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

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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.


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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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

#1 Fix the hiring

The first step is hiring the right people. You want individuals who are curious. Who are looking to better themselves and things around them. Who are asking “how does this add value to the customer?” You want people with the entrepreneurial zeal in them. You could look for evidence of this by checking if they had run small jobs on the side when they were young or ran a small business when they were in college. It does not matter if they succeeded or not. That they took action to their impulse is important.

#2 Creating Focus

Once the team is in, you want to bring Focus on what is most important for you and the business. Make sure they are clear of the One Thing they need to focus on. The One Thing, which is absolutely critical for business success. Focus is the number one reason why business succeeds. You want to make sure that each person in the team is working towards one goal which is clear to all.

There should be maximum three things below this one goal. I have seen this coming out right in countless industries and businesses. How do you ensure this? Every day, ask you and your team “what is the one thing which will make the most significant and positive impact on our business? Are we doing it? When? Who is doing it?” This Focus will create the habit of giving priority to the project/item/decision which will have the maximum benefit to the business.

There should be maximum three things below this one goal. I have seen this coming out true in countless industries and businesses. How do you ensure this? Every day, ask yourself and your team “What is the One Thing which will make the most significant and positive impact on our business? Are we doing it? When? Who is doing it?” This Focus will create the habit of giving priority to the project/item/decision which will have the maximum benefit to the business.

Focus is the number one reason why a business succeeds. Click To Tweet

#3 No distraction mindset

Once the team is fully aligned and working towards one goal, give them the freedom to achieve it. Make them focused on outcomes and delivery. Be the example of how to avoid distractions and be focused on delivery. This is critical. There are many urgent items to finish in a day and before you know it, the day is gone. By being laser focused on doing the one thing which matters, you have to train your people to avoid distractions and stay focused. This mindset starts from a small item like limiting the time you spend on social media to bigger issues like giving maximum priority to completing the projects which make the most significant difference to your business.

#4 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is an absolute must for every business but truer than ever when installing the ownership mindset. In every situation, let people know how you came to the decision as an owner of the business. Help them decide when they are in similar circumstances. Communicate frequently on what is most important for the business. This will make sure that everyone knows exactly what levers to pull in a given situation.

#5 Make them accountable for their decisions

Accountability management is an essential part of a leadership role. Do you hold people accountable to their promises? Do you hold yourself accountable to the promises you made? An owner of the business operates from the highest accountability given his skin in the game. “This is your business and your actions decide it’s today and tomorrow”. This form of accountability makes sure that your team focusses on action and execution.

This is your business and your actions decide it's today and tomorrow Click To Tweet

#6 Celebrate when they have taken decisions which help the business

The flip side of Accountability is Celebrating good behaviors. Because celebrating good behaviors leads to their consistent application. Consistent behaviors lead to habits and Persistent habits lead to successful business. So, celebrate decisions and behaviors where your team members have demonstrated ownership mindset. This could be just a simple impromptu town hall which celebrates a few instances or a raising a toast to the individuals in your next fun team outing (You have one, I hope!)

#7 Celebrate cost consciousness

This is a no.1 indicator of ownership mindset. Some people are naturally thrifty and there are some who are naturally spendthrifts. And the majority in between the axis. You need to celebrate those who consistently demonstrate cost consciousness. They always look for value in their decisions. They always make sure that the business is getting more value than what they are paying for it. They make sure their travel costs represent the best value decision. They make sure they are getting the maximum value from their agencies and suppliers.

#8 Celebrate customer focus and helping customers win their game

The sole purpose of business is to serve the customer. No one understands this better than the owner of the business. When someone makes that effort in understanding the exact needs of the customer and over delivers the value offered, you must celebrate this behavior. Why so? Think back to when you were buying something and your expectations were over delivered. You were thrilled and you probably mentioned that to your other friends. Over time, you went back repeatedly to this service provider.

It is the same with your customer who is delighted will come back to you. Your team member who over delivered to the customer is the reason behind it. And he has behaved with the ownership mindset.

#9 Lead by example

People will be motivated by your zeal and direction and will start owning the business. Whatever behaviors we have talked about above, you need to live and breathe it daily. You should be the role model to others whenever they wonder how to bring the ownership mindset alive. You should help people understand your actions better so that they are behaving like owners.


Build these habits and you know that many eyes are scanning, identifying and grabbing the opportunities which are always there for the business to grow.

How would you build this mindset in your business? If you want a checklist for this, then, check out just released book

If you want a checklist for this, then, check out just released book: Stop Reset Start.

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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) ->

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. I realized there are four more points for consideration:

A) Keeping the Risk small = Increasing the potential of the Upside

I could relate to this from my Trading experience. The best of traders in the world e.g. Paul Tudor Jones, Bruce Kovner and even Warren Buffet seek to lower their risk first. They don’t look at reward first. They actively reduce risk first. Warren Buffet is famous for saying “Rule No.1 : Never Lose Money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule no.1”

By always looking for low risk ideas, they buy really cheap (ideally when everyone is selling) and then wait for the trade to reverse and shoot for the Stars.

By keeping the risk low i.e. in business, it means keeping your costs low or driving a hard bargain when it comes to acquisitions, you reduce the capital outlay. The subsequent increase pays for itself in multiple times.
Also by keeping the risk small, even if the bet fails, you have lost very small portion of your capital but you learn a lot from the experience. Fast Fail is possible only when the risks are kept small

Keeping the Risk small = Increasing the potential of the Upside Click To Tweet

B) Generating cash from one business to fund another business

The article talks about how Ted Turner used the excess cash from the Billboard business to fund his news station.

