Categories
Education Entrepreneurship

Banish Business Books

Every book on entrepreneurship seems to follow the same template.

  • Research your market
  • Do some Excel modelling
  • Raise some money
  • Start the business
  • $$$

These are no longer relevant to the current environment, at least not relevant if you are looking to start a small business or a startup.

A better book (or video, or a course) would be along these lines:

  1. How to get a business idea. The power of observation and second-order thinking.
  2. Building an MVP. MVP is not limited to technology, it is something that lets you test your business idea in the real world.
  3. How to sell. The difference between success and failure of a business is the ability to reach your customer and sell to them.
  4. How to market. Marketing is the fuel that runs a sales machine. The ability to create a message that resonates with your ideal customer and to be able to deliver it to them is an art as much as it is science.
  5. How to scale. When you have validated that the market is interested in your idea, the ability to scale the production, logistics, sales, and marketing as well as formalizing the operations – finance, accounting, customer service, partner management, and others.
  6. How to grow. The strategies around growing the business beyond the original idea, and finding related business opportunities ensure business growth and continuity.
  7. How to exit. Like starting a business, it is important to prepare your business for an exit.

What have I missed?

Categories
Education

Information Overload

There is a deluge of knowledge today. On platforms like YouTube and LinkedIn, there are so many thought leaders who could be followed for great insights. But how do you absorb, retain and apply this knowledge? This has become the real challenge.

My 2 part system for knowledge management

1.Store and Index. No, I am not building a knowledge base, database, or even write things done (which I should!). I tend to commit things to memory. What is important is to be able to recall on demand.

Like in databases, where index point to the actual content making it easy to lookup, similarly, attaching the new knowledge to existing knowledge make it easy to retrieve. This is where mental models come in. These are ways you form a big picture about a subject and then link the new knowledge to it or refine the model itself.

This allows me to consume the knowledge and make it my own. I will not be able to quote anyone verbatim but my worldview is a distillation of the knowledge from gurus in their fields.

2.Read, Index, and Discard. Sometimes it is better to discard the info instead of trying to retain it. If something catches my fancy I tend to remember just the metadata and discard the actual info. When the time comes where this information is needed, I can look up the information based on the metadata I remembered like author, context, channel, keywords, etc. With the world’s information available at fingertips just knowing what to search for, is a win.

How do you deal with information overload?

Categories
Education Entrepreneurship

Be lucky; always!

Recently, I was invited to share my experiences with my alma-mater. I chose to talk about how fresh graduates can maximize their career success.

While several people will ascribe their success or success of others to luck; it is also silently agreed that success is much more than luck. Therefore I prefer Roman philosopher Seneca’s definition of luck.

Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation.

Seneca

Therefore I focused on how one can increase their luck by working on creating opportunities and being prepared.

The luck factory

How to create your own luck
Create your own luck, consistently.

Create Opportunities

Network

Networking that matters is helping people achieve their goals.

Seth Godin
  • Create a strong network though out your academic life and career.
  • Be aware of the strength of every individual.
  • Help out others. It improves the strength of the connections.
  • It is easy to help others, if you know them, their strengths and interests.
  • Never burn bridges.

Push yourself

You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Roy T. Bennett
  • The most dangerous place to be in is the comfort zone. It kills luck.
  • You can’t sit under a tree and wait for an apple to fall in your hands while others will be already selling apples from those same trees.
  • When you find yourself in a comfort zone, consciously come out of it. Talk to your manager, ask for a different challenge.
  • Or seek out. Not for money but to break out of a comfort zone.

Be Open

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchill
  • Life happens, industries get disrupted. A pandemic like COVID-19 shuts down everything.
  • But opportunities always arrive in disguise.
  • Some companies and individual fare better than others. Because they are better prepared, and are open to change; to suggestions; to challenges.
  • The are open to move out of the comfort zone and do something new
  • Finally, never say or think ‘not my job’.

Give Back

Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.

Tony Robbins
  • Give back, help your network; like you will expect them to help you.
  • Recommend. Refer. Connect. Share.
  • And give back to the community, society, nation.
  • The world is acknowledging good karma and talking about pay it forward

Being Prepared

Time

When you kill time, you kill your opportunities for success.

