Things to do for an Entrepreneur

Amit Grover, a IIM graduate has learnt that as an entrepreneur, it is very important to be organized to be successful. He has given us the 10 Things to do daily for entrepreneurs from his own experiences. Here goes!

During my school days, we used to have a time-table for full day. When to study, when to play, what time to go to sleep, exercises etc. and it was a wonderful way to keep us organized and pack in more in the 24 hours. That was followed by a job, where every day was in a learning or fire- fighting mode! It was at IIM Indore, which I joined to do my MBA afterleaving my first job, I rediscovered the importance of “to do list”, and that is helping me in my entrepreneurial journey at Nurture Talent Academy till date!

  • Make a list of people to call up/ follow up with.
    Every day is an experience for an entrepreneur – specially the start
    ups. There will be thousands of people to talk to including your
    customers, suppliers, government agencies, investors and advisers.
    Start the day with a list of important calls that you have to make for
    that day – which may be a telephone call (for low priority or non-
    urgent) to personal meetings where it matters the most. Try to
    postpone/remove people who are nice to talk to but mean nothing to
    your business or add no value.
  • Send a sales proposal to a prospective customer
    A start up journey is like bicycling – you fall down if you stop
    peddling. And that peddle is called sales – I personally try to send
    at least 1 sales proposal (by email, post, etc.) to my prospective
    customers everyday – irrespective of volume of business expected or
    possibility of getting business. You can be lucky if your competitor
    is not doing this daily – who knows you could be the only person
    approaching the customer!
  • Follow up for any pending payments
    If sales is what drives a venture, it is cash that keeps it alive –
    and any pending payments at an early stage of a company are like
    cancer – keep following up for your payments diligently. This is more
    important than making business plans and approaching investors.
  • Speak to your employees
    I have always realized that the role of an entrepreneur is to find
    people smarter than herself, and motivate them to achieve their goals.
    One of the most important aspects of this is to constantly communicate
    with your employees, sometimes talking about their professional
    issues, and other times about general or personal ones. Make it a
    point to talk to your people daily. I learned this during my stint at
    Asian Paints, when through daily team-building, dialogues and
    discussions; we could take up our performance 200% in 1 month.
  • Analyze your performance against your target metrics.
    As an entrepreneur, we need to balance thinking with action. If we
    keep running, then no matter how fast we are, if we do not analyze
    which direction we are headed to, we will not go anywhere. I have seen
    a very highly successful entrepreneur, who raised his 3rd round of
    venture capital funding recently, measuring and analyzing his company
    performance almost on a daily basis. The key metrics could be product
    development (number of modules ready, lines of code written etc.),
    page visits to websites, revenue, expenses, customer inquiries etc.
  • Check your bank account
    I do not know how many start ups do this, but I get some internal
    motivation by checking my company accounts daily – it can as well de-
    motivate you if you are not acting upon how to get the cash in or
    control the cash out!
  • Remain updated with Google Alerts
    In current scenario, there is no time to read newspaper, listen to
    radio or watch TV but it is always important to stay updated – with
    what is happening around the world as well as in your business domain.
    Google alerts is a good way to stay updated, as it gives a summary of
    news/blogs etc. on your relevant keyword and sends you a mail on the
    same.
  • Give some time to family/friends
    Being an entrepreneur is a rewarding though stressful situation. It is
    always good to give some time to your family and friends, so that you
    are refreshed for another day at work. Have a nice time, go out for
    dinner, watch a movie, or just talk about your lives. You would want
    someone to share your success with! These are the people who will be
    the happiest when you come live on TV someday to collect the “Highly
    successful Entrepreneur” award!
  • Introspect, but do not procrastinate
    For 5-10 minutes daily, spend some time thinking about yourself –
    where did you start, where are you now, where do you want to be –
    think big! If you introspect, and start thinking that you have grown,
    that’s the first step towards growth. I have found people being happy
    with their current status, and never introspected about why they
    started as an entrepreneur.
  • Make a “To do list”
    This is obvious – you cannot do things unless you write them down.
    Personally, I use my mobile’s task app or memo pad to keep track of
    things. And then I keep ticking or deleting the task as it is
    completed.

I am sure that there are lots more to the list, depending on your
stage and priorities, and I will be happy to listen and learn from
your experiences. I am sure there will be lot of distractions to your
work, and some of them very valid that you will have to immediately
address, but a disciplined approach will help you take out time for
that too.

Amit can be contacted via amitgrover1@gmail.com

Advantage Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is a journey against all odds and learning in a continuous pace. It a process of evaluating the ideas and creation of new ones. An entrepreneur always gives value to his pragmatic ideas and has long-term goals. The market keeps on changing and an entrepreneur posses the excel to fill the vacuum. Every individuals wants to boss of their own, but very few posses the qualities of entrepreneurship. It’s a process of learning, evaluating and a increasingly package of surprises and setbacks. It’s not about running a organization, but continuing valuable relationship with its old-customers, employees and investors.

The major drawbacks of entrepreneurship is the financial security. A good accounting and tabulating team should be there to scale up the financial section. It’s completely depends on the person how’s he runs the business. His decision can lead him to success or to the failure. Some entrepreneurs believe that their only way to success is to pursue some short cuts, and the consequences led them to the debacle of their business. Some entrepreneurs have lesser competitiveness and flexible objectives; filling with incompetent employees diminishes the work culture and the stimulus of the organization.

The constant challenges and setbacks redefine the journey of an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur, a person can enjoy immense benefits.

  1. He is the boss of his own organization.
  2. He can hire other people, or work with other partners, depends on his choice.
  3. In normal job, a person needs to meet targets for incentives and bonuses, but in entrepreneurship he sets his own targets and limits.
  4. He uses his pragmatic ideas without anyone’s permission to scale up the business, increase the turn over and adding new dimensions to his business.
  5. He doesn’t have to work on schedule and time flexibility is always there.
  6. An entrepreneur can change his objectivity according to the market scenario.
  7. An entrepreneur is brand ambassador of his company and has huge responsibility on his shoulder.

In the nascent stage, the entrepreneur needs to be very focused with the objectives as he is the new player in the market. The struggle in the initial stage sets the tone for the character and behavior of entrepreneurs through the life-cycle of their business. Many big MNC tends to ignore the small entrepreneur and that the advantages for the new ones. Once the entrepreneur achieve the credibility from the people, his business becomes much easier. Employees and partners seek to do business with such an entrepreneur who they trust and earn well in a comfortable zone. The entrepreneur should not go off track otherwise it often bring him to collapse drastically. Suffice to say, entrepreneurship is a yardstick to success.

This article was submitted by Moumita Pramanik

First time entrepreneurs – Building businesses in India

Just read the couple of articles written by Paul Graham : Y Combinator (answers what exactly does YC do? or Seedcamp, Techstars, MVP etc ) and Equity (explains why should you give 5-6% equity to a program like YC)

The thoughts expressed got me thinking about how should First Time Entrepreneurs (FTEs) go about building businesses in India. While a lot is in common between the approaches of YC, SC and MVP there are a bunch of things unique to the Indian Ecosystem which FTEs should consider.

Uniqueness of India

First things first, only during the last 10 years India has started seeing bootstrapped or garage startups by talented, educated, experienced and passionate folks who dont have access to a lot of capital but have the skills, will to solve problems and the staying power. The number of successes out of these have been limited and have not been really publicized for folks to get inspired by or learn from.

The VC industry is just about 8-10 years old in India as compared to 50-60 years in US and Europe; among them majority of the funds in India are under 5 years old. VC being a long gestation industry we are a good 5-10 years away from seeing major VC success in India. Most of the firms are focusing on the existing pipeline deals in the market and there are quite of few of these available – companies by serial entrepreneurs, companies started by Executives (CXO, VPs) from large companies, some of FTE companies where the traction is fairly significant, also since PE sector has performed very well and the bigger funds are shifting time and money to PE deals. Clearly all of the above are the right things to do for the Indian VC firms, since the firms need to perform for their investors. None of this directly supports the FTEs, which is where the gap that needs to be filled in. We need to create new pipeline of deals that will become successful startups and will feed into the VC pipeline 1-2 years later. That’s the role folks like MVP, iAccelerator, Upstart.in and others are attempting to play.

Another dimension of difference is IT / internet. The penetration of Internet and PCs in India is quite limited (9 computer for every 1000 people, as compared to 700 for every 1000 in USA). On the other hand the awareness and usage of IT in companies, specially SMEs is limited as well. There are a lot of other fundamental needs to be fulfilled in India (remember we are a developing country).

FTEs in India: What to focus on ?

First thing to ensure is to build a cash flow positive business within the initial capital that you have managed to raise (self, friends, family, fools). Keep lowest possible costs and create early revenues. Expenses should ideally be below 50,000 INR and in no circumstances higher than 1,00,000 INR a month.

Dont think of funding as a validation for your venture. Be prepared to wait longer, to build your business to the 50-100 crore revenues in 7-10 years, with VC funding coming after 2-3 years of being in business or no VC funding at all. If this does not appeal – don’t do a startup.

Internet only business models targetting indian market are not going to viable for atleast 2 years ( or more). View internet as a cheap way to build products and get the initial users with zero marketing budgets. From day one build alternate channels : mobile, call center, SMS, kiosks , shops , sales team into your model. Use technology as a enabler to drive costs down and to drive quaity upwards, but do not depend on customers using it directly via internet.

If your idea only lends itself to internet, think about doing it for developed markets like US and Europe. India still has lower costs and we are very bullish on build here – sell to the developed world model.

So while you take into consideration the universal wisdom of building businesses, paying attention to the uniqueness of India can make an big impact on the outcome of your venture.

This article was originally published on Sameer’s blog.