Learning Entrepreneurship Blog

Learning Entrepreneurship

Cultural sensitivity. Tread carefully.   

Cultural sensitivity   Tread carefully      It seems to be a pandemic side effect. Everyone has exhausted their tolerance with all the  minor annoyances and the reaction on bigger issues may be exaggerated or extreme. Tread carefully. Nerves are exposed, fuses are short, anger and frustration are bubbling close to the surface. You may think it’s over reaction or hyper-sensitivity Continue Reading

Coach, Critic or Cheerleader?

Coach, Critic or Cheerleader? You get to chose      It doesn’t matter whether you’re giving or receiving. Which are you going to be, and which do you need, right now? Coach, Critic or Cheerleader? Choose one. It’s an important distinction and a choice of role has to be made. In every relationship: manager & employee, coach & player, teacher & Continue Reading

The Enlightened CEO

The Enlightened CEO Obviously   Most outspoken critics of CEOs are lazy. They find an easy target in the stereotypical greedy, selfish CEO, and they shout their loud accusations. Unfortunately, some of those CEOs are easily found and they are equally lazy about explaining or defending themselves. As my mother used to tell me, “Don’t confuse them with the facts, Continue Reading

Basic principles still apply

Basic principles still apply Stay calm & carry on As we near the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is lots of talk of the new normal. The world has changed, and we need to do things differently. Now what? It’s worth remembering the old normal and the basic principles that still apply. Here are a few reminders: Look before Continue Reading

Pandemic notoriety: Naughty or Nice?

Pandemic notoriety: Naughty or Nice? Which list are you on?  (This article is based on the ideas in Uncle Ralph’s books for entrepreneurs, DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans.)  “Awesome! What a profit opportunity!” Probably not what you will be reading in the press releases. It will be all about the socially responsible Continue Reading

A test of loyalty

A test of loyalty Time for a change? (This article is based on the ideas in Uncle Ralph’s books for entrepreneurs, DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans.)  In times of economic crisis, we are faced with difficult choices in a stressful new environment. Loyalties are tested and we’re wondering if it’s time for Continue Reading

The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End We’re not there yet (This article is based on the ideas in Uncle Ralph's DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans, 2020 Editions)  I’m feeling safer, and closer to the end of the pandemic effects on life and business after receiving my first dose of the Moderna vaccine for Continue Reading

Back to Normal. Are we there yet? 

Are we there yet? Back to Normal  (This article is based on ideas in Uncle Ralph's DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans, 2020 Editions)  The surrounding political drama and pandemic crisis continue to preoccupy us, but we do expect that life and business will return to normal later this year.  Not the old Continue Reading

Neglect the negative. Be creative.

Neglect the negative Be creative (This article is based on ideas from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition) In our current preoccupation with pandemic paranoia and political drama, we need to redirect our energies to more productive plans for next year. Start by looking back and deciding what is most worthy of Continue Reading

Are you ready for post-Covid? It’s coming soon.

Are you ready for post-Covid?  The new era of life and business after this pandemic period is coming soon  (This article is based on ideas from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition) Even in the current period of Covid pandemic protocols that are actually getting stricter, there is still optimism that vaccines Continue Reading

Author Interview with Bernie Landry

Author Interview with Bernie Landry More than you were ever going to ask about Del Chatterson, author of the Dale Hunter Series of crime thriller novels and, as your Uncle Ralph, author of new 2020 Editions of his business books for entrepreneurs. Here's the whole story!  

Covid Customer Service – Part 3. Be Respectful

Covid Customer Service - Part 3 (This article is based on extracts from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition) Be respectful  In this period of Covid pandemic protocols we are all being required to overcome new challenges to deliver outstanding customer service. The pandemic frustrations have heightened anxiety and stress for everyone. Continue Reading

Covid Customer Service – Empathy on steroids

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 Continue Reading

Maybe autocratic leadership is better. Democracy doesn’t work.

Maybe autocratic leadership is better  (This article is based on extracts from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition) As we observe political leaders around the world getting their way, dictating arbitrary policies, behaving badly and revising the rules of play, it would be easy for business leaders to conclude that autocratic dictatorship Continue Reading

Time for a new plan – Everything has changed

Time for a new plan Everything has changed.  (This article is based on an extract from The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Edition) Rethink, Review and Rewrite The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything – in our lives and in our businesses. The only questions that remain are – What exactly has changed?  By how much? For how long? Continue Reading

Speaking of Enlightened Entrepreneurship

Speaking of Enlightened Entrepreneurship Listen to Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph, on Business Talk Radio Please  tell your friends, family, and business associates to visit and listen. Click on the link:  https://businesstalkradio1.com/studio-two/  or Tune in Thursday, October 8th at 12:28 PM-EST.   @ https://tunein.com/radio/Business-Talk-Nationwide-s281640/  and the broadcast can be heard live on the day (or replayed later). 

How to be a successful Enlightened Entrepreneur

How to be a successful Enlightened Entrepreneur   An extract from the Staples Spotlight Event, August 19th, on ENLIGHTENED ENTREPRENEURSHIP.   The full one-hour ZOOM recording is also available online with Staples at:  https://share.vidyard.com/watch/km8duQnk3bjrBsy1ZSCZwM?   You can scan quickly through the presentation to the specific slides or topics that interest you most. Enjoy the “real” experience with other participants. What is an Enlightened Continue Reading

Explaining sales is hard to do

Where did that come from? Explaining sales is hard to do As a wise marketing agency executive once said, “I know that half of our advertising works, I’m just not sure which half.” I have the same impression of my own efforts at sales and marketing. Something’s working, I’m just not sure what. So how do you keep doing what’s Continue Reading

How to be a (more successful) Enlightened Entrepreneur

How to be a (more successful) Enlightened Entrepreneur Two simple principles - Have a Purpose and a Plan. Avoid the Big Mistakes. Join us and learn how to be a (more successful) Enlightened Entrepreneur. Two simple principles - Have a Purpose and a Plan. Avoid the Big Mistakes. August 19th, 2020 - 7:00 PM. To learn more and register for Continue Reading

Boston Pizza demonstrates Enlightened Entrepreneurship

Thank you for your support during pandemic protocols Boston Pizza demonstrates Enlightened Entrepreneurship Recently tested over a pizza and a glass of wine, Boston Pizza restaurant staff showed exceptional empathy and understanding of how to be a socially responsible business and build loyal customer relationships. It started with a decision to try patio dining at a Boston Pizza restaurant on Continue Reading

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

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 Continue Reading

Best Advice Ever

Best Advice Ever 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 Continue Reading

Switching from Defense to Offense

Switching from Defense to Offense Are we there yet? Do you know your Basic Defensive Interval? For a business start-up, it’s the number of weeks or months before you get to break-even cash flow. For an operating business, it’s how long can you survive a disaster without any revenue. You may have business interruption insurance or a disaster plan, but Continue Reading

Enlightened Entrepreneurship: The Next Step

Enlightened Entrepreneurship: The Next Step I continue to promote and recommend the concept of enlightened entrepreneurship, but we do not have a common understanding of the term. Some define it as a very spiritual or humanistic approach to business and others confuse it with social entrepreneurship, where the purpose of the business is to meet the social needs of society Continue Reading

The need now for Enlightened Entrepreneurship

Enlightened Entrepreneurship: The Need, now more than ever.  “I’m only in it for the money.” Really? Hardly anyone admits to it; most of us are accused of it. But we know that being motivated primarily by personal gain and short-term profit are losing propositions. We must have a higher purpose and a wider range of goals and objectives to satisfy Continue Reading

Looking for Readers & Reviewers, please.

Looking for Readers & Reviewers, please. New 2020 Editions from your Uncle Ralph  Please take a look. Take 3 seconds, 3 minutes or 3 hours if you have time and let me know what you think. Covers or content, style or presentation. I’m looking for honest critics and cheerleaders to join my mission and help support and promote Enlightened Entrepreneurship. Any Continue Reading

New 2020 Editions from your Uncle Ralph

They’re here! New 2020 Editions from your Uncle Ralph I did say March and today I’m making them available online everywhere! The 2020 editions of my two business books for entrepreneurs recently released. Learn how to start, manage, grow, and exit your business. Two simple messages in two easy-to-read books for entrepreneurs: Have a plan. Avoid the mistakes. Practical advice for Continue Reading

Managing in Difficult Times

Random Ramblings from your Uncle Ralph  In the current environment of a corona virus pandemic with its devastating effect on lives, businesses and economies around the world, this article seemed appropriate for reconsidering. (An extract from Don’t Do It the Hard Way – 2020 Edition, p.117) Managing in Difficult Times Ignoring or avoiding a difficult business environment is simply not Continue Reading

My journey from Entrepreneur to Author-preneur

My journey from Entrepreneur to Author-preneur It’s about the journey, not the destination   Live! SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION – STAPLES/BUREAU EN GROS Kirkland, Quebec – August 15th, 6:00PM  Including Author Sale & Book-signing, 12 noon – 7PM  In this presentation, Del Chatterson will discuss his journey from successful entrepreneur to published author and share his experiences and the lessons learned along the way. Helpful Continue Reading

Requesting Advance Reader Reviews – MERGER MANIAC

More summer reading! MERGER MANIAC, Novel #3  in the DALE HUNTER SERIES is now ready for early Reader Review. If you're interested, I'd love to hear your first impression or your reaction to the first 10 pages, or if you have time for a quick summer read of 200 pages, to send me your review comments. More stories of crime, Mafia, suspense Continue Reading

Learning & Storytelling

Learning & Storytelling - Presentation/Seminar including Author Sale & Book-signing. July 11th, 5-à-7 Bureau en gros, @ St. Charles & Transcanadienne, Kirkland, QC.   YOU'RE INVITED: Which do you prefer - Fact or Fiction?  Business text book or crime fiction with an entrepreneur as hero? Entrepreneurs learn best by sharing stories - Fact or Fiction?  A boring business textbook or a Continue Reading

Entrepreneurs learn best by sharing stories – Fact or Fiction?

Entrepreneurs learn best by sharing stories - Fact or Fiction? A boring business textbook or a crime thriller with the entrepreneur as hero? As an experienced entrepreneur and business advisor, I often tell stories as an effective means of communicating with other entrepreneurs. Storytelling helps to establish rapport based on shared experience and a good story makes the message more Continue Reading

Einstein: “The simple answer is always wrong.”

The false comfort of simple answers Comforting, but wrong. I know we shouldn’t quote Albert Einstein. As he often tells us, “Don’t believe all that sh*t you read the Internet.” But I can’t resist. The important statement attributed to Einstein was, “For every critical and complicated problem, there’s always an obvious simple answer, that’s wrong!” Whoever said it, they must Continue Reading

Available NOW – Novel NO EASY MONEY and Uncle Ralph’s Business Books

Available NOW Novel NO EASY MONEY and Uncle Ralph's   Business Books NO EASY MONEY, “You never win playing by the rules.” The first in a series of Dale Hunter Crime Novels, this novel an explosive mix of crime, cash and computers in the 1980s. Entrepreneurs face challenges every day. It’s hard to be a hero. This is the story of a Continue Reading

Enlightened Entrepreneurship – A wider perspective

Enlightened Entrepreneurship A wider perspective “I’m only in it for the money.” Really? Hardly anyone admits to it; most of us are accused of it. Most of us already know that being motivated by personal gain and short term profit are losing propositions. We must have a higher purpose and satisfy a wider spectrum of interested stakeholders to achieve sustainable Continue Reading

Results are all that matter

Wrong. Character matters Whether you are a CEO, politician, celebrity or simply a humble hard-working entrepreneur or employee, performance is continuously being assessed by the results you achieve. Does it matter how they are achieved? Some people think not, results are all that matter. They’re wrong. Character matters. Ethics, attitude and approach matter. Tactics and methods matter. Success and the Continue Reading

Listen to Mom

Listen to Mom Even when she’s not there   My Mom passed away almost eighteen months ago, but I still hear her talking to me, telling me her favourite stories, responding with great one-liners and encouraging me to do better and be better. I still try to make her proud. Sound familiar? If you can, be sure to tell her Continue Reading

Choose your critics

Choose your critics And maybe still ignore their input  Somewhere in the process you are going to hear from the critics. You may even ask for it. For product development, customer satisfaction, or market testing, you'll be asking, how do you like me so far? The first step in getting constructive feedback is to choose your critics wisely. Are they Continue Reading

Qualifying Questions

Qualifying Questions Is it Strategic or Operational? Before leaping into action, it is important to ask yourself some qualifying questions and make better decisions about both the immediate and the long-term action required. Entrepreneurs are inclined to act instinctively and “just do it” when they are presented with a new challenge, opportunity or problem. No time wasted. Let’s not make Continue Reading

Consultants: How to Choose, Use, and Not Abuse Them

Consultants: How to Choose, Use, and Not Abuse Them Help them, help you Since my first consulting project over thirty years ago, I have learned a lot about how to successfully manage consulting projects and the client/consultant relationship. Here are some ideas that may help you with your consultants (and your lawyers, accountants and other professionals): Before you introduce consultants Continue Reading

Deadlines can be deadly

Deadlines can be deadly Don’t overdo it Most of us agree that deadlines are necessary. They help us to scope the work and make a plan.  Awareness of the deadline helps us to focus and get the work done on time. But, the stated deadline may be entirely arbitrary or self-imposed and it may actually not be very important. Seldom Continue Reading

Juggling too many balls?

Juggling too many balls? Maybe more than one is the first mistake   It’s not the number. It’s the amount of time you spend on each one before throwing it back into the air. Try it. Be better. Do better. Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson  

Lead by example

Lead by example Show the way and how to behave getting there Leadership means more than showing the way to achieve your goals and improve group performance. It requires demonstrating your guiding principles on dealing with challenges and working with colleagues, associates, suppliers and customers. People follow your example more than they will be persuaded by powerful rhetoric. Leadership by command Continue Reading

Under Promise & Over Deliver

Under Promise & Over Deliver But don’t Under Sell It’s a popular mantra: Under Promise & Over Deliver And it’s good advice to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction. Promise delivery in the next 3-5 days, then deliver tomorrow. Wow! Customers love it. Except those customers who did not order it, because they needed it in two days. Cautious promises Continue Reading

You’re fired!

You’re fired! Hire well, but fire better Donald Trump made his name as a Reality TV star with the trademark line, “You’re fired!” As President in the real world, instead of the very unreal Reality TV world, he may have used it one too many times. There is a lesson here for entrepreneurs. Firing an employee needs to be done Continue Reading

Disaster insurance

Disaster insurance Reducing risks Strange concept, insurance. You hope the disaster never happens, but you bet that it will and buy insurance to recover when it does. The insurance company takes your money and bets against you, also hoping it never happens. If it happens, you win (at least on the insurance), they lose. Flood, fire or theft, commercial liability, Continue Reading

Evil greedy entrepreneurs

Evil greedy entrepreneurs Reinforcing the stereotypes There is currently a lot of angry rhetoric around the Liberal government proposals for tax reform related to small business. “Trying to ensure fairness for the hard working middle class,” is their oft-claimed objective. “Removing corporate tax loop-holes only available to the wealthy.” But the policy debate quickly deteriorates into reinforcing preconceived stereotypes of Continue Reading

It takes a conversation

It takes a conversation Not a lecture “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” followed by the evil warden delivering a severe blow to drive the message into the dumb prisoner’s thick skull. Maybe it works in the movies. But the approach is probably as useless as raising the volume or relentlessly repeating the same message. If you Continue Reading

Participative management

Participative management You cannot fake it Is your business run democratically? Probably not. Employees do not get to vote, managers are supposed to be responsible and make consistently good decisions. Let’s not confuse them with too many contrary, ill-informed opinions. We have seen too many unhappy conclusions from democratic decision-making lately. It is easier to accept your role as lonely Continue Reading

The blame game

The blame game Goddamn the …? My Dad grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan where the most hated institution was the CPR, responsible for the railway across the prairies. He liked to tell us the story of the poor farmer who complained “I lost my crop in a hail storm, my truck broke down, my dog died and my Continue Reading

