How Michael Phelps Can Inspire Your Startup

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“I want to be able to look back and say, ‘I’ve done everything I can, and I was successful.’ I don’t want to look back and say I should have done this or that.” Michael Phelps

Unless you are living on another planet, you could not have missed the incredible medal haul of Phelps.

How does one man achieve so much? Is it because of his 6ft 8in wing span and body shape which helps him conquer the swimming pool? Or is there something more?

And What does this mean for you and your startups?

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The Power of Saying Yes, Responsibility of saying No

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Do you know that by the time you reach 18 you have heard NO around 10,000 times?

No wonder we get used to hearing NO. What is worse for business is we get used to saying NO to others. NO to new ideas, new initiatives, new ways of working. The common refrain “We don’t do it this way here”If it ain’t broke, Don’t fix it.”

It requires an outsider like Starbucks to show what Nestle should have done a long time back.

This post is about how key decision makers in your organization may be operating and why it may stop you from unleashing the best.

Quite often people act from The Power of saying NO and Responsibility of saying YES mode. Let me show how:

Managers often will say NO to a subordinate’s plan for a new style or new idea or an innovative way of doing things. This comes from the feeling that “I have the power to say NO” and I am going to use it liberally.

However, when it comes to saying yes, low performing managers think “I’ll have to explain why this works. Tomorrow something goes wrong I will be blamed” so they feel a certain heaviness of saying YES.

Over time, the organization becomes “safe” and “follows procedures” rather than taking risks to deliver more value to the customer.

Now contrast this with what I am saying:

What if Leaders felt the power of saying YES. They should feel that they have taken one more step in adding value to customers. I have taken one more step in beating the competition. I have taken one more step in making my team think and deliver innovation.

And If I say NO, then I have the responsibility of not making any of the above happen. Not only am I crushing someone’s dream, but I am also reducing the company’s future growth potential.

Now if someone has this doubt “Hey, does that mean I allow every wild dreamy idea out there?” The answer to it is: judge it whether it adds value to the customer, beats competition or increases the innovation and growth in the company, If Yes, Feel the Power of YES.

As a leader, are you building this culture in your team and organization?

For more actionable insights for improving your Leadership, check out my book

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Now Available on Amazon

9 Insanely Helpful Ways To Keep Startup Marketing Lean And Effective

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a startup founder or CEO, you need to run a lean operation which can get the promised growth fast. You have secured your round of funding; you want to get out there and make the most of the plans that you have outlined and secured an approval. But, we have also seen how yesteryear unicorns are going through markdowns or downrounds.

You want to make sure that your marketing is geared for delivering the growth, develops and executes programs which run fast and have the most impact.

Find below the ways by which you can keep your marketing team and programs, lean and efficient.

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Do You Want To Know the Secret Of Effective Marketing In Small Business?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Just Start.

If there is one proven way to have effective marketing and jumpstart growth in your small business, it is: Action over anticipation.

We are wired for taking action – but often only under fear. We all know about the fight or flight response.

But given time, we also have a tendency for “false perfection”.

Why false?

Have you noticed that nature has no pure circles or squares or triangles? They are often oval or rhomboids – slightly bulging at edges.

It is our desire to be perfect hence, we create the perfect circle and squares.

While it is good in science, it is bad in business.

Here’s how:

Being perfect assumes that everything will go exactly as per planned. That whatever is planned will definitely result in the outcome which we want.

Really?

It is said that after the first two chess moves, there are a million options by which the game can turn out. And this only with 64 squares and two players.

Now think of the marketplace with thousands of customers and hundreds of suppliers.

Perfection often leads to analysis paralysis. The need to have a beautiful, logical solution leads to endless debates on the correct step to be taken.

Perfection often leads to analysis paralysis. Click To Tweet

In the end, nothing moves.

I learnt this lesson once.

My boss used to love asking questions. On every campaign, we used to design; he would ask ten questions. Once replied, they would lead to 10 more questions and so on. One day, I decided that I would start it as a pilot project, and we will keep answering his questions. After two months, he asked, “By the way, what happened to that X campaign?” I replied “well, we started as a pilot project and got some good learnings from it and now in a better position to answer your concerns” He paused for a while and then said “you did the right thing. Let’s go national”.

The market and the customer are the best ways to understand whether something works or not.

We can have endless boardroom discussions, but it has no comparison to the rich learnings in the market.

