Monday, 27 December 2010

Is Google App Engine an Option for Startups?

If you look for rules and regulations of Google App Engine you might feel you are being restricted too much. Apps only work as callbacks and must respond within 30 seconds, no file system write access, cannot create a thread and so on.

Lets look at what all GAE offers. It is Platform as a Service solution that offers massive and flexible scalability to your web app. It supports Java and Python as well as third party APIs as long as they do not violate sandbox rules. With JVM compatible compilers and interpreters you can use other languages such as Javascript, Scala and Ruby. Besides Python framework 'webapp' other frameworks like Django work well with GAE. You get to run web apps on Google's infrastructure, which is based on cloud computing. There you go, so easy to get started! There is automatic scalability, reliability, performance and cost efficient hosting. Also Eclipse plugin is available for GAE project and servlet version 2.5 is supported.

Datastore plus Bigtable gives great scalability to Google App Engine. Unlike the relational database technology datastore can scale horizontally. Bigtable allows infinite number of rows and columns and new columns can be added on the fly. It scales out by adding more servers to the datastore cluster. GQL has SQL like syntax and intentionally does not support query joins. So overall there is not much of learning curve involved. This is very much the case with startups where they can neither afford to have buffer nor to devote time for learning phase.

You focus on development and let Google take care of IaaS complexities! That is so conducive for startups. If you look at the goodies provided by GAE- Memcache, URLFetch, Task Queues, Cron Jobs and the list is apparently endless. So what are you thinking? Go grab the advantages of GAE!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Idea Sense

We are surrounded by ideas from all sides. In fact so much that ideas float around us like air! Many a times we even don't tag an idea as 'idea' and don't pay heed to it. But the same idea converted into implementation can bloom. Had you imagined sharing what is in your mind(or rather 'on' your mind) a few years ago? The same would have appeared stupid that time, but now see how much it has flourished. You can tweet, chirp (or even bark!!) what you feel about literally anything.

It needs a sense to grasp and conceive ideas. To utilize an idea you need a bit of foresight. To foresee what might be useful to janata is one part. The other part is making the materialization of our idea appealing to users. The appeal factor plays a vital role in acceptance of what we've built. Repetition is one of the ways that we bombard use of something and make others use it. You've to make them realize how useful and fruitful your product is. Afterall idea cannot be good or bad.

Not necessarily we get ideas from folks belonging to our stream. It can be anyone whom we interact with that leads to triggering of idea in our minds. Some people prefer to go in seclusion to think of an idea while in most of the cases, in my opinion, it just clicks anytime anywhere. The more I try to think of an idea the less it comes to my mind.

It is all about having a perspective of looking at an idea.....that decides whether to cultivate it or simply leave it. Ignite the ideas by implementing them and get them cracking and flying high!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Project Hosting Repositories for Startups

If you ask my favorite version control then it is undoubtedly ClearCase. But having any of the CVS/SVN/other server dedicated for version control is an overhead for a startup. There are many free ones available which let you host your project repo. So why not opt for them?


Google code is a very clean option, especially for open source projects. Next question that strikes is do startups work on open source projects? Interestingly the answer is yes. Take the example of online gradebook startup LearnBoost (of course many advantages come attached with 'open source'!). Your code is more visible and searchable. Google Code Search is one of the major contributors to make it searchable. Github is also a good option. It hosts private as well as public repos. There is no hard and fast space limit. Of course the open source projects enjoy the freedom of no space limitation on github. Initially SVN users had learning curve with github since it was built on git. But now the support is extended to mercurial as well as SVN. So yes github proves to be a good option. Assembla is a very good option if the startup is not working on an open source project, which most of the times will be the case! For SVN users this is a very good option. Space limit is 2GB for a workspace, which is much more that what will be usually required.


Many more options are available for startups. Certain points like code review and colloboration can become major decision making factors if that is the need.


Multiple options are driving me crazy....which version control system are you using?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Quitting Entrepreneurship for a Lucrative Job

Have you even been in such a dilemma- you're an entrepreneur and have high aspirations of doing good in it but get a very luring job offer. Should you go for the job offer or say strict NO to it?


