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Archive for the ‘Art of Start’ Category

Quieting the Lizard Brain

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What can be a better way to get over the lethargic status quo and (re)start regular blogging than this video – Seth Godin’s speech at 99% Conference – on Quieting the Lizard Brain.
In this presentation Seth Godin outlines a common creative affliction: sabotaging our projects just before we show them to the world. Godin targets our “lizard brain” as the source of these primal doubts, and implores us to “thrash at the beginning” of projects so that we can ship on time and on budget.

Worth mentioning the mission framework of 99%, which is a quote from Thomas Edison

Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration

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Written by anol

January 8th, 2010 at 5:27 am

Slide-set from SMU speech

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The slide-set from the brief speech at SMU. Thanks Pamela, I really enjoyed the whole session.

Written by anol

February 16th, 2009 at 11:02 am

7 things Small Businesses can learn from Chefs

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I am a lousy cook, but a big fan of good cooking shows. Why? ‘Cause I get many useful business lessons from the world class chefs. Seriously! Here goes few -

  1. There is no secret recipe
    Share everything. Chefs share there recipes will everyone, write books, host TV shows. Being open don’t take away any business from them, rather increase their reputation and eventually grow business. Share everything you learned with your present and prospective clients. If only hoarding the ‘trade secret’ can save you, you don’t have a sustainable business to start with.

  2. Create an audience, not just a client base.
    Chefs create audience, a group of targeted people who are always listening and tuning into chef’s recommendations. In business? Imaging the ‘audience’ of Steve Job’s hour long commercials! Enough said!

  3. Presentation matters
    No matter how good the food taste like, no one will like a badly presented dish. Presentation matters, in every front of business. Be careful how you present yourself – starting from your name-cards, PowerPoint presentations to website. If you don’t have the required skill, don’t take a chance – hire a professional designer.

  4. Repeat yourself.
    Chefs always repeats the ingredients and the process at least once. Follow that for every presentation or pitch you do. We might be center of owe own universe, but not for others. a quick repetition with highlighting key points is always a good habit.

  5. Simplicity Rules
    (Good) Chefs never suggest a complex cooking process or a hard to find ingredient. Simplicity is a key success factor. Edit away all the jargons from your sales pitch and business processes. Checkout Startcooking.com, great and simple recipes presented awesomely. In fact you can learn a lot about presentation from Startcooking.com. Here goes an example :

  6. Try new new things
  7. Not all the recipes are success stories. Keep experimenting and keep what works. There are many chefs, running shows and writing cookbooks for more than 10/15 years, still presenting always fresh and new things. Keep re-inventing, re-imagining.

  8. Don’t waste peoples time

    Good chefs are articulated and precise. They don’t waste time (again Startcooking.com is the case in point)
    Be precise and to the point for all your business communications – emails, web page writeup, presentations. People don’t have eternity for your stories. Tell them how you are going to make their life better and shut up.

Inspiration : A short talk by Jason Fried from 37 Signals over at BIF-4 Collaborative Innovation Summit

Cross posted at Macchiato

Written by anol

January 5th, 2009 at 7:40 am

Out-Teach Your Competitors : Jason Fried

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A short talk by Jason Fried from 37 Signals over at BIF-4 Collaborative Innovation Summit on how to spend no money on advertisement and create an ‘audience’ by out-teaching your competitors.

Written by anol

November 12th, 2008 at 6:00 am

Sub-Prime, Credit Crisis, Impact on SMEs in Simple English

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If you are not a Rip Van Winkle impersonator, you must be hearing (and unfortunately, feeling!) a lot of heated, depressing news about Sub-prime crisis, credit crisis and the financial melt down. If the ambiguous and jargon based headlines about the financial crisis still fly mostly over your head, you are not alone, most of us are on the same boat of ignorance.

But this crisis is too important for all of us, and might have a drastic and prolonged effect on every facets of our personal and professional financial life. Following is a list of resources I gathered in last few weeks, which explains the current financial turmoil in comprehensible format.

What is Sub-Prime mortgage crisis?

The sub-prime mortgage crisis is an ongoing financial crisis characterized by contracted liquidity in global credit markets and banking systems triggered by the failure of mortgage companies, investment firms and government sponsored enterprises which had invested heavily in subprime mortgages. The crisis, which has roots in the closing years of the 20th century but has become more apparent throughout 2007 and 2008, has passed through various stages exposing pervasive weaknesses in the global financial system and regulatory framework. [Wikipedia]

Before you jump into the textual section, here goes the most simple and convincing explanation in a short whiteboard presentation by Marketplace Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch.

If you prefer a humorous approach to explain the dire situation, here goes your version:

The story begins with borrowers who have a poor credit history looking to buy a house and are prepared to pay a mortgage rate typically 2% higher than rates charged to people with good credit. Borrowers approach mortgage brokers or conversely get brokers to cold call them. Brokers match prospective borrowers with lenders who further lure borrowers with artfully crafted mortgages such as “no doc” mortgages, which do not require any evidence of income or savings. Big banks and wholesale lenders such as HSBC Holdings buy the debt, repackage them and sell them to Wall Street firms. Wall Street banks and investment houses further repackage these loans in mortgage backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO). These structured products very often yield high rates of return and are sold to pension funds, hedge funds and institutions.

In a perfect condition : Sub-prime Mortgage

Things initially went very well for the financial institutions that made these loans because in the years that followed interest rates stayed low, the economy continued to grow, and the real estate market continued to expand causing the value of most people’s houses (including the sub-prime borrower’s houses) to go up in value pretty dramatically. This made it relatively easy for these borrowers to make payments on their loans as if they ran into financial trouble they in more cases than not could tap the equity in their home (which came from the increase in the house price) to refinance at more favorable terms or to make their mortgage payment.Because a relatively few of these sub prime borrowers were defaulting on their loans, the financial institutions which held these loans were enjoying the additional profits earned by charging these borrowers a higher interest rate, without many problems.

What happened in reality

As house prices dropped eventually, the equity value of home mortgages goes down, this creates an increase in mortgage defaults which will cause a further drop in house prices. This positive feedback relationship will simply create a snowball effect until the economy has reasons to believe that there are reasons for the reverse to happen. The snowball effect started from that point.

How Sub-prime became a worldwide epidemic?
When the analysts and experts talk about the current financial crisis, they often refer to “credit default swaps.” So, what exactly is a credit default swap? Marketplace Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch goes to the whiteboard for this explanation.

Aftermath

Sub-prime crisis impact timeline from Wikipedia
Who Is To Blame For The Subprime Crisis? by Eric Petroff at Investopedia
Paddy Hirsch explains how banks have gotten frozen in their tracks, awaiting a rescue.

Effect on Small & Medium Size Businesses and Startups

Most of the SMEs, all over the world, tend to finance their working capital by debt or loan or overdraft from banks. Due to the deep rooted and vastly spread nature of sub-prime crisis, banks from all over the world facing an unprecedented situation of asset reduction and lack of liquidity. A lack of liquidity means banks are being more selective and cautious about lending money. Banks often see small businesses as more of a risk, and due to the current financial condition, the level of caution is increased rapidly, resulting into both increase in interest rate (as in UK) and a higher number of refusals. Due to this tightened lending standards for commercial and industrial loans to small firms the access to capital for SMEs is getting reduced significantly. Due to the same reason, option of financing through equity for SMEs are getting limited as private investors are also either affected by the financial crisis or taking precautionary conservative steps.

The credit crunch and small business By Ian Mount, CNN
BBC NEWS | Business | Credit crunch ‘hits small firms’

Effect of the financial crisis already started hitting the technology market. Sequoia Capital, one of the biggest VC firm of Silicon Valley, gave a presentation to its portfolio company CEO’s last week. It’s a long, 56 slide Powerpoint message of doom and gloom in Silicon Valley which starts with “RIP Good Times”! Jason Calacanis, a veteran serial entrepreneur, calling this situation as (The) Startup Depression. In the same article, Jason shared some useful survival tips for startups and SME’s during financial turbulence. Singapore based tech-community evangelist and VC Bernard Leong shared his viewpoints in a blogpost Entrepreneurs and Credit Crunch. TechCrunch started tracking of layoffs from tech companies.

In midst of this crisis of epic proportion, Paul Graham wrote an wonderful article – Why to Start a Startup in a Bad Economy , which starts with

The economic situation is apparently so grim that some experts fear we may be in for a stretch as bad as the mid seventies.
When Microsoft and Apple were founded.

Written by anol

October 22nd, 2008 at 3:14 am