I don't know of a better definition of a start-up than how Steve Blank puts it - A start-up is a temporary organization in search of a profitable, repeatable, scalable business model.
Start-ups are temporary organizations because you are not going to be forever in the search mode. You have to keep pivoting to find your sweet spot fast enough before your cash, passion and energy runs out. When you iteratively find your profitable, repeatable, scalable business model through a series of experiments with each feeding the next; you transition out of being a start-up to a company which scales-up on known parameters as the equation for growth has been discovered. In the final stage; you become an enterprise, hopefully keeping the start-up consciousness still alive for continuous innovation to deliver greater and greater value to your target community and be the best in your industry.
The entire business modeling exercise during the search phase starts with answering three basic questions:
1. Who is your customer?
2. What problem is he facing?
3. Is the problem critical enough for him to solve such that he is willing to pay you more than your cost of acquiring the customer and delivering the promised goods / service to him?
You run experiments, collect metrics to validate assumptions and keep pivoting to reach your profitable, repeatable, scalable business model. Here are 8 ways in which you can pivot to iterate forward to build a business that makes a huge difference to its target community, which is the only way to laugh all the way to the bank:
1. Customer Problem
2. Market Segment
4. Product Feature
5. Revenue Model
6. Sales Channel
7. Product vs Services
8. Pivoting to differentiate from Competition
A word of caution of here - pivoting too fast or too slow - can both lead to painful death of the start-up. Ensure you are connected strongly with your customers, entrepreneur communities and mentors; so that you have them holding the mirror to you all the time for you to keep course-correcting at the right time, at the right pace.
Most small businesses spray and pray, blindfolded; hoping something that they do will give them the profitability that they are seeking. Time to take off the cover from your eyes, learn and implement the science of business-building that gives you deeply fulfilling super success.
Further Reading: https://www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2012/01/21/a-smart-business-knows-8-ways-to-pivot-their-vision/#1563b2717f96
On 1-Jan-17, I sat in the hotel in Dubai to write down my intentions for this year. Intentions for me is a more powerful word than goals. Intentions are inspired from the inside, while goals are forced upon oneself and have a heaviness about them. Every year, I pick up things that boot me out of my comfort zone. I picked up a new target audience to serve at the price-point that made my heart beat faster. I recognized fear and knew I had picked the right thing to chase. I wasn't excited about the additional revenue and profitability that it would bring on the table. What filled me up with excitement, passion and absolute fear is the completely new human being I would become in order to fulfil on this intention; the number of inner barriers, blind spots & limitations I would need to face-off and let go; the number of times my old self would need to die to become the new me; the astronomical growth that it meant for me as a human being. There was excitement about being a butterfly and yet also the fear of the death of the caterpillar, the fear of having to move out of the cozy comfort of the cocoon.
I also reflected on my life to look at what I had been resisting the most because stupendous growth lies in going in the direction of what you resist the most. It didn't take too long for me to figure out what that was. Yes, it was cooking. I love great food but if I have to cook, I could survive on fruits for months together. That was my relationship with anything to do with cooking and the kitchen has always been on the bottom-most position on my list of favourite rooms at home. I sat there in that hotel room squirming in my seat knowing I had found something I needed to embrace and as yet very uncomfortable at having to do so. So, it landed on my list of intentions for 2017.
The Universe always supports you to fulfill your intentions. It depends on you whether you can really look deep inside anything that happens to you. On the surface, it always looks like a breakdown. If you have the eyes to look deep inside any challenge or a problem, you will always find the gift of the Universe hiding there, supporting you to live your highest potential. So, both my home support staff decided to leave for their village at the same time.
I dusted the cobwebs off my food-processor and called the service engineer to give me a demo of this piece of technology. Within minutes of his leaving, I had damaged the main jar and locked-jam the machine. I have to log one more support request, more like distress call to the service centre.
Here are my leadership lessons from the kitchen:
1. Facing your Fear is a muscle. You use it in one area, it becomes available to you in the other areas. Instead of taking Aditya's offer of moving to his parents' house (my usual rescue sanctuary) or hiring another cook, making the choice to dive deep into my fear has somehow released me. I no longer have the fear of not creating customers in the new segment. Infact, I have doubled the price point from where I started at the beginning of the year and that has made the game even more exciting. I am looking forward to serving deeply, committed to making 10 times the impact and failing gloriously numerous times along the way.
