Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur

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How to get from where you are to where you want to be

Source #2: DIY

“The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Todays source will talk about a common scenario which comes up when you have your NABC proposition in hand but unfortunately don’t have the funds to get your product off the ground and have been unable to secure funding from friends and family. At this point many begin to lose heart. They begin to doubt themselves and their belief in their idea gets shaky. An entrepreneur who has complete belief in his concepts and ideas will not lose hope at this point in time. We have several options still available to us which include angel investment, venture capital or even getting some leverage from your bank. The advice I give to individuals in this space is to get some funds together yourself or with your team mates the old fashioned way with a plan with specific goals.

In todays day and age angel investors are becoming more sophisticated and a proof of concept or prototype has becoming a necessity. Plans look great on paper and if you are an A-grade presenter you may make it through at the angel investment level. However, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to make it through without a prototype or proof of concept. The other day a friend called me asking for advice on an online stock photo website he wanted to launch. He had a lot of new twists to the conventional business model and he was essentially looking for some seed capital to convert this concept into a reality. Being a professional photographer with a good team I told him that they should raise money themselves and get a prototype of what they want to do together. This would make it easier for them to approach angel and VC investors.

Here is when things get a little blurry. Say you have skills in flash based development. You set up a home-based consultancy to promote your services with the goal to raise $10k to create your prototype. Things start to go reasonably well and you find yourself making relatively decent money without having to work at a full time job. You need to keep things in focus now, consulting work is highly customized and cannot be scaled. A lot of angels and VC’s would not be very interested in funding a project which does not have a viable exit strategy. Stay focused on creating a standardized product which can be used by millions of individuals rather than custom work developed for a specific individual. Falling into this trap is relatively common. Staying focused on the bigger picture is a vital key.

Once the prototype is developed get back out there and get some serious investment into your project to get it kick started. When you use this sourcing method to raise funding for your project remember to stay focused on the bigger picture. If you are developing a stock photo website ask your clients whether they buy photo’s online and if they don’t, how much they would want to pay for them. If you are a software programmer continue to take on projects which help you in developing modules for the larger project. Use this as a platform to get traction on the idea and to help you refine it along the way. Just remember to work with a specific goal , do not get sidetracked and lose sight of the ultimate objective .

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Source #1: Friends and Family

“The holy passion of friendship is so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring in nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.” Mark Twain

It is natural that when we first start out on any business venture, friends and family are the first ones who are asked to support them. I used this method of sourcing for money in my first media startup. However, it wasn’t like knocking on a door and saying, could I please have $5k. I wish life was that simple. Before you embark on taking money from anyone you have to be completely sure about what was talked about yesterday. We need to be completely sure where we are going with our idea, with whom and how. So when I approached an uncle of mine for a loan I prepared a detailed document outlining how the business is going to run. It was a basic executive summary which showed him:

  1. The market need
  2. Our value proposition
  3. The market size
  4. Our services
  5. My team
  6. Payback period

A lot of individuals overlook the fact that taking money from friends and family is risky business. We have a lot invested in our relationship with them and any sort of complication leads to friendships being lost and family ties strained. You have to make it absolutely clear to them from the very beginning what it is that you need the money for. I feel this gives them much needed relief, because from their perspective they will realize that you have put serious thought into the venture and that in itself is a good starting point.

Another factor that you have to take into account is whether they will be buying in to the business in return for equity or the funding will serve as a loan which will be paid back. I have a relatively strong preference for the latter. Involving family and friends is complicated as it is, if they buy into the company this further complicates matters and they may have completely radical ways of viewing your business model. If you take a loan from a friend or family member make sure that they are financially capable of withstanding the loan. If not you could get a call out of the blue one day requesting the loan money be returned straight away due to an emergency. That is another situation which can be the end of an early stage startup.

Whichever route you take be sure to do it professionally, with openness and honesty and get everything in writing. These will help safeguard both your relationships as well as your startup’s future.

p.s Source #0: Using savings that you may have. I have made the assumption that like most younger entrepreneurs you don’t have significant savings to initially fund the startup process. However if you have a some money saved up I would strongly suggest that you use that instead of venturing out to the next source.

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Is it all about the money?

You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the most difficult task in the world, for opening Daisaku Ikeda

I hear it all the time….”I will start up my own company when I have enough money” or “I can’t start a new business because I don’t have the funds”. I used to think along these lines once upon a time as well. The reasons why some think this way are purely psychological. We set up sub conscious barriers which inhibit us to go into unchartered territory. We fear that we may fail or that we wont have the confidence that is needed. Since nothing can really prepare anyone for this deep dive I just ask the question “Do you believe that your product/service has the potential to become something huge?”. The answer to this question helps you break down any internal barriers you may have. It will strengthen your resolve and make you think deeper about what you are actually wanting  to achieve. I sincerely believe that money should not be an hurdle when you believe that you have something unique to offer the world coupled with the confidence you can deliver it .

I have been part of and have created quite a few companies in the last couple of years. I don’t recall a time when money was the primary hindrance in wanting to execute what we had in mind. Don’t get me wrong, money is a great thing to have while running a business, its just over reliance on it which causes a blur. Over the next week I am going to be talking about some of ways that you can look into raising funds for your startup. Pre-requisites would be, the belief that you have a potentially value adding service/product, have part of your team in place and a burning passion to succeed  to bring about positive change. Without these factors I am certain that even if you raise capital, chances of success are reduced.

The fact of the matter is that when you want change in your life or you do not want to go down the the beaten path you have to want it bad enough. Stuff like finding the right team and the right investment partner become much simpler feats. I had mentioned this before, when you are looking for success it has mysterious way of creating pathways for you to find it. Letting the world tell you that it is too difficult is just its way of testing your resolve. If you truly believe that you have what it takes to make it,  I am very sure that you will have no problem crossing this hurdle.

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5 steps to find out who you are

You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully. Anthony Robbins

“Who are you?” was the question which was tackled this week. By no means is this an easy question to answer and in most cases not too many ask themselves this question till it is too late. For you to be able to succeed at anything in life you need to realize what it is that you are good at and, not good at. Simply plugging along and hoping for the best isn’t an optimal strategy. Being an entrepreneur, identifying your strengths and weaknesses and those of your team mates are essential in creating winning teams.

1. How do you energize yourself?: Some people draw their energy from the outside world with constant interaction with friends, co-workers or teammates. This constant interaction energizes them to be more productive and efficient. Some people draw their energy from the inner world. They need time-out to gather their thoughts and feelings to energize themselves. How do you energize yourself? To read more please click here.

2. How do you process information?: Do you work best with facts and figures or do you rely a lot on your gut feelings? Some individuals find it a lot easier to process information when they can use their 5 senses to verify information. They prefer information to be provided in a step by step manner. Others look a lot deeper than the senses, they are able to perceive and infer a lot of things which may not be clearly apparent. They are constantly moving from one thought to the next. How do you process information? To read more click here.

3. How do you make decisions?: Are you the type who requires all the facts and then likes to make logical decisions, or do you take into account the implication of your decision on those it may affect and then make a decision? People who prefer to go with the facts and reach practical decisions may appear to be cold, however their reasoning has sound fundamentals and may be the correct decisions. Others who take into account the implication of their decision before taking it may appear to be weak, however their reasoning is based on maintaining harmony in the group or team. How do you usually decide? To read more click here.

4. How do you structure your life?: Is your routine strict and regimented or do you have more of a carefree attitude and prefer to keep your options open? People who prefer structure in their daily routines tend to follow a day to day task list to help them prioritize. Making decisions as soon as possible to remove ambiguity is something they prefer. On the other hand people who prefer a more autonomous structure in life like to keep their options open all the time. They work best in situations where there are no strict deadlines to meet. How do you prefer to structure your life? To read more click here.

5. Put it all together: Once you have decided on all your preferences you you should click here and follow the instructions. You will arrive at a 4 character personality type which will highlight some common characteristics of that type. See if it sounds like you and how you prefer to operate.

What type are you?

I hope this process will help you see your preferences with greater clarity. This is by no means a definitive guide to identifying your personality. It is just an indicator of your stated preferences. It helps you to understand yourself better and also how your team mates prefer to operate. If this is done as a team exercise it boosts internal communication and increases productivity as team members now realize how a certain person processes information and ultimately reaches a decision. For an indepth analysis please email enquire@innovogs.com to schedule a JTi test.

I can hardly believe 4 weeks have already gone by. Thank you again for your support and continued readership. Major changes to the blog are underway so if there is anything that you want to see on this blog and don’t see yet please email me or leave a comment and I will do my best to incorporate it into the blog.

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Putting it all together

If we don’t see a failure as a challenge to modify our approach, but rather as a problem with ourselves, as a personality defect, we will immediately feel overwhelmed. Anthony Robbins

We have now completed the 4 basic scales to help us gather the answer to the “who are you?” question. The four scales were:

You need to select one preference on each scale which you feel best suits who you are. Doing so will yield one of 16 combinations for example ESTJ or ISFP. So after you select your preferred type go over to E-MBTi and read up a little more about yourself. If the description doesn’t really correlate to who you think are, explore some more options. This should at least get you started on the right path. Ideally you should take an MBTi or JTi assessment. These indicators have had a lot of success in helping individuals find out where they really are on the scale. This again is just an indicator of your personality preference. It is not set in stone that if you are a INFJ then you cannot have some of the characteristics of a ESTP. Using this will help give you some direction as to what sort of companies, teams or groups you want to be part of. It will allow you to create or be part of situations where you will be most productive and efficient.

To check whether you have the correct type there are 4 basic temperaments which are unique to certain personality types. Going through the list below should get you thinking a little more about whether your selection was in the right direction or not.

Traditionalist (Sensing Judging) ESFJ, ESTJ, ISTJ, ISFJ: This group of individuals are the ones who enjoy structure, rules, discipline and conformity. They pay special attention to details, facts and work to further their teams or company’s goals. They are those dependable team mates who always deliver on what they were supposed to and make sure that they do a great job as well. Due to their preference for facts and details they don’t pay too much attention to the bigger picture. This hinders their ability to be good future planners. For them change is very difficult to adopt to.

Experiencing (Sensing Perceiving) ESFP, ESTP, ISTP, ISFP: This group of individuals are the ones who enjoy autonomy and freedom in the work they do. They learn quickly from first hand experiences and are very agile in adapting to change along the way. They are very good at focusing on the present and are pro-active in getting the job done. Being avid risk takers they are not afraid of taking the plunge into the unknown and learning from there. They don’t like too many abstract theories as they like to remain grounded and use their 5 senses to evaluate situations. Keeping options open is critical and commitments tend to be neglected till the very last minute.

Idealist (iNtuitive Feeling) ENFP, INFP, INFJ, ENFJ: This group of individuals are the ones who are most interested in connections with people, understanding the meaning of life and continuously looking for possibilities. They have innate capabilities to understanding people well and connecting with them at their level. They are good motivators and are a source of inspiration to the rest of the group or team. Working together and finding creative solutions to problems is their forte. They however get very involved with the emotional aspect of life and find it difficult to separate it from their day to day life. This in turn invariably effects their decision making capabilities.

Conceptualizers (iNtuitive Thinking) ENTP, INTP, INTJ, ENTJ: This group of individuals are the ones who are most interested in looking for meaning and focusing on its implications and outcomes. Their strong logical decision making capabilities provide them with the ability to become great leaders, strategizers and change agents. They are continuously focused on the bigger picture and are very imaginative. They however sometimes get lost in the bigger picture and have difficulty seeing the actual picture. Being fiercely competitive, harmony within the group is not their top priority. They value power and move towards people or organizations that can provide them with it.

In essence these are 4 basic temperaments to help guide you along the way to understanding yourself a little better. They should always be used as guides to help you define your preferences. To verify your choices you can email enquire@innovogs.com to find out about taking our JTi test online.

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Choice vs Choices

The best choice for each individual is the highest it is possible for him to achieve. Aristotle

The last scale we are going to be talking about relates to how we structure our life. Are you continuously seeking to control your life or do you have a more carefree approach where you get excited about where tomorrow may take you? Can you make a decision easily or do you require multiple choices and a little more time to think things through? Do you get excited when you begin projects or when you end them? The fact of the matter is that sometimes we are forced to do somethings that we don’t particularly like to do. Say you have a carefree attitude and like to keep options open,but at work you have been told to tell the HR manager about which department you want to get transferred to by the end of the day and that makes you uncomfortable. You will make this decision because you “have” to.The two ends of the scale are judging vs perceiving.

On one hand of the spectrum we find the judging personality preference. This side of the scale prefers to have a fair amount of structure in their lives. They usually have tidy desks and follow a day to day task list to help them prioritize and complete tasks on time. They prefer to make decisions as soon as possible and any delay in reaching a conclusion causes them considerable stress. They have a strong work ethic which gets them to jot down goals for themselves and they work diligently to attain them. Closing a deal or finishing a project gives them immense relief and joy at the same time. Time is scarce in their point of view and they do all that is possible to maximize it.

On the other hand of the spectrum we find the perceivers. Structure is something that they tend to keep at a distance. The perceiver enjoys life which he/she finds full of options. This allows them to be spontaneous in their approach to life. Decision making in an either/or situation makes them feel claustrophobic. For them time is a renewable resource which causes them to not to worry too much about upcoming deadlines. They strive on starting new projects and developing the process along the way. Their goals are in a state of continuous change as they get more information. This play ethic provides them with a framework where they operate at their best.

If you are still confused as to which side of the scale you have a preference towards, probably this last example will help. A friend and you decide that you want to go by a new printer. You get to the shop and you both roughly know what type of printer you are looking for. If you are the friend who talks endlessly to the shop keeper about different options and features in the printer and cannot decide on the spot which one you want to buy you may have a slight preference towards the perceiving side. If however you go in ask the shop keeper which is the best one in a certain budget and decide to buy the one he shows you, you may have a slight preference for the judging side. This is a simple example which you can extrapolate into more complex situations to help you decide on your preferred preference.

Every startup needs its share of judgers and perceivers. They each bring with them unique qualities which are essential from the idea generation process to the implementation stage. I may have been more biased towards the judging scale as I fall in that category. However I would really like to know if you think you are a perceiver and what life is like through your eyes.

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How do you decide?

Every decision you make—every decision—is not a decision about what to do. It’s a decision about Who You Are. When you see this, when you understand it, everything changes. You begin to see life in a new way. All events, occurrences, and situations turn into opportunities to do what you came here to do. Neale Donald Walsch

We now know how we energize ourselves and how we process information. Today we will focus on how you come to your conclusions. What are the circumstances that you find easier to make a decision in as compared to others? Here is a an example to get you thinking….

You are 2 years into your startup venture. Things have been bumpy along the way but the 4 original partners have pulled through. Three of the partners in the firm get along really well with each other. The fourth member lets call him Tom, has not been pulling his weight for the last 6-8 months and is actually pulling the team down. Here is the interesting part, Tom and you have been friends since you were kids. Tom is also going through a very tough time with his mother being terminally ill. This has made it very difficult for you or any of the other team members to say anything. Your companies first hire, Peter, has been picking up all of Tom’s work and has been doing an incredible job. He draws a much lower salary than Tom. Now here is the deal, things are a bit tight at the company and you need to let someone go. You are the final decision maker and the choice is between Tom or Peter. Who do you let go?

(Think of a similar situation you may have been. Did you make the same choice at that time as well?)

If you chose Tom you fall in the “thinker” category if you chose Peter you are in the “Feeler” category. It sounds incredibly simple but helps us reach a very important conclusion about ourselves. On one hand of the scale you have the thinker. They like to take information and use it in a very logical manner. They tend to make practical decisions which may lead people to perceive them to be cold or heartless. However using the above example it makes sense if you want to take your company further it would definitely seem to be the logical choice. This impersonal analysis of the situation is something the thinkers do very well.

The feelers on the other end of the scale have a totally different perception. When making a decision they first see all the likely repercussions. It is inherent of a feeler to not ruffle too many feather and to maintain a sense of harmony in a given situation. To a thinker this sort of an approach may seem to be weak or illogical given the evidence. They make decisions based heavily on their value systems. Going against that is not very simple to do.

Like both the other scales we have talked about this one also doesn’t need you to be in an either/or situation. Use the example above and go with the choice which is the most natural to you and one you are comfortable in making. In doing so you will reach another very important conclusion about yourself as an entrepreneur, where decision making is critical in your rise to the top. Knowing which situations you can reach conclusions easily and decisively in will boost your overall productivity. You must always keep a balance in your team of thinkers and feelers. Both are necessary to reach an objective resolution.

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What do you see?

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. Robert McCloskey

How do you process all the information around you? Before going further think of what your answer to that question is. If you are not too sure about what the question is referring to, think about what you see in this picture ….


Originally uploaded by artissoft

This picture appeals to me . The most striking thing I think of when I look at this picture is, this cannot be a very safe neighborhood primarily because of the graffiti on the shop fronts. The atmosphere is also very eerie, I can imagine pin drop silence with the wind blowing. All these thoughts originate from past experiences or feelings. This is a more intuitive approach at looking at the picture. People with intuitive personality types usually infer and perceive a lot of things which may not be clearly apparent or deduced. On the other hand another person could look at the picture and say that the shop has German writing on its front or that there is a plastic bag which appears to be totally out of place. Or that there is not enough lighting in the adjacent street and other minor details which I may have been completely oblivious to as I was not paying attention to them. These are personality traits of people who rely heavily on their sensing capabilities.

Todays personality scale will explain how we process information. On one hand we have the sensing people who focus on details. They use their 5 senses to gather information. They prefer to trust concrete facts which are based on conclusive studies. Having a preference for realism they will accept new concepts which have some actual practical application. Information is processed the most naturally when it is provided step by step. This preference relates very much with the present.

On the other hand we have the intuitive people who focus on their sixth sense which is “gut feeling”. They are constantly reading between the lines and doing their best to decipher what is happening in the background. Being very imaginative individuals, new ideas are constantly floating in their heads. When explaining these ideas they tend to use a lot of figurative gestures and their thought processes are constantly jumping from one area to the next. They associate very must with the future.

Given this information you now have have a relative gauge as to which side of the scale you have a preference towards. Knowing this will be extremely helpful for you as it will allow you to use your preferred processing mode when you are involved in critical tasks. If you are an intuitive team member you can capitalize on your strength by providing the team with creative solutions on how to solve traditional problems. Your key insight into situations will allow you to look into the future and provide valuable feedback in the idea developmental stage. If you are a sensing team member you can capitalize on your strength by bringing some discipline into the idea generation process by creating a structure to process information in a more clearer manner. You will be able to provide practical advice when evaluating ideas and can back it up with some detailed data.

By identifying your preferred mode you will see your own and the teams productivity increase. Either/or is not the only option, however you should make sure you understand which is your preferred and most commonly used mode of processing information.

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Interacting with the world

Only those who respect the personality of others can be of real use to themAlbert Schweitzer

We interact with the world we live in, in our own unique ways. Some of us draw the energy we need from the outside world and others draw it from their own inner worlds. When we function in our preferred world we are usually the most productive and vice versa. The scale which helps us to understand our preferences better is the extroversion vs introversion one. I feel this is the one social conditioning scale which has led us to believe that extroversion is a positive personality type as opposed to an introverted one. In general the consensus is that extroverted people will have more opportunities in comparison to introverted ones. I think this statement is far from the actual truth and one which you may want to reconsider after this post.

On one extreme of the scale completely extroverted individuals are those who use the outer world to energize themselves. They thrive on interaction with friends, co-workers or team mates. This constant interaction enables them to experience the world and understand it. They are usually the ones who have no difficulty in talking and if you listen to what they are saying carefully you will be able to understand their emotions with greater clarity. Variety is the spice of life for them.

On the other extreme of the scale completely introverted individuals use the inner world to energize themselves. They have allocated necessary alone time to gather their thoughts and feelings and are most at ease in this situation. When they speak, a lot of it will be well planned out and thought through. They tend to keep their feelings and emotions well disguised and you will usually see them doing a lot more listening than talking. If variety is the spice of life for extroverts then depth is what does it for the introvert. If you find the topics that an introvert is passionate about then you can comfortably sit back because they will go on about it for a long time.

Being on either extreme of the scales is rare. We usually find ourselves in the middle or with slight preferences towards either side. This becomes necessary as we need to develop coping mechanisms to operate at a certain expected level. If an introvert was part of a team he would have to make his/her contribution. Now here comes the interesting part in regard to selecting the right teams , which we talked about earlier this month. I mentioned core and shared values. To expand that point, if you have a preference to extroversion and you join a group of 4 individuals with preferences to introversion, pulling your hair out will be a likely scenario. We have to make sure that when we join or create teams, a balance of both types is present.

If you were wondering about my type, it is one which has a slight preference to the introversion side. Its quite funny when a client or customer asks me and I tell them that. Since I do a lot of sales for the company they are always baffled as to how individuals with introverted preferences can be effective sales people. The answer to that question usually is, that no one type of personality can be categorized to be good at one job role as compared to others. A lot of other factors contribute to the success of a sales person than just pure extroversion. Social conditioning is largely responsible for these sort of outlooks. If there is something that I would like you to take from this post it is, don’t let society judge you on what it is that you can or cannot do. Impossible is nothing.

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Who are you?

An individual’s self-concept is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behavior: the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life.Dr. Joyce Brothers

Do you really know who you are? It is a profound question. A question to which around 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to give a good reply . When I ask people this question I usually get a lot of “hmmmms”. The sad part is that many of us go through life without really understanding ourselves too well. Life is a funny thing, its so fast these days that I frankly can’t tell when the day starts and when it ends. Its this blinding tizzy of events which leaves us exhausted at the end of every day, only to repeat this cycle the very next day. So just when are we supposed to figure out a little more about ourselves. Well, if you haven’t thought about this question, this week we will be going through some basic personality models which could be helpful in understanding what exactly makes you tick. Being a certified psychometric consultant and guiding people through this process is most satisfying .

The process which I am going to take you through is based on a test which we offer at InnovoGS called the Jung Type Indicator. It is very similar to the MBTi test. This test uses four basic scales , after which it puts the tested person into one of 16 possible categories. The last statement is usually where I get a lot of flak. The most common question being, if everyones personality is unique how is it that you can place someone in defined categories. My usual response is, the framework that the JTi uses helps to identify personality based preferences. Just because a person isn’t very talkative doesn’t automatically make him an introvert and vice versa. The framework which seems fairly straight forward has multiple sub scales which a trained consultant takes you through to better understand your type. So its not a definitive guide, it is more of a structure to help you answer the “who are you?” question a lot more effectively.

Knowing a lot more about yourself and how you interact with the world, process information, make decisions and how you prefer to live are critical for the entrepreneur as well. I have been continuously talking about core values, work ethics and teams; all of these will fall into place when you require them to, when you have a sound understanding of yourself. I have greatly benefited from this self discovery process which has resulted in a more balanced life, stronger relationships and greater satisfaction in the work that I am doing. To make the most of this process keep an open mind and if there are some factors which may be confusing or troubling you, email me at enquire@innovogs.com and I will do my best to help you out.

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