Category Archives: ENABLING A CULTURE OF HIGH-FIVES.

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Importance of sense of urgency in execution

It remains one of the most discussed topic internally at our startup Qilo. Sense of urgency should always be there on all fronts , be it:-

a) In product delivery

b) In recruitment

c) In acquiring customers and generating revenue

d) In getting funded

e) In decision making.

Lets see what happens if you don’t executing fast enough :-

1) Most of the startup ideas are not truly innovative in nature. Most of the time you are NOT bringing something totally NEW to market. You might be giving one to ten percent twist to an existing idea OR you are bringing something which is way cheaper then existing product OR you are just copying a product/idea which is successful in developed economies. This means that your idea which you think is unique, might be getting executed or about to go in execution phase by so many other aspiring entrepreneurs out there. One of the parameters which decides who will win depends on who comes to market first. And that can only be achieve if you execute fast. If you DON’T execute fast, it means you will launch late and might miss the opportunity or what is called as right timing.

2) Most of the startup ideas has very low entry barriers. Are you thinking that completing the development of your tech platform will make you next rich guy? Even a high school students can now days code and develop  one. If you don’t execute fast enough, you soon will see your competition increases and you will end up in pricing war OR will fail to capture enough customers to create a sustainable business.

3) Launching product late or going to customer late or generating revenue late means you are delaying the epiphany of product/market fit. To understand what Product/Market fit is, check this post.

4) Delayed execution means that you are not learning fast enough. Not learning fast  enough means you will not be able to success-ed faster OR fail fast.

At a same time I want to provide clarity on sense of urgency in execution. This should not get confused with you end up working 18 hours a day or making your team work like crazy. If you will do that, you end up getting sick or create a team culture where no one will be willing to work for long term. With sense of urgency in execution, I mean :-

  1. Not sitting on decisions or waiting for the time to take perfect decision
  2. Not delegating the work which you should not be doing
  3. Waiting for the communication from others to complete the job in hand
  4. Not focused enough for the job in hand
  5. And not waiting for the perfect product to start selling.

Faster execution is what makes a startup different from big organization. Faster execution is required consistently for a long duration of time.Faster executing is what  has made Steve Jobs and Apple different from other companies. Executing faster is what made Elon Mask challenge big organization like NASA and Boeing in Space/Rocket launching industry. If you read and listen to co-founders of failed startups or successful one, they will tell you how important sense of urgency is in execution.

Fire co-founders or employees who don’t understand this and trust me you will move closer to success in your startup.

 

Create a culture where people live the brand

How do you create highly engaged and measurable solutions for brands that help connect the employees?

In today’s business environment, it is imperative for businesses to build a high performance based work culture. To do so, you need a powerful EVP – a free-flowing connector between the brand, the business and people. A powerful EVP enables organizations to attract the right people to deliver the right values in the right way. Everything starts with the brand. Our employer brand engagement solutions work across the talent life cycle and integrate brand and business. The idea is to create a performance based culture that not only asks of but allows people to ‘live the brand’. This is done through attracting the right talent, constantly engaging with them and eventually making them the evangelists for the brand.

Attraction: Signaling the change, creating awareness and drawing attention and interest for the brand. Building on the motivators and differentiators

Engagement: Forming an emotional or rational attachment between talent and brand.

Advocacy: Ensuring an experience, which builds positive cognitive and emotional affirmation that in turn encourages word of mouth advocacy.

Measurement of an engaged talent force has to be on a continuous basis. A robust and scientific culture audit is one of the key tools we use to evaluate employee engagement levels with brand. Employer Brand Perception is also a great way to measure how engaged the current talent is and how potential talent perceives the brand. Fostering an engaged culture in the workplace is not a one-time effort. Companies whose engagement statistics improve after a particular effort aren’t done with the task. Rather, it’s important to measure engagement periodically.

How important will be talent’s contribution for growth/survival of businesses enterprises in the coming times?

It is more important than anything else. People create companies and never the other way around. It’s imperative to have the right talent delivering value in the right way. It’s not only a given but critical to business success. Companies should foster an environment to build a passionate workforce and it will happen only if they are engaged at the brand level. Today companies spend millions on engaging with customers. Yes, that is what makes or breaks businesses. But taking one step back and engaging with those who create companies becomes the most important aspect of success.

