Updated: Jun 1, 2021
Q: What are the most effective ways to manage your time and develop decision making ability?
A: There are two quotes that sums up the answer to this question.
“Planning is nothing, Plan is everything” and
“If you Fail to Plan, you Plan to Fail”.
Re-read it, again, again. Let that fit in your head. People who assume that they will plan when they have all the information, they will wait forever. Another side of this also very crucial that is, managing time is all about making decisions. We know what we should do and when, but do we do it? Why? We are afraid to make decisions, we are afraid that we might miss a better opportunity.
Suppose we planned to start studying in 5min, we think that since we have 5min, we will maybe check our social media, and by the time you realize, 20min have passed. That was your decision of not stopping on time or decision you made to check your cell phone.
Think of it this way then, if you do something productive, it will improve you and your skills and soon you will be so good that your skills will be visible to anyone who speaks with you and eventually opportunity will fall on your lap. If you wait to make a decision, you will not move and make any progress and hence no improvement in you or your skills.
Now, how do you assume that without doing anything, that magic should happen and you should get what you want? You won’t. You get what you deserve, you have to be prepared to get what you wish for.
Next time you think of managing time, think of the most important and necessary things you need to do and just do them and forget about any other things that might have given you temporary joy.
Q: What are the top 5 things you should do to improve your communication skills?
A: This is a very popular question that I am frequently asked. Communication skills in todays world is probably the most important skill one should acquire. To be clear, people believe that they should be born with it but it is not true, if we really go in depth of how the life has progressed of people who are great at communicating, we will start to see a pattern of things those people used to do that has resulted in their exceptional communication skills. So, what are these things that they did and how you can acquire, well, the answer is simple, and it is not easy.
I believe, 5 things you can do to improve your communication skills are:
Try to say the same thing in multiple ways:
This is a straight forward process that will jog your memory and will force you to think. This is a preliminary step because this step will help you to think in different angels which is a very helpful asset when answering someone with different perspective
Read Books, listen to podcasts and watch videos:
By doing this, you will learn about perspectives and good stories and great examples. These perspectives, stories and examples will be very helpful when you are trying to convince your point. Also, reading, listening and watching videos will improve your vocabulary so that you can use perfect word that will match the sentence. Believe me, using a proper word turns out to be more effective while conversing.
Ask a lot of questions:
You have to understand what communication skills means to get this point. People will think you have good communication skills if you are able to put your thoughts in a way that will be on the same level as the person you are speaking with. Asking a lot of question will help you get an idea of how the other person thinks and that will give you a clue on how you can say the same thing in different way that will get your point across.
Try to make a healthy discussion with everyone:
When you discuss with people, both of you are basically trying to say that each of your point is better, not always but often times that is the case. At this point, I suggest you only listen, so that you can learn some good points what other person is saying and when you get a gist of their perspective, your previous steps will help you put your point across more effectively.
Practice and act confident while speaking:
I should write acting confident before practice, both are equally important but please understand the power of acting confident. When you are confident while you speak, it projects a certain energy that is felt by the other person and that energy remains in the environment. It is traditional mentality that people will believe a lie spoken with confidence than a truth spoken with hesitation. This will come with practice, this is the only thing that will get you on the hot spot and people will listen to you.
Q: Top questions you should ask yourself before starting a business?
A: Well, there are about a zillion questions one should ask before starting a business. However, there are certain things that must be sorted in your mind before you start spending money on your business idea. There is a concept called fail fast, this means you should validate your business and take your potential customer reviews about your business idea. Knowing what your customers think about your business even before you have started it will give you an edge and confidence about its potential.
Another thing you must keep in mind, not to start your business just because someone told you about it and because it has great profit margin. You do not know at this point what are the hustles you will have to do in future and it might not be even worth the effort or you might get frustrated or lose interest or lose a lot of money.
You must know your business in and out, you should be as detailed as possible when thinking about your business model and should be able to describe any minute details.
What are the top 5 business books you should read?
A: Every book will teach you something, and business is a vast field, so no matter how much you read about it, you will always learn something new everyday when you actually do it. There are, however couple of books that one should read to get an understanding of pitfalls of the businesses and try to avoid doing those. The list of books below will help you with the things you should do and things you should be aware of:
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim | Renée Mauborgne :
This is a legend book to start of with. This book will teach you whether your idea is worth executing or not. If yes, then further it will guide you on how you can differentiate your business proposition in the market to create your brand.
How to win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Even though this is not a business book, it is a must read because businesses are made by people and if you don’t know how to deal with them, sooner or later you will realize that you are being directed to read this book. This book is again a book for lifetime, helping you how to handle people and make them your fans. You will probably have to re-read it just to absorb all the concepts, but believe me, it will be worth it.
Start with why by Simon Sinek :
Not enough can be said about Simon Sinek’s ability to understand leadership, corporation and people’s mindset. One of the best business books you will come across about brand representation. This book will not only tell you how to think about your business but also how you should lead people in your company, not just behavior wise but also psychologically.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel :
Peter Thiel is an artist in a sense that you will get a whole new and different perspective to look at your own business idea. This book will teach you a lot of things from why your business idea could fail to how to run your business.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill :
This one is again a non business book yet a classic read. This will help you build your mindset and how have successful people been thinking when they were in their struggling phase. How thinking positively all the time, can lead to positive outcome eventually.
Q: What are the best kept secret of successful people?
A: There are plenty of secrets of successful people and most of them are available online. According to my understanding, top 5 skills or practices that successful people follow are: they are very obsessed with their dream/goal, their only priority is their dream/goal no matter what, they work on their dream/goal EVERYDAY without fail. Apart from this, they possess qualities such as determination, consistency, persistence, self confidence, risk taking, optimistic.
These are not secrets anymore, but hard truths which people who consider themselves average never come out of their comfort zone and try. Sometimes one has to do things that they know are right even though they don’t like it to reach their goal. Take that step, move forward everyday, be consistent.
Q: I am 40 years old, am I too old to start business?
A: Starting a business is not related with the age. Colonel Sanders started when most people retire, at 65, Ray Kroc was 52 when he opened his first franchise of McDonalds, world famous novel series, Harry Potter was published first when J. K. Rowling was 42.
It is not about the age so much as it is about the passion, patience, persistence and willingness to commit to your goal.
In fact, if you are 40, few things can be assumed, you have good amount of experience that can help you avoid novice mistakes while starting your business, you will have certain amount saved to fund your business, you will have good network that you can reach out to for additional funds, or marketing or advice
Q: Can I do my education/job and business simultaneously? If yes then how?
A: You can definitely do business no matter what you are working or studying. But it comes with a catch, you need to be prepared mentally to accept the efforts, time and of course money that will be required to start your business. You will have to work extra hour and find time from work or school to put for your business. It will not be easy but it will surely be worth it.
How to do it is very simple, create a time schedule, see when you absolutely have to do something related to your school/work and take out few hours EVERYDAY, mind it, you have to work on your business everyday. Get as much information as possible in the initial stage before directly pouring money in, talk to people who are doing what you want to do, and get an idea of how many hours you are required to take off from your daily schedule. Validate your idea, this is very important, ask your potential customers, what they think about your idea, will they buy service/product you are providing. Once you have confidence, it is time to launch your business.
You will not be 100% sure but you will never be 100% sure about such decisions in your life.
Q: Why 80% of the startups shut down within first 5 years?
A: Everybody wants to compete against each other, everybody wants 100% market share, everybody wants large profits without investing in creating a unique and valuable product or service. Underestimating the amount of marketing and sales required and overestimating the potential success of your business are key factors for business failures.
There is a psychological reason behind this as well. Person starting a business tends only take major costs that will be required but forgets to take smaller figures and assume that won’t take too much. This thinking, in practicality, becomes a prime reason because you don’t borrow enough capital and when needed the most, people will be skeptical about lending more and you have to shut the business down due to inadequate funds. Always have at least 1.5 times the amount you estimate in your hand for backup.