Nothing teaches you better than the marketplace. Click To Tweet

Taking Action does not mean that you launch a half-baked product or dump low-quality stuff in your channels.

Have a testing mindset within the team so that no one is wedded to a particular idea or an approach.

Help the team develop the testing mindset by asking the right questions in meetings.

Run pilot projects, do A/B testing, check in one channel before going national, but Start.

It means beyond a point, stop the endless planning. Just start.

If you have an option between Action and one more round of planning, Just Start Click To Tweet

Check this article for how an owner of a successful online business prioritizes Action over endless debates -> Slideshare CEO

What are You going to Start Today?

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Now Available on Amazon

9 Important Steps To Building Ownership Mindset In Your Small Business

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The key to growth in small business is in creating an ownership mindset in your employees.

The key to growth in small business is in creating an ownership mindset in your employees. Click To Tweet

As an entrepreneur, it is evident that you have it. But, how do you build it in your people? Here’re some steps

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Did You Know The Shocking Truth Of Successful Entrepreneurs?

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Successful Entrepreneurs don’t take risks.

Yes, you read correctly. They infact go to lengths to reduce risks.

I was shocked too when I read this article by Malcolm Gladwell (Best Selling Author of Outliers, Tipping Point, David vs Goliath) -> http://bit.ly/XHVvNO

Gladwell makes a persuasive case through couple of high profile examples like Ted Turner and John Paulson (Big Short Fame) of how they intentionally keep the risks lower so that they increase the chances of their success. He goes on to overturn commonly held beliefs around risk and their downsides.

The article persuaded me. Here’s four reasons why?

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Why you need to hire the Hare now and not the tortoise?

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Do you know the famous tortoise and the hare story? How did that turn out? We all know the Tortoise won. So why should you hire a hare?

Hare, tortoise! What is the relevance to your business?

Speed is the essence in the millennium. What we need are people who think agile, act agile.

Between a thinker and a person with bias for action, I will choose bias for action.

Why so? Disruption is everywhere. There is technological disruption. There is business model disruption: somewhere out there is a young guy writing an App which will substantially speed up the business, cut traditional layers and remove the cost of discovering solutions for the customers. Then there is the demographic disruption: Millennials move fast, act fast.

Whether you like it or not, you need to hire people who have agility. People who are willing to speed up your product or service delivery. Your customers will absolutely love it if you deliver faster than last month and last year. Your business will love it if profits come faster than last month and last year. Your employees will love it if business grows faster than last month and last year.

If you hire a tortoise, chances of his becoming a hare is rather low. There will be enough tortoises in the organization who will balance the need for speed with making sure that the hare is running in the right direction.

So, hire the Hare.

Would you agree?

 

Do you behave like an owner of your business?

Reading Time: 1

You are the leader of the business and the team and hence, you obviously own the results. And everything which happens between now and the results. But does your team own the business?

Why does this matter?

Are your employees coming to the office just to collect the paycheck? Then there is a serious problem. If the job, for them, means a vehicle to get a “bigger” or “better paying” job somewhere else, then, there is a problem. When someone says “I just follow instructions. If something goes wrong, it’s my boss’ problem” there is a serious problem.

When you own the business as if it is your own, you don’t wait for instructions. You are always on the lookout for opportunities. You will always want to be one step ahead of the competition.

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How to dominate the competition?

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Speed is the number one competitive advantage you need to have for a successful business.

If you don’t have it, develop it or perish.

We all have heard the story of hare and the tortoise. What is needed in today’s times is the persistence of the tortoise and the speed of the hare. Grant Cordone in his book 10X Rule calls it “Smokey”

Speed is the number one competitive advantage you need to have for a successful business Click To Tweet

In today’s connected and hyperactive world, you have to be one step ahead of the competition. The only way to do that is Speed.

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How do you develop a testing mindset?

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testing mindset team meetingIn my last post, I talked about developing a testing mindset.

The idea is to approach a new idea as a testing ground.

Whether it is a new distribution strategy or a new pilot production line or a new campaign, you want your team to approach it as a test or hypothesis.

Why? This helps them focus on the process goals rather than outcome goal.

The first step is the concept of a meeting itself. What is a successful meeting? What is a failed meeting?

We all know what a failed meeting feels like: energies are down, tempers are up, it seems like a waste of time.

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