Gaurang's Thoughts

7 Business lessons I learnt after failing 7 times in Startup(s)

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 x2@gaurang.me
 
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

The need of Digital Transformation in 21st Century

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.

 

How not sleeping 8 hours a day destroys you mentally and physically?

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: 

1) TBA

Becoming a mentally strong person

Practicing becoming a mentally strong person.

When you have mighty goals, you got to be a mentally strong person, which basically means that you won’t give up after failures which you will encounter along the way.
You will plan ahead, carefully, will have paths set in the form of dots leading to your big goal and along the way you will keep on connecting the dots. Whenever there are failures encountered, new lessons will improve your path ahead which will improve your progress.

Thoughts and emotions are to be regulated and despite any hardships, positivity has to be kept round the clock.

Maintaining a inner dialogue while meditating on the progress works like charm. It helps you know yourself better, treat yourself better and all the positive message you can speak to yourself will have a healing effect on thyself.

A (wo)man is nothing without the people around. No one is truly self-made as there re contributions of so many. Regularly express gratitude to the people who supported you in your good and bad times. They are the ones who will help you grow further.

Everyone is vulnerable for one reason or another. The art is to get stronger in the strong areas and lesser vulnerable in other things. Your support group can fix those vulnerabilities as they may have strengths in the areas where you are weak and thus making you stronger than ever.

Knowing your strengths helps you in making crucial decisions. Mastering your strengths and getting stronger in them helps you in getting ready for all the opportunities around and you will be all ready to embrace them.

Having a belief system that you are worthy of all the goodness will ensure that you are all set to conquer whatever you want to. Having even slightest doubt leads to negative results.

Well, that’s something I have been trying to work upon and it’s more of a journey.

Are you with me in this journey?
 

Illiterate chooses a illiterate leader? - thoughts about democracy

An illiterate majority might/will always elect an illiterate leader. An educated one, however, will probably vote for an educated one. Getting out of clutches of poverty requires hardship and love for their country but when the countrymen are deprived of it, and are self-indulged, self-engrossed to make oneself richer, more affuluent than the fellow countrymen, the nation won't rise.

Not only the Industrial revolution in the USA but also deep love for their country along the countrymen's dream to become a global power made the USA one of the greatest countries in the world which was the case with UK, Singapore, Japan and all major developed economies. Countrymen respects their army, the leaders will give up their lives for their country but the case with developing countries is quite opposite as most of them are engrossed in corruption in different levels and just wants to stay lazy and make themselves rich.

Singapore had a great leader who took out his country from the clutches of poverty. Being such a small country - yet in a few decades they rose to prominence, to become one of the affuluent countries is indeed a big deal.

So why's that our India isn't rising to the top?

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p>Possibly because most of the leaders have become a road blocker/bottleneck for any possible development. There is a major red tape in all levels of government operations and all the departments works in silos and their pecular ways of functioning an

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