Category Archives: Uncategorized

Results are all that matter, right?

Wrong. Character matters.

Behaviour matters.

 This post from a year ago seems particularly appropriate this weekend as America makes important decisions about leadership for the country. The whole world is watching and worrying. Let’s hope they get it right and do better this time.

Here’s why I think character and behaviour are important to consider. It’s not just about results or performance on the job. It’s about the way the job is done and the guiding moral and ethical principles that go beyond ego and personal self interest.

Whether you are a corporate CEO, a politician, or simply a hard-working entrepreneur or business manager, leadership performance is continuously being assessed based on the results you achieve.

But does it matter how they are achieved? Some people think not. The results are all that matter. Especially if the results are what they want and they can ignore the consequences for those that get left out. They’re wrong.

Character matters. Ethics, attitude and behaviour matter. Tactics and methods matter. Words matter.

Success for some and the desired results may appear to be achieved, regardless of the behaviour. Immoral, irresponsible, 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 forgotten, when the true character is revealed. Just ask Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein. President Trump’s day of reckoning is coming too.

C’mon America, we’re counting on you.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Covid Customer Service- Part 2

(This article is based on extracts from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition)

Make it personal

In this period of Covid pandemic protocols we are being required to meet new challenges and obstacles to deliver outstanding customer service.

The pandemic frustrations have heightened anxiety and stress for everyone. Customers are in no mood for tolerating poor customer service and employees are equally fed up dealing with impatient and unsympathetic customers.

Customer service has always been the ultimate test for choosing our suppliers and business partners, brands, products and services. How did your own last purchasing decision go?

Add the personal touch to the online experience  

In the pandemic world of 2020, we’re all doing more business online and missing the personal touch that always makes a difference. But making it personal does not mean displaying your messy office as background on a ZOOM call, wearing unprofessional attire as well as needing a haircut. And a barking dog in the background or a cat on the keyboard do not help. (Unless you really want to project the image of eccentric aunt Gertrude.)

And please don’t do the automated customer survey and ignore the feedback. Don’t just track the statistics, respond to the comments. You asked for it, right?

You’ll see, “Your service sucks and I’m taking my business to your competitor!” Or maybe, “Doreen and Nestor were excellent! Answered all my questions, upgraded my service plan and reduced my monthly fees. I’m giving you a shout-out to my 20,000 followers on social media.”

Both deserve a prompt personal response.

These are challenging times. Enlightened Entrepreneurs will lead the way.

Be better. Do better.

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.

 

Read more articles at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

Covid Customer Service

 (This article is based on extracts from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition)

 Empathy on steroids

In this period of Covid pandemic protocols we are meeting new challenges and obstacles to delivering outstanding customer service. It’s time for new levels of empathy and understanding. And customers are likely to be in no mood for tolerating deficiencies.

 

The pandemic frustrations and isolation from normal social and business activities has heightened our levels of anxiety and stress to the point of explosion at the slightest disturbance.

Customer service has always been the ultimate test for Enlightened Entrepreneurs – demonstrating how well they treat their employees by how well their employees treat the customers. It’s the final decision-making factor in how we vote with our purchasing dollars, both as consumers and as business-to-business clients.

This period presents a severe test.  

How well are you responding to the fears and obstacles arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic – meeting protocols for hand sanitizers, maintaining social distance and wearing masks? How do you handle people who don't behave; who refuse to follow the public health guidelines or who are not at all sympathetic to the current restrictions on your normal levels of staffing, facilities and services? Are your staff well informed, well trained and prepared to respond appropriately? Will you retain existing loyal customers or gain new ones? Or both.

These are challenging times. But with sufficient compassion and understanding we can take care of each other and get through this together. Enlightened Entrepreneurs will lead the way.

Be better. Do better.

Del ChattersonYour Uncle Ralph

The secrets revealed! How to be a successful Enlightened Entrepreneur

Thank you for your interest in the STAPLES SPOTLIGHT EVENT , Wednesday evening, August 19th, on Enlightened Entrepreneurship

 

Be a successful Enlightened Entrepreneur

Have a Purpose and a Plan

Avoid the Big Mistakes

I wanted to follow-up with this article and also to provide the ZOOM meeting recording for your review , in case you missed it.

If you chose on registration to Opt-in to future mailings, I have added your email address to the current list for my occasional newsletter, Ideas for Entrepreneurs.  You may, of course, Join our mailing list now or Opt-out anytime.

The full -hour ZOOM recording is available now.   Check out the video at: https://share.vidyard.com/watch/km8duQnk3bjrBsy1ZSCZwM?

You may wish to quickly scan through to the specific slides or topics that interest you most.

I hope you are doing well with your own challenges as an entrepreneur and will join me in the cause of supporting and promoting Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

Thank you for your interest in how to be a more successful Enlightened Entrepreneur

Be better. Do better.

And please take care of each other,

Your Uncle Ralph, 

Del Chatterson

 

Checklists for the re-start of your business after Covid-19

Good management is required now more than ever.

Looking back over the past three months, you may be thinking, OK, that was painful, but it has to get better from here. For most of us, the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our businesses were unexpected disasters and the final consequences are not yet entirely understood. Nevertheless, we have to try and work our way out of it.

So what are the right management strategies and action plans to get through this economic turmoil and uncertainty with a more resilient and stable business?

Here are the lessons we’ve learned from previous economic crises and business setbacks:

  1. Do not rely on the headlines.

The media are not helpful to you.  They will provide neither balanced reporting nor insightful analysis for input to your planning or decision making. You will have to dig deeper. Make sure your market data and competitor intelligence is current and accurate.

  1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Keep employees and customers informed. They may be worried, confused and need to be reassured that they can count on you. You may not have good news for them, but they will appreciate hearing directly from you and are not being left guessing what's coming next.

  1. Keep on Selling.

Now is not the time to cut back on marketing and sales. Your efforts now will be even more conspicuous and effective if your competitors back out of the market and away from their customers. Be selective and very focused. Work on building stronger customer relationships by being relevant and responsive to the current economic circumstances.  Avoid the cry for help advertising that only confirms “we’re desperate and we need the sales.” Customers are looking for strength, not weakness. Calmness, confidence and competence are much more appealing to potential buyers who are still healthy and want reliable long term suppliers.

  1. Do quickly what obviously needs to be done.

If it’s clear to you it's also clear to the people affected. They’re waiting for you to act and will be more confident and proactive themselves, if they see you taking action. Face the facts, don't fight the facts.

  1. Adapt.

Remember Darwin's survival of the fittest: those who adapt to their environment are most likely to survive; not the strongest or the biggest. This is not the time to be stubbornly persistent about your plans. Look around and be creative. Your destination may still be the same, but the route, the vehicle and the passengers may need to be changed.

  1. Be confident, but cautious.

Recognize the difference between calculated risk and a hopeful optimism. Make a decision if the potential outcomes and their probabilities are reasonably clear, but hold fire if they’re not.

  1. Show conspicuous leadership.

No one can do it better than the person who is ultimately responsible and can speak with sincerity and integrity on the concerns, strategies and plans. Lead by example, not by rhetoric.

A 10 point diagnostic to develop the short-term action plan for your business

From my experience, most businesses benefit from a regular health check – a business diagnostic that takes a thorough look at the whole business and identifies priorities and the potential for better performance.

At this point, for the recovery and survival of your business after the coronavirus shutdown you need to take a closer look at these 10 checkpoints and identify the most urgent priorities to get your business up and thriving again in the new business climate of 2020.

  1. Start with an updated strategic plan. Find your last business plan and review it against the new business environment and operating protocols. Prepare the new road map with clear milestones and a timetable to achieving your revised business objectives.
  1. Use your updated strategic plan to guide management and employee decision making. Monitor results against the plan. Review, revise and react quickly to customer responses and the changing business environment.
  1. You’re still in a competitive business: Are you keeping score? Compare your key performance indicators to the top performers. Learn from experience and adjust as necessary to achieve better results.
  1. Evaluate your performance in re-building long-term loyal relationships with customers, suppliers and strategic partners. Ensure you are showing your loyalty in return. You will need the support of all of them.
  1.  What about the people you need most: your employees? Get their feedback on any new concerns. Do they still believe you’re a great place to work?
  1. Assess each of the six P's in your marketing mix in the new post-Covid world – Product, Positioning, Promotion, Price, Packaging, and Placement. Fix what's broken.
  1. Assess your corporate image against the biggest and best brands in your business. Do you still look as good as you really are compared to them?
  1. Re-evaluate your online services. Are your competitors raising customer expectations? Do it better now. Don’t wait to be asked. And remember to turn the WWW upside down and think MMM – Manage, Market, and Monitor for improved results online.
  1. Review all your marketing communications. Do they capture the four C’s – Current, Clear, Concise and Consistent? Make them relevant and appropriate to the new business climate.
  2. Review the use of information and automation technologies in your business. Are they part of the solution or part of the problem in responding to new demands for productivity and performance?

Share these ideas with your management team and use them to improve performance. You will do even better when we get closer to normal business conditions again and there should be fewer areas to improve on when you do the next business diagnostic.

Good management will be tested during these times, but good decisions now will mean a better business in the post-Covid future.  Keep at it and we’ll get there together.

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 articles at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

The Magic of Entrepreneurship

Demonstrated by the street vendors in Rome

Find the magic of entrepreneurship. In the post-Covid-19 world you will need to be more creative, determined, flexible, responsive and persistent than ever. Be better. Do better.

What entrepreneurs do best is identify an opportunity and respond to it. They observe the market, test customer response and then deliver what works at the right time and place.

As a tourist in Rome a few years ago, I noticed that the street vendors had almost all decided that the thousands of meandering tourists were most in need of either bottled water or a selfie-stick. Those were apparently the best-selling impulse items and they were offered everywhere. I did appreciate the water bottles during long tours of the ancient ruins in the hot sun, but was already hating the forest of selfie-sticks that were invading all my carefully composed souvenir photos and did not want to join in the contest of who could get their cell phone farthest out in front of everyone else.

The street vendor sales strategy was simple and effective. A quick assessment of the passing prospects, a polite query then a quick decision to sell or move on to the next prospect. No time wasted on harassment or an obnoxious sales pitch. Pricing was competitive, one Euro for a bottle of water where the vendor was one of many and had a large stockpile and two Euros if he was alone in a remote corner with limited stock. The vendors also knew they were competing with bottles refilled from available public drinking fountains at no cost, so they all sold clearly branded and sealed bottled water that was ice cold.

But most impressive was their quick response to an unexpected thunderstorm and downpour chasing the tourists under cover. Like magic, suddenly all the street vendors were offering small collapsible umbrellas and cheap plastic rain ponchos!  Quality and price were not an issue, we needed them here and now, so sales were brisk for those that had them.

It was an impressive demonstration of effective sales tactics for entrepreneurs, whether you are a street vendor, a technology guru or the owner of a small business. Be ready to respond to your market, rain or shine.

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 articles at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Yes, you need a Business Plan

From Start-up to Exit

It may seem unnecessary, uncreatively old-fashioned, boringly bureaucratic, and inappropriate for your brilliant business idea where you “dare to be different.” Nobody wants to look at a thick document full of industry jargon, market research mumbo-jumbo and spreadsheets up the ying-yang, do they?  Sorry, but yes they do.

The most important people for support of your plans will need convincing that you have done your homework and that you’re capable of delivering the results you expect. So don’t argue, just do it. Or if you still need convincing, read on.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan? 

It has a purpose. 

The most common reason for preparing a business plan is, “because the bank asked for one.” That is probably why most readers of the Guide to Business Plans are here. And that is obviously a legitimate reason for doing one.

But why is the bank asking for one? And do you need one for the same reasons? The answer is as simple as the familiar cliché: If you fail to plan; you plan to fail.

It’s hard to know where you’re going and how you’re getting there without a plan. It’s even harder to manage your progress if you haven’t defined your destination and set the milestones to monitor along the way. What route are you taking? What type of vehicle are you using? Who’s driving and who are the passengers? Why?

The bank, and any other investor or business partner, wants the answers to those questions to assess whether or not you are likely to succeed and whether or not they want to support you.

You need a business plan for all the same reasons.

Every business needs one, from the start-up to the exit.  

Documenting a Business Plan is an extremely useful process to focus the owners and the management team on their business model, strategies, and operating plans. The process will force consensus and decision making that might otherwise be neglected. It requires issues to be resolved and the conclusions to be documented after testing alternative solutions and their financial consequences.

A well-documented business plan will help you communicate the most important elements of your strategy and plans to the people who need to know them the most. Including you.
Maybe you’ve been successful in business for many years and never had a business plan. It's still a good idea for all the same reasons.  And now is a good time.

Maybe you’re ready to exit your business. Even better. A solid business plan will be the most important document you have to support the value of your business for sale or transfer to a new owner.

The greatest value of a business plan, however, is always in the process – involving your management team in a thorough examination of your business; its purpose, its strategies and its plans to ensure success. When it’s completed, all the key players will be more knowledgeable of the issues, the opportunities, the risks and the alternative paths considered and the reasons for the choices that were made; before committing to the final plan.

For a small business start-up, that management team may only be you. Maybe you’d rather keep your plans to yourself. But the business plan is still a valuable exercise. It forces you to answer all the questions that you should ask yourself and that will certainly be asked by the next people to get involved.

With a well-documented business plan you will be better prepared to meet all the challenges and more likely to succeed.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more in Uncle Ralph's books of advice for Entrepreneurs: Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 

Starting-up is hard to do

Re-starting in a pandemic is even harder

It’s time to pull out your original business plan and start re-thinking and re-writing it. Assuming you have one, I’m sure it didn’t include a contingency plan to survive a pandemic shutdown. Now you need a new plan to re-start your business in a world recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

The value of having a plan and the process of preparing one remain the same as ever. Answering the original start-up questions again. Why am I doing this? What do I hope to accomplish? Who cares? How can I succeed?

Go back to basics. Develop a strategy and operating plans that are relevant and appropriate to the new realities of the next phases of the global pandemic. Don’t chase short-term opportunities. Somebody else will be better at manufacturing personal protective equipment or designing a contact tracking app. Focus on leveraging your unique strengths and capabilities into a new sustainable plan for long-term growth and profitability. Take advantage of the willingness of employees and customers to accept change and to demonstrate their loyalty to your business. Respond in kind with sincere gratitude and appreciation for their support.

Don’t make it complicated, the objective is to prepare a one page summary that answers these questions clearly and concisely:

  • What is the purpose of the business?
  • Who are the target customers?
  • What are the investments required to re-start?
  • What is the revenue required to be profitable again?
  • How soon can we get there?

The detailed analysis and planning needs to include your management team. Their input and commitment to the plan are essential before communicating it to employees and customers.

Some additional useful tips from The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans:

  • Review how competitors are adapting their business model in response to new restrictions and new opportunities.
  • Test alternative scenarios and their impact on the expected financial results.
  • Do not force your forecasts beyond reasonable expectations into the realm of hopeful fiction to arrive at a happy ending.
  • If the plan doesn’t work, revise it and try again.
  • Confirm the support of strategic partners, especially for financing.
  • Define specific measurable performance objectives and a timetable with set milestones.
  • Continuously monitor the results and make necessary changes to achieve your performance objectives.

It was not easy getting started the first time. It will not be easy to get back on track delivering valuable products and services to customers and meaningful employment to your staff. It will require the same determination, creativity and teamwork that worked the first time.

Be better. Do better. And take care of each other,

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more in Uncle Ralph's books of advice for Entrepreneurs: Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 

Enlightened Entrepreneurship: The Action Plan

If Enlightened Entrepreneurship requires us to practice it, promote it and defend it, does accepting that mission make us missionaries?

Yes.

Your mission has a Three-Part Plan:

  1. Practice enlightened entrepreneurship and lead by example.
  2. Help other entrepreneurs be more enlightened and thereby more successful.
  3. Advocate for enlightened entrepreneurs and help to defend entrepreneurship against the unfair critics. “We are not evil!”

Start with awareness followed by leadership and management that confirm the value of merging our business goals with our social responsibilities. It is not sufficient to organize an occasional charitable event or community project to serve as a “guilt-eraser” or to counter-balance irresponsible behaviour in daily business operations. It is essential that daily business operations reflect our enlightened business culture and social values.

There will still be critics and non-believers. They cannot be ignored.

So enlightened entrepreneurs must continuously advocate, explain and defend the contributions of entrepreneurship to create a better world.

As more successful entrepreneurs join the conversation, the more convincing we will be.

We need you. So step up and join the cause.

Be a missionary for Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

I look forward to joining you.

 

Entrepreneurs don't read

And business fiction doesn’t sell

I’m trying to prove both assumptions are wrong. A futile exercise?

Maybe you can help.

Dale_Hunter_Series_facebook_banner_4-24 Version #3

First, entrepreneurs can and do read – mostly non-fiction books and articles, mostly related to business and self-improvement. I think we can agree, entrepreneurs are time-challenged and do not want to waste it on fiction. Many do try to keep current on the economic news, business issues and maybe the latest best-seller on leadership or entrepreneurship, but fiction? Not often. No spare time to read for enjoyment, except on the plane or on the beach. Even then it’s seldom fiction.

Are they missing the opportunity for some creative, lateral thinking? New sources of ideas, information and inspiration? Maybe, but their reading habits are already set and unlikely to change.

So my Dale Hunter Series of crime thriller novels set in the computer industry of the 1980s is about an entrepreneur, but it’s written for a wider audience. Appealing to both my 93-year old mother-in-law and my 14-year-old grandson and everyone in between. Different people like it for difference reasons.

You can decide for yourself. Enjoy the fun summer read!

A Free E-book copy of NO EASY MONEY at: Book funnel https://dl.bookfunnel.com/nbi0i5e10t (Offer ends Aug. 15th.)

PLEASE, TELL A FRIEND!

Any feedback, comments, suggestions or reviews are welcome.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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.