Denis Waitley
  • Have time; be disciplined with it.
  • If you don’t have time, you’ll not be able to capitalize on an opportunity.
  • Everything has an opportunity cost – doing something mean not doing something else. So be selective on what you do.

Hard Work

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

– Thomas A. Edison
  • Work hard
  • Take pride in your work
  • Always give your best
  • You’ll be known for these things

Skills

I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

Stephen Leacock
  • You will develop skills with opportunities
  • And you’ll get opportunities based on your skills
  • Remember to say no to comfort zone and be open to challenges and learning
  • And then apply / demonstrate your skills

and finally..

Be Selective

  • Remember that you have limited time and measure the opportunity cost.
  • Be strategic on the things your work on, however not at the risk of being closed to new ideas and challenges.
  • Be decisive. Once you have decided to do something, give it your 100%.

Be Known

  • It’s not about hyping yourself
  • But also not in dark, you need to be noticed.
  • What do you want to be known for? Build a narrative.
  • Communicate consistent with the narrative.
  • Use the social media properly to build your personal brand

Categories
Education Entrepreneurship

Are employment bonds really needed?

Does a company, be it a start-up or not, need to make their employee sign bonds that state that the employee has to serve the company for at least for a period of X years or will be penalized $Y?

I find them to be neither ethical nor legal or even enforceable in a country like India.

At INSORCE we have replaced the stick with a carrot and it is working great for us. So instead of saying you pay us $Y, we say, we pay you $Y as retention bonus. That, in my opinion, is a more positive way to start a relationship. This makes the person feel that the relationship is a business relationship among equals, and not a mai-baap relationship.

What’s your opinion on the same? Whether as a employer or an employee.

Categories
Education

Prototyping

There are different stages of prototyping, which increase in fidelity and time taken to create. Therefore it is important to start with low fidelity tools and move further as the ideas are more concrete. Some of these tools are

  • Story-boarding
  • Creating Paper Prototypes
  • Digital Mock-ups
  • Wizard of Oz
  • Video Prototypes

Story-boarding

This technique involves rough sketches which tell a story. It should have the stage (people, task being done), the script (actions, sequences of steps) and the outcome (fulfilled motivations, satisfaction). Since these are lowest fidelity tools, a harsh timelines, like 10min per storyboard, fells keep the focus and discovering various options.

Advantages

Storyboarding helps in keeping the focus on the problem being solved, instead on the UI. Thus having a common understanding of the goal and avoiding bike-shedding.

Paper prototyping

Paper prototypes are mock-ups of the UI using paper, post-its, sketch pens, scissors and glue, and other materials depending on creativity.

This technique helps in discovery of a good UI, and all stakeholders can easily contribute.

Once a good UI is discovered using paper prototypes, we can move onto the next stage.

Digital Mock-ups

These are the digital version of the paper prototypes and can be created by a variety of tools like, Photoshop, balsamic or HTML.

These let you refine the UI before developing the actual application.

Wizard of Oz

This technique involves simulating what the machine will do using human operators. This is a very high fidelity prototype, where the users might think it is the real deal. But instead of coding the back-end, we only have the UI, while the back-end is powered by humans. This is especially useful if writing the back-end is an expensive task, like using machine learning etc.

Advantages of wizards

  • Places the user at the center of development
  • Faster and more iterative prototypes
  • Identifies bugs and problems with current design
  • Can envision challenging-to-build applications

Disadvantages of wizards

  • Simulations may simulate technologies that do not exist or really hard to build.

Video Prototypes

These can be thought of as the video depiction of the storyboard. Therefore it should also have the entire flow, including motivation and success. But instead of drawing, you show the user and the settings in a video.

However, videos, especially audio can be a huge time sink and so should be used appropriately and aim at telling the story instead of perfection.

Categories
Education

How I hire writers

Now with the goodness of Hacker News and reddit. Thank you everyone for doing a great job proof reading the post.

Do checkout stackmonthly. A monthly roundup of best questions on stackoverflow.com.


Good, creative writers are the backbone of our business. We try to hire and retain the best of them.

Our interview process is aimed to make the process efficient and objective. This ensures that we do not have to waste time in our hiring process and get back to real work ASAP. I outline the process below; in case someone else is interested.