How important is the consumer brand in attracting, retaining, and engaging talent?

A strong consumer brand definitely helps is attracting talent. However, retention and engagement can only happen with a strong employer brand. A testimonial to this is talent migration toward start-ups and small enterprises. A strong consumer brand is not necessarily a great employer brand, the motivators and differentiators for talent works very differently than consumers. Aligning and leveraging consumer brand’s strength to build strong employer brand can be done to attract, and engage talent.

What are the key arguments in favour of building a stronger talent brand compared to a consumer brand?

The consumer brand and the employer brand are two sides of the same coin. They have to complement each other. A great consumer brand will help in attracting talent, but the moment of truth happens at the employer brand level and that’s where you need to be the strongest in. A well-defined EVP along with living the brand are the core to building a passionate talent force. An employee who is engaged is one who feels committed to his organization and its goals and delivers business results.

When does a consumer brand overshadow the talent brand?

The investment made in the consumer brand is always far larger and becomes the face of the organization. It’s imperative to leverage its strengths and get the talent aligned to it. Defining a clear EVP and living by it makes an unbeatable combination. Its binds brand, business and people.

Enterprises’ wanting to be start-ups

There has been a panic attack amongst enterprise lately, trying to inculcate a start-up culture in their organizations. Has the dragon actually woken up? Or it’s just for fancy boardroom presentation.

Having spoken to business leaders in enterprise, two most worrying areas are innovation and new competition.

Competition, which they never thought existed or even, belonged to their vertical.

So why are they so unprepared? If you look back in history all evolved civilizations, were crushed by smaller groups like Viking, Mongols and the reason they lost was not because they were not prepared, the reason was they did not have a purpose and they were complacent.

The one big difference between a start-up and an enterprise is “Hunger”.

Hunger for success, for sustenance and for survival.

Changing the dress code and cool work place does not give you start up culture, its igniting passion, defining purpose.

The enterprises’ that are looking to change have to first starve and be hungry and that’s how they’ll build a culture that innovates, performs and strives for success.

Hungry KYA?

Communicate my fellow founder

As a founder and leader, you always and should be spending considerable time in communicating your vision and thoughts to your

  1. Co-founders ,
  2. Fellow team members and
  3. More importantly to your customers.

When I was leading my first startup, though I was talking to my customers , but I was not talking and giving required time to my co-founders and team members. I was talking on phone for few hours/minutes a day(we all were working from homes) and thought that all of us understood the vision and priorities. But I was wrong, we should have worked from same place alteast thrice a week to better understand each . And more then that I should have spent more time in listening to team member’s why they are not able to put 200% percent .Phones and emails are not right tools to communicate about vision, about understanding your team strengths and limitations. This has resulted in many  problems and misunderstanding for long period. And end result was dis-engagement between founders and team member’s.

 

Another bigger problem is when you start thinking that “Customers don’t know what they want”. And you day in and out keep putting in efforts to improve your platform based on your understanding. And you keep assuming that one fine day customers will click on that “Pay” button and you will get your first revenue. Sorry my fellow entrepreneur, that is not going to happen. Talk to them, understand what problems they face on your platform, what they will pay for, how they want to pay for your product/service, and then pivot your platform and pricing model accordingly.

So stop bothering about whether platform building is on track(as per your understanding) or and start bothering about what your co-founders, your team members  and your customers are saying.

How start-up winning team looks like

Team is one of the most important aspect and reason of start-up success and failure. Many founders fail to find right team members or start-up team parts away after working 3 to 6 months. At a same time many founders start their entrepreneurial journey by assuming that they can do everything and they don’t needs other people to succeed. This is a completely flawed assumption at your end. It’s a complete team game and not an individual show.

Per my experience working with-in start-ups, following are the attributes of a winning team:-

  • They have a clear leader: – Though 3 to 4 people have started working together, there should be one leader. Leader’s responsibility is to take all of them along in this long journey. He communicates with each team members continuously. Leader looks at points which can lead to conflicts within team and resolve them. Leader communicates and discuss long term vision to each founding team member day in and out and how possibility they will reach their.
  • They all respect and trust each other: – Building trust and respect with each other takes time. And special efforts are required from each of the founding team members to enhance the trust. Talking frequently, spending more and more time with each other helps in enhancing the trust.
  • They all have complementary skills: – When complementary skills are there in the team, each of the team member’s knows what they are responsible for. This leads to lesser conflicts within the team and brings in more focus.
  • Everyone willing to share the pie of wealth with others (if at all its generated down the line). Winning team members understand that sharing wealth will lead to creating a larger impact for themselves, for society and world.
  • There is no one who is bossy or dictator: – Many founders are inspired by Steve Jobs thinking that being bossy help in getting success. Understand that you are not Steve but you should be learning from Steve Jobs. Being bossy turn off people and creative negative work environment. Be humble and be yourself.
  • Every team member takes decision based on data rather than emotions or egos.
  • Team is focused on market need, customers and cash all the time:- Winning teams are always focused on what are the gaps in market, how they can fill that gap quickly , how they can reach out to early adopters/customers, how they can learn from customers what they want and how they can keep low cash outflow and can enhance revenue inflow.
  • Sense of urgency is missing is either of team members: – Start-up is all about executing and executing it fast enough. If any of the team member don’t understand this, your are best candidate to get listed in list of failed start-ups.

Technology platform for your start-up

Intended audience:- This blog post is for those non-technology founders and idetaors who want to understand which technology they can chose for their platform.

Many non-technology founders struggle to find the answer of this question “Which particular programming language or technology stack they should choose to build their application on”. And the answer is, there is no particular one programming language you can choose. And every programming language has few advantages over other and few dis-advantages. So there is nothing called best programming language. This article assumes that you are not developing a simple website, but a full-fledged web or mobile application.

Architecture of any technology platform is usually divided into three layers. Let me explain this to you in very simple terms:-

First layers is called database layer. This is the layer where your data will be stored. There are primarily two types of database now days which are widely used.

  1. RDBMS systems, example of these are MYSQL /Postgress etc.
  2. NoSQL database systems, example of these software includes MongoDB /Casandra etc

Second layer is called backend layer. This is the layer where your code related to how data should be stored in your database, how it should be read and how it should be sent to your client layer. Languages like PHP, Java or NodeJs is used here. Current trend involves writing your backend logic and code in such a way that it’s exposed as web services to the layers above it.

Third layer is called client layer. This is the layer where your code related to User Interface will go. User usually talks to this layer only and is not at all aware of database and backend layer. For web application, there are many programming languages/frameworks which can be used here. Personally, now days JavaScript based UI framework work are used more. Check this link to get the list of JavaScript frameworks available to us.

But now many people ask , this is fine Vikram. Can you pls give us quick recipe at a same time. So my criteria of choosing a programming language or technology are that it should enhance the productivity of team at a same time give required performance.

For Web applications:- If you are developing a B2C or SaaS application which doesn’t involve much mathematical calculations, chose AngularJs for client layer. Choose NodeJs for backend layer. And choose RDBMS such as MYSQL.  AngularJs and NodeJs are both Javascript based frameworks. So if your developers know JavaScript, they can work on backend and front end coding at a same time. If you are not comfortable with NodeJs or your backend coding involves mathematical calculation, choose either Java or PHP.

For Mobile applications:- There are three type of mobile application which you can develop. Application which will run inside mobile browser. Hybrid application, which is developed using Javascript framework and we use software like PhoenGap to deploy it on Android and iOS platforms. And the third type of application is Native application developed using SDK(Software development toolkit) of Android and iOS respectively. Again at server end you can use either NodeJS or Java or PHP and exposing all server side code as web services. RESTFUl web services(a type of web service) are most widely used these days. MySQL or NoSQL can again act as DBMS. For client side, to develop Hybrid application, we can use AngularJs/Ionic(type of frameworks). To develop native application in Android, you have to use respective SDK’s. For Android you primarily do coding in Java and XML. To develop iOS application, you write code in Objective-C.

At last, this article must have given you a high level overview of the complexity involved in choosing and working with various technologies when you want to develop your technology platform. Thus its very important to find a technology co-founder for your idea. Just hiring technical guys will not solve your problem.