Doing business as successful business owners do

Every entrepreneur starts their business having world-changing ideas…

  • An invention that has come out of your good imaginative thinking.
  • An artful creation which can allow the customer to see the soul of the creator through his work
  • A messaging platform that will bring people of the world closer to each other
  • A pathbreaking technology that will spread like fire
  • A product that will solve the real problem for real people
  • A unique service that will deliver a meaningful and delightful customer experience
  • A framework that will change things to become more accessible and seamless
  • A global platform for sharing information and starting a community of common interests

And because of all the cheap, affordable and no-barrier to start; anyone can whip up a website, set up a business page on Facebook, change profile on LinkedIn and claim to be a business owner in few hours.

But, the fact of the matter is 9 out of 10 startups fails. Close to 100M startup starts every year, 80% of them won’t survive over 18 months. Less than 4% grow over $1M in revenue and survive for 10 years. Less than 1 in 1000 past over $50M in revenue.

CB Insights analyzed the posts written by startup founders on various blog sites to pinpoint the reasons they believe their company failed. They found that number-one reason for business failure is the lack of a market need for their product.

  1. No market need
  2. Ran out of cash
  3. Not the right team
  4. Get outcompeted
  5. Pricing/cost issues
  6. User un-friendly product
  7. Product without a business model
  8. Poor marketing
  9. Ignore customers
  10. Product mistimed
  11. Lose focus
  12. Disharmony among team/investors
  13. Pivot went bad
  14. Lack of passion
  15. Failed geographical expansion
  16. No financing/investor interest
  17. Legal challenges
  18. Didn’t use network
  19. Burn out
  20. Failure to pivot

Credit: CB Insights

So the question is how would you grow your business without drowning into the sea of failures…

  • People like your product. Because if they like it, they will trust which will lead to buying.
  • Once they buy, you will be able to build the relationship with your customer.
  • You serve your value proposition so irresistibly in front of your customer that they understand what they are buying and they know it’s value.
  • Your customer has confidence in your product and comfortable in trying out your product.
  • The customer is convinced about the product fit of their need. They know that it is going to enhance their happiness and improve life.

Top of that the stiff competition is making it more difficult to survive and thrive in the open marketplace keeping you stuck doing business at shoestring margin, and burning the midnight oil to keep the business running.

Tired of this endless fight 90% of business owners are shutting down their door and enrolling their name in the list of 90% failed startup graveyard.

I am writing this guide pouring in my over 25 years of experience working for global corporations, running my own startup for last 8 years and mentoring/coaching over 15000 entrepreneurs across India.

My sole objective is to bring together the proven strategies, a new perspective, and field-tested tools so that, you can take advantage of these tools to launch, build and grow your business and live a healthy lifestyle.

I want you to take a leap forward to grow your business. Use this guide to crack the code on profitably managing your business like a pro.

And using this guide …

I want you to be aware of what’s coming in your business, what it may mean for you to capture the market opportunity, and where things could be headed for you to earn the income and lifestyle you dream for yourself and your family. I want you to be able to make an informed decision about the facets of your business so that you can reach new levels of success and profitability.

Sound good?

Look forward to getting the next article in this series aimed to channelize yourself to be fully committed to your dream, vision, mission, and purpose.

3

Build the shared understanding of your business with Executive Summary

The Executive Summary contains a short outline of all the important aspects of the Business Plan Investors in particular read executive summaries before looking at the rest of a plan in order to determine whether they are interested in this business and want to learn more about it. Numerous business plans are submitted to lenders every week. Not all of these plans are reviewed in depth. In fact, only a small fraction of them are read beyond the executive summary.

Therefore, even though your whole business is well described later on, a short summary highlighting the key points of your business plan helps to persuade the reader to study the complete document, thus greatly enhancing the chances of obtaining the financing you are looking for.

The Executive Summary should

  • be written in clear and simple language
  • also provide non-expert readers with an immediate understanding of what the core of your intended start-up is about
  • contain the most significant information from your business plan
Key Questions
  • What is your business idea? How unique is your business idea?
  • What is your dream, purpose, mission and vision of your business?
  • Description of the products and services
  • The marketing strategy and a plan to generate revenue from marketing
  • Well-researched and business relevant insights on the market size and growth potential
  • Current business position (if any) i.e. its legal form of operation, the principal owners, patents, trademarks
  • A brief summary of the funding requirement, source of funding, and the fund utilization plan
  • Your plan on turning the company profitable
  • Which people make up the management? What experience and expertise do they have?

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • It should be possible to read and understand the Executive Summary in 5-10 minutes
  • Test it – ask people to read it who have no previous knowledge about your business idea and its technical or scientific background.
  • Later you can attractively design it using colors, graphics, layout as need be
1

How to write perfect company description

The Company Description section of your business plan typically outlines vital details about your company, such as where you are located, how large the company is, what you do and what you hope to accomplish. It describes the vision and direction of the company so potential lenders and partners can develop an accurate impression about who you are.

Begin the company description section with a paragraph that captures all of the vital information about your company. Imagine you are giving an elevator pitch about your company and want to express the key characteristics in just a few sentences. Use the same thought process for your introductory paragraph.

Describe your business and paint a clear picture of its functionalities

  • How will you get what you want?
  • How will you market your business?
  • How will you generate user experience?
  • What will be your unique selling point?
Key Points
  • A powerful opening quote which serves as a summary of your business
  • The description of the industry category your business belongs to
  • Description of the problem statement
  • Description of the business operations with specific relevance to the problem statement
  • Communication strategy with your customers
  • Description of the scale and future expansion of your business
  • The resources you need and the hiring procedure of various job functions
  • The competitive advantage of your business

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Show a clear understanding of the business you want to be in
  • Clearly describe what market needs your business will be fulfilling.
  • Explain why you believe your business will be successful
1

How to write the financial plan like its your strategic blueprint

Though most of the entrepreneurs hate to make a business plan, in my view, it’s pretty vital document for a business owner to prepare the business plan so that everyone has one view about the business. Also, financial numbers are the direct indicator of the success or failure of any business.

The financial projection is the one document that everyone whether your investor, lenders and anyone else will ask you first before they give any consideration for potential funding or alliances. If you are looking for funding, joint venture, alliances or partnership with anyone, providing financial statements is critical.

The following financial projections and reports should help you provide the clarity to the stakeholders about your business:

Financial Summary: Once you prepare your income statement, expenditure statement, balance sheet and cashflow, you can summarize the key financials into a single statement to get an overview of your financial projection.

Income Statement: Your income statement should list projected revenues and expenses. It should provide the detailing in a manner that it includes all the sources of revenues that you envisage to earn in your business and it should also provide the details of all expenses. The income statement will be able to show how and when you are going to achieve the breakeven and profitability.

Cash Flow Statement: This is a vital document that shows you the cash inflow and outflow in your business. A detailed breakup of income and expenses will guide you to adequately and timely arrangement for the funding to support the expenses for the smooth operating of your business.

Balance Sheet: It shows about the financial health of your business and includes key insights about assets, liabilities, shareholders, and earning retained in your company to fund future growth and expansion plan.

Financial Plan Summary

The financial summary helps you plan and monitor your financial goals and acts as windows for you to look at them to analyze your current state as well as take necessary actions to accomplish them. While creating, analyzing and reviewing your financial summary your focus should be on the following key aspects.

 

 Key Questions
  • Is your financial statement attuned to your business goals?
  • Have you identified all the revenues and expenses? When you look at your financial summary, do you feel comfortable about the numbers that it shows?
  • What alternative actions you may need to think about in case you don’t achieve the desired result?
  • What are the options available to you to handle unplanned and under performing situations?
  • Is the plan you have created can be implemented? What kind of challenges may you face during the action?
  • Have you reviewed and revised the financial plan to make it the best that you can anticipate?

There are several templates available online for you to use for preparing these financial statements. We are attaching the format that we liked the most and used for planning several of our businesses

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

 

0

Management and team planning to support your vision and support your organization culture

The investors of your Business Plan want to find out who is the driving force behind the new company. They want to be able to assess whether the people in charge have the right characteristics for managing the new company. A careful team planning requires you to think about the skills, abilities, experiences and managerial capabilities that you will require to build and grow your organization.

When assessing the company structure you have planned it is also interesting to know which agreements or contractual connections
already exist with partners or with research institutes. Think about the skills, abilities, experiences and managerial capabilities you will require in order to build and grow your organization.

Key Questions
  • What kind of leadership skills will you require considering the technical, operational and managerial aspects of business?
  • If you have already identified these individuals, who are they? What are their experiences, educational backgrounds, and skills?
  • Do you require leaders having industry expertise? Is this industry expertise available in your leaders?
  • What will be their key result areas? How will you monitor their achievements?
  • What salary benefits, equity and other remuneration you require to attract right leaders?
  • An organizational chart if you have more than 10 employees, showing the management hierarchy and responsibility for key functions.
  • List of any advisors, such as board members, accountants, and attorneys.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Introduce your complete team. Explain the professional successes of each individual which make them valuable for the new project.
  • If you have already worked together successfully as a team, this is also well worth mentioning.
  • Based on the personal abilities and knowledge of each individual work out who is best suited to which tasks and responsibilities in future. Any lack of skills should quickly be remedied.
0

How to define your product and services so that 6 year old can understand it

In this section you have to clearly describe the products and services your business will provide. Explain the characteristics and / or functions of the product or the individual components of your service. Particularly in the case of technical products or services it is important to include a few sentences about the areas of application, i.e. where the product or service will be deployed. This also includes statements about the technical development status and the patent and license situation.

Product and Services section should describe the elements and details that make your business unique and different (or better) from your competition.

  • Present what is innovative about it and what sort of lead you have over the competition
  • Explain how your offering stands out from already existing ones and which opportunities there could be for developments
  • Explain the manufacturing process and what capacities and investments are needed to achieve the targeted sales volumes
Key Questions
  • The stage and status of your product or service. Is it ready? Is it under development? What is the timeline of the launch?
  • The outline of your unique selling point. What makes it different from the competition?
  • The pricing strategy. Do you have discounts? Premium packages? How is the discount affecting the profit?
  • The breakdown of your budget
  • The manufacturing procedure of your product. Do you have an agreement with an external manufacturer?
  • Your material sourcing strategy
  • Challenges you foresee in your business (including financial during low seasons).
  • Patents, copyrights and any trademarks your product requires.

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Bring out what is special about your product/service
  • Show how your product or service satisfies client needs and expectations
0

How to set up your system and operation process to get things done

Now you have comprehensive ideas about products and services, value proposition, target customers, marketing, and sales plan. The next step for you is to define your operations plan that will help you deliver your plan to the customer. Your operations plan should contain the details about the key partners, activities, and resources you will require for operating your business. In short, it describes how the work will be done, the workflow from input to end results, including the resources that will be used along the way.

While strategic planning provides the vision, direction and goals for the business, operational planning translates that into the everyday workflow of the business that will hopefully produce the outcomes defined by the strategy. Simply put, operational planning is the conversion of strategic goals into managed execution. It deals specifically with the internal operations and resources necessary to produce your company’s product or service.

