Realistic Expectations

Entrepreneurs get into business to develop an idea into something really big.

While putting together their Business Plan, they have certain expectations of how this idea will be commercialized and the Revenues and Income that the business model would generate.

Entrepreneurs hire people and have expectations regarding their performance. Similarly they expect clients or customers, vendors, other stakeholders will work with them in certain ways.

Entrepreneurs need to be careful about not having false expectations or hopeful wishes when they develop their Vision and Mission. All expectations need to be realistic, rational, and take into consideration the factors beyond the Entrepreneur’s control.

Having false expectations leads to unachievable dreams and disappointment. Moderate your expectations to be realistic, so that when your expectations are exceeded one has a reason to be jubilant.

Ravi Patel

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Published in: on July 9, 2019 at 4:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stand Still Sometimes

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” – Chinese Proverb

Entrepreneurs do not have a problem of standing still. Rather, they are always on the move and wanting to grow – albeit too fast!

While the proverb emphasizes the point that one needs to keep on growing rather than standing still, Entrepreneurs sometimes need to stand still. Why and when is that appropriate?

Similar to a traveler stopping once in a while to get his/her bearings and ensuring they are headed in the right direction, Entrepreneurs need to do the same for their business. Instead of charging ahead with full steam all the time, stop, step back, and evaluate whether you are on the right path towards your Mission. Do you have the necessary infrastructure and leadership team to continue down the correct path (like a traveler assessing whether he/she has adequate supplies and fuel)?

The best time to stand still is when Entrepreneurs are not working in their business. Stand back and evaluate. Make adjustments as necessary and then continue your efforts to grow.

Standing still once in a while is good for you!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on June 18, 2019 at 4:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Making a Business Out of Your Idea

Technologically savvy Entrepreneurs start their business as they might have a unique product or application. Their understanding of their technology and their belief in the breadth of its superiority over competitors might make them think that success could be a slam dunk.

Entrepreneurs might start out by thinking that way, but their success really depends upon understanding the “business” of their technology.

No one ever became rich by building a better mouse-trap; rather, it is getting that product to the marketplace at a reasonable cost and convincing customers to buy it that leads to success. A tremendous amount of business thinking, planning and execution goes into making an idea a winner.

Answers to questions such as:

  • can the product be made cost-effectively with consistent quality on a mass scale,
  • can the technology be protected from competitors,
  • can it be delivered to the consumer over a wide territory and on time,
  • can it be marketed and sold effectively

and many more are necessary to make a sustainable business out on an idea.

Have you really thought about how to make a business out of your unique technological idea?

Ravi Patel

Published in: on June 11, 2019 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Taking Care of the Present

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” – Buddha

“Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment” – Buddha

For Entrepreneurs the past, present and future sometimes all blends together as they try to stay afloat and on course.

The past is often a painful memory of struggles, mistakes and even failures. Entrepreneurs must selectively forget the past and only retain useful lessons to prevent the same errors. Dwelling in the past is counterproductive and drains energy away from current pursuits.

Worrying too much about the future is not good either. One needs to have a plan for the future, but constantly evaluating all current actions against what might happen in the future is not helpful.

Managing the present, by using lessons of the past, will create the future.

Entrepreneurs need to devote most of their energy to manage the present. Create the foundation, processes and effective teams to deliver current performance. Unless you can have a strong present, you might not even make it to the future.

Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on June 4, 2019 at 4:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Who After You?

Entrepreneurs might not find the phrase “succession planning” in their vocabulary. While Entrepreneurs do not or might not want to think about succession in the sense that they are “retiring” from the business, finding a replacement is something to ponder about.

As an Entrepreneur starts and develops one business, the spirit of innovation does not end. He or she might find new ideas for ventures that might not fit within the mission of the current business. In that case the Entrepreneurs might have to start one or more companies.

In order for the Entrepreneur to focus on his/her entrepreneurial passion, the current business would require a capable leader to run the existing company. This is the type of “succession” planning the Entrepreneur should be thinking about.

If one wants to grow multiple businesses, then “succession” planning is critical for an Entrepreneur.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on April 23, 2019 at 4:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Simplifying Your Business Plan

A “Business Plan” doesn’t have to be a thick document with graphs, projections and glossy visuals. Entrepreneurs need not worry!

A business plan is conceptual. It should be crisp and to the point. Including lots of words (and graphs, spreadsheets, visuals) on paper isn’t necessary.