Summer jobs

Summer jobs What did you learn? It’s time to get back to school soon and the kids are enjoying the last few days of their summer jobs. Remember those days yourself? Fun in the sun, hanging out with friends, pool parties, BBQ and beer, working on your sun tan and hitting on the other cute kids. Is that what you Continue Reading

Modern managers are smarter

Modern managers are smarter Are you? Remember the bad old days when managers judged performance by all the wrong indicators? A managing partner who questioned a consultant ready for promotion because, “I’m not sure of his commitment to the firm, I never see him taking his briefcase home at night.” Not noticing the same consultant was usually going home after Continue Reading

Pick your poison

Pick your poison Killing key relationships  There are many ways to kill important business relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, bankers or strategic partners. But why would you want to do that? You probably do NOT want to, but you or your staff may be doing it inadvertently. Habits and attitudes that will silently, slowly, but certainly poison relationships. Entirely contrary Continue Reading

More celebrations, Fewer apologies

More celebrations Fewer apologies  It seems to be part of the new approach to historic anniversary celebrations to give more attention to apologizing for past failures and the sins of our ancestors than on recognizing our accomplishments and the progress we have made on all fronts since those evil events in our past. The celebratory narrative is interrupted by vociferous Continue Reading

Make work fun

Make work fun A simple principle for good management Make work fun. It really is that simple. Don’t make it more complicated. I know, it is more complicated, but let’s try to simplify good management down to one guiding principle. Your job as a manager is to ensure that your employees are working effectively to meet the department’s and the Continue Reading


Evolving People and processes The founder and CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, is stepping aside because his combative personality and the culture he created at Uber are no longer in line with the business’s need to be both more stable and predictable and more socially responsible and engaged with the communities where it is operating. His ruthlessly aggressive style has Continue Reading

By the numbers

By the numbers Not just the ones you already know Most entrepreneurs and business owners regularly monitor a few key numbers – sales, profit margins, operating expenses and the bottom line. All easy to understand and regularly reported. But it is not enough, if you want to be a top performer in your industry. You need to dig deeper to more Continue Reading

What crisis?

What crisis? Who needs a crisis? In times of crisis, it is easier to justify tough decisions. But why wait for a crisis? The challenges of business day-to-day should be sufficient to justify making those decisions all the time. We have all observed that the companies that survive a crisis come out stronger, correcting their weaknesses and building resiliency and Continue Reading

Manage like a Hockey Mom

Manage like a Hockey Mom But in a good way It is that time of year for hockey playoffs and not just in the NHL. It’s always exciting and entertaining and often provides inspiration and ideas for outside the hockey rink. At a grandson’s recent Peewee AAA hockey tournament in Montreal, the welcome brochure included the Quebec Hockey Association’s Code Continue Reading

Take a break

Take a break It’s spring I know it’s blowing snow and -7C in Montreal today, but all the kids and parents are talking about Spring Break, so let’s take apply the concept more generally. Take a break. Take a break from all the distractions that keep us from making progress on improving our lives, achieving our business objectives, supporting family Continue Reading

Alternative Facts or Alternative Conclusions?

Alternative Facts Or alternative conclusions? We seem to be learning from the current political debate that not only is it OK to invent alternative facts, (what we used to call lying), but that they are useful to explain and justify bad ideas. It may have proven to be effective in political campaigns, but it is definitely not recommended for subsequently Continue Reading

Business without politics

Business without politics It’s not possible, never has been There was an old idea that you should never mix business and politics. The concern was that it can be hard to stay friends and keep customers, suppliers and employees loyal, if you strongly disagree on political issues. But it has always been a hopeless and futile mission to avoid politics Continue Reading

Made in Mexico

Made in Mexico You think bullying and bribery will work? I’m thinking about President Trump’s approach to negotiating his new deals with Mexico. Sitting by the pool in Mazatlán, I’m surrounded by happy Mexicans working for $8-a-day and happy tourists spending $200 or $300-a-day. We’re all a little uncomfortable with the contrast, but the Americans are feeling even more uncomfortable Continue Reading

Time for Happy Holidays. Again.

Time for Happy Holidays. Again. Share the love and the joys of life. ‘Tis the season. Last year’s advice is still entirely appropriate: Ignore the headlines, Donald Trump and the Middle East for a few days. Set aside your worries about the economy and your business. Find the time and make the space to celebrate the joys of life. Focus Continue Reading

Trump election lessons for your business

Trump election lessons for your business Democracy makes for bad decisions? The recent election of Donald Trump was a shock and a disappointment to many of us. The political analysts and commentators, experts and amateurs, will debate it intensely for weeks and intellectually for decades. But what have we learned for our businesses? Here are some discussion points that I Continue Reading

Choosing your response

Choosing your response  Strategic or Operational? Entrepreneurs are by nature action-oriented and they trust their instincts. So they are quick to assess any new challenge and decide on a response immediately. But before leaping into action, it is important to ask yourself an important initial question: It is a strategic issue or operational issue? The answer will help you make Continue Reading

Whose business is it anyway?

Whose business is it anyway? All these people want a piece of me You thought you were the owner of the business and did not have to share with anyone else? Sorry, that’s not how it works. Your business is essentially an economic entity in the social order, but you cannot ignore all the implications for society at large and Continue Reading

Let’s take the politics out of it

Let’s take the politics out of it Make better decisions We seem to be in an era described by commentators as post-reality politics. It’s all about making the pitch and telling a compelling story. The politicians have learned that successful marketers are the best storytellers. But, they have also learned they can they can make the sale even if the Continue Reading

Every business is a social enterprise

Every business is a social enterprise It’s an evolution of the community The term “social enterprise” is starting to get annoying. Over-worked jargon used to make entrepreneurship in general or a particular business seeking support appear more appealing and acceptable to a cynical public that sees every business as evil and driven by the sole objective of making money for Continue Reading

Qualifying Questions

Qualifying Questions Is it Strategic or Operational? Before leaping into action, it is important to ask yourself some qualifying questions and make better decisions about both the immediate and the long-term action required. Entrepreneurs are inclined to act instinctively and “just do it” when they are presented with a new challenge, opportunity or problem. No time wasted. Let’s not make Continue Reading

Let’s be reasonable

Let’s be reasonable You cannot win an argument by raising the volume. It’s not because they cannot hear you that they are not buying it. You need to be more persuasive. They need to be more reasonable, or rational, or intelligent. Right? Because they are clearly too emotional, ignorant or biased. Maybe. But thinking it and saying it out loud Continue Reading

Excuses are easy

Excuses are easy “Too busy fighting fires to do fire prevention” “When you’re surrounded by alligators it’s hard to see a way out of the swamp.” But there is no excuse for neglecting to manage the entrepreneur’s Challenge #1: Balancing strategic leadership with management effectiveness. The difference between management and strategy is the difference between engineering and philosophy. Are you Continue Reading

Brexit: Success for democracy or failure of leadership?

Brexit: Success for democracy or failure of leadership? Now we know the risk of a protest vote. You may accidentally get the result you were only intending as a threat to get some attention to your complaints. Poking the bear to make it go away may just provoke it into biting your hand off to leave it alone. What else Continue Reading

The Magic of Entrepreneurship

The Magic of Entrepreneurship Demonstrated by the street vendors in Rome 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. In Rome a few years ago, I noticed that the street vendors had almost all decided that the thousands Continue Reading

Too Entrepreneurial, it’s not a good thing

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

Simple is not always wrong

Simple is not always wrong Maybe it's not that complicated You have probably seen the frequent Tweets from both Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein claiming, “I never said half that crap you read on the Internet.” Well, even if Einstein never said it, I like his often quoted comment, “For every complicated problem there is an obvious, simple solution. That Continue Reading

The Best Advice I Ever Got

This Real Life Story is an excerpt from Uncle Ralph’s book, "Don’t Do It the Hard Way.” Read the book. Real Life Story: The Best Advice I Ever Got In three words This story should be shorter. Otherwise it appears to contradict the best advice I ever got. However, I am choosing to reinforce the message and help make it Continue Reading

Of course you need a Business Plan

From business launch to owner’s exit Your Business Plan is an essential management tool that is too easily under-estimated as a useless bureaucratic requirement to apply for financing. “It would be easier if they just said No!” My own experience with business plans has led me to the conclusion that became the sub-title of my book, The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide Continue Reading

Keep your Balance

  Responding to Challenge #1: Strategic Leadership & Management Effectiveness Keep your Balance It is easy for owner-managers to get pre-occupied by the daily demands for attention – chasing opportunities, resolving customer complaints, managing employee performance, satisfying business partners, governments and the bank.  Stepping back to look at the big picture and assessing performance against the original strategic plan is Continue Reading

Entrepreneurial excellence: Challenge #1

This article is from Chapter 4 of Uncle Ralph's, "Don’t Do It the Hard Way”.  Read the book. Challenge #1: Strategic Leadership + Management Effectiveness Start with a plan.  As we started our e2eForum on a bright sunny spring morning, this was on the flipchart: The Entrepreneur’s Challenge: Strategic Leadership + Management Effectiveness It is my favourite theme and I had been Continue Reading

That was easy, let’s do it again!

This article is from Chapter 5 of Uncle Ralph's, "Don’t Do It the Hard Way”.  Read the book. That was easy, let’s do it again! We all tried hard to arrive early for the e2eForum meetings because it gave us time to chat informally with the other members and exchange comments on our businesses and other issues that were not on the Continue Reading

Time for a Business Tune-up?

Start with a SNAP Review Business Diagnostic SNAP: Strategic Needs Assessment and Performance Review A comprehensive business diagnostic will assess your strategic position, your plans and objectives and analyze your current performance to identify opportunities for improvement. It includes a review of the issues with management, employees and customers and an analysis of financial results, sales and marketing performance, customer service and operating effectiveness. Continue Reading

Evolution of Do-It-Yourself Marketing

Evolution of Do-It-Yourself Marketing Don’t do it all yourself It struck me recently in a meeting with two young entrepreneurs that we were struggling to do it all ourselves, when we should instead be calling on professionals who actually have the relevant expertise and experience to get the best results for the minimum expense. Especially in social media marketing. It Continue Reading

Irrational decision making – Pipelines and Politics

Irrational decision making - Pipelines and Politics I never studied Political Science but as an engineer and graduate in Applied Science, I am inclined to think that there is little science involved in political decision making. Lots of ideological fervour and applied psychology, but very little scientific analysis and rational decision making. Mom had it right when she told me once, Continue Reading

Don’t quit your day job, yet

This Real Life Story is an extract from Uncle Ralph's, "The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans".  Read the book. Real Life Story: “Don’t quit your day job, yet” Many young daydreamers, and older ones that should know better, see entrepreneurship as their escape from a day job that is not meeting their needs. “Running my own business would be better than Continue Reading

Sold! You thought it would be easy?

