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Archive for November, 2011

Funding your startup

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment
Now that I have an idea
That’s close to my heart and soul
How do I get the money
To let the ball roll
He says:
There are 3 sources ofmoney
            Your Money
            Their money
            Someone else’s money
            Yourmoney is the money you have
Their money is their ownmoney
Someone else’s money issomebody’s money,
No one knows whose money.
Each kind has its own vicesand nices
Tostart a business, its best to use your own money
But make sure you don’t useall your money
Being a miser, is wiserthan anything else
Better to be a miser at thestart than to
Close your business withouta shot
Anticipate your expenses
Double it and prepareyourself
Find ways to cut your cost
And spend as less as youcan
With an open mind, you canfind ways
To pay in kind instead ofcash
To barter something insteadof paying by cash
To provide a serviceinstead of cash
The more you do this at thebeginning
The better chances you haveat finishing
Barter, Bargain & payin kind
To keep your costs down
Never offer equity at thisstage on.
The time to go looking for“Their Money
Is when you need money tostay afloat
And to manage your cashflow
It’s better to borrow thismoney than sell equity
As it is their money,managed by themselves
He will want the most outof it and so
Will cut you a deal thatwill suit him more
Better to borrow from himthan to sell!
The time to get “Somebody’s money” is
When you have options togrow
Opportunities galore
And its cash that stops you
And it’s time to grow
Then my dear it’s time toget “somebody’s money
Somebody’s money is managedby some-one else
To keep getting somebody’smoney
He needs to show a goodreturn
So he seeks out those who seekto grow
And fast growth is what hisheart goes!
This is the time when youdecide
If you want to keep going
If you want to take a digand move out
Go looking for greener pastures
That could be closer toyour heart
Than the one that startedit all!
When taking somebody’smoney
Never take the deal offeredto you
It’s always better tohaggle a bit
And you surely will get abetter deal
See, they are dealing notwith their own money
But somebody’s money
So negotiate they will
And offer a better deal
When you haggle with themover the deal!
Hmm, now I understand
The difference between my own money
Their money and somebody’s money
And also when to use which money

 

Categories: Startups Tags: ,

How can Crossword compete with FlipKart.com?

November 25, 2011 2 comments

The only thing I indulge myself is in buying andreading books. Lots of books! I love going to a bookshop, browse their bookcollection, read a few pages of a book and buy it if I like what I see. Thereare times when I got so immersed in the book that I read the complete book atthe bookshop itself. I loved the cozy chairs that these bookshops provided withso many books to browse and read.

Of late, I have seen that the stock of books atbookshops like Crossword has been on the decline. I also find myself and all myfriends (who buy a lot of books) buying most of our books online from vendorslike Flipkart.com. One of the primary reason is that we get good bargains(discounts ranging from 5-50%) depending on the popularity of the different titles.They ship the book almost same day to your home. They offer an entirely differentexperience to the shoppers.

What does this result in? You find that more and morebooks are being sold online. Though Crossword also has an online store wherethey offer equally compelling bargains, they are losing sales to Flipkart.com. Thisis because of the fact that these websites are considered a necessary way tofight the online bookstores but are not promoted the way flipkart management promotestheir websites (as it is their only mode of survival).
One possible reason why Crossword does not promotetheir online store could be that they perceive that this could possibly hurttheir sales in their physical stores. What they do not realize is that this isanyways affecting their sales of the physical stores and they are losing thesale to their competitors.

This same trend that happened in the US is beingrepeated in India.

Now the question is what could Crossword do tosucceed from the situation they find themselves in?
In my opinion, they could do one the following:

  • Get out of the books business and re-design their stores to sell otherhigh margin products like kid’s toys, clothing, coffee shops, etc. 
  • If Crossword wants to continue to sell books, then they need to change their business model & their Go-to-market strategy and could do the following:
    • Convert the bookshops to coffee shops that stock books, have cozy seats where youcan sit, relax, have a cup of coffee and read a book for as long as you want to.Run a marketing blitz to promote the new model. Coffee sales in the storesshould be able to cover the cost of running the store. Install automated check-outcounters where customers can order the books they want from within the storesto.
    • Only sell the top 20 best sellers at the store. Anything else onlyavailable for delivery. This allows me to come in, browse, read a few chaptersof a book, order a cup of coffee and decide which book I want to buy. I thenplace the order at the counter (could also be a kiosk) and go home. The booksget delivered at my home. I get the best of both the worlds. The comfy feelingof browsing for books the old fashioned way and ordering books with the bestdiscounts, the modern way.
    • If customers don’t come to you, you go to where your customer is! Install kiosks at differentmetro stations, malls, offices, bus stops (near lifts) where people can orderbooks or magazines while waiting for the bus, train or while having some coffeeat the office cafeteria.
  • If you can’t compete with them, join them! Close all physical books storesand become an online bookseller themselves and go crazy with media (incl. socialmedia) blitz.

The worst thing that they can do is not to doanything and continue to do business as usual. Because, it is end of Business as usual for Crossword and  will resultin only one thing – Slow & painful death.

Hope someone is listening! 

What can Business Model Innovation projects learn from Film making

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment
I came across an interesting approach to business model innovation being promoted by the folks @ Board of Innovation. They use the analogy of making a film to a business model innovation project. I really like this analogy. 
 
The advantage of considering your business model innovation project as producing a film helps the project in the following ways:
  1. Makes the entire process more fun and exciting.
  2. Provides us a process to follow when the team falters.
  3. As with producing a film, you need a team of people with a diverse sets of skills to come together and work to move a vision to the realm of reality and continuously work together to achieve the vision.
  4. There is no ambiguity about if they will succeed. They work with a belief and certainty that they will finish the project.
  5. As with producing a movie, you need to be vary about running over-budget or over-time. Both can be very harmful to the project.
  6. As the success of the film depends on how it is marketed, so is the success of the innovation project dependent on how it is marketed internally.
  7. As with any film, the financial success of the project is not guaranteed, so it is with the Business model innovation project.But you still put in your best foot forward and are prepared to accept failure.You learn from the failure and move on.
  8. Films make money not only on the box office, but from merchandising, TV rights, DVD rights, streaming rights, music rights, etc. So, it is with innovation projects. You can almost always find different usage of what you have created or learned in the innovation project to some other project/division in your business.

You can find the entire process being advocated by the Board of Innovation below:

View more presentations from Board of Innovation .com

Wisdom to Start

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment
I have searched for a teacher far and wide
read countless books
and listened to countless men
Talk about starting a business!
But I am yet to meet a man
Who’s done it all
Ran some successfully
Sold some successfully,
Lost money in some
And willing to share his wisdom!
Introduction
One day, a friend of mine
told me about an old man
Who had started a number of businesses
Some highly successful & some barely so
Some utterly failing & some marginally so
Some he sold for a killing
& some to stay afloat
He was open and willing to share his wisdom
With anyone who was willing to probe
So, with not much expectation
I ask for an audience
Anytime that suits you
Comes back the reply!
The meeting:
So, with a pen and a paper
And an open mind
Armed with a lot of questions
I head out to his office
To meet him, to greet him
To learn from him!
With admiration & affection
Doubt and temptation,
I introduce myself & say
I want to know about
starting and running a business
What to do & what not to
When to start & when to stop
I have a lot of questions
For which I seek answers
So that I and my friends 
Can start and run businesses
With more success than failure
Spreading more joy than sadness!
Purpose
He looks at me
His eyes so kind
With a voice so soft
He asks:
“But why do you want tostart a business?”
I say:
“How does it matter?
Is it important to know the answer?
What difference does it make
If I want to make more money or name
or if I want to create more jobs or go after fame
or if I want to “Make a dent in the universe”
what difference does it make?
He says:
It makes as much difference
As it makes to plant the rightseed
If you want apples, you needto plant an apple seed
You need to plough yourfield for an apple tree
Sow the seeds of an appletree
Apply the right manure andprepare the field
So that you can grow anapple tree!
If you want to harvestwithin the year
Apple tree is not for you mydear!

Timing

This I understand sir
Now that this is clear
Can you tell me sir
When is the right time to start a business
Is it when I am young, fresh out-of-college
With a fresh mind and no responsibilities
Or is it better to work for someone else
To Learn on the job
To make your share of mistakes
On someone else’s cost
Though it may mean you spend some years
And end with more Responsibilities in life
Or is it when my hair is grey and
My heir is turning young
When is the right time to start a business sir?

He says:
Just like there is no age tolearn
No age to die
There is no age to start abusiness
Some start young
Some not so young
If you do all it takes,
It’s never too soon
It’s never too late
Hmm, now I understand sir
As with everything else inlife
It doesn’t matter when youstart, where you start
What matters is what youstart, how you start
And whether you finish,whatever you start!

What you need to start

Now that I know, it doesn’t matter when you start
Please tell me what do I need to start
Do I need money or ideas?
Do I need a team or should I do it alone?
What should I know and what should I do?

He says:
To start a business my dear
You don’t need money or idea
You don’t need team or anysuch thing
To start a business my dear
All you need is a“Will-to-win” & an “open
mind”
With a will-to-win and anopen mind
Everything else is a matterof time
Cometh the hour, cometh themoney
Cometh the hour, cometh theidea
Cometh the hour, cometh theteam

This is so good sir,
Once I have an openmind
And a will-to-win
What do I do next sir?

He says:
Let’s get back to myquestion
Sit back and think about thereason
Why do you want to start abusiness?
Now, write that down on apiece of paper
Fold it & keep it inyour wallet
Now, don’t you ever forgetthat piece of paper
Take it out, read it aloud
At every step of the way
When the options are clear
And the choice not so clear
This piece of paper is yourguiding light
This will take your ship toyour port all right!
Now that you have yourguiding light
With an open mind, startthinking all night
Come up with ideas aboutbusiness you
want to start
And then write them all
Keep up the thinking with anopen mind
And Don’t bother with all that you write
Take a few days, take a fewweeks
Till you hit an idea andthat hits you
One that is impossible to do
One that doesn’t leave you
That my dear is the business
You need to do!