This is the classic Warren Buffet tactic. He used the Insurance float generated by Berkshire Hathaway to fund his acquisitions. This not only kept his cost of capital low but also make sure he was not borrowing at high cost and then wondering how to pay for it.

This is the classical approach in the business. Build a Cash cow in the business first. Make the business and the team to be cost conscious, use the pay as you go model. Build, sustain, reinforce and then repeat the cycle. Create a Cash strong business.

Then, once you have a sizable kitty, use it to fund acquisitions or new product launches. Care has to be taken that the new product launches or acquisitions don’t wipe out all the cash

C) “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”

One of the greatest Ice hockey players ever Wayne Gretzky once said this.

In sports, then and even now, everyone races to where the ball is or puck as it is called in Ice hockey.

Gretzky used to setup the game in such a way that he would know where the puck would be a few steps ahead of everyone and position himself in the court accordingly. This devastating technique made sure that he was always well positioned so that once the pass happened he was uncontested and score from an unguarded place.

Warren Buffet also popularized the notion by his statement “Buy when there is blood on the streets” i.e. Buy when everyone is selling. It takes guts to be contrarian but a well-positioned strategic move plays off in a big cash pile.

How does this apply to business? Understand what the customer truly wants and not what everyone is doing. I remember once I was National Sales Manager for Acrylics and our lead product was a “Commodity”. Or atleast that is what everyone thought,. Because I had no background to the industry when I came in, I decided to focus on the largest customer (No.1 Paints manufacturer) and what their needs were? While everyone was competing on price, my team worked to understand the total system cost and needs of the customer. This focus helped us in making them our largest customer with ability to increase prices and thus make it one of our most profitable customers.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been - Wayne Gretzky Click To Tweet

D) Be a predator – stalking increases the chances of success

Related to the idea of low risk is that you get into the habit of stalking the idea (not any person please). You wait for the right circumstances to present itself and then you act. You are not in a hurry. You have worked out the details and made all your risk assessment. You negotiate, you thrust, you parry and only when the financials work in your favor, you close the deal.

This does not mean you procrastinate, this does not mean you lose the plot while you sweat the pennies. It means that the opportunity has to have the best risk return profile for you to act.

All predators in the jungle stalk the cattle or the herd and pick the weakest or best target before racing towards the target.

What does this mean for business? If you are planning to enter new markets or looking for acquisitions, look for the place where you can do the swiftest entry. Remember it is in the interests of the acquired to delay so that they can ask for an increase in the price,. It is in your interest to takeover something whose value is more than the price. Value in a tangible way. So no goodwill valuation or brand image buffers. Cash positive business with low debt in the books is the ideal.

Be a predator - stalk opportunities for success Click To Tweet

How would you apply this to your business?

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Why you need a testing mindset?

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We all know the storyTesting mindset of Thomas Edison and how he made 1000 trials before he got it right and made the light bulb. Once a journalist asked him “what do you have to say about the 999 times you failed? Edison answered, “I learnt 999 ways Not to make a lightbulb.”

We know that Edison was a very shrewd businessman too.

What does this example mean to you?

For me, it shows the importance of a testing mindset. It shows the need to accept failures as a learning ground.

What happens if we don’t? A board room turns into a contest of blames rather than a hotbed of ideas.

What is a testing mindset?

It is a mindset, which looks at process, as something to test, with performance goals rather than outcome goals. Dr. Jim Loehr in his book New Toughness Training for Sports brings this out vividly. e.g. A golfer focuses on his swing and drive rather than his final score.

This has a couple of advantages: By developing performance goals, you will bring all the assumptions of the team on the table. The workflow and critical sub-steps become very clear. When the process is finally done, the focus shifts FROM who should take the credit or the blame TO which assumptions worked and which did not? Which work flow did well and which did not?

Do you get the difference?

This helps in shifting the mindset of your employees from internal competition to internal collaboration.

Your team is supposed to compete in the marketplace not within. Click To Tweet

It also helps in entrenching what works and removing what does not. Every project becomes a lightbulb which either shines (and you know exactly why) or does not (and you know exactly why).

How would you build this testing mindset in your business?


Do One Thing

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“If a thing is worth doing, then it is worth doing well.”

If a thing is worth doing, then it is worth doing well. Click To Tweet

We often hear this. Then, why is it that, when it comes to our business we tend to get scattered?

Have you walked out of a meeting where a ton of initiatives have been thrown, all exciting, project maps worked out and you are all fired up? 6 months later, you find you are nowhere and all the initiatives are only taking time and not making any money?

I have been in a major initiative where there were 42 initiatives running at the same time. Yes 42! I still remember the painful meeting reviews where nothing was progressing and everyone’s nerves were frayed. Only pet projects were moving and the impact of those on business was still debatable.

I was high strung, as so much time was invested and very little was achieved.

Against this, I remember we were in the midst of transition of a Free to Air Television to a subscription channel. It was a mammoth project involving satellites, people on the ground, advertisers, the works. But, since the objective was only one, all the moving parts were clearly aligned to one objective. And if they were not, they were ruthlessly weeded out.

The Lesson is very clear: Do one thing but do it very well.

Having one initiative at a time, makes sure that all the parts in the organization are focused on delivering it. Remember for a lot of people this itself is extra work. For the production or service delivery guy or sales guy on the ground, this is one more item he needs to finish every day. All this within the same time available and with no respite on the daily deliverables.

Having one project makes sure that to each and every person, you are delivering only one message. This helps every one know what is most important to you and to the business.

It brings in speed and ruthless efficiency. It acts as a building block to the organization on which future success is built.

Do one thing but do it really well Click To Tweet

What action do you need to take to bring this focus? What would stop you to bring this focus?

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