Three challenging steps to selling your business  If you’re thinking of selling your business someday, remember it’s a long, complicated process that you should start well in advance. The recent sale of a client’s manufacturing business, reminded me once again that a successful sale requires considerable time and effort – before, during and after the deal is made. Rigorous planning Continue Reading

Earn the right to brag

Earn the right to brag It worked for me running marathons. Long after my rational brain and aching body were telling me to quit, my ego kept reminding me that I would lose all bragging rights, if I didn’t finish. I knew it was much more satisfying to work into the conversation, “Yup, the full twenty-six miles, 42.2 kilometers, and Continue Reading

The weird WWW continues

The weird WWW continues Back when we were first introduced, about twenty years ago, it was called the World Wide Web.  Now it would be better described as the Weird Wonderful World that we live in. It is a continuously and rapidly changing world that affects us all every day.  From the time we wake up to check e-mail and Continue Reading

Enlightened Entrepreneurship – Part 3: The Action Plan

Enlightened Entrepreneurship – Part 3: The Action Plan Enlightened Entrepreneurship requires us to practice it, promote it and defend it. Does accepting that mission make us missionaries? Yes. And the mission has a three part Action Plan: Practice enlightened entrepreneurship and lead by example for employees, customers, suppliers, strategic partners and stakeholders. Help other entrepreneurs be more enlightened and thereby Continue Reading

Enlightened Entrepreneurship – Part 2

Enlightened Entrepreneurship – Part 2 I have recommended the concept of enlightened entrepreneurship.  Others are also using the term, but we do not have a common understanding of “enlightened entrepreneurship.”Some people apply it to define a very spiritual or humanistic approach to business and others confuse it with social entrepreneurship, where the purpose of the business is to meet the Continue Reading

Enlightened Entrepreneurship

The need for Enlightened Entrepreneurship My mission with LearningEntrepreneurship.com is to promote what I call “enlightened entrepreneurship.” I didn’t coin the phrase I’m sure, but here is my definition. Enlightened entrepreneurship: business leadership that recognizes that doing better for the business also means doing better for employees and their families, for customers and suppliers, for communities and the planet. Enlightened Continue Reading

Forget Forecasts

Forget forecasts They're useless. It is that time of year when everyone seems compelled to make forecasts. The experts insist on giving us their version and they decide either to be safe and predict more of the same or to be outrageous and predict something extreme - Canadian dollar at US$0.59 or oil back to $100! We should ignore them Continue Reading

Another New Year. So what.

It’s another New Year. So what. You have already looked at too many year-end reviews and predictions for 2016.  The consensus seems to be that last year was bad everywhere and 2016 will be worse: more terrorist events and political stupidity, extreme weather and natural disasters, declining market values on all your investments and challenging economic conditions for every industry. Continue Reading

Happy Holidays? It’s up to you.

Share the love and the joys of life. ‘Tis the season. Ignore the headlines, Donald Trump and ISIL for a few days. Set aside your worries about the declining dollar and tumbling markets. Find the time and the means to celebrate the joys of life. Focus on the people close to you; friends, family and business associates that also need Continue Reading

Are you ready for the Liberals economic plan?

On November 4th, we will have a new Prime Minister (in the second coming of a Trudeau) and a new Liberal cabinet responsible for managing the Canadian economy. Are you ready for the changes that will affect you and your business? Do not expect Trudeau to implement all the promises he made. He will inevitably have to make compromises and Continue Reading

Justin Trudeau’s lessons in leadership

It’s not all hope and happy optimism   I thought he was “just a high school teacher….”, but apparently he was better schooled in the family business than I thought. Justin Trudeau is a very different personality from his father, but just as inspirational a leader and communicator. Quoting Sir Wilfred Laurier, possibly our most inspiring and exemplary Canadian Prime Minister, he Continue Reading

Astonishingly irresponsible and incompetent leadership at VW

All justified in the relentless pursuit of #1 in auto sales. Volkswagen's emission test cheating is just the most recent example of incompetent, irresponsible leadership pursuing sales at any cost, ignoring the risks. Apparently it was a brief success for the man responsible for US sales, Martin Winterkorn - he is now CEO of Volkswagen, but he should be expecting to be fired this week. Somehow Continue Reading

Is BoomerPreneurship next for you? Here is how to succeed.

As recently posted on FindependenceHub with Jonathan Chevreau. Young entrepreneurs seem to get all the attention, but there are also a lot of experienced Boomers considering entrepreneurship for the next phase of their career or retirement plan. Are you one of them? The first important point for you to recognize if you are considering that option, is that past success in Continue Reading

The ups and downs – you win, you lose

This year's Honda Classic was a fascinating and dramatic display of old talent coming back and new talent rising fast. In a final round play-off on Monday 43-year old veteran Padraig Harrington prevailed over 21-year old rookie Daniel Berger who had an outstanding final round of 64 to surge into the lead from nine shots back. The other contenders fell behind as they Continue Reading

A Good Business Plan is Not Enough

Entrepreneurs often find themselves working hard to prepare a Business Plan, because the bank asked for one.  So they spend a lot of time and effort, and sometimes a lot of money, to prepare a very elaborate documented business plan with all the supporting facts and figures and extensive financial projections.  And the bank still says no. It's a painful lesson: a good business plan Continue Reading

The Biggest Challenge: Strategic Leadership + Effective Management

Strategic Leadership + Effective Management It is my favourite theme and the owner/manager's biggest challenge: balancing strategic leadership with effective operating management. Lack of strategic leadership may be the biggest mistake made by entrepreneurs and can be fatal to their business. (Following is an extract from "Don't Do It the Hard Way" by your Uncle Ralph.) “Today I’m going to start by admitting Continue Reading

Step Back and Look at your Business

Take the time to get a wider perspective and adjust your plans. Review recent performance against your current business plan and expected results before we get too far into 2015. Seize the opportunity to make improvements and enhance the value of your business. Here are some ideas to inspire you to do better than ever. 1. Check your numbers against the top performers. You Continue Reading

How are we doing so far in 2015?

We start the year in uncertain and dangerous times.  We have been here before and it has been even worse in the recent past, but planning and management in this environment has us wondering about the impact on our businesses. What are the right management strategies and action plans to get through this year and build a more resilient and Continue Reading

Seven Biggest Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Some ideas for better results in your business A few years ago, I came up with “The Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make and How to Avoid Them” for a breakfast seminar presentation. The presentation was well received and has since been used many times, eventually expanding into several chapters of my latest book for entrepreneurs, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way”. Continue Reading

Profiling is a Problem

I am not referring to the policing tactics that lead to so much turmoil, but to the never-ending management of your own personal  profile. It is essential to your personal branding and the presence of so many online profiles on different platforms is extremely important to perceptions of your reputation and credibility. Profile maintenance is never-ending, requiring continuous revision your life story on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter plus your website, Continue Reading

My Unplanned “Retirement” at 52

My story recently shared story with Jonathan Chevreau at his Findependence Hub.   It’s better to have a plan My unplanned retirement at 52 seems to have been successful, if I look back over the last 15 years, but I could have done it better and suggest that you can too, if you have a plan. Here is my story and Continue Reading

Deciding when to launch your business

Deciding when to launch your business Look before you leap I often say, "Starting your own business is a lot like sky-diving – it seems like an exciting idea, but you’re not likely to do it until you’re pushed out the door.” In my own case, I had literally been pushed out the door of a technology company (AES Data) that was Continue Reading

RYDER CUP – Lessons in Teamwork

And Europe wins again, decisively.  How can all the golf stars from America keep coming up short in the team competition against Europe known as the Ryder Cup? Held every two years, it's now 8 out of the last 10 won by Europe. Somehow the European players from the UK, Germany, Sweden and France have found a way to play Continue Reading

Beware of Desensitizing Acronyms

Most of us tend to over-use the special acronyms that are familiar to us and our colleagues in the same industry or profession.  They are useful for confirming membership in the group and for excluding outsiders. (You know them.) But they often create a barrier to communicating effectively with a wider audience that is unfamiliar with our jargon. On the other hand, Continue Reading

Apparently I’m an APE!

Before you agree too quickly, let me explain the acronym APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, "How to publish a Book," is the title of an excellent book by Guy Kawasaki. I'm reading it carefully and using it as my primary reference guide to deal with all the business issues related to publishing a book. It turns out writing one is the Continue Reading

Teaching kids entrepreneurship

Check out this video and tell me if you agree that it actually promotes the most negative stereotype of entrepreneurs as greedy and manipulative - in it for the money and part of the problem in our consumption based economy."Let's Raise Kids to be Entrepreneurs ..." http://on.ted.com/8Qs5 The video at the end of this TED presentation is a more positive and Continue Reading

Do-It-Yourself Business Plans

It's done. I finally expanded the quick 10-Minute summary into a Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans. Including: A clear concise 50-page Guide that describes all the requirements for a great Business Plan . Valuable ideas and information on the personal and strategic business decisions required before you start Recommended Templates for your Financial Projections A quick summary 10-Minute Guide Continue Reading

Olympic lessons for entrepreneurs

Enjoy the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but don't miss the opportunity to learn some lessons to help your business go for gold! You can help your business to perform like an Olympic champion if you take these ideas from the Olympics as your inspiration: Have a four-year plan to achieve Olympic records Decide: Go for gold, or Quit. Learn from Continue Reading

Seven Mistakes in PowerPoint

Our PSN Breakfast Series on October 15th went well with three speakers on "Entrepreneurial Challenges" including my own presentation on "The Seven Biggest Mistakes that Enrepreneurs Make". (Lots of nodding heads and smiles of recognition from the audience even if no one wanted to admit to having made all seven!) If you would like to review the PowerPoint slides, including Continue Reading

The Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make

The Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs MakeWhich ones are you making? How can you avoid them? I was recently asked to do a presentation with my associates at a breakfast seminar for business clients. We had arrived at the title “Seven Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make” before I had the list prepared, so I decided to do a survey of Continue Reading

Biggest Mistakes that Entrepreneurs Make?

I need your suggestions. I'm working on a presentation titled "The Seven Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make" and so far I have only my top four. Most of them I've made myself and I'm sure I can complete the list, but it would help to have some consensus from other entrepreneurs and their consultants/advisors. From your experience what are the most Continue Reading

How are we doing so far in 2009?

We could all be even worse off, but let's hope it gets better from here. For most of us the impact on our businesses has been inconsistent and inconclusive. What are the right management strategies and action plans to get through this economic turmoil with a more resilient and successful business? Here are the lessons we have learned from clients, Continue Reading

Rhetoric is not leadership

Guiding business, government and the economy through these difficult times will require strong, decisive and competent leadership from all three sectors. Unfortunately we have been getting more rhetoric than meaningful leadership.President Obama has already been a disappointment. Aside from not being able to persuade either Washington politicians or American citizens to get with the program, he hasn't had good answers Continue Reading


Some good business advice from a Canadian cabinet minister in the 1960's government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Imagine that! I'm reading "Renegade in Power" by Peter C. Newman and he is describing the colourful George Hees who was responsible for Trade and Commerce and was determined to push Canadian businesses toward new international opportunities. He often wore a tie Continue Reading

Working like a dog?

