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  
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Simple is More Effective

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein.

When Entrepreneurs are asked to describe their product or service, they sometimes go into great details to explain how something works. In their opinion, the more complex it sounds the more important the idea.

It is actually the opposite. The simpler the description of your product or idea, the easier it is to understand. If a potential investor can grasp your idea immediately, their interest is perked and they might listen to more. If you lose them with complexity, their attention span is over.

This is also true for all stakeholders. Entrepreneurs should make their message simple when communicating change. Simple messages get accepted a lot faster than complex ones.

As Einstein notes, it is possible that Entrepreneurs don’t understand the product, service or idea well enough to explain in simple terms. If so, it is time to go back to the drawing board and learn what you are trying to explain so you can make it simpler to communicate.

The effectiveness of communication is in its simplicity!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on April 13, 2021 at 6:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Valuing Contrary Advice

“I never learned from a man who agreed with me.” – Robert A. Heinlein.

If you listen to people who only agree with you, you are not going to learn something new. Critics might be frustrating to Entrepreneurs and might even get under their skin. However, constructive critics can teach you important lessons.

It is important to weigh various sides of any issue to reach an optimal decision. If everyone around you only promotes one side – your viewpoint – you will never see the other side. Listen to people who don’t agree with you to understand differing opinions. You might even find those perspectives more useful than you own and it could lead to a better decision, product or service.

It is often better to accept good advice from critics than bad advice from your supporters. Just because someone does not agree with you does not necessarily make them wrong. Similarly, someone who agrees with you is not always right.

Entrepreneurs should accept good, even contrary to their own viewpoint, advice no matter where it comes from.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on April 6, 2021 at 6:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Investing in the Right Things

Businesses require investments. Entrepreneurs are well 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 could be short-sighted.

Long term success requires investment also 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 March 30, 2021 at 6:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Discerning Feedback

Since Entrepreneurs receive comments, criticisms, suggestions and feedback from many different quarters, whom to listen? What feedback is valid?

Entrepreneurs can’t let criticism from outsiders with limited perspective and facts affect them. Critics often make comments without a lot of information or understanding the circumstances behind certain entrepreneurial actions. Such feedback might bother Entrepreneurs but they should accept such with a grain of salt, if not totally ignore it.

However, heed to valid feedback from insiders. In fact, Entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with key neutral advisors who are open to providing honest and realistic feedback to Entrepreneurs. Such advisors could be informal friends and business associates, members of a Mastermind Group, key stakeholders or the Board of Directors.

Entrepreneurs should not always dismiss all negative feedback, but they should discern what is valid and what needs to be discarded. Be willing to accept valid feedback.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 23, 2021 at 6:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Taking Care of the Present

The past, present and future sometimes all blends together for Entrepreneurs as they try to stay afloat and on course.

The past, for some, is a painful memory of struggles, mistakes and even failures. Entrepreneurs must selectively forget the past and only retain useful lessons to prevent the same errors. Dwelling in the past is counterproductive and drains energy away from current pursuits.

Worrying too much about the future is not good either. One needs to have a plan for the future, but constantly evaluating all current actions against what might happen in the future is not helpful.

Managing the present, by using lessons of the past, will create the future.

Entrepreneurs need to devote most of their energy to manage the present. Create the foundation, processes and effective teams to deliver current performance. Unless you can have a strong present, you might not even make it to the future.

Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 16, 2021 at 6:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Are You Successful?

How do Entrepreneurs define success?

Entrepreneurs start businesses to be successful. They develop their Vision and Mission and establish clear goals.

For some, success is defined in terms of money or the ability to acquire material things. For others it is to be the biggest or best or change the world. A few define success as being famous. Some have noble objectives in terms of helping people, enhancing lives, creating jobs, or eradicating diseases.

No matter of how they define it, Entrepreneurial success is short-lived if it is not associated with happiness. If you achieve all other objectives, and if you are still unhappy then success does not mean a lot.

Ensure your happiness to enjoy success. Define your success in terms of being happy for the long term!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 9, 2021 at 6:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Making Mistakes

We all make mistakes! Great inventions were inspired by mistakes. Entrepreneurs also make mistakes, so their tolerance towards their employees making mistakes is understandable.

Entrepreneurs should create a business culture that does not always penalize people from thinking outside the box and making mistakes. An organization cannot grow if no one takes risks just to avoid making mistakes.

Making mistakes is acceptable if it is during the process of trying new methods or ideas. However, it is essential to learn from these mistakes and prevent future occurrences. People grow by learning from their mistakes.

If an employee keeps on making the same mistake again and again despite training, coaching and direction, that is not acceptable. This no longer is a process of learning. It ultimately hurts the organization.

Making a mistake is acceptable. Not learning from that mistake is bad; making the same mistake repeatedly is worse.

Ravi Patel

Being or Doing Right

In entrepreneurial companies who is right should not matter as much as doing what is right. How does this actually work in practice?

If the Entrepreneur has created a culture of favoritism and is partial to employees whom he/she likes, then who is right will take precedence. Employees will try to prove they are right to win favors with the Entrepreneur and might even try to put others down. Not a healthy environment!

On the other hand, if the Entrepreneur has established a culture of teamwork and continuous improvement, then what is right will prevail. There will be more emphasis on doing the right things for the company rather than establishing who is right. In this case it becomes a win-win situation!

What would you rather have? Being or doing right?

Ravi Patel

Simplifying Your Business Plan

Upon hearing “Business Plan,” Entrepreneurs get worried that they might have to compile a thick document with graphs, projections and glossy visuals.

Having a business plan is conceptual. If you don’t have a plan in your mind that is crisp and to the point, generating lots of words (and graphs, spreadsheets, visuals) on paper isn’t going to make it better.

A simple business plan includes:

  • What are you doing? Describe your product or service in simple , non-technical terms
  • Why are you doing this? Is there a need in the market place? What is the size of the market or need? What share do you expect to get? Are there competitors? Why are you better? What challenges/barriers are there? Do you have proprietary technology?
  • How and where are you going to do this? Describe your organization to design, manufacture/provide, deliver/distribute your offering. What are your selling channels and how will you reach your potential customers?
  • Whom do you have to support you? Review your management team and key personnel
  • What are the economics? How will you make money and how long will it take? How much do you need and how much will you make? How realistic are your numbers?

That’s it – plain and simple. If you have thought through all these questions you are almost there. Practice your pitch and perfect it. Now put it in a nice, readable, short presentation and you are done.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on February 16, 2021 at 6:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Attitude Affects Performance

Does employee attitude have anything to do with performance? Definitely!

Employees with positive attitudes about themselves, towards the company and their fellow employees have the capacity to perform at a higher level.

So what could Entrepreneurs do to improve the attitudes of their employees?

It is essential to have an understanding on how your employees feel about the company and their fellow employees. Using your HR department to conduct formal and informal surveys could help this effort. If affordable, it might be a good idea to have an objective, outside party conduct such surveys.

Supervisors should be sensitive to the problems faced by employees outside their work and how they might be affecting their performance. If the performance of an employees does not meet expectations, determine whether it is related to the abilities or skills of the employee or whether it is related to his/her attitude.

Entrepreneurs based on collected data should develop programs that improve employee attitudes thereby enhancing performance. It is by no means a one-time effort, but should be reassessed and revised  periodically.

Ravi Patel