2. When there's more to do, efficiency comes easily as long as you remain still on the inside irrespective of the chaos outside.
I have two coaches, both in the US. I had my coaching call at 3:30 am for an hour and fifteen minutes. Woke up the kids at 5 am for their daily Monday to Friday yoga class, packed Aditya's breakfast as he left for early morning golf, made raagi pancakes for kids' breakfast, packed methi paranthas for their lunch break and another tiffin for their short break. Was at my table at 8:00 am to start my work day, worked for sometime from home, drove to office for a meeting. Spoke to my parents for my daily call with them. My mother still can't believe I am cooking.
I spend 2.5 hours in the morning getting the breakfast and the tiffin boxes ready. Even with my home support staff around, I am busy minute to minute and don't experience the luxury of these 2.5 hours. The terrifying truth of Parkinson's Law is so spot on - work expands to fill the time. Even without achieving anything, we can still be busy being busy lamenting about the paucity of time. How important it is to make each moment contribute to our highest purpose else a lifetime is wasted, even without experiencing a moment's rest.
3. Parenting is not about telling the kids what to do, how to be but showing them by doing it yourself. The kids have stopped resisting getting up and showering before their yoga class in the morning since I took on cooking.
Before, the kids would be shouting for a glass of water, demanding the shoes be brought to them. Today, my 11-year old ironed her own school dress and felt great about it. She also helped pack the tiffin boxes. My 8-year old dressed up on his own, ate on his own without being distracted, filled his and his sister's water bottles.
4. Running something without understanding leads to wastage and inefficiencies. I thought I was managing the kitchen. I have used the same amount of vegetables for twice the number of days. Stems of palak, methi, coriander find their way into the cooked vegetables on the dinner table instead of in the dustbin. Peels get cooked as part of my pet's meals. Potato peels are no longer thrown and end up providing nutrition to the family. Tonight, I am making a vegetable out of the stem of cauliflower.
5. You can bring innovation and creativity only if you understand something at the very core by doing it yourself. My cook would have never thought of pancake with raagi, fennel powder (saunf) and jaggery powder (gur). I left out sugar and baking powder. Kids loved it. I got 9.5 on 10 from one kid and 10 on 10 from the other.
6. Doing something because you have to do it burdens your heart. Taking on doing the same thing because you have made the choice to do it and doing it with love brings with it tranquility and peacefulness; soothing the heart, mind and body.
It doesn't matter how the responsibility came to you. How you relate to it is what determines the outcome and the experience of the process.
Dinner time for us is between 5 pm to 6 pm. At 7:00 pm yesterday, I was still struggling with the food processor because the recipe book I was referring to demanded I make a paste out of some ingredients. I realized I was stuck with that recipe. I needed great amount of agility of mind to un-stuck myself and do something else. Number of times, chaos started to rise inside. Being a coach helps. I was able to process myself on the spot and let it drop, staying in the moment in stillness. The dinner was served at 8:00 pm. I was famished and it was the most delicious matar pulao and mixed daal I have ever had in my life. Family said it was nice, which is progress because as soon as our cook declared she was leaving, kids asked her when she was coming back because they couldn't eat mama's cooked food and asked me if they could eat their lunch at the cafe everyday.
7. Happiness is in walking the path of your resistance. Since I rolled-up my sleeves to jump into the big vast ocean of cooking without knowing how to swim; there's a quiet, settled, subtle kind of joy I am experiencing. Its a beautiful feeling, though hidden within layers and layers of other emotions originating in resistance. The way to drop through the layers to touch your joyful source is to be in moment-by-moment awareness and acknowledge each unwholesome emotion as it arises. In that acknowledgement, it will pass. It is when we don't acknowledge and instead push the low feelings under the carpet unconsciously, that the emptiness in the heart and exhaustion in the body builds up; leading to discomfort and dis-ease.
8. Choosing to walk the difficult path leads to maximum deeply fulfilling growth. I could have quietly packed my bags and moved in with Aditya's parents for some time. It's luxury staying with them. Mom takes care of the kitchen and the kids and everything else; leaving me to deepen my craft (of coaching) by reading voraciously which is my most favourite thing to do. I feel I have grown as an outcome of not following the path of least resistance.
9. Loving something / someone or resisting something / someone are both choices; and only requires Agility of Mind to switch from one to the other. I now actually enjoy the process of cooking and look forward to the experience. Only in jumping right in and doing it with love did the switch happen.
10. Pre-planning your work is the key to having it all - deeply fulfilling successful career, joyful relationships, happy responsible kids and lots of nourishing me-time. Planning the previous day with the kids the spread of the next day, ensuring the ingredients are either there or that the menu is built around available ingredients, figuring out the steps, which cooking dishes are required etc.; is what makes the creation process possible, within time and effortlessly. Without that, there is only the feeling of being overwhelmed. The shortest path from complexity to simplicity is through planning, reviewing and reflecting.
Keep the faith, believe, go beyond resignation and cynicism to live your greatness. That is why you are here.
PS: In the photo is my younger one holding his orange tiffin box with 2 raagi aloo-methi paranthis. He finished his tiffin-box and said it was good.
Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great…Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. - Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Another word for good life is mediocrity, and that can never fulfil. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Which game am I playing - the Game of Mediocrity or the Game of Mastery?" If you can stand tall, look straight in your eyes and tell yourself with conviction in your mind, lightness in your body and joyful ease in your heart that it is the Game of Mastery you are invested in; my friend, keep playing the game to realize your greatest dreams in deepest communion with your highest self and have it all - deeply fulfilling successful career, joyful relationships, happy responsible kids and lots of nourishing me-time. Remember the Game of Mastery is a journey and the day you think you have arrived is the day you know you have to start all over again right from ground zero.
If you stand in authenticity and vulnerability to acknowledge that you are playing the Game of Mediocrity, congratulations for your courage because now you have the power to choose differently. The Game of Mastery can only begin with deep self-awareness of where you are. All you have to do is make the choice to shift your game and with that, your life will shift. You are destined for greatness. Don't let the world sell you lies and have you believe in the virtues of mediocrity, as it slowly and ever so surely is killing your spirit moment by moment. Rise, awake, let go of your cynicism & resignation; and follow your heart because you are meant to shine brightly with the light of your greatness.
If I am not doing something at the time I had committed to do it, the reason at the very source of it is FEAR which expanded stands for Forget Everything and Run. Fear, in fact, makes us even forget that there is fear present and we slump into darkness of unknowing; sitting shrouded in dark, dreary, heavy clothes of unconsciousness of the truth inside.
I don't have time, Something else is more critical, I will do it later, I am not inspired to do it right now, I am not in the mood, I am not well, I am too old, I am too young, I am a woman, I am a man, I never wanted it in the first place, I need some more time, I have family constraints, I have obligations, I am too sensible to do this - are various ways we cover up the fear because it is not cool to acknowledge that I have fear and I have fear of experiencing the fear itself. So, I run away and hide myself from it; and it simply goes under the carpet, festering inside.
It requires a high degree of self-awareness to be able to distinguish the fear in the first place. Unfortunately, without facing off what's really lurking inside; no real growth can take place. We may toot about to the world how well we are doing; post smiling images of ourselves & our family on social media; write on Facebook to let the whole world know how much we love our spouse; but in the stillness of the night or in the moments when we are not hiding from ourselves by being busy being busy; we can feel the hollowness, the emptiness which is killing us softly second by second.
Infact; sickness, ill-health, dis-ease, discomfort, loss of energy, enthusiasm & passion, exhaustion are all tell-tale signs of a deeper malaise inside; an expression of a deeper fear inside. I have studied a lot of healing methodologies even though I am a business coach because I realized business is merely an expression of the person at the helm of it; business simply mirrors the personality and limitations of the founder just as children mirror their parents. Healing is nothing but supporting the person to recognize the fear and letting that go. Letting go can only happen if there is awareness of the presence of fear. We can limp along with the burden of fear till we find ourselves on the funeral pyre or buried under the ground, shouting at top of our voice that we have no fear. Of course, deep inside, we know better. We are just hoping nobody else finds out.
And yet, we have another way - to turn around and look straight in the eye of Fear by giving ourselves the permission to increase our self-awareness, acknowledge the Fear and fully accept it to ourselves and to others. That vulnerability frees us and in that freedom, we awaken to our inner authentic power to realise our greatest dreams in deepest communion with our highest self and have it all - deeply fulfilling successful career, loving harmonious relationships at work and at home, happy responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed, lots of nourishing nurturing me-time while making a difference in the world through the work we do.
I wanted to start my own business after graduating from XII grade but I procrastinated for 20 years. I did not have the courage. So, I did what everybody else was doing - did engineering, MBA, followed the herd, took up a corporate job, climbed the ladder to become Vice-President. And, then I could not run away from myself anymore and just gave it all up not knowing what the next moment held. It took me 20 years to finally have the courage to face my fear. When I embraced it; I felt released, relieved. Clarity dawned on me about what was my real purpose, what would give me joy and contribute enormously to others.
I am grateful, I only lost 20 years and not an entire lifetime.
1. Progress is playing the game out there on the court, not in the head.
2. What you want, give it to others. That's the only way to get what you want.
3. Slow down. Growth comes only to those who move forward like a tortoise. Racing ahead like a hare leads to exhaustion and missing to reach the destination because life is a marathon, not a 100 metres race.
4. Kids mirror me. Look in the mirror if I don't like what they are doing. They'll only learn from how I live my life. School is merely to give me time to work on myself.
5. Happiness and fulfilment comes only from serving others - family, customers, employees, everyone around me.
6. Everyone is here to leave the world a better place by being the world's best in something. My purpose is to help them find it and to support them to live joyfully in the expression of it.
7. Prosperity and Success are an outcome of being love, gratitude, reverence, integrity and mastery; moment by moment. From a distance, the opposite seems true but lasting, deeply fulfilling, joyous greatness lies in the domain of love, gratitude, reverence, integrity and mastery.
8. Gentleness elicits greater performance and productivity from people than toughness. People perform much higher than their current levels when you believe in them being extraordinary whether they themselves believe it or not.
9. Challenging myself by learning new skills nourishes the soul.
10. Bigger the breakdown, bigger the breakthroughs. Therefore, embrace all breakdowns and receive them with gratitude as gifts from the Universe.
To do more in less time needs needs three pieces to come together:
1. A still mind giving you access to creativity, innovation and clarity so that you are able to identify the top 20% activities which give you 80% outcomes.
2. A day with a well-laid out plan for you to efficiently move through.
3. Unhurried, peaceful pace with certainty in your actions
One of the most powerful ways to make the above happen is to have a fixed routine, doing the same thing at the same time.
1. Some tasks are routine and have to happen irrespective of where you are - sleeping, waking up and eating to begin with. If you have a fixed schedule of waking up, sleeping and eating; then the body adapts to the rhythm and functions more efficiently. Benjamin Franklin; America's Founding Father, Scientist, Inventor, Farmer, Political Revolutionary; followed a strict daily routine of eating, sleeping and working. So, it is the case with many others who have created a lot more in their lifetime with the same number of hours that are available to each one of us.
2. Habits is what distinguish successful people who work hard to create success and very successful people who effortlessly & in less time create breakthrough results. Warren Buffet, worth $73.7 Billion spends 80% of his day reading. And, when action comes, it is powerful and effective. A fixed routine becomes a habit and brain energy is conserved by not having to figure out everyday when to do these basic functions and is now available to focus on what would serve you the most. Also, a fixed routine allows for ensuring other good habits like exercising, reading, review & reflection find time in your day.
3. Even babies and children tend to be more peaceful and centred, if their parents create a routine for them. A routine is soothing, there is predictability in it and most importantly builds focus, discipline & will power without which a life is lost like a ship without a rudder.
Well, you may say, what about spontaneity and fun. I will tell you that if you have a routine, you will find more time for spontaneity and fun.
In a study done in the US of high growth start-ups, more than 80% of these companies were financed through the founders' personal savings, credit cards and second mortgages. The founders of these start-ups essentially relied on debt or retained earnings to grow.
Businesses nourished with customer's money follow the shortest route to success as you will be forced to think of ways to make the biggest difference to the customers by focussing on solving their problems rather than spending time wooing investors. More often than not, entrepreneurs confuse raising money with building a sustainable business. These two not only require two completely different mind-sets but also completely different skill-sets.