An operational plan should typically address the following:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How do we get there?
  • How do we measure our progress?
Key Questions
  • Identify key resources such as office space, facilities, equipment and supplies needed for you to operate the business
  • Identify partners, associates, and collaborators that you will require to get your business in the market and support it
  • What kind of organization structure will be required to execute your plan? Your team hierarchy and structure should be defined based on the complexity
  • Your staffing needs. How will you hire, train and retain your staff
  • What will be your strategy for firming up the key partnerships for your business?
  • How will you scale up and down based on the market response and growth of your business

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Give details of your business location and say whether it is suitable or not for your product or service
  • Show how you plan to cope with the operational side of change and growth in your business
  • Reduce the risks where possible, and prepare contingency plans where necessary
0

How to set sales and revenue plan to double your business

For exploiting the opportunity you have to understand your potential. Therefore once the market has been researched and analyzed, it is very essential to have the sales or revenue model to chart the potential for the product, as well as the business, over a set period of time.

Your sales concept describes in detail the complete sales process, names the distribution channels you have planned and takes into
account the costs which will be incurred. Show how you see the structure of your sales developing. Explain the requirements for the
number, qualifications and motivation of your sales staff.

Write your sales plan in the following manner:

  • Define the goals and objectives of your sales plan
  • Define your customer and why, how, and what do they buy
  • Define the unique proposition that you are going to sale to your customer
  • Define the competitive advantage that your product/service has over the competition
  • Define the channels through which you will reach out to the customer – distributors, franchisee, retailers, etc
  • Define your selling process. Provide details on how you will maximize the lead to conversion ration
  • Define your strategy on setting sales target, monitoring and building accountability for sales performance
  • Provide key sales financials including product, timeline, units, revenue, selling cost, and margin
Key Questions
  • Which distribution channels are you going to use for the different target groups?
  • Which sales volumes do you want to achieve? How are sales and profits spread out according to the individual
    distribution channels?
  • What expectations do you have for your sales e.g. with regard to number, qualifications and equipping of sales staff?
  • What terms of payment and how much discount will you offer?
  • What is your service, advice and maintenance service like?

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Look into the future and see that your planned company growth is achievable
  • Investigate whether a partner can take your product or service into their portfolio and advertise it for you
  • Describe how you can achieve the price that you have decided on at the customer – think about prize reductions, explain payment options including discounts, explain the initial orders and the maintenance orders that might follow, etc.
0

Prepare your marketing plan to build relationships with your target customer

As a new company you have to make yourself and your products or services known on the market. Now it’s time to think about your marketing plan. Developing a relationship with your customer is one of the most important parts for every business owner. A solid marketing sales plan can be what sets your business apart.

Your objective: monetize the traction generated by marketing for higher sales and higher profit.

Your strategy: marketing plan + smart monetization = success

Write your marketing plan in the following manner:

  • [Company Name] is in the business of [provide 1-2 lines describing your company]
  • Define your target customers
  • Define your unique selling propositions
  • Define your distribution strategy
  • Define key offers and sales promotion schemes
  • Define online marketing strategy
  • Define traditional marketing strategy
  • Define your strategies to increase conversion rates
  • Define your strategy on maximizing the sales transaction value
  • Define your specific efforts for maximizing customer value
  • Specify key financials, leads and revenue results from your marketing efforts
Key Questions
  • Who is the target customer and how are you addressing them in your plan?
  • Why do you think the chosen marketing channels are the best option for your business?
  • What is your competition marketing plan? Provide analysis, references and results.
  • Does your marketing strategy communicate with clarity? Are there still any issues you need to address
  • What is the unique value proposition of your plan? What are your features, benefits, price, product and value for money?
  • Which advertising measures are you going to take up to introduce your product /service?
  • Which advertising media or material are you going to use?
  • What about your schedule and important milestones?
  • How much of your budget are you planning to use for this?

Make a copy using Google Docs-> File->Make a copy option.

Additional Tips:

  • Think about sales promotion campaigns which you would like to implement, such as developing a logo, setting up a website, placing advertisements, press relations, and consider what sort of budget you plan to use
  • Look for measures which fit in with your time contingent and your budget and those which promise the maximum success
0

Start Leading

Lead Yourself by taking up the responsibility of your own work, your own deed and deliver what you commit you will.

