Category Archives: e2eforum

Expertise or Opinion

Which is it this time?

If you ask for an opinion you’ll get one. Almost nobody can resist giving you a response.

They’re flattered that you asked and they don’t want to disappoint you. Apparently, you think they’re an expert in the subject. Or at least you think they might have an intelligent, insightful opinion.  Nobody is going to tell you you’re wrong, on either count.

They’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m sure I can come up with something useful.” They’re never thinking, “But I’m an idiot. I know nothing and have no opinion on the subject.” Have you ever heard that answer?

But it can be dangerous to ask. What if they’re adamant about a really bad idea? Now you have a problem.

It’s best to preface your request with the caveat, “I welcome your input, but please don’t take it personally, if I choose to ignore it.” Much better than having to respond with, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.” It’s hard to recover from that conversation.

So, carefully ask the question and clearly distinguish between a formal request for expert advice and a friendly exchange of personal opinions. Confirm your expectations before you ask. It will be easier to know what to do with the response.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

This article is an extract from Uncle Ralph's, "Don’t Do It the Hard Way.”  Read the book.

Too EntrepreneurialToo 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 to wear me down. Mostly because my two senior managers in sales and project management are starting to tell me I’m not entrepreneurial enough.”

We looked at his list of discussion points.

Too Entrepreneurial

  • Opportunistic
  • Optimistic
  • Impatient
  • Confident
  • Decisive
  • Creative

He added, “Uncle Ralph, when we were working together on my original business plan, you warned me about the risks of being too entrepreneurial. These are the points I remember and I thought we could discuss them today in the e2eForum.”

“But they all look good to me,” said Stan, “my father was always pushing me to do those things.”

“It all comes down to balance,” I said, “Balancing the entrepreneurial instincts and drive with the well thought-out strategic planning and analysis that help you make good decisions.”

“Let’s go through the list,” said Vivian, keeping us on the agenda.

I opened by explaining my perception that although certain characteristics of entrepreneurs are necessary for them to be successful; too entrepreneurial can be a problem for the business.

I went over the points that I had previously discussed with Brian while we worked on his business plan and he was bubbling with entrepreneurial enthusiasm. My intent was not to dampen his energy and enthusiasm, but to provide some perspective on the risks. 

Too opportunistic

It can be hard to resist every potential sale or customer opportunity that is presented to you, but the successful entrepreneur builds the business by remaining focused on the strategic objectives and the agreed action plan to get there. Time and resources are easily wasted on chasing rainbows, if you are not sufficiently selective and insist on sticking to the plan.

Both current customers and new prospects will continuously presented unexpected opportunities. If they are asking for it, you should do it, right? Well, maybe not. Can you do it well? Profitably? Better than the available alternatives?

Your Go/No-Go decision should be based on two strategic requirements: leveraging your competitive strengths and building long term business value. Those are the two selection criteria that will keep you focused.

Too optimistic

It is important to be optimistic and think positively, but a little paranoia may be wise too. Remember the chairman of Intel, Andy Grove, titled his memoir Only the Paranoid Survive. Mark Zuckerberg has been credited with the same mentality in driving the astonishing growth of Facebook. Keep a wary eye on the market and monitor your business performance constantly. No news is not good news; you’re flying blindfolded. Don’t miss or ignore the warning signs of bumpy weather approaching. 

Too impatient

Don’t expect too much too soon. It seems like everything takes longer than it should and most entrepreneurs have high expectations of themselves and their team. But don’t keep changing the plan or trying something new just because you’re not there yet. If you are making progress and the end goal is still valid, don’t give up too soon. 

Too confident

Entrepreneurs usually have great confidence in their instincts and their intelligence. The mistake is to neglect or ignore market feedback and analysis of the facts. Also being action-oriented, the tendency is to react and ‘fire’ before the ‘ready, aim’ stages are complete. Painful surprises can result. Temper your self-confidence with a little humility – ask for help and get the input from others before you rush ahead. 

Too decisive

Entrepreneurs are expected to be decisive and demonstrate leadership. But both can be overdone – deciding too quickly and providing too much direction so that employee input, initiative and creativity are stifled.

Often the decision does not need to be made quickly and the implementation will go more smoothly if time is taken to assess the feedback and answer the questions before commitments are made and the wheels are put in motion.

Back in the `80`s, Japanese management style was the model of success and one of their recognized tactics was to talk and talk and talk about the solution before implementing it. The result was much smoother and faster implementation than for the stereotypical macho decisive American manager who decides quickly and starts implementation without sufficient prior consultation with those affected.

Too creative

Many entrepreneurs are driven to ‘Do it my way’; that’s why they love running their own business. But sometimes alternatives have not even been considered and a better way exists. The creative solution may require improvising and learning on the fly, but maybe the best solution is sticking with what works, until it stops working.

Another mistake is staying too long with a solution and neglecting to evolve and grow by optimizing systems and processes and installing the best practices and latest technologies available in the industry. Not everything needs a creative new solution unique to your business. Maybe you’re not that special.

I summarized for the group. “Those were the points I had discussed with Brian and my assessment of the risks of being too entrepreneurial; all these mistakes can lead to serious difficulties for the business.”

Dave added, “It does help to keep in mind that some careful analysis and planning are important to offset the tendency to make decisions based on instinct and past experience. I’ve had to make some quick decisions recently that I’m now going back to and will take another look at.

“See you all in a month and we can talk about what changes we have made to avoid being too entrepreneurial.”

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

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Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, "Don't Do It the Hard Way" and "The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans" Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

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 ever met or learned from. He attributes to me all the best advice he has ever received from colleagues, associates, employees, customers, competitors, teachers, writers and his parents. I have learned more lessons from experience than he or any other one person will ever learn for themselves. Or as his sister puts it, "learn from the mistakes of others, you can't live long enough to make them all yourself."

So I will offer wise words of advice and counsel to business owners, managers, entrepreneurs and executives without any inhibitions, humility or modesty. I will moderate the e2eforum and facilitate discussion between business peers and expert advisors. My intent is to to help improve people's business performance and their personal lives. I am optimistically ambitious about what we can accomplish together.

Until the next time ....

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, Rick is a business writer on entrepreneurship, and Jim is a very successful entrepreneur in the Canadian computer industry.

It seemed to me that blogging was very narcissistic - a self absorbed, lonely, anti-social mission to make daily diary entries and expose them to the world. Who wants to browse your bad writing about who you are, what you're doing and what you think? Who cares?

But now I can appreciate that it is more of an expression of the personal desire to share ideas and information and to expand our personal networks through the Web. It is also a good discipline to force ideas into writing and then expose them to interested readers for critique and discussion.

So this blog is now the introduction to Uncle Ralph and the e2eforum's mission to inform, educate, advise and inspire other business executives and entepreneurs.

Stay tuned.