego and self interest.

If you’re a corporate CEO, a politician, an entertainer, or an entrepreneur and business manager, your performance is continuously being assessed based on the results you achieve. Does it matter how they are achieved? Some people think not. Results are all that matter. Especially if the results are what they want and they can ignore the consequences and side-effects on other people.

They’re wrong.  Character matters. Ethics, morality, attitude and behaviour matter. Tactics and methods matter. Words matter.

Sometimes the desired results may appear to be achieved, regardless of the behaviour. Immoral, ruthless, and aggressive behaviour may even appear to have been necessary to achieve the results. Wrong again.

The apparent short-term gains will eventually be lost to long-term reactions. Those who are used and abused will get even. A legacy of accomplishment may be completely dismissed and forgotten when true character is revealed.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

 

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