Fortune shares business lessons from Game of Thrones

You know that, as an entrepreneur, business lessons can come from anywhere – even one of the most popular shows on TV today. We had fun reading a recent article at Fortune, titled “‘Game of Thrones’: A business leader’s guide.”

As we prepare for Sunday’s third season premiere, let’s consider the rival claimants, power brokers, and schemers in the show based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. What can today’s manager learn from these feuding fantasy clans? Quite a lot, actually. Here are five key leadership lessons we can draw from their trials.

We won’t share any more excerpts, since the article assumes you’re all caught up on Season 2. If you are – check out the article.

What do you think of the business lessons learned from Game of Thrones?

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A closer look at female entrepreneurship and success

Female entrepreneurs make an outstanding contribution to the Canadian economy, their local communities and their families. It takes a special combination of skill and ability to manage the demands of entrepreneurship or self-employment while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Women seem to be masters of multi-tasking – running a small business, many from home, while juggling the demands of young families and aging parents. Many men have these abilities too, but the success rate of female-run micro-businesses is higher than that of men – making us want to investigate the characteristics of female business owners more closely. Let’s look at some recent research on female entrepreneurship and success rates from Dr. Robert Hisrich’s The Female Entrepreneur:

  1. Female entrepreneurs as a whole undertake more research and planning in the pre-start-up stage of their businesses. Women are generally willing to spend more time to lower the risk of an action than are men. This is one of the reasons for the higher level of success of female-run businesses – we know that planning, research and preparation is associated with higher levels of success in small business.
  2. Women are in general well organized and good time managers – additional demands placed on women due to multiple and overlapping roles they may fill in their lives, particularly if they have a family. Small business success requires development of exceptional organizational and planning skills, and women who hone these skills in their daily lives seem to transfer them naturally to business.
  3. Women tend to be more conservative and manage cashflow and budgets well, particularly in the early stages of business development. This bodes well for the bumpy ride of early-stage entrepreneurship, when making do with what you have or stretching your dollars can mean the difference between success and closing up shop.
  4. Women, in general, are more likely to seek advice and counselling in business sooner and more often than are men. The propensity for men to try and figure it out on their own in business is one of the factors that lead to higher levels of business failure for men.
  5. Women’s communication styles are more likely to be collaborative than competitive. Women emphasize relationship-building, team-building, collaboration and co-operation more often than men in business.

Of course, Dr. Hisrich points to areas of weakness for most female entrepreneurs as well. Things we need to work on are: negotiation skills, developing stronger business networks, taking more calculated risks (like obtaining a loan to grow a company’s product line or marketing strategy), and becoming more comfortable with the financial and accounting functions of our companies. In 2010, we compiled a list of challenges faced by female entrepreneurs, and we think many of them are still prevalent today.

Do you have any female entrepreneurship success stories? Are you, or do you know, a female entrepreneur who’s got a great small business? Sound off in the comments!

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Managing small business risk and uncertainty

It’s no surprise that being an entrepreneur means opening yourself up to risk and uncertainty – you come up with a great small business idea, spend time and money planning and then hang your shingle. Every day is different and, most often, challenging. But how much risk or uncertainty can you handle? How do you manage it?

What entrepreneurs surrender

We’re entrepreneurs too, so we’re familiar with the allure of starting your own business: Doing what you love and setting your own rules. However, we also know that starting your own business means giving up the security of set working hours, a steady paycheque and a relative amount of job security.

When starting your own business, you may use some of your own money to get going. You may not have an income for several months as you build momentum. These factors are the basic items of risk and uncertainty you can face in small business. There’s also the potential for a lack of structure, order and organization. Not to mention the small amount of worry that accompanies any new venture.

Don’t lose heart! Yes, it’s true that small business owners must be able to handle risk and uncertainty, but this skill is something that can be learned.

How entrepreneurs can manage risk and uncertainty

Here are a few tips to help you better handle the risks and uncertainties of entrepreneurship:

  • Learn creative ways to manage difficult times. No marketing budget? Try free avenues like social media and word-of-mouth.
  • Change your perspective. Can an unpredictable business situation lend itself to innovation or a great new invention?
  • Surround yourself with a strong support network that includes both trusted professional contacts and loved ones.
  • Make time for yourself. We know it can be difficult to turn off the worried part of your brain and spend an hour walking in the park, but trust us – a clear head is much better suited to evaluating risk!
  • Practice adaptability. Keep track of what’s happening in your business environment and you’ll be better prepared to anticipate or react to uncertain times.
  • Know your business inside and out. Understanding what your business is all about and what is best for it will help you take more manageable risks.
  • Don’t do anything on impulse. Some clichés are also just true, like the one that goes, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Sleep on it, plan it out on paper or speak with trusted advisors before jumping in.
  • Have a Plan B. And a Plan C too. What will you do if your new line of wedding invitations aren’t as warmly received as you’d hoped? Always have backup plans for a new product or service.
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