About C-Level Reflections

Ravi Patel has over 35 years general, financial and operational management experience in C-Level executive positions with multi-sized companies in diverse industries.

Having substantial experience in leading and consulting with entrepreneurial companies, Ravi utilizes this blog to share useful management thoughts to hopefully assist Entrepreneurs in growing their companies.

 

Published in: on April 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Staying Cool Right Now

Entrepreneurs are facing a stressful and chaotic situation with the effects of the coronavirus. Are you keeping your cool demeanor in these trying times?

Have you watched firefighters, policemen or even bomb diffusers operate in high-stress situations? Their ability to act calmly reassures everyone around them not to panic.

Similarly, leaders who stay calm and keep their cool under chaotic business situations inspire confidence in their employees. Instead of panicking, they all tend to follow their leader and behave productively to resolve the issues. If the leaders lose their cool, who can blame the employees for doing so too?

Great leadership inspires people to do phenomenal things. Calm and cool leadership in volatile situations prevents their followers from panicking or performing irrational acts or even worse inciting riots.

Stay cool during these tough times Entrepreneurs!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 24, 2020 at 6:54 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Are you Looking for Funding?

All Entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, are in need of money. What are the key things you need to do first when looking for funding?

1.   Ask for a specific amount. Don’t state ranges or be vague. If you do not know the specific amount, it does not speak well of you understanding the financial needs of your business. It is okay to ask for slightly more than you need to provide for contingencies, but still look for a specific amount.

2.   Outline exactly how you are going to use the money. If you do not have a well-defined idea of how you plan to spend the funds, it does not provide a high level of confidence to potential investors/lenders. However, resist going overboard and itemizing each and every item. You should have that for your own use, but do not need it when looking for funds especially in the initial meeting.

3.   Present a realistic argument of how using the funds will build a business that will generate positive cash flows. This will be the essential selling point. Investors or lenders are not only interested in knowing how they will be repaid (with upside), but also whether the business can become a self-sustaining cash generator. Again, the idea is not present a thick business plan with fluff, but rather a well-defined and articulated strategy backed by realistic projections.

Spend some time in working on the above three requirements before you start looking for funding.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 17, 2020 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Managing Perceptions

A few simple tips for Entrepreneurs to positively manage perceptions in various situations:

  • Never overreact to situations where there is employee dissatisfaction or customer or vendor complaints. Analyze the situation calmly before taking proper corrective action, instead of taking hurried actions due to external pressure.
  • If you do have a serious situation, do not create a smokescreen and divert attention away from it to hide the real problem.
  • Do not focus on the small or minor issues in managing your companies; focus on the larger or macro issues for greater impact. Let your management team manage the details.
  • If you need to make a statement or message regarding any irregularities in your company, do it for significant issues not trivial ones. If you mostly emphasize minor matters, your employees or going to be dismissive of such gestures.
  • Be sensitive to the message that you send with your actions. If you are being austere or are having cost reduction programs, do not have bonuses or spending that is contrary to the current environment in your company. Having incentives is not inappropriate, but make sure that they are related to the right objectives and are perceived positively.
  • Of course, when you are borrowing a lot of money, do not spend it on bonuses or management extravagance. If contractual obligations are involved, renegotiate those for the long-term financial health of the company and goodwill for all stakeholders.

While the above sound obvious,sometimes we tend to lose sight of reality and the negative perceptions that are created.

Ravi Patel

“Mismanaging” Your Time

There is enough written about time management and numerous seminars are available to obtain practical tools. So, this is not a blog on how to effectively manage your time.

Instead, think about time management in another way. If you don’t have time to get things done, are you actually doing the Right Things? You might be “mismanaging” your time!

Entrepreneurs, especially early in their careers, often have a tendency to not only do everything themselves, but also focus on doing tasks right – whether they are important or not!

The focus for Entrepreneurs should be to define and do the Right Things and delegate the rest. Once you discover and focus on the Right Things, you will probably have more time to do them. Wasting time on things that Entrepreneurs like to do, being perfect on insignificant tasks, or not delegating steals time from more important things to do for your business.

Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

Lessons from Music

There are a number of similarities between creating melodious music and Entrepreneurs developing a fine-tuned business.

Creating a melody requires the correct musical notes. While a spectrum of notes is available to all, picking the right notes to create a musical piece is critical. One or more wrong notes and the resulting music is noticeably out of tune.  Similarly in business, an Entrepreneur has access to various resources – markets, clients, management team, employees, facilities, investors, suppliers, advisors and so on. Creating the right blend of these resources, just like selecting the appropriate notes, will allow the development of a beautifully functioning business. A wrong choice or decision here and there ruins the musical piece or a well-oiled business machine.

Playing only the correct musical notes does not make a melody; the notes have to be played to the appropriate beat. The business activities of a growing organization have to be running at the right pace. You cannot have some parts of the company forging ahead while others are lagging. Moving towards the goal at a managed pace leads to success.

Entrepreneurs do not have to be musicians, but applying lessons of music might help them in successfully growing their businesses.

Ravi Patel

Empower Your Employees to Think

Why do Entrepreneurs start businesses? Usually, because they have new, innovative ideas as a result of “thinking outside the box.” They identify under-served niches in the marketplace and find unique ways to fulfill unmet or unrecognized needs.

Do Entrepreneurs, once they start and grow the business, foster the culture of “Thinking Outside the Box” in their employees?

The reason for the Entrepreneur’s original initiative due to creative thinking is also applicable to his/her organization. If the culture of the company is one of innovation and finding unique ways of doing things better and faster, it will promote not only continued success for the company but also tremendous job satisfaction for the employees.

Entrepreneurs should be careful not to create a control-oriented impression that “Thinking Outside the Box” is only meant for them. It gives a feeling of “Do what I say, not what I do.”

Empower your employees and let them come up with creative ways to perform their jobs better and improve processes in the company. Entrepreneurs for this employee performance management philosophy should also think outside the box !

Ravi Patel

Invest Wisely

Businesses require investments. Entrepreneurs are aware of the capital necessary to start a business – whether it is for working capital, machinery, equipment, or so on.

As the business grows more investment might be needed. If the Entrepreneur only thinks of investment in material things, it might be short-sighted.

Long term success requires investment in softer areas of the business. For example, in order to have consistent results it is necessary to invest in developing robust business processes (not necessarily computer systems). This takes time and resources, but it is a wise investment.

Entrepreneurs need to make similar investment in their people. Identify the key potential people in your organization and invest in them. Urge them to improve their skills, train them in functional areas, and take a risk by giving them projects and assignments that challenge them. Investing in your people, just like other assets, will pay off in the long term.

Entrepreneurs need to identify all areas of their business to determine if they have invested appropriately in such areas to make them generate superior returns.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on February 11, 2020 at 7:02 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Pacing Growth

“To climb steep hills requires slow pace at first.” – William Shakespeare

As most Entrepreneurs know, starting a new business and helping it grow is akin to climbing a steep hill. If you climb too fast you run out of energy and might not get to the top; a slow pace is required at first to build up strength and stamina to reach the peak.

Entrepreneurs too need to pace their growth. At first, one needs to move slowly to ensure that all the building blocks (fully developed product or service, employees, backroom systems and processes, etc.) of the business are in place. If one starts running without these fundamentals, one might not be able to get too far.

Starting with a slower pace also ensures that you have time to make sure everything is working as intended. If corrective actions are required, you have time to fix the problems before you get too far down the road.

Once the foundation is in place and you have warmed up, you can gradually increase the pace of growth as your building blocks are strong and the business has stamina.

Pace yourself in business to climb to newer heights.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on February 4, 2020 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Engage Your People

Recruiting and hiring good employees is not enough for Entrepreneurs.

After new employees start work, on-boarding, orientation and making them aware of the company’s Vision, Mission and culture should be a standard part of any hiring process. How many Entrepreneurs do that?

Even if you have a robust on-boarding process, what do you do to keep your people actively engaged in your company?

Entrepreneurs don’t treat working in their company as a “job.” They need to develop that sense of spirit in their employees. People should feel closely attached to the Mission of the company such that they view their job in a macro sense – as having a direct impact on fulfilling the Mission rather than just completing assigned tasks.

Offering material rewards for accomplishments works for a while. What is more important is the emotional engagement of employees in the company such that they personally identify themselves with the company’s success (and failures). Finding ways to engage employees in a meaningful way should be a key objective for Entrepreneurs.

Engaged employees are generally happy and productive. Involve them in your in your company.

Ravi Patel

How Well Do You Manage Cash?

Cash flow management is a critical factor in an Entrepreneur’s ability to successfully grow a business. Yet more often that not, Entrepreneurs react to cash flow problems rather than actively managing this area.

Entrepreneurs need to ask themselves what metrics they are using to monitor cash flow. Are these the appropriate measures? How timely are such metrics?

What type of tools are Entrepreneurs using to manage and more importantly increase the available cash in their business? Are these tools continually refined to make them effective?

Entrepreneurs would be better served to proactively manage their cash flows, or at least monitor this important area if such management is delegated to others in their organization.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on January 21, 2020 at 5:50 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,