Tuesday, September 09, 2014


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Monday, July 07, 2014

Canadians at Wimbledon

A great weekend for Canadians at Wimbledon.

Eugenie Bouchard is runner-up in the final, 

Milos Raonic loses to Roger Federer in the semi-final and Vasek Pospisil wins in men's doubles.

Impressive results getting the attention of media, fans and opponents.  All three are young contenders that can only get better and do better. 

That is a theme that also works for entrepreneurs. Learn from your losses, then get back into the fray with new tactics, skills and energy. 

The winning will come soon - for these young tennis stars and for you.   

Monday, May 05, 2014

An exercise in futility?

There has to be a business lesson in this photo.

Something about banging your ahead against the wall? This determined woodpecker seems to be working on it's own condo entrance against all logic.

It will still be too small inside. Particle board is much harder than a rotten tree trunk and has no nutritional value at all. With no insects to reward the head-pounding effort. Some days at the office seem just like this.

If you find yourself in this situation, I suggest it's time to get your head up from the task at hand and ask yourself if there is a better way.

What is the goal here?
Surely there is no entertainment value or other justification.

Stress relief? Maybe, but even that has its limits.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lessons from the Winter Olympics 2014

The Winter Olympics 2014 at Sochi provide inspiring examples of what the human spirit can accomplish and some interesting concepts that can apply to your business.

Consider these approaches that are important to Olympic performance and may be applicable to your business. (Updated from my article on the Summer Olympics of 2008)

The four year planning horizon
Update your current Business Plan by looking back four years, then planning ahead for the next four. Review the results for 2010 and define your new Olympic performance objectives for 2014 to 2018 with specific milestones for each year.
Focus on your strengths
Choose to compete in the areas where you are most likely to succeed. If aerial skiing manoeuvres are not your specialty, then focus on speed events. Style is not important, just first to the finish line.   (Actually, maybe style is important, check: It isn't figure skating but .... )
Commit to your plan
You have to be committed to the effort required over a long period of time to achieve world class performance.  Make the choices necessary to either give it your best effort over a long period of time or quit now and find a new path to succeed in meeting your business goals.
Push your limits
Test your capabilities and endurance to the maximum. "Tear and Repair" is the way to build strength and endurance in muscle tissue; maybe in your organization too.
Learn from the leaders
What do the top competitors do that you can also do? Look at their preparation and training techniques; the little things that add up to a big difference.
Learn from your losses
Study your own performance and learn what makes the difference between your best results and your second best.
It's not for the money
You have to love it enough to do what it takes to be a winner. The money will follow if you have the passion and persistence to excel.
There is only one gold medal
You may have to settle for being the fourth, or sixteenth, best in the world at what you do.  That may be sufficient to meet your needs for accomplishment and success in life.  Even number one doesn't stay there for long. Accept your position and move on.
Prepare for upsets
The best competitors know how to deliver for the big events and usually avoid disappointment. In spite of that, you could still be the upset winner when the opportunity arises, if you are equally prepared and committed to maximum performance when it's required.
Have a world class support team
Coaching makes a difference. Check that your consultants, advisers and support staff are up to the Olympic standard.
Don't cheat
The short-term glory of victory will eventually be replaced by the long-term disgrace of breaking the rules.
Don't quit too soon
One of the Olympic ski jumpers was still contenting in the final jumps twenty years after winning his fist Olympic medal.

These concepts from the Olympics may be applicable to aspects of your business. Perhaps getting you to world class performance too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Try it on Mom

Friday, January 03, 2014

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 drive like an idiot?"

Mothers are also an important influence to guide our ethical conduct in business. That was apparently understand by the jeweller in Cranbrook BC who had a conspicuous sign posted by the cash stating "We give instant credit to all our customers ... if they are over 90 and accompanied by their mother." Good credit guideline!

Most entrepreneurs and executives probably don't often think of their mothers on the job, unless she's the boss like Ma Boyle (pictured) at Columbia Sportswear. Maybe they should. We would probably have fewer issues of corporate misconduct if their mothers knew what was going on.

Perhaps instead of all those current management courses on ethics and corporate responsibility we only need to remind decision makers to ask themselves "Would my mother be proud of me, if she knew what I was doing?"

Sometimes mother knows best.

A New Start for 2014

Time for more "Random Ramblings from Uncle Ralph".

Dreadfully neglected, it is time to reactivate my online presence as Uncle Ralph.  I do want to raise my visibility so somebody notices when my new books are out.

Yes, my first book, the widely (well, maybe it was narrowly) acclaimed "Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans" is being redone and will be published soon in a Second Edition by AuthorHouse.  The first edition is still available at www.DIYBusinessPlan.com.  Only $9.95 in e-book .pdf. 

The Second Edition will be expanded with new material, more access to Online Tools and Templates and will be available from a variety of traditional and online bookstores in hard cover, paperback and e-book versions.

You should see it before March this year.

Then I will be able to make progress on Uncle Ralph's more comprehensive book of advice for Entrepreneurs, "Don't Do It the Hard Way", based on the simple principle that a wise man learns from the mistakes of others, only a fool insists on making his own.

Meanwhile, back to Blogging.  Excuse me if I cheat a little and re-cycle some of my old favourites.  Think of it as a warm-up exercise to start the creative juices flowing.

Come back soon and I'll try to make it worth a visit.

And Happy New Year in 2014!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Other Blogs to Follow, since I'm so negligent here

In order to give you some value in return for your visit here, since my own Blog has been neglected (for very good reasons that I may explain here another day), I recommend that you follow my favourite Canadian commentator, analyst and writer on Entrepreneurship, Rick Spence.

Rick Spence: Blogspot

You can also find him in Financial Post and PROFIT Magazine.

Until later,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Can you succeed as an entrepreneur?

You may agree with the suggestion that anyone can be an entrepreneur, but remember that not everyone should be, and not everyone wants to be.  

The important question is what is right for you? 

Why would anyone want to be an entrepreneur, when we all know that:
  1. You will not really work for yourself, but instead for all the people that depend on you and have demands of you. These include employees, customers, the bank and the government. 
  2. The world really doesn't care about you or your business. They have to be made aware of you and then be persuaded that you have a solution that they need. Effective marketing will be required.  
  3. Most new businesses fail. Within two years it is likely to be over - having lost a lot of your time and money. And it will be your fault; for bad management, losing to the competition or not reacting to changing market conditions.  
The first test of a successful entrepreneur is that you will still proceed with enthusiasm, in spite of all that discouraging information. (Just don't be stubbornly stupid about a bad idea. That is not a plan for success.)   

In the opinion of many experienced investors and entrepreneurs, the key to success is a determined  passion for your plan, in spite of the known obstacles. Those entrepreneurs will find a way to succeed    regardless of the challenges along the way.

Completing a formal business plan is always a good start.  It is the best way to test your assumptions and different scenarios in the market as well as alternative business models to meet your objectives. But the plan is less important than the passion for achieving your goals. 

Be determined and confident, but be aware of the cruel world around you and realistic about what you can achieve. 

Important perspectives to keep in mind.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Impressive Billionaires or Not?

News flash: "Australian tycoon is world's richest woman worth $29Billion" 

But "heiress to an iron-ore empire" suddenly sounds less impressive, even if it was up by $19Billion last year. And then we read that the woman she pushed back to #2 spot was Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton.  So are these successful entrepreneurs we can learn from?

I think the ranking should be based on increase in their net worth from the starting point.  And even that might be an indicator of the skills as an investor (or the skills of their management people) more than their success as entrepreneurs.  So let's agree that for model entrepreneurs we need to look at what they built starting from zero.  That works, even if they started with lots of their own money.

So then we still can be comfortable with our role models, like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, etc. .... 

Rich heiresses, not so much.