Hmm, Now I understand
The business idea comes from the knowledge
Of what I want
And is not based on logic or thought
But based on the feeling of my gut!
I am not sure if that is the way
As I am not sure if my gut will show me the way
How do I get over this doubt
Help me sir, with your thought!

He says:
The thing you call your gut,
Is not just your gut
It’s your connection to yourinner-self
It’s your connection toyourself
The more you trust your gut
The more you trust yourself
The more you trust yourself
The more calm and happy youget
That’s that state that ourGod wants for us.
So my dear, throw yourdoubts aside
And think with an open mind
The one thought that sticksto your mind
Could be the one thatunlocks your soul
Treat it with respect &so it shall treat you
Once decided, have a will towin
And get started on the wayto win!

Hmm, now I understand
With an open mind,
A will to win and a
Business close to you
Theres only one thing
That could stop you
And that is YOU!

He says:
That’s right! Nicely said!
With a fire in the belly
An open mind, a will to win
And a cause that’s close toheart
All the Gods are with you
And the only thing that canstop you

            IsOnly YOU!

Categories: Startups Tags: ,

Inspiring stuff – Initiative & leadership in Action

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Gaming & social concepts applied to make test drives fun

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I bought a car last month (Skoda Fabia). The entireexperience of buying the car was less than satisfactory on many counts. I wasonly able to take a short test drive (2Kms) around the showroom. This was thesame case with all the dealerships. When I asked that I would like to take a longertest drive and in different road conditions, I was always indicated that itwould be difficult to manage & turned down. The sales folks went on ranting about the car technology, engine capacity and all the other features of the car not bother to even understand my needs.

For a layman like me, these do not mean much as I donot know if for my driving requirements a vehicle with a higher torque isbetter or how does the size of the wheel base affect my driving performance. Idid try to learn these things and make an objective decision. But in the end, Iwent on instinct and bought Skoda Fabia as I thought that it gave me thesmoothest drive and I felt most comfortable in that car as compared to allother cars (in my budget).

There has been no change in the way cars have beensold for a long time. Now, after so many years, Ford has come up with a way tomake it fun to test drive their car and instead of talking about the carsfeatures, lets prospects experience the features by themselves and share their experiencewith their friends as well. They have used the gaming concepts in designing theuser experience which I think is working very well.

What more could they do to make the car buyingexperience more enjoyable and fun?
Categories: Ideas Tags: , ,

11 things you could do to beat the stress due to traffic jam

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

  1. Build a playlist of your favorite music, one thatpumps you up and listen to it when stuck in a traffic jam.
  2. Use the record voice mode on your phone (most phoneshave it) to record your thoughts on any topic. You could even record your to dolist for the day on the phone. You could also record a love note for your hubby(or loved one’s) and send it to them as a voice message or play it to them onceyou reach home.
  3. Keep a book handy (for all you book-lovers). Read wheneverstuck in a jam where the traffic does not move at all. If stuck in a slowmoving traffic, better to avoid reading the book. 
  4. Find a video camera and find a way to mount it inyour car so that you can record yourself while you drive. You could mayberecord a love message for your loved one or a video podcast.
  5. I use my BB device to read & respond to tweetswhen I am stuck at a traffic signal or a jam. Takes my mind off the traffic and so no stress due to traffic. 
  6. Download interesting audio podcasts, audio books orsomething similar on a USB and listen to it while driving. This provides you theadditional time to learn something new while driving. You gain some moreproductive time.  
  7. Introspect. Use this time as your sacred time tointrospect on your priorities for the day (in the morning) or look back at theday to understand what you did, why you did and how could you have done abetter job.
  8. Get a driver. Read, listen to music, play, tweet orwork sitting in the back seat. The salary that you end paying him is much lessto the stress you put yourself in and the time you get back to do somethingimportant. You could even use the drive to write a book (if you always wanted towrite one), article, create a presentation, draw something, click some picturesdepicting life on the road.
  9. Invite a friend or a colleague to drive with you.Use the time to get to know each other, do a little chit-chat and evenbrainstorm. Nothing like a friend to keep you company at these stressful times.This is also a way to do your bit for mother earth.
  10. Exercise! Take a deepbreath (inhale & exhale). Then suck your tummy in and count till 10.Release your tummy and re-do. Do it till you reach your destination. This willstrengthen your ab muscles. Deep breathing will relax your body. 

  11. Lastly, start early so that you don’t have to be in a rush. Early birds beat the traffic as well. 

How do you beat the traffic stress? Do let us know by commenting on the blog. Maybe we can all learn some more about ways to beat the traffic blues. 

Categories: Ideas