Category Archives: Enlightened Entrepreneurship

Trust nobody  

Or trust everybody?

Rule #1:

You may know the story of the shopkeeper who decided it was time to teach his young son about the business. He told him to climb up the ladder to the top shelf, then jump down into his arms. “Don’t worry, I’ll catch you. Trust me.” The boy jumped, his father stepped back and watched him crash to the floor. He looked at his distressed son and said, “That’s Rule #1. Trust nobody.”

But he was wrong. That’s no way to run a business.

You have to trust everybody. Until they prove otherwise. Even in a retail business where the two groups of people most important to you – your employees and your customers – may be stealing from you. After a few bad experiences, it’s easy to become cynical and distrustful. Causing them to feel the same way.

Don’t let it happen. You want to be liked, respected, and trusted. So do they. We all want to do business with people who have the same values, beliefs, and attitudes.

Keep positive and trust that employees will show up on time and do their jobs responsibly; that customers will treat your staff with respect, appreciate your products and services, and pay their bills when due; and your suppliers and business partners will meet their obligations and deliver as promised.

It’s more fun and more profitable for everyone if we play by the rules and trust each other.

That’s Rule #1.

Be better. Do better. Be 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

 

 

Storytelling

With a purpose.

It may seem odd that I’m writing business advice for entrepreneurs at the same time as I’m writing crime fiction novels about an entrepreneur, but it’s actually quite consistent with my lifetime passion for telling stories – to share ideas, information and inspiration in a memorable way.

Different stories, different audiences; same purpose. 

It’s an important and effective communications strategy. You may have used it yourself or been aware of others doing it well. A flashy PowerPoint slideshow is no match for a good story told to make the point. Consider a recent TED Talk, sales pitch or political speech that stuck with you and persuaded you to think differently. The message was probably reinforced by a compelling personal story.

On meeting a new client or associate, the exchange of stories quickly establishes the areas of common experience and the differences that might be obstacles or advantages in building a productive relationship.

Are you a good storyteller? Do you recognize the talent in others? Or the lack of talent as they mess up the punch line in a good joke or tell a rambling tale of this and that without getting to the point? You can get better at it by observing the best, reading and listening attentively, and learning what works best.

Storytelling: Do it well for your own purposes.

Be better. Do better. Be an enlightened entrepreneur.  

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

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.

Best Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

It's just business.

Never personal. 

I recently completed my fourth novel about an entrepreneur and his crime-fighting buddy, called Bad Boys in Boston. The sub-title was, It's just business, never personal. However, it’s about a young woman in the family being kidnapped into the sex trade and it’s very personal.

In business too, it often is. But you have to know when not to take it personally. Like the salesman who came back to the office after his first sales call of the day and said, “I already got three orders!” Unfortunately, they were, “Get out,” “Stay out,” and “Don’t come back.” Hard not to take that personally. “Why don’t they like me?”

But it’s better to step back and decide it’s not me, it’s something else. Maybe it was the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong pitch.

Don’t take everything personally. Be selective.

Do I really care about this? Is there a message I’m missing?

Maybe I need to make it more personal to understand what I should do differently for better results. Maybe I need to make it less personal to avoid the emotional response on both sides.

Be better. Do better. Be 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

Democracy still works

But in your business?

Around the world we are seeing democracies at work; not always the way they were intended to work and not always giving us the results we wanted or expected, but still delivering the decisions and making the choices the people were asked to vote on.

Too frequently, we are seeing democratic processes used to legitimize an illegal authority or a brutal dictatorship and sometimes they’re manipulated by unprincipled politicians in order to retain their power and privileges. Occasionally, we can be reasonably assured that democracy has succeeded in choosing leadership that will deliver government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” That was the definition used by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President, in direct opposition to slavery in 1858.

Do you use democratic processes in your business to make decisions or choose leaders? Are you clear on who are “the people” being served and who are the people providing leadership? Are they of the same people?

Large public companies are required to have transparency and respect some semblance of democratic processes. The Board of Directors is elected by the shareholders to represent their interests and to choose corporate leadership that looks after their investments in the business.

A small private company has no such obligation. A totalitarian dictatorship is allowed. Just as bad management and poor performance are allowed. However, they are probably not good choices.

Management by command and control is not only very much out of favour, it has also proven to be ineffective and unlikely to achieve sustainable high performance for any organisation. There are obviously limits to allowing “the people” to vote on every management decision, but participative management is a good start. If you don’t encourage participation and feedback from the people – your employees, your customers, and your investors – they will vote anyway, with their feet or their wallets – coming in or going out the front door.

Building an enthusiastic sustainable following – of voters, or employees, customers and investors – requires that you not only deliver what they want, but that you are aligned with them on common values and beliefs. Understand that and make it work.

You don’t have to call it democracy, it’s just good management.

Be better. Do better. Be 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

 

 

Are you an Activist CEO?

Leading with your values?

It’s no longer an option. It's now expected, by your employees and your customers. They have choices to make – who to work with and who to buy from. That’s the new reality in today’s hyper-sensitive, highly politicized, and widely publicized world.

Or are you a politician, avoiding the issues and trying to please everybody, not wanting to offend anyone? 

That used to be the best strategy to attract and retain employees and customers, but it’s no longer good enough. We already knew that the ruthless, selfish, greedy and irresponsible CEO was nobody’s first choice, but don’t be evil is no longer good enough either. (Unless your objective is to appeal to evil people who are selfish, greedy and irresponsible.)

There is more joy and more opportunity to do well by being good - an ethical, enlightened, and socially responsible CEO and entrepreneur. Leading by example is a good start.

Stepping up and speaking out comes next. The people you need to succeed are watching and they expect you to do more. More than a Tweet, more than a press release, more than a new tagline or marketing slogan. Action proves how you really feel and who you really are. Do more and you’ll attract the people you really want to do business with, and you will have a real impact on the people and the planet around you.

Whether you have 40,000 employees around the world or only four people working in your local shop, 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

 

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

 

 

This is the new normal

Get used to it.

Like the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, twenty years later, has changed everything and I think we have to accept that we have arrived at the new normal for our lives and our businesses for the near future.

From now on we will be applying new measures and following new rules and regulations to avoid unnecessary risks to our collective health and security and to mitigate the negative effects on the global economy and our personal lives. We would prefer, of course, to go back to the old familiar routines without all the distractions, annoyances and hazards arising from the pandemic, but the danger continues and the pandemic threats may never end. So let’s get used to it.

Is this really as good as it gets?

A lot has changed in people’s attitudes and behaviour over the past two years. It’s not all bad, some of the trends toward more positive changes in society have been accelerated. We have learned some new approaches that should continue to apply –– to be more socially aware and to take better care of ourselves, and each other, and the planet. We still have to get better at persuading those who deny the problems and resist the solutions to have them accept what we consider more socially responsible approaches.

Remember the important advice to listen and seek to understand before seeking to be understood.

In adjusting to the new normal in your business and personal plans, here are a few points to consider:

  • Customer and employee expectations have changed. Personal health and safety have become extremely important issues for both. They want to avoid contact with the unruly and irresponsible disrupters who ignore health guidelines. (Or they want the freedom to make their own choices and be among others who feel the same way.)
  • The selection criteria for doing business with you, or working for you, have changed too. The price, quality and service level will be less important than shared values and beliefs on social issues, not only related to the pandemic and public health concerns, but also issues of equity, equality, diversity, racism, bigotry, and the environment.
  • Keeping up with innovative competition and new business models is becoming more challenging.

Are you ready to retain and acquire the most demanding customers and the most capable and effective employees? Do you have the same selection criteria as they do? Are you ready to live and work in the post-Covid19 era and make your personal and business decisions accordingly?

Don’t forget to take care of yourself, take care of each other, and still have fun and 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

Thoughts for the day

Be Better. Do Better.

Hello {First Name},

Thank you for joining us to share Ideas for Entrepreneurs and for supporting and promoting Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY

I’ve often suggested that all my business advice can be summarized in just six words:

  • HAVE A PLAN.
  • AVOID THE MISTAKES

I would prefer, of course, that you bought my most recent books for entrepreneurs to get my full repertoire of words of wisdom from your Uncle Ralph with all the real-life stories that reinforce the lessons learned.

But here are a few extracts for you to consider as thoughts for the day:

  • Look before you leap.
  • A dream is not a plan.
  • Continuously rethink, review and revise your Business Plan.
  • Find the exit before it’s an emergency.
  • Give equal weight to Strategic Leadership and Effective Management.
  • Ensure short-term action and consequences are consistent with the long-term plan.
  • Good marketing is not enough.
  • Remember the 4 Ps: Patient, Persistent, Polite & Persuasive.
  • Balance the logical head with the intuitive heart.
  • Look after employees and customers first, but don’t neglect your own needs to stay strong and carry on.

Have a good day

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

 

 

Build, Buy, or Franchise?

Had your Subway yet, today?

The original co-founder of the Subway sandwich chain, Peter Buck, died earlier this month at age 90. He was a 34-year-old nuclear scientist (and expert in subway sandwiches, apparently) when, in 1965, he loaned $1,000 to a family friend, 17-year-old college  student, Fred DeLuca, to start a sandwich shop called Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Today, Subway is the largest restaurant chain in the world with about 20,000 restaurants in the U.S. and 40,000 worldwide, and Buck’s net worth has been estimated at almost $2 billion.

Sometimes those loans to a friend turn out to be good investment. And you don’t have to be a nuclear scientist to make good choices.

What’s a good franchise investment today? Would you like to own and manage a fast- food franchise or buy shares in the franchisor and watch your investment grow? Be an active or passive investor? Recommendations by the experts – business brokers and financial advisors – are not very helpful. They’re always working to promote their own choices and are often biased by their own self interest. You’ll have to do your own research. Like Buck and DeLuca, visit a lot of sandwich shops and then eat your own cooking before you test it on customers.

There are lots of franchise opportunities, not just fast-food and coffee shops, but also personal and professional service companies from body-shops to fitness centres. I’ve always suggested to entrepreneurs that the choices for starting a business are to build, buy or rent. The rental option is to become a franchisee and pay to use the established branding and proven business model of the franchisor. You lose the freedom to make your own choices, which is the appeal that motivates most entrepreneurs, but you reduce the risks of making bad choices and unsuccessful investment decisions. Maybe get the experience with a franchise while you’re still a college student and learn how to reduce the risks and improve the results before you start.

For passive investing, there are many currently recommended stocks in the franchise and fast-food sector. But again, you should do your own research and make your own choices.

That’s the essence of successful entrepreneurship, confident and competent decision-making.

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

 

Best Advice Ever

In only three words

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.

Thank you for your continued interest in sharing ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

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