Q: Is this (covid era) a good time to start a business ?
A: This is one of the best times to start a business. Despite the notion that many businesses are closing down which is true and that is one of the reason/factor because it reduces the competition creates a unique opportunity. Another advantage you have now is you are aware about the boundaries you need to work in such as your business should offer product/service that customers require frequently. Your business needs to be low capital intensive with moderate to high profit margin. This is to ensure to keep your business afloat. You should be able to keep your business going even if there is another lock-down. This will help to cover for your monthly business expenses. Even if your business idea is not unique, your positioning has to be extraordinary.
I would strongly recommend anyone who wants to start a venture to take advantage of this opportunity.
Q: Why must innovation be a routine function in your business?
A: Every business goes through a generic trend cycle, - Initial stage where the business grows steadily - Saturation stage where new competitors come in with lower prices or new technology and - Decline stage where other market players starts to acquire your market share. The business that does well in this cycle is the one which innovates before it reaches the saturation stage because, a business never wants to make their customers feel that the company does not have anything different to offer. If a company adopts routine innovation structure, its people will be trained to come up with either new ways to promote the business, reduce the cost of the product/service, find an innovative solution to the existing problem or find an innovative technology to improve the existing product/service.
Q: What is the difference in the mindset of a salaried person and a businessman?
A: They both are totally different species. A salaried person is focused on paycheck growth and does everything such as improve skills that provides written proof, get more certifications and he is always calculating the expenses and how he can increase his income so that he can accommodate his desire to spend more. A salaried person feels safe when he has a consistent source of income. He is at all time afraid of losing his job. And most important if he doesn’t love his work, he is always planning his weekends and just going through his weekdays. On the other hand, a businessman is always looking out to increase sales of his business, thinking about how he can best utilize his money to make more and get better returns. He knows there is no other way and so throws himself in the game. He is not afraid to put in more time as it is own venture. I agree a businessman does not take as many days off as a salaried person can but if he chooses to, he can model his business such that he can be anywhere in the world and still his business is running.
Q: Why do you need a consultant?
A: Try asking one your friends or relatives about what you should do after 10th / 12th / graduation, or where you should invest your money or which business should you start or how to resolve any issue with your partner. You will always hear their biased opinion or opinion they have created listening to someone they admire or just blabber without having any base. There are very few people around you who genuinely care about your wellbeing and have knowledge or understanding to solve your problem. If you know someone like this, by all means ask them. But if you don’t, you need a consultant who can help you understand the root cause of your problem, so it never happens in future, who will give an unbiased advice with proper explanation to justify their recommendation.
Q: Is it necessary to work before you start your own business?
A: It depends on the skills and knowledge you have. If you believe that you have done enough research and created a good marketing and initial business strategy, you have required capital plus same amount as surplus as backup, you have validated your business idea, then you can go ahead without needing to work. It also depends on your circumstances. Suppose you have family who is dependent on your earning, or you have no prior knowledge about the business you want to start, or you lack patience, then maybe it is a good idea that you work in a similar industry and get a good understanding of the business while working before you begin your adventurous journey of a startup.
Q: Can you become successful by copying successful businesses or business model?
A: The answer is YES*(Conditions Apply). There are few basic questions you will have to ask yourself. Is the business already present in location where you want to start? How much competition is there? What is the profit margin? Is there a niche your business will provide? Do you have necessary capital, space, people, an elaborative plan? Best example I can give is Uber & Ola or Zomato & Swiggy or Airbnb & Oyo. One company started in a different location and another company just copied it and started it in a different location and captured the market before first company reached that location. Beautiful thing about copying business is that you will know a good deal of concept from other business’s drawbacks and you get the opportunity to upgrade your business model.
Q: How to find a business idea?
A: It is a very common question among those who wants to start their business. There is no one short trick that you apply and get an idea. Finding a business idea is simple but not easy. First thing you have to do is start being observant about your surroundings. What do I mean by that, take a pause from what you are doing and look around yourself, you will see that everything around you has a business someone saw an opportunity for. For example, you start your day with, brushing your teeth, which gets you a business idea of a brush, paste, tongue cleaner, mouth wash, towel, face wash and so on. We can do this all day and get as many ideas as we want. Remember one thing- to get a big business idea, find a big problem and solve it.
Q: Importance of automation?
A: I always encourage automation. In fact, whenever I am creating a business model, I try to automate it as much as possible. I do not mean automation as replacing humans by machines/computer, automation is also a model where a business owner does not have to be physically present to oversee his every transaction. If the owner has to monitor everything, then his will not be able to focus on the big picture or how he can grow his business, how he can reduce his expenses, do marketing of his business, or start another business perhaps. Think about 20-30yr down the line, when you want to retire and you do not have anyone who can handle the whole thing like you did, you will feel helpless and probably sell everything or will hire managers to manage everything. Then why not hire in the initial stage itself.
Q: How can you be more productive and accomplish more?
A: Let’s say you have a paper 10 days later, and you have to prepare 5 chapters, you know you will strategize your plan accordingly, But what if you realize that the paper is 5 days later, now your plan will change and you will study accordingly. My point is very simple here, if we work with a deadline/timeline in mind, we can always find more time to do other things. But most important part of this process is to be honest with yourself while setting a deadline. Because if suppose you find out that you can finish the task before deadline but choose to slow yourself just because you have time, means you are procrastinating and will lead to being less productive.
Q: How important is it to understand your customer?
A: Suppose you go to a shop to buy denim jeans and you tell the shopkeeper and he shows you t shirts or trousers or chinos or shirts or jackets, anything but denim jeans. How would you feel? Would you go back to that place again? Would you recommend that place to your friends? Now imagine if you have to make a painting and you go to a shop to buy everything you might need, you tell the shopkeeper your requirement and he gives what you ask and also recommends few more that would be better to enhance your painting. What are the chances you will trust his opinion next time you visit. If you don’t understand your customers’ needs, you will always be wondering why your business is not doing as you hoped it would.
Q: What is the one thing that helped you become better every day?
A: Persistence. Adopting habits that improves you and doing them every day with no excuses. I would recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book explains the concept of improving just by 1% in everything we do, every day and shows you how a substantially great result can be obtained. 1% sound very small for one day or two maybe, but doing it for 365 days will make you 3778% better. How small is 1% now?…
Think about the thing you want to improve in yourself, write them down, prioritize them and pick only one at a time, because trying to do all at once can demoralize you if you fail to keep up. Once you are confident, then you can try two at a time and so on.
Q: How does a business get get its first client?
A: After putting all the money needed, after doing all the promotions possible, after setting up in a perfect location, the only thing that is left to do is wait. I know this is not an answer you want to hear. But you cannot force your product onto your customers.
Also try not to convert your family or friends as your customer, they won’t scale your business. A totally unknown customer who likes your product/service will definitely promote your business for you.
What you can do is, try to find what your competitors are doing different, how they are promoting, and see if there is anything you can take from them and implement in yours. Go out, go to group meets and interact with people, build connections, let them know what you are up to, be genuine, don’t try to sell to everyone, else you will repel them, and last but most important is Patience.
Q: Are there any business that one can start with very low investment with maximum profit?
A: There are plenty of businesses which one can start with low investment and can generate higher returns. However, let’s say if a class average percentage is 80%, that means there are students lower than 80% and higher than 80%, which is what makes a student topper of the class. What if all students score 80%, the average will still be 80% but there won’t be any uniqueness between students.
Relating it to the business aspect, if a business requires low investment and generates high returns, then everyone would try to do it and competition will increase and that will drive down the sales.
This risk can be mitigated using several strategies such as creating a brand name, being first in that location, capturing large market share by reducing prices initially (Ex. Jio SIM cards), marketing, etc.