What should this simple business plan include:

  • What are you doing? Describe your product or service in simple , non-technical terms
  • Why are you doing this? Is there a need in the market place? What is the size of the market or need? What share do you expect to get? Are there competitors? Why are you better? What challenges/barriers are there? Do you have proprietary technology?
  • How and where are you going to do this? Describe your organization to design, manufacture/provide, deliver/distribute your offering. What are your selling channels and how will you reach your potential customers?
  • Whom do you have to support you? Review your management team and key personnel
  • What are the economics? How will you make money and how long will it take? How much do you need and how much will you make? How realistic are your numbers?

This is it – plain and simple. If you have thought through all these questions you are almost there. Practice your pitch and perfect it. Now put it in a nice, readable, short presentation and you are done.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on April 2, 2019 at 4:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Validate Your Idea Before Full Development

Soon after Entrepreneurs have ideas, they tend to forge ahead on product or service development at full speed. Is this always a wise course of action? Bias for action is a commendable attitude, but it needs to tempered with reality.

It is essential to obtain validation from potential customers or users before proceeding too far down the path of product or service development.

Regardless of how brilliant the idea, it is ultimately the customer that will decide if it going to be accepted. If the customer does not buy the product or service, there is no long-term value in the idea. Asking potential users about the idea and its potential features is a great way to validate its further development. Customers might even have thoughts and features that the Entrepreneur might not have considered.

There is always the argument that for a revolutionary idea the potential customer might not even be aware of the need, and it is the task of the developer to educate the users. There is merit in this argument; however, it doesn’t hurt to obtain some initial validation of the feasibility of the idea from potential customers.

A solid product or service development process should require some form of meaningful validation from potential users prior to going too far down the path of detailed design. Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

Do You Know Your Weaknesses?

Knowing your weaknesses and doing something about eliminating or mitigating them is actually a strength.

As a part of the strategic planning process, it is essential for Entrepreneurs  to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on their business and develop strategies for each area.

How do you find out your weaknesses?

Entrepreneurs can do an honest assessment and perform an in-depth, critical review. They could involve the management team in this process and have them openly, without fear of recrimination, list each area of weakness in the business. Have each manager of a functional area review not only his/her own area, but also other functions in the company.

Entrepreneurs could also solicit frank feedback from the Board of Directors and mentors regarding the areas that need improvement. Such feedback is more likely to be objective depending upon the relationship with the Entrepreneur.

The truest assessment of your weaknesses will come from competitors if you can obtain such information. Competitors analyze the business of their rivals very carefully to develop strategies to compete not only against their strengths but also to exploit their weaknesses. If you can find a way to gain analysis of your weaknesses performed by your competitors, it would be very useful in your strategic planning process.

Something to ponder ….

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 12, 2019 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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When to Let Go

“Don’t let go too soon and don’t hang on too long.” – Mitch Albom. Quite useful advice for Entrepreneurs.

It is always a delicate balance as to when an Entrepreneur needs to let go and delegate responsibility of his/her business to someone else. If one leaves too early, the Mission and Vision might remain unaccomplished. On the other hand, hanging on too long might jeopardize long-term success.

Leaving the business to pursue other ventures is all dependent on to whom the Entrepreneur is relinquishing control. If the Entrepreneur has built up a strong leadership team and a solid foundation to accomplish the Mission, delegating responsibility to run the business to a competent CEO is prudent. However, if the leadership team and the new CEO are not seasoned and well-developed, the Entrepreneur risks a lot by leaving too soon.

Hanging on too long can be an issue also. If the business has grown beyond the capability of the Entrepreneur to successfully run it, it might be damaging to hang on to power. A new CEO is then necessary. Alternatively, if the Entrepreneur has recruited a solid leadership team and a likely CEO and trained them, hanging on will be demotivating to the capable successor CEO and the  team as they cannot show off their potential.

If Entrepreneurs run the business on their  own without a secondary leadership team and want to continue doing so, they do not face the question of leaving too early or hanging on. But is that continued retention of control achieving the Mission and Vision of the business?

Ravi Patel

Published in: on February 5, 2019 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Are You Prepared?

Boy Scouts used to have a motto – “Be Prepared.” The idea was to teach the scouts to always be prepared for almost any situation.

Should Entrepreneurs adopt that motto in their businesses?

Develop a philosophy to always be prepared for foreseen and, hopefully, some unknown situations. Does your company wait until absolutely necessary to prepare for financial year-end, tax returns, regulatory or customer audits, quarterly returns, and so on?

If so, you are not prepared. Being prepared for these situations allows you to analyze problems beforehand and fix them ahead of the deadlines. There is less stress on your personnel and of course the Entrepreneur.

Implement a system of preparing for known events ahead of time so you are prepared. Having that type of discipline may allow you to also be ready for unforeseen situations.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on January 15, 2019 at 4:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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