Keynotes from TheRodinHood Mumbai Open House

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Last Saturday afternoon I attended my first Rodinhood Open House. I have come back inspired and loved the positiveness in the room full of entrepreneurs and business owners. Here are my key takeaways from the sessions.

rodinhood mumbai

Ask Questions.
Alok (@rodinhood) was so right when he said – Don’t Be Naive. Ask questions, dig deeper. Don’t think its too silly. Most often you will create an impression when you ask the right questions, rather than take everything at face value.

Beg.
When I started off as an account executive with an ad agency, I had to beg my creative team to do my work or help me meet the deadlines. Not much has changed when I started my business. I yet beg if I need to be part of a big show/exhibition. I beg if I want the material delivered earlier. Sometimes you beg and sometimes you form relationships which do the magic.

Be Crazy.
Some of us are shy, we fear the idea is silly or sometimes just too crazy. Senior creative people I worked with always encouraged crazy ideas at Brainstorming Sessions. You never know what’s it going to spark. So being crazy is good, helps the brain cells work at the maximum limits and gives you access to ideas nobody has ever thought of doing before.

Fear No Failure.
One of the strongest quality of being an entrepreneur is to have the ability to work endlessly on something which you have no idea is going to work and help pay the bills. So if the fear of failure keeps you awake at night, this isn’t the right thing for you to do. Put your heart & soul into your dream. Accept the failure, but don’t fear it. Don’t let it break you.

Ship it.
This is a lesson which reminded me of Seth Godin. If you keep working on making it perfect you ain’t doing anything. So Ship It. Get Feedback. Improvise and Ship it AGAIN. Don’t spend half your life trying to perfect your idea only to realise it wasn’t the right one to start with.

Measure. Analyse.
The CEO of Mirraw.com gave an interesting pointer. When you are bootstrapped, you can’t get yourself to spend money on anything which cannot be measured or have the results analysed. So that large of hoarding on Chowpatty for BRANDING – doesn’t get an entrepreneur’s Thumbs Up!

Funding is not everything.
Company X gets $200M. Company Y gets $45M. If these headlines are making you wonder if your business is successful or not, then you are thinking wrong. Getting your business funded just because its cool and trendy isn’t the right way. Instead focus on your business, grow your actual numbers, make the business a success and then seek funding when you need it for expansion.

This has been a wonderful experience and I really do hope to attend the next sessions. And one more thing I hope to do is re-start reading my unfinished Autobiography of a Yogi.

The collection of tweets from the afternoon session.

11 Lessons from being a business owner

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Last month I completed 1 year since I quit advertising, quit a job and started managing a small business along with my wife. What I do now is different from what I did in the past 14 years of my working life. Different but at the core very same.

However running your own business has some challenges and some lessons you need to learn fast if you want to survive, grow and make your efforts count.

1.Self-starter Wanted
There is No Boss for a pep talk, no colleague to drink with and no HR for your Annual Review. If you can’t be a self-starter then things are going to be a drag. You need to wake up every morning & get to office NOT because your boss needs you or the client is firing. But because you have clients to face and salaries to pay at the end of the month.

2.No role only responsibility
As a business owner you have no defined role you only have responsibilities. If transport fails, you need to load the taxi and have the good delivered to the client. If your accountant is missing, you need to issue bills and follow-up on the money.

3.Respect your time
If your business is a small setup, chances are you are working by yourself most of the time. Which means you need to fix deadlines for yourself and ensure you don’t get lost trying to check Facebook & Twitter because there is nobody expecting a report at the end of the evening.

4.Penny Pinching
Every penny counts. Cost of courier, travel & telephone expense, staff entertainment – all these indirect expenses matter if not controlled. So be wise, search for cheaper options, look for ways to ensure your expense is controlled from day one.

5.Build relationships
I think this one applies for any scenario – Job or Business. Don’t work with people because you think they are being paid and hence obliged to deliver. Work with the attitude that together you are fulfilling a requirement and helping everyone in the deal move forward. Respect them all.

6.Hire attitude then talent
As a small business owner budgets can be small when it comes to hiring help / talent. My experience – Hire people with the right attitude. A 6/10 on talent can be made into a 8/10 over a period of time. Hand holding, guidance and training should get them there.

7.Develop a problem solving attitude
Shit will happen. Things will not go as planned. You will be challenged almost all the time. As a small business owner if you don’t develop a problem solver attitude there is very little you will be able to achieve. Leave the comfort, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to get your hands dirty.

8.Spread your hope & risks
No single client should be responsible for all your expenses. Spread your business so that you don’t have to close shop if that client goes out of business or just happens to not pay for the services/goods. Keep the faith but spread it.

9.Keep innovating. Keep experimenting.
In the last 1 year we have experimented and introduced our clients to a varied product range. Some were hits, some failures. We have worked & then re-worked our price points, re-seller commission models and everything that goes with it. We have banked on the success but haven’t stopped the innovation because we for sure know that our best designs will be outdated very soon.

10.Build your image
As a small business owner, I strongly recommend spending good time & some money building the right imagery for your business brand. Do you have a well designed logo? A sales pitch for new clients? You don’t need to spend mega bucks on marketing but do focus on the smaller elements to build the right image for your business.

11.Money is a bitch
Buyers will come in with very big smiles. They will agree to prices with maybe a small smile but they will smile the least when you talk about payments. If you happen to be unlucky, at some point chasing your OWN HARD EARNED money will become a TASK. Calls, follow-ups and what not. So play safe. Keep your risks minimised.

Want to share something with me & my readers? Do leave a comment below.

Lessons from the Power of Ideas-Start-up Session

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Last evening I managed to put the regular office work on hold and got myself out to go and listen to a few successful entrepreneurs share their magic stories. Of course it wasn’t magic. There is an idea, lots of hard work and luck which goes into putting them where they are today.

The Economic Times - Power of Ideas Start-up Sessions

Some of the lessons from the evening:

Execution matters

Great, if you’ve got a brilliant idea. But if not executed well even the most unique one will fail. So having a great idea is only the start, a dedicated execution plan is what will get you to the real goal. Reminds me of this – 1% Inspiration. 99% Perspiration.

Keep it flexible

As much as we like business plans to be firm at the same time they need to be flexible enough to change as per market scenarios, consumer expectations.

Focus on the right thing

Often businesses lose direction because they are focused more on the competition rather than keeping a tab on changing consumer preferences.

Be human

Business is all about relationships. So you could be an IITian or a college drop-out but if you don’t have the right interpersonal skills and the humility to deal with people, you probably won’t go too far.

Be passionate

Entrepreneurship is not a moment of time. It’s a path you’ve chosen to walk. If you loose passion mid-way that’s the end of the game. Watch Narayana Murthy talk about Passion.

Accept failure

Entrepreneurship is all about risk taking. If failure is not your cup of tea, start-ups are not for you.

The mantra:

Passion. Perseverance. Patience.

And I thought it also needed the 4th P – Profit.

The Economic Times –  Power of Ideas got Narayana Murthy to share some of this thoughts on entrepreneurship. My favourites are Passion & Innovation. But you can see all the videos here at the powerofideasET – YouTube Channel.

Are you a successful entrepreneur? Would love to hear some of the lessons you learned while setting up your business. Use the comments area to share your story.

Your business too will need innovation

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If you thought business innovation was just for the new age technology companies, think again. See this presentation I have taken from Anabubula.com * – think out of the noise. Business model innovation for every executive is a must, your industry does not matter.

Click here to see the presentation.