Tag Archives: entrepreneur

MOIVATIONAL VIDEO

I just thought I will put up a motivational video to encourage you. Be a kid, not afraid of doing what you want, take any risk as you want. The video says it all.

You make the difference. It’s you!!! YOU!!

The video is brought to you by http://grasshopper.com/

You are Entrepreneurs!! Cheers!

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Why Startups Fail

I think, to succeed, we should know what failure is and what it takes to fail.

We look at numerous startups that fail. Why?

The first problem is a weak business model, market research and strategy.

As a startup, entrepreneurs have to operate with most uncertainty, they do not yet know who their customers are and what should their products be. A strategy can be worked out by accurate forecasting and planning, startup lacks those due to insufficient or no historical data to analyze.

An extensive process and management is required to apply all the above in startups. It may sound a little weird to perform analysis and derive forecast with no historical data, but this can be done on approximation to forecast closer to accurate. Knowing what your product should be and who the target customers are will help a startup to succeed. A market research and validation of product with the target customers is required at this phase.

The second problem is that early entrepreneurs may think of the traditional approach about managing a business is old school and follow the “just do it!” approach where things become less managed and more chaotic. “Just do it!” approach is essential to get started with your idea, but the same approach don’t apply when it comes to managing a business. Even if startups are excited and enthusiastic, chaotic management approach never work, it may seem very disinteresting to make all the policies and processes to run a business in an organized manner; however, it is essential. Keeping this right will help when the business is scaling. While the business is scaling, any entrepreneur will want to focus more on operations of the business instead of making policies and processes. Policies and processes are essential to run a business and if focused at startup phase, it’s more likely for a business to succeed.

The other problems arising later in a startup are product problems and capital. The key job of the entrepreneur here is to set financial milestones for raising capital. An entrepreneur should understand how much capital is left and should be able to analyze whether the remaining capital is sufficient to reach the financial milestone and a positive cash flow. A product problem may lead to a failure, the initial product that is launched may not be required by the market and hence is discarded by its users. This problem can be overcome by the entrepreneurs by validating their ideas with the customers before and during development. Later a feedback mechanism can be implemented to know the specific customer needs and make iterations to the product when required.

I found David Skok’s article on “Why Startups Fail” very helpful and also focus deeply on some additional aspects. Check out,  Why Startups Fail by David Skok

Benefits of a MVP

We always get to know of any startup or a product that succeeded, but we seldom find out which failed.

There are a few reasons for product failure or not succeeding as expected. In many such cases, the product managers or entrepreneurs tends to overbuild their first version of a product. There are a lot of factors which direct entrepreneurs towards the decision of overbuilding the product which majorly triggers due to certain fears; underbuilding, giving competitors a chance to develop a better product and failure of the idea.

It’s not that building a minimum viable product (MVP) will always lead to success; however, it increases the chances of success. Similarly overbuilding also does not guarantee a great product that the customers want.

Starting with a MVP will help with the below described benefits:

  • Bring more value to the product’s market value proposition

Starting with a MVP will help you define your value proposition in a precise manner and gives you a platform to test your vision for the market product. You will be able to define goals, decide what exactly needs to be developed to test your value proposition and also spend money and time efficiently.

  • Reduce rework

If you define your goals right and decide the exact requirement of the MVP, it help building a product enough to validate the hypothesis, if a rework is needed later, it’s minimal. The early customers are not looking for what you offer in your core product, they don’t buy your product for the core features you offer, instead, they are looking to solve their specific problems by using your product. Give exactly the same to them, a minimal product researched and designed to solve their problems.

  • Create customer relations at an early stage

Starting with a MVP will you get a chance to start building customer relations sooner, though the product can be adopted by only a fewer segments of customers. Early adopters are more likely to provide feedback and suggest what the faults in the product are and what other features are required to be built. This helps you validate your value proposition at an early stage. The constant feedback mechanism will help you know the customers’ needs and to create a well laid product development roadmap.

  • Bring focus to critical business functions (Sales and Marketing)

Sales and Marketing are the key functions of any business. A great product will not sell if these two functions do not perform. By starting with a MVP, you can shift more focus on sales and marketing. Doing so will help you test all functions of your business are performing well and in a collaborated manner before you start scaling up. The best way I could find is to scale sales and marketing to a level you see a conversion drop and then return focus to the product.

A MVP can simply be described pictorially as:

Minimum Viable product
Minimum Viable product

More insights can be obtained by understanding the principles of lean startup; they are:

  1. Entrepreneurs are Everywhere
  2. Entrepreneurship is Management
  3. Validated Learning
  4. Innovation Accounting
  5. Build-Measure-Learn

In my next article, we will discuss the principles of lean startup.

It’s time to Start!

I described in my early posts, what attitude it takes to say Just Do It! And what are the key traits to successful entrepreneurship. Today, let’s start building you, as an entrepreneur. It’s the time to Start!

Whatever idea you have to start-up a business with is great and you must believe in your idea no matter how many drawbacks you discover or people tell you about your idea. It’s your belief in your idea that will give you the perfect start.

“Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” – Henry Ford

Now, you have an idea, an insanely great idea and you believe in it, how do you start building a product?

This is where you have to be very patient and conscious. It’s your enthusiasm and curiosity about your product that is more likely to overpower you and lead you to taking wrong decisions and uncalculated risks. Remember to control your curiosity and enthusiasm, you already know that your product is insanely great, why to get over enthusiastic and curious about it. Keep the enthusiasm and curiosity to help you build a great product.

Let’s now see how we go by building your product in an organized manner.

Sit back and note down the idea in a descriptive way and categorize the idea into segments. Once you have this plotted, take some time and make iterations which you think you can. Once the iterations are made, you will be able to define your product. Following this simple yet critical task, you have defined your product and now have a blueprint to focus on.

Focus on what is defined lies the key here onwards.

Are you an expert on all what it takes to build your product?  No one is. So, the next important task is to divide your blueprint into several categories and find out which experts do you need to work with you on building the product. This is the most challenging part, you have to find great people just like you to work with you. Talk to people you know are great and make them believe in your idea and have them onboard. Thus you build a great team who now have the same vision and focus. Remember, a great team creates great products.

Always remember, the product is yours and you have to be in love with it and have to build it yourself as entrepreneurs, a great product can also be built by hiring people but then if you don’t build your own product, you just become the salesman of the product. If you build your product yourself, you will know what exactly your product is and not what you think your product is.

To sum it up; define your product, build a great team and build the product on your own are the 3 key to get started.

In my future posts I will discuss all the 3 steps to get started in detail.

For now, here is another inspirational video for you. Be inspired, Be an Entrepreneur.

The Success 3

On July 15, I shared the first insight on becoming an entrepreneur. Today let’s go through a few more examples and how the collaborative approach towards incorporating leadership and entrepreneurship skills from these people will help you become a successful entrepreneur.

The people who I am really inspired other than Sir Branson are; Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jordan Belfort and I think that they have left a great blueprint to follow for all of us.

Below are a few traits that are phenomenal amongst all of them and I would suggest be the basics for any entrepreneur. A combination of all of them would make you very successful.

  1. Vision and Imagination (The ability to create a determined and compelling vision for the future)
  2. Focus (The ability to stay away from distractions and focus only on your goals)
  3. Taking calculated Risks and adopting the right strategy.

In line with what keeps you motivated to become an entrepreneur, the next phase is to explore the above mentioned qualities in yourselves.

You all have these qualities in you, make them work for you!

Having a great vision and imagination does not work by itself, it has to be accompanied by Focus on your goals and once these two are in place, you need to learn is to take calculated risks and adopting the right strategy.

Taking calculated risks and adopting the right strategy is the only factor that would differentiate between success and failure in your entrepreneurial venture. Even taking calculated risks but not adopting the right strategy would lead to a failure and vice-versa.

Then comes Leadership,

Leadership is having a vision, being able to articulate that so the people around you can understand it and giving a consensus on a common vision. – Steve Jobs

In my further posts I would be sharing more about Vision and focus and later I would discuss some of the most effective strategies and risk taking attributes. All of these combined learning will help you as a start-up entrepreneur. Keep watching.

Here’s an inspirational video featuring Steve Jobs:

Just Do it!

The first thing, I would say to young aspiring people is start calling yourself an entrepreneur from the day you get your first business idea and you have a faith that your product will make wonders. This way you will be able to overcome all the discouragement that will come when you talk to people about your idea and the obvious answer you will get is: It’s not going to work! People have tried before. Listen to people and then just say this to yourself; “Screw it, just do it!”

Every one of us has an entrepreneur within us, it’s just that only a few have the gut to become one.

Here is a perfect example; Sir. Richard Branson. At the age of 15, Branson dropped out of high school to start his first business, a magazine for young activists titled Student. Four years later, in 1970, Branson began selling records by mail. In 1971, he opened his first record store. In 1972, he opened a recording studio. In 1973, he started his own record label. The Virgin business was scaling very high and if we look Richard was not even 24 that time.

Today, the Virgin Group is a well-regarded global conglomerate of about 350 companies, branching into the entertainment, travel, and mobile industries.

Not all of Richard’s ideas have been successful, Virgin Cola was unsuccessful and finally it shut down. But here is what Branson has about overcoming failures: “If you have enough determination…. It’s more likely that you will succeed because of what you learned from the occasions when you didn’t succeed, the most important thing is to not be put off by failure.”

Here is an advice video from Sir. Richard Branson for you to be motivated: