Saturday 30 September 2023

7 best books that every single entrepreneur must read

7 best books that every single entrepreneur must read

1. The Lean Startup. This is one of my favourite books. It talks about a structured process of building a startup. So many of us think of a cool technology or a solution in mind and then try building a business out of it, only to realize that no one wants it and definitely no one would pay for it. This book talks about a structured approach of talking to customers, getting their feedback and then working backwards to build what they want. So many startups won't fail if only their founders read this book before starting up.

2. The Mom Test. This is another excellent book that talks about a structured process of customer discovery. When we interact with our prospects, we are so much tempted to talk about our startup idea rather than trying to understand the prospect's pain area. The book talks about why this is the worst way to do customer discovery. The book also explains how to ask the right questions which will truly help you discover insights about the pain area.

3. Blue Ocean Strategy. So many of us are worried about the "competition". Look, Lamborghini is a great car. But then you cannot drive it on Kanpur roads and so, for someone in Kanpur who has a million dollars to spend on a car, they'd rather buy a car with a higher ground clearance. Does that make Lamborghini a bad car? No. Customers don't care what product is "better". They care about the product that solves their problem. This book talks about what I just said, in great detail.

4. The Hard Thing About the Hard Things. Social Media influencers have glamourized entrepreneurship. We all keep hearing stories about 21-year-olds who made millions of dollars with some shortcut. This book talks about the real struggles of entrepreneurship which we don't really here. The stress that a founder goes through in day-to-day life. The anxiety. The pressures of investors. The deadlines. Running out of cash. Layoffs. The book talks about many such issues and also explains solutions to some of them.

5. Atomic Habits. This is one of my favourite books and should be read by everyone, whether or not they are an entrepreneur. We all are fascinated about doing BIG things in life like building a BIG business or making a BIG change to our life habits. But the reality is that when we actually start to execute our BIG plan, we all fail miserably. Why? Because taking too many BIG steps in life makes life difficult. The book talks about how small, consistent steps can help us achieve similar goals in a sustainable manner.

6. Think and Grow Rich. This book talks about the principle of autosuggestion, which, according to me, is one of the most powerful things that anyone can learn. Thoughts lead to belief. Belief leads to action. Action leads to behavior and behavior leads to identity. So, whoever we are, or whomever we want to become, starts with our thought process. If we can master controlling our thoughts, we can control our destiny. This is what the book explains.

7. Rich Dad Poor Dad. Every single entrepreneur must read this amazing book that explains how money really works. We all want to earn money, but we won't be able to do that at scale if we don't understand how money really works. This book talks about that in great detail with an interesting story of a guy, his dad (poor dad) and his friend's dad (rich dad).

I have shared a lot of my learnings about Business and Entrepreneurship on my YouTube Channel. Please check it here:

Wednesday 13 September 2023

13 mistakes to avoid in your startup

13 mistakes to avoid in your startup:

1. Not getting Founders agreements done. I had a cofounder exit the company abruptly after some 1.5 years of starting up. I could save 50% of my startup only because we had a cofounder agreement. Make sure you have a lock-in of no less than 3 - 4 years.

2. Being slow with decision-making. I see so many founders getting into analysis paralysis over small things. Startups are all about moving fast, getting feedback and iterating because you cannot take decisions independently without customer feedback. So best to try and fail rather than over-analyse and not even try.

3. Not meeting customers. So many founders spend too much time on laptop building so-called "strategies" rather than actually meeting customers and gathering their feedback about their problem statements and what they want. Don't be that founder.

4. Not building a Customer Success team early on. The moment you have 2 - 3 large clients, start building a Customer Success team to retain these clients. It is easier to get revenue from existing customers who trust you than getting new, unaffiliated customers. Especially true for B2B SaaS.

5. Only chasing money. Remember that you are doing business to solve your customer's problems. Money is a byproduct. Focus on customer delight and money will follow. Focus on only making money and customers will leave.

6. Not treating your team members well. Your team members are the reason for your success. Without them, you are nothing. Take good care of them. Treat them well. Guide them and help them achieve success in their job.

7. Not being focused and chasing everything. Don't chase every sector, every industry, every geography. As Kunal Shah says - "If you try to become everything for everyone before becoming something for someone, you will become nothing for everyone".

8. Focusing too much on competitors rather than customers. If you like a girl, would you focus on what other boys are doing for that girl or would you focus on what that girl likes? Same for the customers. Focus on what the customer wants and not on what competitors are doing, and you will have a sustainable business in place.

I have shared a lot of my learnings about Business and Entrepreneurship on my YouTube Channel. Please check it here:

9. Not delegating work and trying to do everything yourself. Look, we all have only 24 hours a day, of which the productive hours can be at most 8 - 12. Don't be that founder who wants to do everything perfectly and then ends up doing nothing and gets burned out. Remember - "Done is better than perfect".

10. Chasing investors rather than chasing customers. The customer is the only one who will pay you money. Everyone else will ask for money. Investors invest so that they can get more money back. Focus on the customer and the investors will follow.

11. Not planning things. Not everything can be planned because startups, especially early stage, are chaotic. But not having a plan is worse because you can't be chasing every new thing every day because you haven't prioritized your work.

12. Not taking risks/bets. Startups are all about taking calculated risks and then making them work. If you are too conservative about taking bets, your growth would be slow and that might demotivate you. It is better to take bets and fail and learn than not progress at all.

13. Quitting too early and trying too many ideas. I see so many founders trying out every shiny startup idea and then hitting a roadblock and then trying something new from scratch after a few months. This way, you definitely cannot progress. Every startup idea will have some roadblocks. Don't quit too early.

What mistakes did you make in your startup? Share them in the comments below.

Friday 1 September 2023

6 hiring mistakes to avoid at all costs

6 hiring mistakes to avoid.

1. Hiring by pedigree only. Recently I was talking to a friend who hired a 10+ year experienced IITian from one of their large competitors for their early-stage 10-member startup. She didn't interview the candidate properly and no wonder it was a disaster. She blindly trusted the pedigree of the candidate - IITian and past experience at a unicorn and obviously it didn't work out for her. IITians are not always smart. I'm sad to say that some of them have a lot of arrogance and ego. If you're hiring for an early-stage startup, you want people who can get their hands dirty and get things done. Focus on that rather than just the pedigree of the candidate.

2. Hiring from really large companies. If you are an early-stage startup, it's generally not a good idea to hire people who are working at the opposite end, which is, large and funded companies. Early-stage Startups require generalists. Large companies require specialists. If you mix the 2, you might end up hiring a candidate who is misaligned.

3. Not having clarity of the Job Description. So many founders build an 'approximate' job description. I think half of the job is done if you just spend time nailing the job description well so that the candidate, and you, both have clarity on what is expected of the job role and what isn't. Be as clear as possible on various parameters like the background of the candidate, experience, competencies, etc.

4. Not doing reference checks, especially for senior roles. So many startups just interview candidates and take a bet. While the bet may go well, there is a chance that the bet completely goes wrong. By doing reference checks, you can significantly increase the chance of the bet going right. Reference checks help you verify that whatever the candidate told in the interview, is indeed true. Trust, but verify.

5. Not interviewing the candidate properly. A lot of Founders just talk to the candidate at a high level rather than digging deep into their behavior, competencies, skills, beliefs, values, etc. So many founders do the talking themselves rather than listening to the candidate. Don't do that. Your job in an interview is to let the candidate speak so that you get to understand them better.

6. Not spending time on employer branding. Today, candidates look at the online presence of the company. They look at Glassdoor, LinkedIn pages, and founders' profiles before even applying. If you don't have decent employer branding, you're sure to lose out on good candidates. As a founder, you should go and share your thoughts online so that people get to know you better.

Important note: There are exceptions to all the above points. These are broad guidelines and not thumb rules. There are no thumb rules in Business. Whatever works for 1 company may not work for others. Use these broad guidelines to experiment and figure out what works best for your startup and apply the learnings accordingly to improve your hiring.

I have shared a lot of my learnings about Business and Entrepreneurship on my YouTube Channel. Please check it here: