Sunday 31 March 2024

How to deal with negative situations?

When you are starting your own business, an important thing to learn is to manage your emotions and keep calm in every situation - good or bad.

There will be days when something great will happen and you'll find yourself in the sky. The same day, in the evening, the sky will break and fall on your head. Understand that this is quite normal when you are starting your own business. Learn to be neutral in both situations.

How to keep calm in extremely negative situations?

1.) Think about the larger picture. When you are starting your business, you're doing it for the next 10 or 20 or more years. Ask yourself - "will this matter after 10 years?" If the answer is no, then no point in worrying about it.

2.) Distract yourself from the situation. Listen to a podcast. Read a book. Talk to your parents/friends. Go for a trip. Play a sport. Just avoid thinking about the situation for a day and you'd be surprised how much better you'd feel the next day.

You should not let the negative situation get into your head and cause you to be stressed out. At the end of the day, there is nothing more expensive than your mental health. Having said that, make sure to learn from the situation so that you don't end up in the same situation again.

Summary: deal with the situation with a calm mind and learn how to not repeat it.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

How to be successful?

The key to being successful is to be lucky.

You could be lucky because you were at the right place at the right time. For instance, you were born into a wealthy family and so, you had better opportunities.

However, this is not replicable. You and I were not born into wealthy and successful families. So, how do we become lucky?

By working hard. Working hard helps in increasing luck.

Want to close a deal? If you're born wealthy, your family will have contacts and networks. But if you're not born wealthy, go and knock on 50 doors. 10 will listen to you. 5 will be interested. 1 will become your customer.

It will surely require more effort for you compared to the one who's born into a well-connected family. But that doesn't mean that you can't win the race. Keep working hard and in the right direction. It is the most important trait to achieve success.

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Worst advice for Entrepreneurs

"Follow your passion" is probably the worst advice that Entrepreneurs are told.


Here are a few reasons:

1. Most people do not know what their passion is.
2. Most people are passionate about things that don't pay bills.
3. Most people follow their passion and then realize they aren't passionate about it.
4. If a lot of people follow the same passion as you, you won't have any unfair advantage in the space.

What's the correct version?

"Follow the opportunity"

While passion might have helped a few people succeed in Business, what works with a higher probability for a lot of people is to follow the opportunity instead.

True success is unlocked at the intersection of both - "Follow the opportunity that you are passionate about". If you can find something that you're passionate about and if it is also a big opportunity, then you become truly unstoppable. You'd have found what is popularly called as "Founder Market Fit".

What are you passionate about? Is that a large Business opportunity?

The right method to delegate work

Having scaled my team to over 150 members, one important learning I have in delegating work is that "who" matters more than "what".

"what" = the work that needs to be done
"who" = the person who needs to do that work

I've seen that in many Startups, Founders call for a meeting with their Leadership and then make a list of items that need to be done. Oftentimes, Founders assume that people are smart enough to understand who's the right person for that task and that they'll pick it up.

The reality?

No one ends up picking up that task and it never gets done. It might be the priority for the Founder, but it wasn't a priority for the Team members and so, no one bothered picking it.

A better solution is to identify who's the right person for that task when discussing about the tasks. Agree on who's going to do it and also agree on a mutual timeline and you'd be surprised how much more you can get done predictably.

The Customer is the King

Having built a multi-million dollar business over the years, if there is 1 learning on building a Business that I can share, then that is - "Focus on the Customer, and everything else will follow".

I see so many young Entrepreneurs chasing Investors, Advisors and hotshot executives when they don't even have a Product/Market fit.

Look, the only stakeholder who really "gives" you money, is the customer. Everyone else is there to "take" money. How?

1. Investors invest so that they can get back higher returns in the future.
2. Advisors are there to guide you, but eventually they also want a return on their time.
3. Your team members will help you build the Business, but they draw money in the form of salary.

The only one who really pays you money, without asking for more money back, is the customer. So, the true source of money for a Business is only and only the Customer.

Therefore, focus on the Customer. If you have found the right Problem that your Customer wants a solution for, everything else will follow. Investors will be behind you to give you money. The best advisors would want to help you do better and you'd be surrounded with talented members who'd want to join you in the journey. All because you have the Customer.

So, if you're an early-stage founder, stop spending time on everything and go and sit with your Customer and ask them their top 1 or 2 pain areas that you can solve.

Solve it, and you're already more successful than 90% of the Founders out there who have raised money but have no clue what they're doing.

At startups, speed is everything

If you're an Entrepreneur, one habit that you need to embrace is "speed". Startups are all about speed.

What exactly is speed in this context? Write code fast?

Let's learn.

In a startup, you need to build a Customer feedback cycle. Which means that you first need to talk to customers and get feedback and learnings about the problem they're facing. Then go back and build a solution. Finally, you need to show this solution to the customers again and fet more feedback. And then use this new feedback to again improve the solution you've built.

This whole cycle is called as the Customer feedback cycle. It has been well explained in the book "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries.

Your job as an entrepreneur is to speed up this feedback loop so that you can quickly get to the Product Market fit stage.

Team and TAM

Two questions to ask yourself when evaluating a startup idea:

1. Is the Market large?
2. Are we the right Team for this?

The first question helps you ensure that you're chasing a sufficiently large opportunity and that you aren't wasting your time pursuing something that won't lead to a big outcome.

Of course, "big" is a relative term. But then you won't be able to build a big Business with a Product that Teaches say Vietnamese in China. Your Customer acquisition costs would be higher and because of the weak need, Customers won't be too keen to pay. The Business would become unsustainable.

However, if you're building something in the Lending Market in India, you know that you'll never fall short of demand from the Customers.

The second question helps you identify your "right to win". Sure, there are problems in every industry. But if you've always been into Education, and you want to build something for Lending, you'd have to spend a few years just understanding and learning the Lending space. Someone who understands the Lending ecosystem will have an unfair advantage over you because they already know a lot of it and their focus would be on building on top of what they know rather than learning from scratch.

If you're chasing a large Market that you understand well, then you probably are in the right direction. If you execute well, your chances of success will be high.

No Awards, no Hackathons and definitely no Forbes

Founders - don't waste time on applying for Awards, Hackathons and Forbes 30U30. As much as you think they're useful, none of this is going to translate into tangible revenue.

Decide for yourself - what is better? Zero Awards, but $1M in revenue? Or winning multiple awards with 0 revenue?

Give your 100% focus on the Customer and solving their Problems and you'll have a meaningful Business. Focus on Awards and Recognition and you'd have fame in the short-term, but no Business in the long-term.

An underrated ability that all founders must build is to identify what really matters and focus on that rather than getting distracted by noise.