Harvey Mackay has some great suggestions on learning from dogs. Here is an extract from his recent newsletter (Nov.6/08). We can learn a lot from dogs. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the Continue Reading

Twenty-something employees

I was in a good discussion today on the special challenges of managing young employees from the twenty-something generation. There is often a large gap in job expectations between the 30 to 40-year old managers and their younger staff. Loyalty, extra hours, and commitment to the company are concepts familiar to the managers but foreign to new employees. Their key Continue Reading

A Business Plan is not enough

Asking for more information is often just another way of postponing the inevitable "no". I've learned this is often the way potential investors or bankers manage to turn off the entrepreneur without ever being so direct as saying "No, I'm not interested." It would be even more helpful if they continued with "because ...". But they usually don't offer much Continue Reading

Looking back and planning ahead

The start of a new year is a good time to look back and plan ahead. (Sounds dangerous. May explain the pain in my neck.) However, looking back at 2007 can you conclude on the mistakes you would rather not repeat or the things you would like to do more often? Or maybe the issues and ideas that were completetly Continue Reading

Learning entrepreneurship

I recently gave a course at Concordia University on Entrepreneurship and a dozen enthusiastic young entrepreneurs passed with excellent marks. Will they all succeed as entrepreneurs? Sorry, but taking a course is not enough. In the very first class we agreed that anyone can be an entrepreneur if they are passionate determined, persistent and patient. So why not? It sounds Continue Reading

Teaching entrepreneurship

So the course is over and a dozen enthusiastic young entrepreneurs passed with excellent marks. Will they all succeed as entrepreneurs? Sorry, but taking a course is not enough. In the very first class we agreed that anyone can be an entrepreneur if they are passionate determined, persistent and patient. So why not? It sounds like the same cliches we Continue Reading

An impressive CEO

At a recent McGill alumni breakfast, the guest was Darren Entwhistle, President and CEO of Telus, Canada's newest national telecommunications provider. A very articulate and focused leader, Entwhistle clearly communicates where he wants to go and his process for getting there. Still "frustrated and bitter" about the federal government's inability to get out of the way for his bid to Continue Reading

The Platinum Rule

Again I learned something new at the McGill MiniBiz Seminar this week. The topic was managing diversity, especially the generational gap between those born before WWII, the Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. For both managers of those diverse groups and for members of each generation the recommendation was to remember the Platinum Rule. OK, we all know the Golden Continue Reading

Henry Mintzberg is worth listening to

I had the pleasure yesterday of hearing a presentation by Henry Mintzberg, McGill professor and management guru. One attendee described him as the "Tiger Woods of management science". I know him as the Strategy professor during my McGill MBA program from 35 years ago. (Yikes, neither of us seem to have aged that much! OK, maybe less hair.) He is Continue Reading

Anyone can be an entrepreneur

That was the advice of David Lank, Director of the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies at McGill, in a seminar last evening. I agree that anyone can be, but not everyone should be, and not everyone wants to be. As David suggested, why would anyone want to be an entrepreneur when they know that: You will not really work for Continue Reading

Learning entrepreneurship

My next teaching challenge is to present the subject of Entrepreneurship in the Continuing Education program at Concordia University. Can you really teach entrepreneurship? What if you have to be born that way? What about all those stories about "delivering papers when I was nine years old"...? I didn't, so am I disqualified? My own theory is that an entrepreneur Continue Reading


I'm currently reading Stephen Covey's latest - "The 8th Habit"; following of course his best selling "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". On the subject of management and leadership he summarizes the themes and concepts of many other authors. (Give him credit for some humility.) What sticks with me are the stated principles of: 1. Set the direction, 2. Continue Reading

Financial management

I am just completing the teaching of two summer courses in Financial Management at Concordia University. It's time for their final exams so I'm now thinking about what are the most important lessons to learn for future business managers and entrepreneurs. Or alternatively, what do most entrepreneurs neglect in the management of their businesses? Most of us focus regularly on Continue Reading

Essence of entrepreneurship

I had lunch yesterday with a client and friend who represents for me the essence of entrepreneurship. (He is too modest and discrete for me to mention his name here.) In my opinion, the essence is to combine the strength of a marketable expertise with the ability to think and act strategically. In his case, he has a very high Continue Reading

Happy Mother’s Day

Mothers and business seems to be my current theme. Perhaps it's the subliminal (or blatant) advertising for Mother's Day this weekend. My Uncle Ralph persona is partly inspired by my father and his well-recognized character and manner of dispensing wise advice. But my mother also had a strong influence on my personality and management style (other than the genetic connection), Continue Reading

Does your mother know?

As my mother once said "Don't do anything you wouldn't do if I was there." Now that was a great way to keep me on the straight and narrow while I was looking for trouble as a teenager. I've often thought of repeating the question as I encounter bad drivers flying by on the highway. "Does your mother know you Continue Reading

I have a duck

Why do I keep the duck? It's not a live duck, it's a painted plaster duck, so no care and feeding required. But it's old and faded from years in the garden through snow and rain then beside the bathtub or on a bookshelf. It's not attractive but it's a frequent reminder to be humble in my business decisions. The Continue Reading

Too much multitasking?

It may seem like we are getting more done by multitasking but maybe we would be more productive and deliver better results by focusing on one thing at a time. I'm guilty of needing to keep all my faculties engaged by doing at least two things at once. Reading the paper, eating breakfast, listening to the radio would be typical. Continue Reading