This blog-post includes the most important business lessons that I learnt in last 8 years by running multiple startups/ projects namely ( Qwerz, Startup4Startup, MDU.li, Uni2vesity, SocioMedio, SkilledInterns ).
1. Name your Startup carefully: Due diligence must be done when you are naming your startup. Name of the Startup will give about the type of product / services you are planning to offer.
If you name it in rash or the name is unrelated to business, chances are there that you will end up causing confusion to your prospective clients which should make it hard for you to turn that into a solid brand.
2. Focus on a niche market: Since you are starting up new, you might not have deep pockets, latest technology, etc. Therefore, if you are bootstrapping or you are looking for a faster growth rate then as per my experience, growth rate in niche business is higher since you are already focussing on very limited audience and offering specialised product / service that your competitors might not be able to offer anytime soon.
When you are offering multiple services in multiple domains i.e. product offering is generic, growth rate will be less/ slow and easily you will burn out all cash.
3. Never run out of Cash: When you bootstrap, you will always have limited money to sustain for limited period of time. You must work hard ( adopt the Japanese/ Chinese startup work culture - 9 to 5 is basics,to start with). You must hustle, meet new people, explore, talk to media guys for free PR, pivot the business plan, get feedback from your users, research, analyse if you are moving in right direction, etc.
Consequences – If you won't maintain a speed then you will end up burning all of the money and your team, startup will starve to death.
4.Document your business processes: Document Agreements – Documentation is critically important for every professional setting. So it has to be made compulsory for every business dealing no matter the size of the deal.
Why? Because verbal agreements are harder to prove and things must be in black and white so that it can be presented in the event of dispute. Both parties are clear about their deliverables which is very important. Always have exit clauses for any unforeseen circumstances and also have liability constraints. Put in a clause about yearly increment in costs.
Document Processes – Document every minute details of all the processes you have in your startup. Why? Because you won't like to repeat briefings to your staff again and again. You can have SOPs ( Standard Operating Procedures ) for different departments to ensure smooth and streamlined functioning and to track the progress efficiently.
5. Have minimum commitment time with your startup: When you startup, stick with it dedicatedly. If you will keep on working on multiple startups simultaneously then chances of being successful in any of them would be marginal.
Startup is a baby, and your startup is yours. It needs to be grown with extreme care. You need to raise one a bit old to gain experience and replicate. If you will try raising 5 babies at once, then you will be surrounded with lots of noise and shit. Master the art of raising startup by successfully raising at least one.
6. Choose your co-founders carefully: In the past, I started startups with different founders. And the process was maddening. We are human beings and human beings are egoistic, afraid of risks, expects massive returns from zero investment and expects success quickly!
When you are choosing your co-founders give stress on : their vision and synergies you can find while working together. Quite often, great buddies make bad partners so document every clauses carefully in the partnership agreements in order to create a boundary between your personal life and the professional one.
It's advisable to have co-founders expert in different skill set than you. Why? Since you are startup, you will be having limited capita. Having co-founders good in different complementary skill sets will add more value to the business than having multiple ones having same skill sets.
1. There might be times, when people wants to join as partners without investing any capital. You may offer some sweat equity but calculating that is tricky and complicated.
2. Paul Graham suggests that you should offer partners equal equity in order to ensure that their commitment to the startup is utmost. You can release the equity overtime, however.
7. Seek Help & Help others: There might be times when you would need help. Don't over think. Approach someone who you think can help. Seeking help is a must and we are human beings and we need help.
Just in case, you are looking for some help and you think I can be of any help, feel free to write at email@example.com
I hope this will help you understand why things don't work out initially in the startup world and hopefully you won't repeat these mistakes which I did.
Read more of my blog posts on topics such as Startups, Digital Transformation, Digital Marketing, Data Science, Analytics: http://bit.ly/2RqFXKq
I was tired, tired of starting up and not sticking to the plan in multiple projects / startups ( Qwerz, Startup4Startup, Uni2versity, SkilledInterns, SocioMedio ) which I started starting back then when I was a sophomore.
Eventually I lost all of the efforts and time I put in, in those projects. I started with an online community to connect students of my university. One after the another I was starting up and loosing my faith in them perhaps because of instant gratification we human beings suffer with. But the learnings I had from them were tremendous since all mistakes i was committing were very new to me. I also learnt to fight with every limitation I possessed and I kept on starting up and giving up on them.
I was exhausted and I wanted to surround myself with positivity. That’s when Jagriti Yatra happened to me. A train yatra full of young, bright minds from all parts of India, which have big dreams and passion to transform our India. It started in Mumbai with amazing classical performances done by TISS students, inspirational sessions by people like Indian chiefs of Rolls Royce, Indian Railways shared about their vision about India and how Youth of India will transform India in years to come. , Devdutt Patnaik brilliantly illustrated how Indian history ( also read as mythology ) resonates with the business culture. The ceremony left us awestruck and we were very inspired already and were curious about what all will happen with us in coming days.
When I ran out of ideas, It seemed like Jagriti Yatra planned it all, already. Soon I was going to discover that Jagriti Yatra was having tonnes of them inside it’s coaches of the JY train.
Focusing on various Industrial vertices like Energy, Water and Sanitation, Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, etc., we were given exposure to all domains. We were actively following the domain we were passionate about and passively understanding nuances of other verticals, directly from the founder of the organisations.
They shared with us their past experiences, how their maniac work culture, ethics, perseverance and integrity helped their baby organization to become such a massive organization which empowers the community directly. Food was delicious and it was ensured that we eat what people in the same State eats. So imagine eating Idli Sambhar when you are arriving at Bangalore and Dal Baati with lots of ghee when you are crossing Rajasthan. It was absolutely blissful. When we reached Delhi, In Goonj’s Office we watched a movie of Our National Anthem “jan gan man” performed by deaf and dumb children through hand gestures” which touched our hearts and the founder's advice to chase our dreams with all zeal and enthusiasm, is the message we carried to Rajasthan where we met the founder of Barefoot College.
What he did was something which is unique in very true sense. He empowered illiterate grannies from all over the world and made them skilled enough to build solar panels which were mechanical and which revolved around in direction of the sun with great precision. That absolutely stunned all of us. Perhaps that’s the reason why Tilonia is such an important Case Study for many NGOs and Social entrepreneurs. Every place we went to, we were coming across very unique case studies, each of them demonstrating how a single person with great courage and good team can change the lives of their community.
We also learnt about people whose heart got broken while seeing pains of others, so much that they worked tirelessly in order to eliminate these problems to ensure better lives of others. Clothes as a commodity is unheard of. Goonj managed to make villagers earn a piece of cloth for them by working for it, for their own community, in their very own village by building Roads, Bridges, Huts. This certainly reminded us of how important clothes are for people who are deprived of them.
When we were out of ideas or when we needed inspiration, we were showered with them, not only we learnt about Healthcare at Aravind Hospital which works on cross-subsidized model, helping poorest of the poor get their eye's operation done , we learnt about how Bio Gas Plants function. We also learnt about importance of clean water by knowing how Water borne diseases were jeopardizing the health of villages who were deprived of clean water.Whenever we visited villages, We were given opportunities to talk to them. They were sharing their stories, things about their daily lives.
Instantly, I could connect with these villagers and the problems they were facing and somehow I eagerly wanted to remove the pains from their lives. That’s when I was discovering myself and the reason of my existence.That was my Jagriti in true sense and I could find it through Jagriti Yatra.Though being an introvert, I talked with so many fellow Yatris and made some life long friends. Also, being an alumni of JY, one becomes a part of Jagriti Yatra’s fraternity which is always welcoming and shares the same spirit like oneself and hence in every part of india, we have a family to talk to and to live with.
I miss my JY days, and indeed every Indian should be part of Jagriti Yatra at least once in their lifetime.
JY Alumni 2013
In this hyper competitive global market, businesses have to become efficient in the organisational operations and processes so that they can maintain their competitive edge.
Digital Transformation is the process to transform the way business functions as newer technologies are adopted at departmental and operational levels to improve the operational efficiency.
Digital Technologies impacts the functioning of departments directly and helps in automation of manual tasks so that employees can work on tasks which are more valuable and requires critical decision making.
One of the main goals for any leading organisation is to always stay ahead of competitiors in terms of adoption of latest technologies which isn't a very easy feat to accomplish as top to down adoption requires intensive capital, time and planning in implementation as well as the stokeholders need to be ready to get re-trained and to adopt new processes as most of the times business processes have to be altered/ rewritten entirely to optimally digitalise them.
Digital Transformation directly impacts the top/ bottom line as the organisations observes increase in revenue, significant costs cutting as a result of automated and improved processes.
Some use cases of digital transformation:
- Businesses these days are sitting on gigantic amount of transactional/ customers data and getting insights from those can lead to immediate strategic changes as well as growth in profits.
- Analytics is another function which can impact the top line of any business almost immediately. Historical data can be used for trend analysis as well as forecasting which can help in optimising the demand/ logisitics and thus operations would get more efficient.
- Implementing Cloud organisation-wide can lead to huge increase in productivity as that's the most reliable to way to store data which can be accessed by global teams. This also helps in preventing critical data loss because of natural calamities so less amount of efforts needs to be put on disaster management and recovery mechanism. Cloud also helps in collaboration among the workers so they can work on the go and there is no time wastage during the commute.
So if you have been wondering about Digital Transformation until now, it's the time when you start researching about it and kickass your organisation's Digital Transformation Journey.
After a decade-long sleeplessness (sleeping less than 6 hours and sometimes even 4 hours) - I had incapacitated my mind and body so much that my memory weakened and dark circles emerged and I don't know what all internal damage that might have occurred - all of that in a hope that I could beat the system, work long hours and achieve greatness. But not sleeping well was degrading my body - my eyes were perpetually fatigued and although I knew about the harmful effects of not sleeping for 8 hours, I just ignored it all.
Now, I am forcing myself to sleep for 7 hours at least ( going to bed without my mobile phone at 10 PM and waking up at 5 AM while only carrying an analog watch ). Waking up at 1 PM / 2 PM to work for a while stresses your mind and eyes so well that for the rest of the day you will feel the pain in both of them.
Chances are there that you are not facing much of it right now, possibly because you are 18-27 when even I didn't feel any of them but as you age further - your body will start rusting down, not sleeping well acts as a catalyst and destroys you prematurely.
“Insufficient sleep in youth raises multiple public health concerns, including mental health, substance abuse, and motor vehicle crashes,” said senior author Elizabeth Klerman, MD, PhD, director of the Analytic Modeling Unit, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Source.
So much sleep is optimal?
Adolescents require 8-10 hours of sleep at night for optimal health, according to sleep experts, yet more than 70 percent of high school students get less than that. Source.
Not sleeping for 8 hours leads to numerous problems: learning difficulties, impaired judgment, and risk of adverse health behaviors. Moreover as stated by NeuroScienceNews, people who slept six hours or less were twice as likely to self-report using alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs, and driving after drinking alcohol as that of the ones who slept eight hours.
Therefore, it is must to sleep for not less than 8 hours at any given day.
Some new learnings/ observations:
1) Sleep well, do all the high-intensity work in the mornings. The ideas/ thoughts will keep on pouring. Go out and take a deep breathe and start working on your goals and dreams with all the might.
Resources to read more about sleeping well: