4 Businesses to start from India in less than Rs. 50,000/-

Somebody recently asked me how can I start a business in less than Rs. 50,000/- or less than USD 900/- (approx.). To the uninitiated, this is no startup capital given that we are flooded with information about Billions being paid to companies for fending off competition. It is hard earned money that somebody wants to properly utilize and become a successful businessperson.

50000

This got me thinking of a quick framework that could help in decision making:

  1. Low capital means no capex
  2. Low capital also means limited to 0 BTL marketing
  3. Low capital also means lot of self work
  4. Low capital also means no fancy office space
  5. Low capital also means need to be profitable soon

Additionally, one should reflect and assess whether they are a ‘product person’ or a ‘services person’. Here is a good guide for the same. The Happy Startup School gives some good and easy classification of all pros and cons of both the business.

Needless to say. Any genuine product development is not possible without reasonable capital – whether it is technology or any kind of manufacturing. So, I am not pursuing the product options. I believe a good product requires a minimum capital of Rs. 5,00,000/- (approx $10,000).

With this context, below are few ideas and tips for a company in less than Rs. 50,000 –

  1. Nature of company – Start with a proprietary firm or LLC partnership. Do not get into trap of Pvt. Ltd yet. It is a lot of paper work to do filings and submissions to government . Besides, in an unlikely event of your failure, its a long arduous and painful journey to shut down the business.
  2. Few Services Business examples in less than Rs. 50,000/-
  • Travel Agency – Indians are traveling more and more. This trend is only growing from here. So open a travel website or travelogue to help people with their travel plans. Below is the growth this sector is going to witness over the next 8-10 years. So, if executed well, it s a great starter for you.

Tourism2-21dec2016

 

  • Recruitment and Manpower Services – You speak to anyone in HR department and they would always complain that they cannot find right candidates. If you speak to any candidate seeking a job change, he/she would complain that they cannot find the right job as it is difficult to get past the HR screening. If you can fill this gap with good resume screening and initial interview services, then you would get traction really fast in the market. Below is the trend for hiring in 2017 (source: Michael Page)MichaelPage

You can further lap up these services with going across the value chain i.e. blue collar supply like technicians, security guards and general labor. The key challenge though is going to be building a supply chain for manpower.

  • Education and Training Services – Individuals and businesses are continuously seeking opportunities to re-train and re-skill themselves. For businesses, it is to keep their workforce relevant for the future. For individuals, it is relevant to keep their skills market relevant. Despite the mushrooming for many such services, there is significant runway in this field. All you need is a zeal, set of skills, one table and a chair. If you think you can teach students in school, then there is a huge market waiting for your services – provided you have strong credentials to get your first student and are able to get some results in first year of your running.  Here are some sector facts (source: Ibef.Org)

IBEF Edu

  • Freelancing/ Professional Consulting Agencies – Right from web development to mobile app development to project management to marketing planning to organisational effectiveness support. There are tons of professional services that you can provide to companies – provided you have the skill. Identify your skill, hone it further and then start networking to provide these professional services. Here it is important to say no than to say yes. Because once you spoil an assignment, getting repeat business is difficult.  The link has some of the hot skills required in the marketplace. 

The obvious question is where can you spend this Rs. 50,000/- judiciously. Here is a simple split of the Rs. 50,000/- you have in hand to start. Its only a reference and not a recommendation. This may vary as per the business you chose.

image(12)

Would put in another post on how to do marketing in a thread-bare budget for your services business.

All the best with your plunge!

Naming your Business? Here are 6 tips

I was recently asked by someone to suggest a name for their startup. This is not the first time that someone has approached me for this. I also often (not so often these days) see posts on social media from friends, families and acquaintances seeking name suggestions for their businesses.

Whatsinaname

Names are an important anatomical entity for anything. A name is an identity. It is the first conversational point – between people irrespective of whether they are customers, or employees or friends or anyone else.

Household names like Google, Uber, Starbucks, Facebook, Rin, Coke, TATA etc that have become part of everyday language and are an essential part of our lives. Of course, they have been pushed hard by some smart marketing but having a marketable name is the first step in the right direction.

On the other hand, there are business names that are regrettable to say the least as they shift focus from purpose to the quirky nature of these names. A simple Google search will give you some very interesting results:

  1. Rotten Wi-fi
  2. Bewakoof (In Hindi it means stupid) – No wonder this startup was bought by the now struggling e-commerce company Snapdeal.com.
  3. Fu King Chinese Restaurant
  4. Fat Ho Burgers (Translated to Get Fat Burgers)
  5. If you drive around your city in India, you may come across many such names B.Tech Chat Wala (An engineer selling snacks), Shoe Hospital (for a roadside cobbler), WhatsApp Snacks,  Please don’t say Theek-thaak (translated to Please dont say OK) and there are more

Shakespeare may disagree and roses may smell the same with another name but in business, telling name of the business is a defining moment for anybody. With the growing startup culture in countries like India, name could be a make or break for any further discussion with customers, investors, employees and vendors.

So what goes in a name? Below are some of the tips to consider while naming your business.

  1. Keep the name short and crisp – Distractions in the modern world have had a serious casualty in the attention span of people. People are usually mutli-tasking and rarely focused on what they have in front of them. To catch attention of such a busy mind, one needs to have a short and crisp name. Long and detailed names are most likely to go unregistered and unnoticed by the audience. Companies like Amazon, Google, Jio, Uber, Tinder etc understood this and kept the brand names short and crisp.
  2. Name should be relevant to business purpose – I get excited by companies that have their name telling me their story. Take example of some companies like
    • Netflix – One can easily make out that it is an internet business to watch your next movie flick
    • EBW (Express Bike Wash) – As simple and direct it can get. This company tells you that it is in the business of bike wash and one can expect quick response given that it is an ‘Express’.
    • ToysRus – The famous toy store chain is every kids delight. The name tells it all.
    • WebMd.com – It is the online doctor with an MD. You can find information of anything even remotely related to medicine here.
    • MapsofIndia – This tells that the visitor to this site can expect the maps from all over India here.
    • Now consider Government initiatives like Digital India, Skill India to name a few. These names clearly mark the purpose of the existence of these businesses and missions. A layman can understand what these businesses stand for.
    • Future Group, one of the largest retail groups in India, have adopted this approach in all its brands. They run stores general stores chain by the name of Big Bazaar, Electronics chain by the name of eZone, HomeTown for home furnishing and furniture – to name a few.
  3. Verb phrases in nature – Some businesses take the approach of naming themselves based on the verbs or actions that they expect their customers to do when they hear about them. Lets take an example of Flipkart. The company in clear intent tells its customers to flip their physical shopping cart and buy online from them.
  4. Names should be simple – I came across a couple of media agencies – Sokrati and Vezury. Frankly, it is very difficult for me personally to keep a clear recall of these brands and their purpose. Simply because they are just too lacking in purpose and unclear to common man that they are hard to remember.
  5. Keep them professional – There is a company by the name Web Chutney. Chutney is Hindi word for paste. In my days at a leading auto manufacturer in India, I used to interact with their staff and found them very professional and experts in their fields. However, every time I read their cards, I used to smirk reading at the name of the company. While it could be a good branding strategy to build a brand recall with such names but there are other ways to build professional business with professional names.
  6. Name for the right audience – If you are targeting global audience, the brand name needs to be global and non vernacular in nature. If your product or services are such that they are targeted to only a particular segment or customer type irrespective of geography then the name should be more personal to that group. For example, Infosys is a global name as they see the world as their market. However, Haldirams, the leading Indian snack company, sees only Indians and Indian diaspora as their target audience so they have a very localized name. Many a times translation from one language to another lead to disastrous meanings for well intended words and phrases. Here are some examples of straight translations that led to marketing discomfort for some of the big brands.

Names for business just as children last a lifetime. These names are registered and marketed entities and have lot of bearing in the marketplace. When you name your business, make sure that it is not something that you regret sooner or later. All the best with your journey to pursue your next big dream.

Dont forget to subscribe to this blog.

Image Courtesy: https://creativemarket.com

 

Whats in a thought?

Ideas flow like water. The more you think, the more they come. The more they come, the more they flow.

Some unconfirmed estimates show that human brain generates 60,000-80,000 ideas or thoughts per day.

As per a study,  70% – 80% of these thoughts are negative.

So in a year a normal human brain produces more than 15.5 Million negative thoughts.

If we consider the entire human population of 7,496,146,095, the number of negative thoughts produced per year is:

114,915,919,636,350,000

Imagine the mental filth that we are generating each day every year in the world.

The high generation of negative thoughts are getting compounded by the negative data feed in terms of news and technology enabled stimuli that is being fed to us. Given this, there is a long list of mental disorders that are emerging:

The problem of these mental disorders is so common that we may not even know whether we are suffering or someone in our close circle is suffering from it. Especially in countries like India where mental disorders are often linked to societal taboo.

One of the most common disorder discussed and often ignore is ‘Depression’.

In October 2016, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru released a mental health survey that said one in every 20 Indians suffered from some form of depression. – Source Times of India

So what is Depression?

Depression is the mental state of feeling “down”. It is a state of feeling severely despondent, and feel dejected.

Given the high growth rate of depression worldwide, WHO has set the theme for World’s Health Day today i.e. April 7, 2017 as Depression : let’s talk.

Over 5 Crore Suffer from Depression in India

36% of India is depressed

Mental Disorders

 

What are some of the symptoms of Depression? (source: WebMD)

  1. Difficulty in concentrating
  2. Loss of memory or inability to remember things
  3. Finding it difficult to take decisions
  4. Feeling of fatigue and decreased energy
  5. Feeling of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
  6. Insomnia
  7. Irritability
  8. Overeating or appetite loss
  9. Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  10. Persistent aches and pains
  11. Sad, anxious or empty feelings
  12. Suicidal thoughts

If someone around you shows these symptoms, then it may be a case of clinical depression. It is important to refer to a psychiatrist.

So the big question that arises is how technology (and in particular Artificial Intelligence) help in countering Depression?

Here are a few strides that have been made in the field of AI to counter or treat depression:

  1. Application of Deep Learning on previous data built model to give models that can suggestions based on health and behavorial history : Mental doctors and Psychiatrists around the world can adopt AI-driven means to identify signs and symptoms of depression in their patients through deep learning of the patient’s medical history. With large amounts of data available, AI is enabling smooth identification of such instances and is helping in breaking the trend of growing depression.
  2. AI Detection through Instagram behavior of people.: With advent of social media, public display of emotions is on the rise. This is a blessing for identifying image based patterns for individuals who may be suffering from depressive tendencies. Posts on Instagram and consequent behavior of individuals there is enabling AI based detection of depressive behaviors.
  3. Use of modern apps: Artificial Intelligence companies like Cogito are building real-time emotional intelligence monitoring systems. These systems are helping individuals to understand their emotional state and also in alerting the subjects in case they are falling into depressive state.

As more and more technology evolution happens, it is imperative that technology continues serve to make world a better place to live. The investments and solutions of AI in mental illness field are surely the step in right direction.

In addition, as an individual, on this World Health Day, we should pledge to counter Depression: Lets Talk.

The Evolving Workplace

Modern tech has changed the way the world operates. No boundaries, no walls, no cubicles, no time zones, no barriers. Information has easy flow. Consequently there is a change in expectation in the working style as well for people around the world.

The connected world has connected beyond boundaries. These are fantastic times to live in. These are fantastic times to work in.  Concepts like BYOD are adding seamless mobility to the workplace. Here are some facts about the changing workplace:

Work place-1

  • As per a recent survey by AfterCollege.com, 68% fresh graduates prefer working remotely.
  • Telecommuting is fast on the rise. Between 2004 to 2015, it has risen by 79% as is only growing from there. More and more people are opting for telecommuting.
  • Working remotely is helping to increase productivity of workers significantly.
  • The World Economic Forum recognizes ‘telework’ as the the biggest transformer of work place in near future.
  • Interestingly office and administrative jobs are seeing biggest decline as more and more people are shifting towards individual contribution and remote working.Admin jobs in devline

Obviously, Artificial Intelligence has its own way in the workplace with the evolving change.

  1. Breakdown of hiring tasks: To bring more and more automation in the workplace and to remove as many administrative tasks as possible, organisations are investing in breaking down the current process to smaller chunks that can be automated. Once this automation is done, intelligence will be a natural extension. Simple example is of recruitment of an employee and the on-boarding process. The moment any new employee gets on board anywhere in the world, small admin tasks to get their IDs to their system installations can be broken down into smaller units of work that can be simply automated with intelligence.
  2. Automating HR questions – Any HR questions can be answered with a chatbot now. Lot of startups and even IBM Watson is investing into automated assistants that can enable this.
  3. Employee Tracking – Metadata based AI tools are available to track employee activity within the organisational network. What files one downloads? What are the user timings to login/logout etc are captured in real time to find the employee availability and effectiveness in a distributed workplace.
  4. Skills upgrade is pervasive – More and more companies are opening any time anywhere training mechanisms. Advent of MOOCs is ensuring that employees can get the right kind of training. Artificial Intelligence helps in suggesting skill based training plans and career tracks for individuals.

While more and more such use cases are emerging in the distributed work place and so the implementation of AI, modern managers need to swiftly embark the journey to this change to stay relevant.

Swapping Worry with Change

There is always something to worry about.  As a child, you are worried about winning the flash card game, getting your homework done, your school marks. Most importantly, getting up everyday and reaching school on time to avoid any punishment.

For an Indian teenage, these worries are replaced by worries of what ‘stream’ we should take – Science for a career in Engineering or Medicine, Commerce for a career as an Accountant etc. How you look in front of your first crush? What movies you are going to miss due to examinations? Will India win against Pakistan in the next cricket match?

For an Indian Youth, the worries compound more. What job would she get after college? Who will take care of her education loan? What will be the next big thing in fashion that she needs to follow? Would Kapil Sharma and Sunil GroverKapil Sharma and Sunil Grover ever get together again? Would India win the Cricket World Cup in 2019?

For an Indian Middle Aged, the worries switch to something else. Whether she would get that promotion she has been eyeing? Whether her husband is cheating on her? Will I stay in my job to pay my bills? Whether her car is good to take her to Leh, alone? Whether Flipkart and Snapdeal merge – would she still get the same online deals for her favorite fashion does? Whether Sensex will rise today? Whether Yogi Adityanath impose prohibition in Uttar Pradesh?

For an Indian elder, the worries change further. Whether it is going to be sunny today or is it going to rain? Whether the prices of onions are going to hit the roof again? Whether Narendra Modi will win 2019 general elections or not? Whether Mukesh Ambani’s Jio will comeback with the free offer? Whether the upcoming sale would have the best deal or should one wait? What should be prepared in lunch today?

How long is she going to live?

Businesses go through a similar life cycle of worry.

When young the business is worried about getting the right employees, getting first paying customers, getting the right industry fitment. Whether someone big and loaded will disrupt the industry?

When its in teen years, the worries change to managing capital, talent, customers, business environment and competition effectively.

When it is middle aged, the worries change to How to stay competitive? How to retain the best employees? How to retrench the scum? Whether there is somebody disrupting the industry that the business operates in?

When it is old, the worries change to how to continue to survive and not get disrupted by a new wave of technology? Other things are largely taken care of. Day to day mundane is self-adjusting.

In both the cases, the worries shift to a different set and magnitude if worry is swapped with change. Worry suffocates the appetite to taking risks.

Businesses and individuals that continuously evolve and embrace change do not worry but swap it for change. For individuals, it is adopting new skills with changing market conditions or perhaps adopting a side ageless career that does not go through the mundane 20 something to 50 something cycle of hiring and retiring, if not firing in between somewhere.

For Businesses, the continuous worry is to keep competition in abeyance and stay afloat. It is this worry that sows the seeds of innovation and risk taking. A culture of innovation would push the teams and departments to continuously evolve and continuously embrace change to stay relevant in the market place. So many businesses fail to build this culture and ultimately die their own death.

Whether businesses or individuals, one should ask these questions –

  1. Whats the worry for?
  2. What is causing it?
  3. How can this worry be swapped for change?
  4. What can one do to make this change successful?
  5. How do I measure the progress of this change and ultimately success?

Grow daily by swapping that worry with change.

3922-Spear

Scale or not to scale

In current times, we see scaling as a fundamental criteria of success by many.

If you look around, you would see many businesses fumbling and then failing in their chase to scale new heights. Much more than before, people are trying to scale new professional heights, many a times compromising lot more than they should.

Some are successful in scaling. Most are not. For businesses, the fuel to scale is capital. Capital access is at an all time low for businesses. So scaling is easy, quick and doable now.

For individuals, scaling happens in skills, opportunities and professional growth. When businesses scale, individuals also gain new skills, they get new opportunities and they have professional growth.

However, the scale is being challenged and many a times leading sharp declines or businesses. Look around and you would see some key news items:

  1. Paytm walks out of Snapdeal Buyout talks
  2. Westinghouse goes bankrupt

Scale often gives a feeling of invincibility and rapid scaling at times is a poison pill to survival.

Then how come some businesses and so the individuals, scale and then sustain at a higher level. Its like a steep step-up to the next level and not just a scale up.

The differentiating element is ability to build trust. For businesses, building trust in their customers about their ability to deliver and for individuals, building trust in their immediate circles about their ability to execute.

So scale as much as you can but scale while winning trust of others.

Running is always special

Its good to have spring back in India as we brace for a hot Indian summer in 2017. I usually look forward to spring to take a stock of how the year has fared so far for me and how am I going to utilize the next 9 months.

One of my decisions from the dusk of 2016 and dawn of 2017 was to start running – for weight loss. Years of sedentary job and spending most of the awake hours in front of a laptop has led to addition of significant mass around my waist. My once lean and sharp personality is now covered with layers of fat that need to be discarded.

With few half attempts in the past, I decided that 2017 is the year for my physical transformation. I was excited with my younger brother’s loss of 30 lbs in over 4 months with running.

That introduced me to the fantastic app called ‘Running for Weight Loss‘. The app gives good, strict, manageable workouts that gradually increase the intensity of training with more running sprint – with breaks for walking. As I stand at the end of week 1 of training, I feel proud to have comfortably complete the first step. Its an 8-week program, so I am 12.5% through.

The fact that Facebook has a dedicated group for ‘A Year of Running‘ further motivates me to go further on this.

Below is my tool kit for this year of running:

  1. Asics T500 shoes
  2. Regular Tees with Inner Support in shorts
  3. CrossBeats Raga Wireless Earphones
  4. iPhone 6 (my current phone)

To me running so far has provided the following:

  1. Taming the Monkey Mind: Monkey Mind is the whimsical, capricious, restless, fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable” part of mind.

https://youtu.be/n6pMbRiSBPs

More on Monkey Mind and Running in a future post.

2. Physical endurance

3. Break from the regular daily routine and go for a refresh

4. Just re-energize

In a short duration it has become a fundamental need of my everyday routine, just like coffee.