There cannot be a rule of thumb which can decide go or no-go for job. Certain things can be taken into consideration while taking this decision. In the following listed scenarios I'll opt for job. I've spent more than enough time, which again is my own deadline and target, and not able to achieve even a bit of what I aspired for! I know I need to adopt knack of certain things as an entrepreneur, but this job is offering me role where I'll get deep insight in such areas. My re-entrance as an entrepreneur after this job will give me better path. Lastly if my entrepreneurial journey so far has arrived me at conclusion that it is not my cup of tea, then a complete green signal for the offer!


On the other hand I'll have strict No for the offer if I have high aspirations as an entrepreneur and feel that doing job will deviate me. The job might be offering me good remuneration but the role is again what I already have hands-on of and no new exposure. I'm not constrained by any factors like time, time and/or money allows me invest me more of it with calculated risk.


Whatever be my decision, whether to accept the offer or not, I'll not forget that after all my stint as an entrepreneur is a major factor in giving me the lucrative job! 

Friday, 10 December 2010

MBA Required for an Entrepreneur?

If you are applying for job (especially in Indian industry) you'll be considered eligible if certain checkboxes are checked. One of those checkboxes is having some xyz degree. Not all the employees in Google or Facebook have a degree while I wonder if there is anyone in Infosys or IBM without a degree! There is big difference in approaches though all these are counted as successful companies. The question here arises whether the positions are given based on degrees or based on abilities!


Doing management prior to your step into the entrepreneurial world will lay basic foundation and give you guideline about which skill-sets you need to sharpen. If you are doing management from reputed institution then there is high possibility that you'll get the required "environment". That environment is a result of aspiring entrepreneurs around you, mentors to share their business experiences, encouragement for innovation, competitive feeling and much more! Having known about Dos and Don'ts will of course keep you at a distance from n number of pitfalls.


There is also a counter thought that we can learn almost everything from experience. We need not go for formal management training. We learn a lot(more) from hands-on experience....(plus get the "experienced" tag against your name, though not degree!). 


After all was Microsoft or Apple started by folks who had degrees?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

When An Idea Starts Bothering You The Most....

An idea has been occupying your mind round the clock. Should you just ignore it or consider it seriously?


When an idea bothers you to a high level start validating the idea. See whether it really solves the existing problem or gives any ease in doing current process. Idea validation phase will involve a lot of market research. If your idea is totally out of the box take into consideration the acceptance factor too. To make users accept and like it prepare a strategy how would you market your product. It may take time for your product to acquire the market or even to be accepted. Just like the 'Free Hugs' campaign by Juan Mann....but eventually it did spread wide!


If all the factors are working in your idea's favor- valid, worthwhile, acceptable and rest of prerequisites also satisfied then take the idea to next phase....next to simply thinking about it! And once you step into the next phase do not be skeptical or pessimist about it. The said statement is equally applicable in such case- 'Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards'!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Web Apps without Social Flavors??

Have you noticed that even the websites which are not categorised under 'social networking' have socialising features? Take the popular online shopping master Amazon itself.


Leave aside the sites like company websites. They are most of the times expected to have company info and at the most email sending facility. Most of the other sites if you notice, will have some or the other social feature- chatting, connecting to people, following, rate, like, share, comments, reviews, collaboration. Entering feedback- review and rate is commonly available facility. I value rating so much that it becomes a judgement point for me whether to download/add an app or not from Google apps Marketplace or Chrome Extensions gallery. In my opinion there is even a need of 'social wiki' rather than just a 'wiki'. You might get multiple wiki pages for same search content. Would it not be nice to go and read the highly rated ones!


Do you think that any web app will flourish in present market even without any of the social networking flavors? I feel as though it has become a mandatory feature to have in any web app! Not that an enterprise app will not succeed without these features. But integration of social layer will add value to it!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Do we really need an Idea for StartUp?

Now a days I feel funny recollecting my earlier(earlier for me is 2-3 years ago) concepts about prerequisites for being an entrepreneur. You need to have some extraordinary idea, it should be so fabulous that anyone who listens to it should utter wow!  I also used to feel that the idea should be totally different than what is being currently available. 


I revisit those numerous thoughts to check out which one really stands true. Consider the example of social networking sites. There are many existing, some were launched in the market even when rest of them with similar features already existed in the market. It is not true that the ones launched first were only the successful ones. Even the later ones made a mark and have huge fan following. This makes me strike out the points that the idea should be totally different. Also you need not be the first one to launch the solution!


Suppose you decide to work an idea that is really brilliant. You've just started developing it. But in the mean time a similar product is launched in the market which has got tremendous positive response from public. You start feeling that your product, when developed, will stand nowhere in front of this one. Or may be the estimated cost of your product is much more than this released one and hence no one will opt for yours. With all this unexpected in between you may decide to quit working on your really brilliant idea, which might prove to be a good decision from practical perspective. You start thinking of an alternative task to work upon. Then where is your so-called extraordinary idea in the picture?


You may prefer talking to your connections and finding out what do they need in their current working scenario. That accelerates your thought process of what to develop. You may even want to build a solution that is totally as per your customer's requirement. So does your own idea come into play?


At least I've thrown away my concepts about need of an idea for being an entrepreneur. Do you think differently?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Should you go for Venture Capital?

Yesterday when I attended a conference organized by a renowned Venture Capital firm it appeared to me that the speakers are very good marketing folks! After all money with VCs is pooled from other big firms or sometimes individuals too, and they have the pressure of investing the amount. Quiet obvious VCs are answerable to those from where they gathered money, just as the company they invested in is answerable to the VCs. 


If VCs say no to you do not misunderstand that your product has no future. They look for investing in companies which give them high return on investment- at least twice of what they've invested. For an entrepreneur who wants a limited growth, do not look for opening IPOs few years down the line better approach angels. 'limited' in case of 'limited growth' may not necessarily mean you are incapable of managing bigger business. You might want growth of your company keeping your basics intact. 


Entrepreneurs who have already undergone these rounds of funding experience that VCs dictate the terms of company. This is done under their claims that they've global recognition, better contacts and greater experience in promoting the business. But there is no hard and fast rule about what all decisions vest on the VC. It is all a matter of negotiation!

Which of your Ideas be Picked

You've got multiple ideas for implementation. Your first step as an entrepreneur which one of those should you choose?


If you are extremely passionate about one of your ideas and are desperate to start with it then get cracking with it! But be sure that you'll not be perturbed whether that idea succeeds or fails. In case where you are bothered about cashflow pick the idea whose development time is minimum. It will be launched in market soon. Added advantage will be it will work like breaking the ice for you as an entrepreneur. It will create your presence in the market.


Ideas that involve considerable research, plus development time is also huge, may start bothering you about cash inflow. If revenue is a major consideration factor then choose the idea which will get you maximum inflow. This will help in continuing you with further ideas.


Working on idea that is in some niche area has its pros and cons. Advantage to you will be less number of competitors. Possible threat is huge difficulty in acquiring even a single customer!


Consider all the factors and choose the idea that fits optimum in your scenario.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Can be or Should be an Entrepreneur?

Who can be an entrepreneur? There is no written rule about it. But there are certain qualities commonly found among entrepreneurs. They have aspiration to convert their ideas into implementation, are hard-working, high self-confidence, self-motivated and innovative at thinking (and actually many more qualities to this list!). The mentioned traits are a must to have within a person who wants to be an entrepreneur. Most of the other qualities which are required for being an entrepreneur may not be necessarily intrinsic within a person, but can be definitely developed. 


What if you are innovative, hard-working, confident and motivated then should you be an entrepreneur? If you have a good job and happy doing what is assigned to you should you be an entrepreneur? Entrepreneur needs be have tremendous urge to work on his ideas and ability to take risks. (If you are not very comfortable doing just what is assigned to you and considering your boss's wish as command, then it is an add-on!). Are you open for change and can handle pressure and risks? If your answers are affirmative then you should be an entrepreneur!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Money as Goal of Business

I came across this statement written in bold letters at an entrepreneurship training institute- 'Join this course only if you have tremendous urge for money'! I was stunned by reading this. My perception about entrepreneur was totally different. Thankfully that perception of mine has not got modified till date!


Entrepreneur has urge for converting ideas into reality. That materialization is the real success. There might be other driving forces contributing to entrepreneurship like undertaking challenges or keen for change. You can consider money as one sweet fruit that you get along with your success. These days many people equate success to earning money. If that was the case then there are many more easier ways to earn money than stepping into entrepreneurship!! (No need to classify the ways as good or bad in that case ;)  )


When I asked a businessman whether money his main motto behind starting business, he poked fun at me saying no one is doing business for charity. Though I do agree that entrepreneurship is not for charity but setting ultimate goal as money will make your entrepreneurial roller coaster path even more difficult. Firstly because your concentration is diverted at two things at a time- work as well as money. Secondly any loss or unexpected failure of business is likely to upset you. Entrepreneur should be able ever motivated and not disturbed by ups and downs. And even if money is indeed your real goal just ensure that it does not distract you!


Even today I'm keen to hear from successful entrepreneurs what is(and was) their real objective on this path.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

When should you Decide to Quit your Job

It has been an evergreen topic of discussion- when should you quit your job and step into the entrepreneurial world. Those with contemporary thinking suggest that you should have earned enough money from your job so as to take care of your future. I gave thought on when should I call what I have as 'enough'. It dawned to me that in maximum cases answer will be 'never'! 


As our job experience and earning increases our hesitance to take such a big step of quitting job becomes tremendous. Also we get so used to doing what has been assigned to us rather than we doing with our own initiative that our inertia to step into a whole new world becomes greater. Industry experience that you gain from your job is of course useful to you as an entrepreneur.


In my opinion no time is a bad time to step into entrepreneurship. But just that you should have done some home work related to entrepreneurship while you are already doing job. Market research, preparing business plan, registering your company, disciplining yourself to achieve your targeted daily tasks are some of those things. Apart from these you should be familiar with things that you'll or most entrepreneurs need as they grow- rounds of funding, negotiating with clients or investors, maximum expenditure on acquiring a customer and so on. You should be well acquainted with terminologies used.


If you are done well with your entrepreneurial homework, have a realistic plan (industry experience will be an add-on) and are highly motivated who can motivate others too then thumbs up to you to quit your job and be an entrepreneur!

Drill Down the Web

Web is a huge storehouse of knowledge. Plenty of info is available as per your need. So why reinvent the wheel when others have already studied or experienced things. I do not totally agree with the proverb 'Experience is the best teacher'. Learning from other's experience is also a very teacher. Time is not unlimited with you to yourself experience everything! It is worth appreciating that people share their knowledge on web via various media like blogs or wiki.

Right from SWOT analysis and preparing a business plan to executing a plan, template and guidelines are available. You can even do market research with data on web. If you are planning to build a product you can study and understand what similar solutions are already existing in market. Many a times discussion forums can give you idea about what add-on feature should you provide in your product to make it stand out from the rest and appeal to users.

You'll get guidance about every action step on your entrepreneurial path from web content. Efficient use of it is equally crucial. During our job or college life we tend to spend countless time on networking sites. But as an entrepreneur you cannot afford that!Even though networking is important you should be firm not to waste your time on them. Networking sites are very addictive. For that reason I liked one of the chrome extensions which automatically stops traffic from networking sites after a fixed time interval.

Web is a 'khazana', utilise it to your best!

Negotiation Skills for Entrepreneurs

Will you, as an entrepreneur, accept whatever your client demands? Will you also agree with your investors' all terms and conditions? Just because you need investors or you need clients (and not vice versa generally) you should not be accepting everything. Does that mean you should argue or fight for your point? No you shouldn't do that. There comes your negotiation skills into play.


Negotiating is a skill because it should be a win-win situation for both the parties. You've to achieve that point of balance without hurting anyone and letting everyone feel like a winner. You should be able to start and be a part of healthy discussion. You should have multiple solutions for win-win situation. If you feel that the person in front is strictly NO about a certain approach propose the next one. Sometimes you might be in exactly opposite role, where the party you are dealing with is proposing various approaches to you. Before such discussions you should have spent enough time, thought, possible approaches as well as their pros and cons. That gives you capability to accept or reject something while the discussion is going on. So even though it appears that your decision is on-the-fly, it is instead very well thought of in advance. You can of course ask for time to think and decide upon a certain approach, when a path totally out of the way is suggested. But remember you cannot always do so! You might lose a deal just because you took time to take decision. In-between period might give your investor or client some party other than you. So even in case you are borrowing time to decide it should not be prolonged.


Having good communication skill does not necessarily imply you've good negotiating skills. For that you should be a good listener as well. Be open-minded and think logically. You might have to deal with many naysayers, be sure you don't get upset and apply your ability to convince at its best.


