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'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.