Category Archives: management

Enlightened Entrepreneurship

Deliberately or indirectly?

Enlightened Entrepreneurs are business owners and managers who lead their business to success while respecting their social responsibilities to employees and customers, business associates and suppliers, their communities, and the planet. But do they contribute to a better world deliberately or indirectly?

I would argue that every business is a social enterprise because it is embedded in the surrounding society and natural world. It's activities will necessarily have an impact on both. But Adam Smith, the original promoter of capitalism and free markets, analyzed the impacts of business on society and concluded that the positive effects are more likely to occur indirectly, when businesses focus on achieving commercial success, than when businesses try to intervene directly by delivering social services for a profit.

Based on your own experience with public institutions and private ventures delivering social services you may agree.

But what about your own business? Are you able to manage a balanced approach to both social issues and business challenges and lead your business to success? Join the elite among modern managers and business owners by meeting those criteria for Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

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

Learn from the bees

Killer bees or worker bees?  

I recently saw the action-packed movie, The Beekeeper, which claims to follow the social behavior of bees whose practice is to kill any bee who disrupts the social system and the productive functioning of the hive. After eliminating the wrongdoer, they then proceed up the genetic chain to kill the parent of the evil bee, even the queen bee, if necessary.

Spoiler alert!

In the movie the criminal mastermind scamming vulnerable citizens and exploiting his wealth and access to power turns out to be the son of the U.S. President, so the renegade lethal assassin targets them both and wreaks havoc on everyone who gets in his way.

(Based on current U.S. political intrigue? Maybe.)

However, I doubt that the behaviour of killer bees is good practice for entrepreneurs to follow for success in their business. Unless you're licensed to kill and a master of martial arts and deadly weapons, we should probably leave the elimination of evil-doers to the regulators and law enforcement officers.

Another theory of economics and social impact based on bee behaviour (never mentioned in my Economics 101 class) is called, The Parable of the Bees. In a satirical poem by Bernard Mandeville in 1732, he explains how a colony of corrupt and greedy bees enjoyed a flourishing economy until divine intervention suddenly made them all virtuous and honest, then the economy declined and everyone lost their wealth and happiness. Mandeville's conclusion was that vice and corruption are necessary for economic well-being and that private vice is good for society.

I'm sure no modern economist would ever state that conclusion out loud.

However, his concept of the invisible hand described in his classic, The Parable of the Bees apparently influenced Adam Smith's, The Wealth of Nations. In promoting the advantages of capitalism and free markets, Smith explains how individual self-interest can lead to collective prosperity. He concludes that the entrepreneur does more public good when dedicated to advancing his business and profiting from meeting the needs of consumers than when the business tries to address the needs of society for social justice and public services.

More modern economists and conservative politicians are willing to support those concepts out loud.

Fortunately, the ideas for economic policy and business management deduced from the behaviour of killer bees and worker bees and interpreted by the poets and philosophers of the eighteenth century have sufficiently evolved for application to the modern world of business and economics.

For enlightened entrepreneurs, we can confidently conclude that managing a balanced approach to both social and business issues can lead to business success without the vices of ruthless, irresponsible, and greedy behaviour and that good management requires consistent respect for our responsibilities to our communities, society and the planet.

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. 

Another New Year! 

So far so good?  

Looking back on 2023, my comments from previous years seem to remain true.

Last year was bad everywhere and the New Year will be worse: more wars and terrorist attacks, continuing political stupidity, extreme weather and natural disasters, and challenging economic conditions in every industry.

Nevertheless, we can remain optimistic and hopeful. In spite of the continuing disasters around the world, most of us in developed economies are doing remarkably well. As we start the New Year, so far so good, right? Staying healthy, prosperous and peaceful. Getting back to enjoying the good life. It may seem selfish and irresponsible, but there's no need to feel guilty, if we're doing what we can to support those working to lead us toward a better world and we're not ignoring the need for their efforts.

Be an Enlightened Entrepreneur.

Now let's get back to work on what we'd like to accomplish for ourselves, our families and our businesses. Hope and optimism combined with determination and hard work will get us through this to better times. Let's be ready for it.

Let's renew our purpose and our plans based on a clear statement of our mission, vision and values. Let's invest the time and effort to build a solid infrastructure and competent committed teams working with reliable business partners to accomplish our long-term goals.

It sounds simple, I know it's never easy. Happy New Year!

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.

Sympathy for the Boss?

Somebody has to do it   

Management is not getting easier. Although managers do not get much sympathy, they are increasingly overloaded, stressed, burnt-out, harassed by demanding employees and distracted by the constant buffeting of rapid changes in economic conditions and the technologies that they depend on to get their jobs done. It’s a lot to manage. A lot of variables that are largely outside their control.

And they have bosses too, who are usually more demanding and less sympathetic than their employees. And the bosses’ bosses also have to satisfy the ever-increasing demands and expectations of customers and shareholders.

Why would anybody want the job of Boss? Psychic income? High levels of satisfaction when the challenges are met and the promised results are delivered? Higher prestige, better pay and perks, a bigger office and car? Friends and family are impressed?

Yes, probably some or all of the above. High achievers don’t know when to quit. Or even when to back off and settle for less than the next level. The Peter Principle still applies – managers pushing onward and upward through the hierarchy until they reach the level beyond their competence and they cannot meet the performance requirements. Then the downward slide begins, or early exit.

Good management is valued in every organization. And good managers would appreciate a little more sympathy and understanding. You’ll agree if you are one, and you’ve probably noticed that you’re not getting much.

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. 

Looking back   

Or looking forward?   

As we approach the end of another year in the post-pandemic era it’s timely to reflect on the past year and start looking forward and planning ahead. In looking back, I re-read my article in the 2020 Edition of DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY, and discovered nothing has changed.

“The consensus seems to be that last year was bad everywhere, and next year will be worse: more terrorist attacks and political stupidity, extreme weather and natural disasters, wildly fluctuating market values on all our investments and challenging economic conditions in every industry.”

It’s all still true! And if we cannot control the world of disaster and disgusting behaviour around us, and we cannot hide from the consequences, what can we do?

Without being selfish and irresponsible and while continuing to speak up against evil and support those who are working to make the world a better place, we need to keep it simple and focus on the things closer to home that we can control. Richard Branson was quoted in the article as suggesting we work on our To-Be list instead of our To-Do list. Focus on just two significant accomplishments – one personal, one professional.

Be an Enlightened Entrepreneur.

Let’s continue taking care of family and friends, employees, customers, clients and business associates, our community, social justice, and the environment, while trying to do better at accomplishing our personal, professional and business goals.

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

 

Getting political

It’s unavoidable

It has always been important to be aware of the values and beliefs of the people we’re doing business with and they’re usually made clear from listening to what they say and observing how they behave. In doing business however, it used to be standard practice not to discuss politics or religion – the relationship might end on discovering that some strongly held values and beliefs are not shared.

In today’s heightened awareness of political issues and the surrounding social tensions, it has become important to know the political affiliation of business associates, employees, and customers. And they may demand to know yours. Significant differences in values and beliefs may impact the relationship seriously enough to end it.

So do we now refuse to identify our political affiliations and our values and beliefs to avoid ending the relationship? Or do we simply terminate the relationships with employees, customers, friends, and business associates whose political views we find abhorrent. Can we still do business? Being aware of strongly held differences in political beliefs and social values can be a distraction that is hard to ignore.

Difficult and uncomfortable as it may be, we should seek to understand and accept our differences and continue doing business together, unless you feel strongly that you are compromising your integrity and cannot reconcile the business relationship with your values and beliefs.

We can hope that time will heal the current political enmity and allow us to demonstrate the empathy and understanding of the social issues that will allow us to arrive at better political decisions for the common good. Faint hope in the current climate of divisive campaign rhetoric, I know.

Maybe we should go back to not talking about it.

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

 

 

Reduce the risk

Take more shots  

It’s pretty much generally accepted wisdom that the top scorers in any sport – Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, choose any superstar you like – they all shoot a lot to score a lot. That means they miss a lot. (Not Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy in golf, of course, every shot counts and the winner takes the fewest. But they practice a lot, and leave the misses out on the practice range.)

So what does it mean for an entrepreneur? Take a lot of shots.

Don’t try to score on every one. Reduce the risk and improve the odds by reacting to the feedback. What works? What causes the consistent misses? Patient, persistent practice gets you closer to perfect performance.

More shots means more winners.

Go ahead, take another shot.

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

 

Artificial Intelligence? 

It’s not that smart

All the business buzz these days is about AI – Artificial Intelligence. It seems everybody’s using it or worrying about how other people are using it. Will we lose control of it? Will it replace human intelligence? Could it take control of us?

Let’s not get carried away with nightmares of the coming apocalypse.

AI is not human intelligence, it's designed to follow rules of logical analysis to arrive at rational conclusions, without being influenced by human emotions, morality, compassion, ethics or a sense of social responsibility. Remember, it’s simply the rapid evolution of what used to be called data processing. Powerful computers have now become so fast at processing astonishing amounts of digital data accessible though world-wide internet connections that it appears to be exceptionally intelligent. The computers and algorithms now know more in milliseconds than any single human being or any competent team of experts could know in a lifetime of research.  But computers are not human.

AI is not even that smart. Have you accepted all the auto-correct suggestions in your text messages? Or the grammar and spell-check warnings in your writing? Voice recognition is so incompetent that my GPS recently gave me directions to my daughter in Montreal at an address 4900 kilometers away in Mexico City.

AI is a tool created by humans to be used by humans. That’s where the problem lies. Like every powerful tool we’ve ever invented, it may be used inappropriately, even dangerously, by humans. “That electric drill just attacked my hand!” “The psycho killer went on a rampage with a chain saw!” “We need to ban power tools!” Banning the tool is not the problem. It’s the unintelligent humans who are the problem. Sometimes they’re just careless, or irresponsible. Sometimes they’re evil and have evil intent.

So we do need to drink, drive, and use power tools, including artificial intelligence, responsibly. Be aware, be cautious, be responsible.

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

 

Learn from the criminals? 

Be careful with that idea

My grandson, studying business and finance at UBC, gave me two books to read, Gang Leader for a Day and The Wolfpack, about drug dealers in Chicago and gangsters in Canada – not textbooks he says – and Bloomberg Business Week just published it’s annual heist issue; so apparently we can learn leadership, management and business strategies, skills, and tactics from criminals.

It’s not recommended by your Uncle Ralph, however. It’s probably not a good choice even for the most ambitious and opportunistic entrepreneurs. The fast and luxurious life of a criminal doesn't last and you may end up in jail or dead.

I recommend playing by the rules, live long and prosper, and have your kids proud of what you do for a living. I know my first novel in the Dale Hunter Series, NO EASY MONEY, about an entrepreneur fighting crime and corruption in business has the sub-title, You never win playing by the rules. But that’s the crooked business associate’s slogan! And he does get killed by another criminal. That part may not be fiction if you go too far breaking the rules.

On the other hand, I have to admit there are some lessons to be learned from the criminals. Be cautious of the competitors who want to kill you, for example. And keep your confidential information away from customers or employees who may want to use or share it for their own benefit.

As Uncle Ralph would say, there are always two important rules to follow.

In just six simple words: Have a plan. Avoid the mistakes.

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

 

 

Who’s your Guru?

Are they still relevant?

You probably have a favourite go-to-guru to help you with ideas, inspiration, words of advice and strategic tips and tactics for continuing to achieve success in your life, career, and business. I have my favourites and I’ve been following some of them for more than thirty years. Tom Peters, for example, the co-author of In Search of Excellence, first published in 1982.

You can see my full list of recommended gurus for entrepreneurs in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY – Part VI – References and Checklists or see the short version at Management Gurus for Entrepreneurs: https://learningentrepreneurship.com/?s=Management+Gurus+with+advice+for+entrepreneurs

My list includes Seth Godin, Harvey Mackay, Stephen Covey, Anthony Robbins, and Benjamin Franklin. Do we agree on any?

But are they still relevant?

I’m trying to reconcile my dad’s old remark, “If you’ve been doing the same thing for ten years, it has to be wrong by now,” with the conventional wisdom that the fundamentals and basic principles for success in any field never change. I lectured in corporate finance at Concordia University thirty years after I graduated from my MBA at McGill and was surprised to discover that we were still using the same textbook. Financial principles for valuing a business and calculating ROI have never changed. The economy and the social and cultural environment are constantly changing and management has to adjust for developing current strategy and operations plans, but do we have to listen to different gurus, advisers and experts? Are our preferred references and resources still relevant?

The loudest, most flamboyant and outrageous seem to be getting all the attention and are an annoying distraction driving many of us to retreat into familiar territory to listen to the sources we’ve learned to trust. If we’ve made good choices, they will have adjusted to the new realities. They’re still working from a solid base of intelligence, education, and experience that will keep their advice and commentary relevant.

Ignore the noise, listen to the wise voices you know.

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