I always wonder whether ladies are good at negotiating since they are already so used to bargaining! I've still not come to any conclusion. What is your say?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Get Curious about Web Content

Most of the businesses are driven or influenced by internet. Even the archaic categories of business have their presence on web these days. This is Gen Y!


Even if you are not an internet entrepreneur you can use it for varied purposes like marketing and social networking. You can see what others from your field are offering customers. You can also modify your offerings accordingly so as to attract customers. Keep yourself updated with web contents, else you are almost invisible in market! 


If you look at updating yourself with web content from curiosity and eagerness perspective this will be a real enjoyment! You need not look at it from benefits point of view. There are passive and indirect benefits too. I get a revived zeal when I look at some newly launched interesting product. It inspires me to think out of the box and develop something interesting! The web content gives you a deep knowledge about what already exists, what is in demand and what succeeds or fails. You ask for something and you get more than what you asked for, this is the behavior of web content. 


Though it is more important for entrepreneurs it is needed for almost everyone to get curious about what is happening on web. You'll become more competent to survive in this competent world!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Does the best/unique idea win?

Most of the people think that your business will turn out to be successful only if you've some unique idea. But in reality this is not true. Having a unique idea does not imply that your business is going to successful! If you look around you'll realize that business with similar ideas have flourished in market at a time. Just take the example of social networking sites- there are multiple, all doing good (some even failed though).


There have been entrepreneurs who worked on unique and good ideas, but still failed. The culprits for failure might be varied and numerous like poor marketing strategy or not being good at user experience. On the contrary even mediocre products or business ideas have succeeded like anything when well backed up by excellent marketing! Stepping into the entrepreneurial world is being considered as mysterious because most of the  folks equate it with best unique idea! Not every idea will be necessarily just the only one of its kind. There have even been situations where competitor products have been launched later but have flourished more. It is more about how you grab attention and market than being different!

In brief there are many other factors which contribute to success of your business. Just don't wait for any strikingly different idea to get cracking.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Prioritize your Tasks

This can be considered as sequel of 'Time Management for Entrepreneurs' but explicitly focusing on prioritization of tasks. Success depends more on how smart you work than how hard you work. Setting up priority for your action items and undertaking them in accordance will help you work smarter.


The very first step is to jot down all your ToDos (It is usually good to consider week wise tasks). Against every ToDo write down the date of completion that has been committed or demanded by project plan. There might be certain action items which are interdependent or because of same resource involved need to be done one after the other. For this purpose it is helpful to categorize tasks as urgent or not urgent and important or unimportant. Whole of the set of tasks falls into either of the subsets created by convergence of importance and urgency.


The firefighting tasks fall into urgent and important block. If delivering something within committed time(deadline which is close by!) is going to give you cashflow then it belongs to this category. Urgent but not important are a collection of tasks like promptly replying to emails, attending calls for queries. It sounds odd to hear tasks also belong to not urgent but important category, but they do really speaking. Planning for a project, may it be setting phase by phase delivery plan or resource allocation, is extremely important but not urgent since the deadline is far off. Tasks which neither have urgency nor have much importance should not be removed from list. They have their own value which may not be seen immediately. It can include activities like updating yourself about new product releases or social networking.


Now once you've the list of tasks with their expected/crossed due dates and their urgency levels you can order your ToDos with their priorities. If there is some not so urgent task but which has dependents which have high importance or urgency then you should prioritize it up in the list. Finishing this activity will many important doors. Let's start working in organized and first things must come first fashion for better efficiency!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Conveying your Idea

As an entrepreneur you need to acquire the skill of conveying your idea, may it be for any reason- getting a business partner or building a team or convincing investors! I realized its importance from an experience at home. I'd made up my mind to quit my good job and work totally on my idea. When I discussed this with parents they came up with various questions, countering my points and I felt that my decision was indigestible to them. Then I gave some time to organize my thoughts. The next time when I started with the same discussion thread everyone at home was so convinced that they appreciated my decision. Such a drastic change!


I came across Einstein's statement while I was looking for adopting the skill of convincing- 'If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it'. To a large extent this is true. Where it is not true it might be because you've not fully thought of about your business and not organized your scattered thoughts about it.


While conveying your idea you should clearly specify how your product will fit in the current usage scenario and why your idea has ability to succeed. If you are presenting your idea to investor go fully prepared. Make your presentation short and sweet. But it should contain all the important points. It is of course good to be optimistic, but be realistic too. Investors are likely to have done more market survey than you, so they are likely to have better forecast! You should clearly highlight them three benefits of investing in your business and return of investment.


Get ready to be a good presenter and be a calm and composed person to participate in healthy business discussion!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Time Management for Entrepreneurs

A major change from being an employee to being an entrepreneur is you are yourself responsible for optimum utilization of time. In being an employee your day's scheduled is monitored by project plan, client's priority issues or your boss! As an entrepreneur we cannot afford to spend day just surfing net aimlessly.


Your tomorrow's task and schedule should be planned today. Don't tightly pack your day while chalking out the schedule. Keep some buffer as there will be interruptions and urgent issues to be taken care of which need your involvement. Prioritize your tasks, like you've to meet a prospective client at a particular time which is your top priority, then rearrange your work to achieve this. At the end of day mark out what all from you target list has been achieved. Brief analysis of total targeted tasks vs. actual achieved will help you plan in better and realistic way in near future.


If you are self employed and the sole person working then time management is a bigger challenge. You've your personal or household work on one hand while professional work on the other! You've to be stringent about what to do when. 


I've found Google Calendar and Gmail's Task very helpful- mark your time, strike it off once done and much more. Day ends with enormous satisfaction if all the properly lined up tasks get accomplished! 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Tweets You Like - Chrome Extension

Click to go to Tweets You Like



It is a very good quick link for Twitter addicts like me. There are 5 default topics set for seraching tweets- Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Chrome, Java. Clicking on Options link at the right top corner of the popup will take you to the settings page. Here you can change the 5 default search topics to your custom ones. Once you save them your topics will appear on the tabs. clicking on tab will show the respective related tweets. Latest 15 tweets appear in the list.


The best part I like about this extension is that I don't have to navigate to twitter page repeatedly, not even have to login! Just as and when I want to see tweets I click at this extension.
Here is the default view:




































Tweets containing 'Viracct' now appear under Viracct tab:


Give it a try, I'm sure you'll love this!


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Marketing Magic

You've got a nice product that has capability to attract customers. But what is the means to attract them and convert your prospective customers into real ones? Marketing!


We can segregate marketing into different stages. Very first is just about letting others know about your product or services. This can be achieved by various forms of advertising. If your prospective customers are internet users consider ads on websites. Marketing one step ahead is making presentations at conference or to one party at a time. If it goes good you can follow it up with telephonic calls and further appointments.


Marketing is a magic stick which can lure clients to the extent of selling comb to a bald! If your marketing strategy is not impressive enough it is equally difficult (and next to impossible) to get the client back once you’ve lost them. But just because marketing is a magic stick you cannot afford to spend enormously on it. To mark a ceiling to spending on it you need to consider cost of acquiring a customer (CAC) against lifetime value of that customer (LTV). If LTV exceeds CAC by a good margin you can make profit and call your expenditure on marketing worth it.


A step ahead of marketing is sales, which is the real transaction and outcome of marketing! Let’s take deep dive into it sometimes later.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Seed Funding for First Step Help

A very important factor for an entrepreneur is finance to back up the work. This factor is so crucial that it even makes a person decide whether to step into entrepreneurial world or continue with job!

No individual or company will invest a huge amount when a company is just started. So funding is looked at in steps, it changes with time and revenue. At the very initial stage when a product is to be developed or research to be done seed funding comes at help. Investment companies will not be interested in investing in this phase of your company as it won’t have promising returns. You’ve to convince people from your network about their safe and timely returns. You are bound to encounter surprises and shocks because of denials! You can even look for programs or companies like Y Combinator which are keen to train and fund start-ups. But again the key is you should have good idea or plan with you and should be able to convince!

Looking at general graph of revenue against time of a start-up seed funding gets the company going through the initial stage, till break even is achieved. Once that is achieved you can look at further rounds of funding with bigger capital involved!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Overcoming Frustrations in Entrepreneurial Phase

Why is overcoming frustrations being spoken about specifically for entrepreneurs? Is frustration in this phase different than those who encounter it when their business has already flourished? No, just that the experienced ones have found their own ways of dealing with frustrations!

First and foremost is to always keep on affirming positive things. Mind is the ultimate controller of you. You need to make conscious efforts of keeping it in optimistic state until it becomes a habit. Kill the frustration in your conscious mind itself so that it does not even enter your subconscious mind!

Frustration is a side-effect of facing an unexpected unpleasant/difficult situation or problem. In fact no situation in itself is good or bad. It is our mind’s perception that makes it good or bad. So eradicate the thought that whatever you are facing is unpleasant. The solution to our problem might be quiet simple. But the state of frustration stops us from thinking rationally. Take a break from your thoughts trying hard to get solution. This break can be as small as looking at something that you like and cherish a lot or bigger one like taking a round in garden! Just that the continuous lopsided thought process needs be cut off totally. At times when despite all this you don’t find solution consider getting help. This does not raise a question on your ability, but that someone’s experience or suggestion might prove to be valuable!

Another cause of frustration is imbalance of time/efforts versus its results. You expected results in proportion to the efforts that you’d put in, but results are apparently smaller. In such situations you can take it as learning as to what task to undertake and what to refuse. But as an entrepreneur you cannot start with refusals. So better do no repeatedly equate outcome against efforts and do not regret about your decision.

While in state of frustration you are most likely to forget that you’ve to repeat affirmations, take a break or recollect your success moments. So till it becomes a habit jot down what all helps you getting rid of frustration. Keep the points in a place that is visible to you and preferably to no one else (someone looking at it might poke fun at you due to which you would likely throw it off!). Be totally firm that you would not allow frustrations to stop you from setting further tasks or goals!

Choosing Your Business Partners

One of the very crucial decisions while starting a business is choosing the right business partner(s). That too it comes at the very starting point of your business! No two persons will have exactly the same ideas and same decisions. Despite this fact you can choose someone with whom you can get along with minimum clashing and get along well.
First and most important is there needs to an unwritten and unsigned bond of trust between partners! Without trust most of your energy and mind will get involved in being skeptic and keeping an eye on your partner. Ultimately your mind needs to be aloof from all this to take appropriate decisions.
It is better to find someone who is on similar ethical lines about business as you are. If you are firm to do a clean business while your partner is of kind who plays business as politics then it is the most horrible mismatch! It is very difficult to digest such things and equally difficult to mould yourself so opposite to what you are. So better don’t go for such partnering, better opt for partner with similar business goal and vision as you have.
Your partner should be a self-motivated person (so should you!). Rather than doing every activity as an assigned task he should be a person who takes initiative in doing tasks. Also your partner should be an optimistic person and who doesn’t get upset with every single bad experience. You cannot always keep on doing the job of motivating your partner and showing him a silver lining ahead.
It is also important that partner should be open to ideas and changes and not be sticking to his own point. Being adamant closes all the doors of healthy discussions and proper decision making. Ideas you might be working on might need shift of focus or modifications due to change in market trend or similar sudden successful product in market. See to it that the person you are partnering with is flexible enough, thinks out of the box and just does not just go with a set standard of thought process.
You and your partner as package should make a whole business go-getter entity. Some of the qualities will be found in one while some in other. Analyzing what is whose forte, you should divide activities. Partnering is ultimately a compromise as well as a mutual need. It remains healthy as long as trust sustains!

Friday, 15 October 2010

LinkedIn Recruitment Tool (unofficial)


In between this blog will also showcase some of the ideas like this:
 
 LinkedIn Recruitment Tool
 
1. Targeted to help recruitment professionals in segregating profiles from LinkedIn.
2. Bookmark public profiles (you do not have to request for a connection).
3. Assign categories to profiles. This is helpful in order to review/keep track of filtered profiles.
4. Add notes to profiles (e.g. number of years of experience).
5. Ease of maintaining candidates' info by saving their email and contact numbers.
6. Delete profiles from your list if you don't need them.
7. Offline access to your saved data. You can access your saved data without internet connection.
8. Remember Search button is not the ultimate solution when you have better tools available like this!
Click on the extension icon after you have browsed a LinkedIn public profile.
It will take you to the options page where you can enter the data you want to save.

Once you are done with your changes click on the save button(Close this new tab and continue with LinkedIn for more candidates).

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Contents of a Business Plan

Executive Summary should contain a gist of all the points mentioned below.

Overview of business should contain info like its type, on-paper stuff, location.

Clearly mention the kind of products of services your business will offer. If multiple, categorize them as per their domains or prospective clients.

Market analysis should highlight on how and where your business play a role and why customers will go for it. While doing this activity you will get acknowledged with what all similar or linked products or business already exists in current market (even those which you may not have heard till now but do manage to survive!)

In sales section include your marketing strategy. You can also specify whether you’ll go for paid advertisements or rely on mouth publicity.

Risk assessment needs to contain what all are the possible threats to your business and actions to mitigate them.

Funding is a very crucial part of any business. You should have estimate of money required to have all the resources required for your business. And as always here also goes the rule of thumb, actual costing always goes to the higher end of the estimate! Finance part of your business plan should also what is expected revenue in coming few years.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Why is Business Plan so Important for a Startup?

So much is being spoken about creating a clear and concise business plan. But let us first understand the advantages of have such a plan.

Funding is one of the main aspects for any business. If you go to any investor how do you project what you intend to do, in how much period of time and what are the action items? You need to present your business plan! There is another very great advantage of preparing a proper business plan is you yourself get clear vision. Many question arise while preparing it, you give deeper thoughts, do market research and arrive at conclusions. This helps you build a proper road map. Your efforts and money don’t go haphazard as you’ve clearly defined targets to achieve.

I often feel many similarities between business plan and a project plan....we often miss the deadlines, have to accommodate last minute as well as runtime changes as time demands!! Still we cannot decline that we don't require a project plan :) In its absence things would have been worse, so better spend time to prepare it and try achieving the targets. 

Business plan is like one of the initial steps without which you cannot climb up. It is worth putting time and efforts in preparing one before you get cracking to the actual stuff.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Self-confidence and Motivation

If you fall in diffident category don’t even think of stepping into entrepreneurial world! Achievements during job phase or academics can also contribute to build up self-confidence. Successful entrepreneurs are those who believe more in themselves and their abilities than treating it as a luck-game or gambling.

Advices are free of cost....you'll get to hear many as soon as you utter you've shifted your career as an entrepreneur from routine job one! It is interesting to note that most of these advices and suggestions will crush your enthusiasm and motivation- do you need a job; I can help you, we are not here for charity, how much are you earning now and so on.... I must appreciate the knack some people have in conveying all this that you lose all your confidence and faith (wish I could tell them upfront- you can sell comb to a bald, go into marketing ;)  ). You can either counter such folks, which may spoil your relations, or better turn deaf ears to them without letting their words hurt your confidence. Choice is yours :)

It is easy to get frustrated while it is equally difficult to keep one’s spirits high despite hiccups. If the leader is motivated he can motivate others in his team. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall! Aim to double your motivation level every time you rise from a fall. Affirmations can also help you remain unperturbed. Ultimately conscious mind influence our subconscious mind (...........& this subconscious mind has got a key to success!). I'm successful, I'm success; I'm confident, I'm confidence!!!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

People Management for Entrepreneurs


This is what I’m consciously focusing on these days. Just peep out from your normal work routine and there you see how important this is!

It is not just for managers but for any entrepreneur managing employees and dealing with people plays a vital role. You should be soft spoken at times while need to be equally upfront at other times. Irrespective of field it is ultimately the people who have to deal with. To convey anything properly it is mandatory to have good verbal as well as written communication.

Entrepreneurs should be the epitome of optimism. It is required to maintain positive thoughts despite set-backs. The environment or business meeting might affect your mood....but let that not affect your interactions with your colleagues. In a startup there is no such defined reporting hierarchy as in case of big organizations. So one person has to fit into multiple roles. Such environment asks you to manage people effectively as well as achieve the work delivery dates. If you cannot manage employees well they'll be doing work just as a duty and will have no sense of ownership and responsibility. 

To get best results and keep the staff happy get cracking on people management front!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Good Website for a Good Start

How often do you make first impression about any person or company looking at the website? I’m damn sure very often. So make your company website really good!

What all is required to say that a website is good? Here are certain brief points:

  • It should contain all due information about company’s expertise, domain, founders, where is it located.
  • If the bounce rate is high then it is high time to consider revising your website. Thanks to Google Analytics for letting us know the statistics of page visits! A good website makes you stay on it.
  • Pages should be updated regularly. Update the site timely to provide latest info about the company.
  • It will be an add-on if the website is made with attractive graphics. Folks do believe in ‘What you see is what you get’.

So get cracking on making your startup website nicer.