Time and brain-power spent by founders; in churning out business plans with 5-year projections to attract venture capital in an environment that is rapidly changing and uncertain by its very nature; is sheer wastage as this does not contribute towards strengthening the fundamentals of the business.
The only reason to raise money should be to scale your business, after you have hard data that proves you have a business model that is not only profitable, but repeatable and scalable. Without this, the investor money is too much too soon with the founders not having the entrepreneurial wisdom and maturity to lead their businesses towards contribution and sustainability. All that is left then are bubbles bursting all over the place.
Here's what Arthur Rock; America's legendary venture capitalist who helped finance Fairchild Semiconductor, Teledyne, Apple and other companies; has to say - "I usually can tell the difference between people who have that fire in their stomachs and those who see their ideas primarily as a way to get rich. Far too many people are interested in building a financial empire instead of a great company. I want to build great companies. ... I look for people who want the same thing."
So, whether you are a founder or an investor, make it your business to build great companies that evolves humanity to the next level. Chase money, you may or may not end up anywhere. Chase making a difference and you are likely to create unimaginable wealth besides leaving a legacy behind.
The relationship between investor and founder should be that of coach and coachee, mentor and mentee; with the investor committed to support the founder to create success even it means the original business model has to be trashed along with many others to follow because building a great business is an iterative process and you are not likely to hit gold with the first business idea.
Leave footprints in the sand of time; instead of dead dreams, lost hopes and a lot of heartburn. You can do this if you invest in the fundamental principles of business building, increasing your leadership depth and commit to be the world's best in what you do. Then, the entrepreneurial journey becomes the path to your highest self and your business mirrors that.
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one.
- John Lennon
PS: Imagine India & Pakistan, China & Tibet, Israel & Palestine living in love, deep understanding, reverence, harmony, joy and friendship.
You may say I'm a dreamer.
But I'm not the only one. I hope some day you'll join us. And the world will be as one.
Hope the attached video makes this a possible reality in your mind. When the mind believes and visualises, reality transforms.
Leadership is the inner Power to Create™ extra-ordinary results. For this to happen, the leaders need to coach their people to realize their greatest dreams in deepest communion with their highest self.
Only with this commitment, the leaders earn the love, reverence and childlike trust & faith of their people. Without this, you cannot inspire your team to be powerfully aligned to the vision that you are entrusted with to transform into reality. As a consequence, you lose productivity & performance which cannot be forcibly, logically or financially extracted but can only be put on the altar of your vision with loving willingness.
Leadership is not about ticking the to-do list at the end of the day with a pat on your back for leading the pack. It is about making a difference to the human being in your team and transforming the world through that. It is about Being of Service™ to your team members. It is not for your team to do things for you. It is for you to be of service to them; to support them to let their light shine; support them to experience their own greatness; support them to be learn, grow & evolve to live in the joyous expression of their highest selves.
At the heart of it, leadership is about being loving parents at the workplace such that your team members flower & bloom in your unconditional love & acceptance.
When you grow to be this kind of a leader, you would have fulfilled your destiny this lifetime and you would then realize your greatest dreams in deepest communion with your highest self because it is in giving that we receive. Otherwise, you will dance to death swirling & twirling to the tune of mediocrity with emptiness in your heart.
Wishing you deep self-awareness and courage to be the real leader that you are to effortlessly create extraordinary results in all areas of your life - deeply fulfilling successful career, joyful relationships, happy responsible kids and lots of nourishing me-time.
My golf coach always says stop trying to hit the ball, focus on the perfect swing. In the beautiful dance of the body, mind, emotions and the being; the body swings, the ball just comes in the way and ever so gently reaches the farthest point when the ball, the club, body, mind, emotions and the being all become one.
And, so it is with business. If you are trying to hit profit, you will struggle more and become a two-left feet dancer chasing customers day in, day out. Stop.
Instead; bring your passion, inspiration & commitment to become the world's best in your domain and solve the real problem your customer is facing better than anyone else. In that graceful dance; you, the customer, the problem and the solution will become one. Joyful effective action will effortlessly flow out. Wealth creation will then be fun and deeply fulfilling. Customers will queue outside your door. You will experience mastery of life itself.
Enjoy the beautiful journey of making a difference to the world and winning over yourself through your business.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.