Should I? Should I not? Should I? Should I not? …..

•December 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

It aint much Im asking if you want the truth

Heres to the future for the dreams of youth
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all and I want It now
I want it all (yes I want it all) I want it all, I want it all and I want it now

Im a man with a one track mind
So much to do in one life time (people do you hear me)
Not a man for compromise and wheres and whys and living
So Im living it all (yes Im living it all)
And Im giving it all (and Im giving it all)

- I want it all (Queen)

The entrepreneur groups that I interact so often, some of the people I meet are infact not entrepreneurs but have dreams of being one. They dream to break way from their mundane, boring, well paid job to come out and build / create “something ” and make loads of money.

Nothing wrong with it. It’s a good point to begin with. Ironically, when you move on, the original dream then translates into something else, which I will pen down at my later blogs.

A common question asked in these forums are: “How do I know if I am a entrepreneur?” / “How do I know when to start?” / “What are the ways to start it?” / “Any set and predefined paths or points to follow?” / “Will I make a lot of money?”. “Can some, please help me / advice me and show me the way forward?”

Entrepreneurs who have already gone down that path, usually answer “mmm … you know, there is nothing like that. I guess the best way is to quit your job, jump in and learn to swim on your own”. Such basic questions tend to make entrepreneurs laugh which can be discouraging for starters who come seeking answers.

Luckily for me, I jumped in and learn to swim the hard way. No one told me what to do and how to do it. I made a lot of mistakes and blunders along the way, but its these experiences that helped me the most.

If you are someone who is right now reading this blog, in a paid job that pays you to meet those monthly needs in life BUT feel the need and the desire to start your own business AND “see how it goes”, here are my points that will help you make that decision.

Before that, let me warn you that once you are in, there is a good chance that you will be stuck and it will take a tough act to come out and get back to a job.

Point 1:

Once you quit your job, no one pays your salary. You need to earn every penny of it every month to pay your bills on time. While starting a venture, there is a good chance you will never be able to make your payments on time. You end up borrowing from friends and family, with the hope that you will soon repay them back.

This is something that 9 out of 10 people end up with.

Do you have the guts to quit your job that pays you to pay your bills on time and that puts bread on the table 3 times a day?

Point 2:

If yes, then the next question is “what is it that you would want to do”? Would you want to start a restaurant OR build software products and sell it OR sell bicycles OR rob banks?

Do you have a idea that you “think” will succeed? A good way to figure that out is to seek business opportunities in the same space as your current profession. It can help many ways:
(a) You know the business and domain,
(b) You have access to friends in your current organization who can help you with that additional help when you need it most,
(c) People who give you business would be comfortable knowing that you did something similar in your previous job.

Point 3:

If you do have a business idea, then how sure are you that you can make it profitable? Now this is a tough question.

If you have a neighbor who owns a successful restaurant and you think you are a better cook than him it may not be the case that you will make more money than him, simply because you are a better cook!! It NEVER works that way. Good skills in the kitchen will help you get good job but may no be good enough to help you start your own restaurant and make you rich and successful!!

Worse, making money and making profits are two different things. Monthly revenues can be encouraging for entrepreneur. While you have revenues flowing in, the expenditure you incurr should be lesser. Its only then you make profits, obviously. If you are taking a long term shot, then smaller losses, which can be paid off easily, can be acceptable.

Remember, for a business that has just started, it will need a lot more cash than you think. You need to have that inflow of funds to pay your office and other bills. Not to forget, you also need to pay salaries of your employees as well.

Your plans for revenues this month may never happen. Its usually lesser as some people may not pay on time, some may not even pay. It also could be the case that the number of customers you had estimated was quite high. Many reasons why your revenues can be lesser than what you had initially thought of. You can also safely be assured that the expenses you make for the month can be higher to what you had planned as well.

This is a decision you will need to make by using simple math to how you manage your monthly inflows and outflows accordingly so that your business is running in acceptable limits. Entrepreneurs often term this as cash flows.

Besides monthly bills that need to be paid, you will also need to put up initial costs to setup your business. You might want to buy furniture, computers etc which are a onetime investment. This is called Capital Expenditire – CapEX, which can be quite significant as well.

So plan your business funds that will include your initial CapEX needs and your monthly cash flows.

Product organizations, often see revenues months later. Till then they will incur only expenditures. They are only burning cash on monthly bills and salaries.

Based on the kind of money you need, you can then decide if you have enough funds to invest in your business, or if you want to seek outside investors such as friends / family / bank / individual investors etc.

Point 4:

If you have your basic math worked out, it would be a good idea to know exactly what the market and your potential customers “think” about your product. While you may think that your idea is unique and you are convinced that you will do well, the world around you may think otherwise.

For them, the product should give them some benefits, tangible or in-tangible. They will also let you know if they are willing to pay the price that you are planning to offer as well.

More the people you meet, more feedback you get about your product. Usually, at the end of these sessions, your business idea would have changed drastically because you are now seeing perspectives that originally you had not thought of.

Your customers / markets view points matter the most. If they do not need your product / service in the first place, then its better not to explore the business in the first place.
But then, there have been successful people, through grit, determination and perseverance have managed to succeed inspite of the initial market feedback.

The decision of Yes or a No, you will have to make after you have spoken to a good number of prospective customers.

Point 5:

Finally, if your business needs additional people to manage it, then you will have to setup a team of talented and skilled employees who address the critical needs of the business.

Having the right team who can execute your business with the desired quality on time makes a lot of difference. While they carry out the daily grinds to make things work to your customers satisfaction, you can then focus all your time to market your solution and gain more customers.

Remember, its never too late to explore anything in life. The least you can do for yourself is to do one-thing that you always wanted to do. Least you have tried it. That’s where the success is, irrespective to the success of your venture.

I can promise you that you will come out being a better human being.

Books that I recommend you to read:

The Future of Enterprise Software – Debate b/w Benioff and Plattner

•December 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Interesting talk b/w Marc Benioff, founder, chairman & CEO of salesforce.com, the world’s leading independent SaaS provider, and Hasso Plattner, co-founder, ex-CEO and chairman of SAP, the world’s largest business software company.

One old enterprise way of doing it with tested, proven and high initial costs and the new one is a SaaS which offers software as a monthly fee.

Art of Start

•December 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

A good introduction for starters. Wish I had read it when I started :-)

Nothing can beat the practical experience that once has to undertake over a period of time. But do keep in mind some of the basic stuff that these slides talk about.

First Steps

•December 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Views of an entrepreneur based out of Bangalore.

I have had a journey that began sometime back and learning the hard way. With the help of good friends, small team and a great family.

Passionate about creating value to customers and finding ways to do existing ways better. Solutions that can sell, scale and earn rewards financially for everyone who believed and participated in the journey.

 
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