Presenting a Compelling Story

When raising money or making a pitch about their business, Entrepreneurs should resist the temptation to have a flashy PowerPoint presentation with graphs and charts.

Presenting milestones and data does not necessarily tell a good story. While such facts might reinforce your achievements, they do not tell the whole story.

Instead, build a story of how you achieved what you did. Lead the listeners through the process of what you went through to accomplish your milestones.

Building a compelling story requires the listeners to understand your skills, decision-making, and temperament.  Numbers alone can’t tell this. You need to lead the listener through your thinking process, challenges faced, and how you overcame problems.

Presenting a compelling story is more than charts and numbers. It is leading listeners through your journey while making them understand and believe in your capability.

Ravi Patel


Having an Open Mind

Similar to a parachute, a mind only works when open. Learning new things definitely requires an open mind.

Entrepreneurs do not know it all. The successful ones always keep on learning or find people who know more than they do. In both cases, Entrepreneurs need to have an open mind. Accepting new ideas through self learning or from others requires willingness to accept thoughts different from yours.

If one makes up his/her mind and refuses to entertain other ideas, learning is not possible. Moreover, the person might be viewing issues from a single perspective, his/hers only, eliminating the possibility of a well-informed decision or conclusion.

Entrepreneurs need to set their ego aside and seek and be open to advice from others. Keep an open mind to learn more and to be more effective in making decisions.

Ravi Patel



Published in: on December 10, 2013 at 5:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Data for Management Decisions

Companies install sophisticated financial systems to manage the growth in number of transactions processed. How relevant are such systems for management decision-making? Have you analyzed that?

In addition to managing operations, are financial systems in your company primarily for accounting purposes – reporting and compliance? Or, do they produce meaningful data for management decisions?

Historical data for reporting captures results at a point in time, and even then such data is not always timely for current decisions. What is necessary is data for meaningful analysis (customer, market, revenues, costs, expenses, margins and so on) that facilitates appropriate decisions and action by management.

If financial systems do not produce useful data in managing your business, you need to review such systems and make changes such that meaningful information is produced  on a timely basis to allow more appropriate management decisions.

Ravi Patel


Published in: on January 15, 2013 at 4:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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Being Decisive

A decisive person shows the ability to make decisions quickly but effectively. An Entrepreneur needs to be decisive to be a good leader.

Uncertainty in any organization is a killer. When an Entrepreneur takes too long to make a decision – either due to lack of knowledge or fear of making the wrong one, it creates a period of anxiety in the employees.

It is often better to learn to say “yes” or “no” more often than “maybe.” Your employees will respect you for making quick decisions even though you might be wrong sometimes. Procrastination is not an admirable virtue for great leaders.

Being decisive does not mean being impulsive or basing decisions on your gut feel. You need to consider all pertinent facts in arriving at the decision, but don’t over-analyze and delay unnecessarily.

Entrepreneurs need to lead by example. Being decisive themselves will instill the same level of rapid response in the rest of the organization.

Ravi Patel

Bias for Action

Entrepreneurs, generally speaking, like to get things done fast and are impatient for results. While that bias for action is often necessary for gaining competitive advantage, it has to be tempered with rational thought.

Certain events and situations call for quick action when thoughtful deliberation can be costly. However, major decisions cannot be rushed using a bias for action. Analyzing the pros and cons of various alternatives by soliciting input from key stakeholders is critical for the successful implementation of the optimal decision. Once the decision is made, a bias for action would be helpful for quicker implementation.

Entrepreneurs normally do not have to worry about this, but overdependence on rigorous analysis (or “paralysis by analysis”) prior to making decisions is not a positive leadership trait.

Have a healthy bias for action, but temper it with adequate thought.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 5:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Let your People Make Mistakes

In the early stages of entrepreneurial companies, Entrepreneurs often exercise strong control where virtually all decisions are made by them. Entrepreneurs are not yet ready to delegate responsibility and trust their people with decision-making authority. Entrepreneurs do not want their people to make mistakes.

That is no way to develop your people and grow the company. Entrepreneurs have to be willing to allow their people to learn how to make good decisions on their own. This may result in a few mistakes, but let those be learning experiences rather than creating an environment of fear to make decisions.

Entrepreneurs must let their people make mistakes and learn from those situations. There is nothing wrong in having checks and balances to prevent unchecked major mistakes hurting the organization.

Managing a growing company is akin to watching a child learn to walk. Parents allow their children to fall so that they can get up and learn to walk. Entrepreneurs need to do the same.

Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

Argue the Other Viewpoint

One often hears the phrase “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.” It is used when you are being encouraged to understand a situation from the perspective of someone else.

This can be useful advice for making important decisions. Generally one argues their own viewpoint well when a certain decision has to be made. However, in order to make the best decision, Entrepreneurs should consider arguing the viewpoint other than their own.

Making the arguments for a case different from their own allows the Entrepreneur to clearly see all sides of an important decision. Arriving at a decision after considering all viewpoints is best when one makes all the arguments as if they are their own.

Ravi Patel

Don’t Drop the Ball!

Entrepreneurs often juggle multiple balls at the same time. The trick for Entrepreneurs, similar to a professional juggler, is to focus and handle all the balls equally well without dropping them.

Entrepreneurs sometimes have a hard time balancing their multiple projects and goals. Too much emphasis on any one ball will lead to the others being dropped.

One needs to make sure that you only juggle a few balls that can be handled competently. Working on too many priorities might lead to dropping a few ones. Make sure that you don’t drop the critical ball.

Learn to prioritize and do fewer things really well.

Ravi Patel

Ready, Aim, Fire

An Entrepreneur client of mine is a passionate, innovative CEO with a bias for action.

While a seasoned executive will take a calm, thought-out approach to decision-making, akin to “Ready, Aim, then Fire,” my client likes to make quick decisions rather than deliberate for very long. He jokingly calls his approach “Fire, Aim and then worry about whether you are Ready or have correctly Aimed or not.”

Who is right? Entrepreneurs need to carefully blend both styles of decision-making depending on the situation at hand or surround themselves with advisors who can complement the Entrepreneur’s decision-making style. No one style is always correct!

Ravi Patel

Encourage Healthy Conflict

Entrepreneurs are often used to acting decisively, but often make their decisions alone without differing viewpoints. This works while the company is in the infancy stage, but prudent, consistent management requires input from various points of view before arriving at decisions.

Encouraging healthy conflict in your organization where diverse opinions and alternatives are sought is a recipe for long term success. Optimal decisions are made when multiple facets of an issue are considered by analyzing pros and cons. Surrounding yourself with people who mostly say “yes” to the Entrepreneur/CEO is not a healthy situation.

Productive conflict is healthy and beneficial for soliciting diverse thinking on issues. Arriving at decisions after considering all sides is optimal for a growing organization. Obviously, once the decision is made everyone needs to be aligned behind the decision. Conflict then is not healthy.

Ravi Patel