Lead Your Team by communicating with clarity, align members with your goals, and understand their desires and goals well.

Lead your family by having respect, clear communication, avoid criticism, stop being judgemental, listen to your family members, express love and appreciation, and frequently bring together family members to celebrate joys, milestones, and celebrations.

Lead your community by setting goals for your community, take the responsibility and get it done, and involve stakeholders.

Lead your country by having a balanced view of righteousness, wealth and actions.

Lead Your Industry by spreading your message outside your wall in a way that it inspires people.

For this to happen, you need to stop micromanaging, start learning and build profound connections with people who matter to you and your industry.

0

Little Bets

Yesterday during the interaction with student entrepreneurs at Nirmala College, I met a student who started his business while being in college. His story is like this:
He thought that he has passion and acumen for photography. He purchased a low-cost camera to start his photography business. Subsequently, he made some money and invested in buying a professional DSLR with the investment of Rs. 80,000 from his profit. Now, he has a dream to setup his own studio.
My own journey as an entrepreneur started with little bets. Selling books, computer stationery, side projects. I call it little bets for a small win to gain the confidence you need to inroad for a giant leap.

Little bets are concrete actions taken to discover, test, and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable. They begin as creative possibilities that get iterated and refined over time, and they are particularly valuable when trying to navigate amid uncertainty, create something new, or attend to open-ended problems.

If you have been thinking about starting up something big, start placing little bets today to experience small win and a big confidence boost. I bet you to place little bets today…

0

Being Meaningful

Your biggest goal is to live every moment of life feeling accomplished. You may call it differently – wealth, freedom, success, etc. You aim to earn money, time, relationship, spirituality and ability to pursue your geniuses. Your life is an adventure to do something every day which can get you closer to one of these things your heart desire.

I remember during the induction program of my first job the employer asked,”What do you think why you are hired for?” Everyone replied claiming their education, intelligence, excellence in specific skills, etc. The employer replied, “You are not hired for any of these, but our company has specific problems and we believe you are well-equipped with the skills, abilities, and interest to solve problems better than many others whom we interviewed for the job.”

This one statement makes it clear to me that to be relevant in any workplace, you need to understand market reality, you need to develop skills that reflect your abilities to deliver substantial value, and knowing the exact system through which you can apply your learning in the real world environment to achieve your life goals.

Know Yourself

Are you happy with whatever you have got in your life? Do you feel accomplished? Are you creating the income, impact, and success you deserve? If not, it is because you have not aligned your interests, skills, and abilities to strive to realize your potential and achieve greatness. You need to analyze and self-reflect to know your true potential and be aware mentally, physically and emotionally to achieve your greatness.

Use the attached template to know your dreams and what you need in order to leverage your geniuses. Instead of settling for a life of mediocrity, take your first step today to craft a life of limitless abundance.

Acquire Skills

There are umpteen amount of avenues of learning the skills necessary for you to deliver greater results skillfully applying your craft.
Find out the training, workshops, and courses that can teach you the vital skills necessary for you.

Enhance Experiences

You need real life experiences to learn and grow your level of expertise through practical experimentations and experiences. When you go out and get things done, it brings positive impact on your credentials and gives you an opportunity to master your craft through real-world experiences.

Implement

You have honed your talent, acquired the skills and developed your abilities through meaningful experiences and experiments. You feel that you are a rockstar. Now, you need to lead the terrain by applying it to earn the income, make an impact and achieve your success. You are going to do the stuff better than anybody else because there is no one like you, there is absolutely no one who can do it better than you. Just do it!

6

Rejection

There isn’t one who hasn’t faced “No.” It is kind of a precondition to hear multiple no before you can get to yes. Whether you are trying to get your desired job, start a business, raise funding, get a promotion, or get the proposal approved. Numerous door knocking, follow-ups, presentations, and conversation – yet you face no.

However, you look at people having the success score with getting to yes, you will find that they keep bouncing back in spite of hearing no multiple time. They will hear no, rework on their weaknesses, and knock on another door. In my opinion, the key to handle rejections and emerge as a winner out of it lies in paying attention to the quality, not the number of rejections. Every time when you hear a rejection, pay attention to the feedback you receive, detect the friction, strengthen your proposition and get ready to hunt for another door.

It takes time to learn how to handle rejection, but gradually your mind will prepare to handle the rejections as after every rejection, you will step forward to knowing what people want, what are the unmet need that people have, what’s out there in the reality, and how to improve your offering to get closer to achieve your goals.

The result? You’ll be more actively participate in achieving your goals and rejection will act as your tools for growth and embrace your life with the accomplishments you have chosen to be one.

3

Grief

“You grieve for those who should not be grieved for, yet you speak words of apparent wisdom.
The wise grieve neither for the dead nor for the living.” Gita Ch.2.11

You are an ocean filled with the grief; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. Your identity is misplaced in the grief as the identity of river water gets lost as soon as they enter the ocean – you always come up with the excuses and justifications citing the social, economic, intellectual and political situation that limits you not to perform up to your true potential. You are a misplaced creature succumbed into the degraded, deprived and disoriented under the web of food, water, shelter, status, and stigma.

You are always caught in the dilemma; attaining the self-realization offering your capacity and energy for the righteous act versus endless contemplation of acts, deeds, rituals, limiting beliefs and unrighteousness. Now is the time, you stop grieving citing falsehood notion you are surrounded with.

There is over a million self-help book and there are several millions of people buying and reading the self-help book. But, there is hardly any genuine beneficiary of self-help book because none wants to help the self.

The journey of self-realization begins knowing your true potential, knowing that you are not the physical form that the world sees, you are here for a purpose that the supreme-self has set for you. You need to remind yourself of your purpose and potential. You need to arise. You need to set your score by attaining the power which is latent beneath your body. You need to do the selfish work to self-realize your calling.

7

Lollypop

It is a common site these days to spot parents who handover mobile, toys, gaming devices, and other luxuries to their children so that their ward doesn’t disturb them and remain busy playing with them. Also, they are so infatuated about their children comfort that they will constantly keep saying, “I have made enough for you to survive and thrive. My whole life has been a struggle to bring wealth, comfort and stature for you to enjoy.” It seems parents have forgotten the rules and principles of upbringing a responsible citizen who can take care of themselves, their parents, family, society, and country. They are forgetting that by handing over the toys and gadgets aren’t going to prepare them for a meaningful life.

“Those parents who don’t teach their children life skills, who don’t nurture their children talents, and who don’t facilitate life experiences are as the enemy of their children.” Chanakya

“Indulge our children up to the age of five years, teach them to firm up the habits and disciples between five to fifteen years, and once they become 16 years, treat them as a friend.” Subhashita

Ancient Hindu principle suggests that children should maintain Brahmacharya until the age of 25 because it is considered as an age of creation and nurturing.

Children up to the age of five should be treated with all sort of royalty and must be given best care and upbringing as they do not know how to care for themselves. They also lack the verbal and emotional skill to express their needs with clarity. Parents need to observe and provide an environment in which they hear, sense, participate and interact with their children to develop skills of observation, communication, and behaviors.

Between the age of five and fifteen children need to be inculcated with the habits and disciplines that will make them a responsible and accountable citizens. At this age, children must learn manners, etiquettes, rules, and responsibilities they have as a citizen of the country. They should be provided with the opportunity to hone their talent and skills through a holistic learning and development.

Once, children attain the age of 16, they should be treated as a participant in handling family, society and national matter. They should be provided with the opportunity to go out and learn real-life lessons, participate in discussions, brainstorm on matters to crystallize their thinking and learn the skills of listening.

6