Friday, February 18, 2011

The 'Sutra' of Entrepreneurship

The sutra of entrepreneurship is great leadership. An entrepreneur has to sail through thick and thin of the unchartered territory. Unless a start-up is steered by great leadership, it is difficult to pull through especially during the rough weather. The downturns can percolate negativity faster than one can realize. Only a positive frame of mind can think innovatively, build an engaging culture, come up with identifying opportunities during the bad times and in turn lead the people. It takes a true entrepreneurship spirit to identify and take up new challenges and turn them into opportunities. Such positive framing can come only if there is passion and meaning attached to the work that you are doing. Whenever there is a meaning attached to whatever you are doing it no more feels like a chore and it automates innovative thinking. My view is, for an entrepreneur, it is the feeling and satisfaction generated in the sub-conscious due to creating and giving, which brings out the meaning to him/her.

Talking specifically about Women Entrepreneurship, the ‘centered leadership’ model developed by McKinsey, highlights ‘meaning’ as one of the important factors which help women into leadership. This model has been developed by putting in research around the specific need of professionally aspiring women and their experiences. To be precise, according to McKinsey’s model, meaning, is finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose. 

My book on WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP, tries to highlight [Prologue] that there are many diverse industries with opportunities. You should know yourself [your strengths and interests or passion which brings about positive energy] and should be able to understand how to identify opportunities. Once your start-up and business model are aligned with your strengths, showing the meaning to you and addressing an industry gap or presenting a better value proposition, then everything will fall on the right track. Buy a copy today and read the interesting businesses that some of the enterprising women are running; what made them choose what they are doing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

SaaS - An Opportunity or A Threat to Indian IT/ITES Industry

The most quickly adopted cloud-computing model is SaaS (Software as a Service) due to the relative ease with which it can be implemented for key yet mundane IT enabled tasks in an organization. This straight away leads to a debate whether SaaS is an opportunity or a threat to the IT/ITES outsourcing industry in India.

To come to a logical conclusion it is important to understand what SaaS is. SaaS, put simply, is software provided as a service over the internet, either on a subscription basis or pay-per-use basis. It certainly is a revolutionary concept as it presents low-cost upfront investments to maintain and upgrade software applications.

For many verticals like Manufacturing, Human Resource Management, Education and Retail it makes strategically viable to move to the SaaS cloud and offload some overheads of IT. SaaS becomes another way of presenting outsourcing method to these verticals. Some of the operations such as payroll management, sales lead generation and sales tracking can follow standardised protocols and hence go the SaaS-way, only this time much cheaper.

Specifically some of the tasks handled by ITES-BPO industry such as data entry, data conversion, accounting, back office operations etc. can well be moved to the cloud of SaaS. With high attrition rate in Indian BPO industry and increasing cost of maintaining employee benefits and employee satisfaction, SaaS model can surely pose a threat to ITES-BPO industry of India. An industry which is works on ever squeezing margins this could be a matter of concern.

On the same lines it may pose a threat to the India IT outsourcing industry to some extent. Whereas this may seem gloomy, but the bright side is that Indian IT/ITES industry has come of age and has a long standing reputation of being the best in terms of outsourcing services provided. With a long track record of about 25 years, our key players of this industry can include SaaS as a model to provide some outsourcing services. Their outsourcing experience should enable them to standardize key elements of processes of such functions which are usually outsourced. They should be able to move up the value chain faster and include SaaS in their service offerings. Moreover, moving to SaaS would help them scale faster and reduce redundancy within their organizations too.

In a nutshell, how I see this is – a threat which is posing a bigger opportunity.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Vertical Ad Network - An Opportunity

In many of my previous articles I have propagated the importance of starting out with focussed target segment. Tight segmentation will result in optimum utilisation of resources. In my book Women Entrepreneurship: Role of Women Entrepreneurship Towards more Inclusive Economic Growth, I have highlighted the importance of identifying niche segment for start-ups.
The growing online culture in India has forced the advertisers to budget for Internet as an important medium to reach the customers. This has caused an explosion in online ad network industry. At the onset of it, the online ad networks were mostly horizontal in nature and this industry evolved in a clutter. While on one side the publisher inventory was on the rise, there was not enough of any inventory aggregation in any specific vertical so as to make scalable profitable business sense. But the trend is changing and the ad networks are focussing now towards aggregating publisher space for verticals. Even advertisers are more interested in strategically targeting the growing online communities through the verticals. Hence vertical ad networks [online] is for business case today.
Like in any other marketing stint, it pays to target a tightly segmented market. This makes it logical for the advertisers to aim at online verticals as a part of their online marketing strategy. For e.g., if I have to sell any baby product, then it makes a lot of sense for me to approach such vertical ad network which has the publisher inventory from the websites/blogs/discussion boards etc. which serve the online women community with certain other specs like income, marital status, working/non-working etc. This plan will definitely work better than going through horizontal ad networks where I do not know the nature of the publisher inventory. In simple terms, as an advertiser, I am increasing the odds in my favour if I approach vertical ad network rather than try to hit the target in a clutter.
Though vertical ad networks are common in the US and UK, India has just started witnessing the growth of a few vertical ad network companies. There is a huge potential in this industry and this is one of the hot trends for internet as the medium of communication today. Approximately ad networks get about 5-6% of online ad spends in India whereas in the US and UK markets the average lies between 11%- 15% of the total online ad spends excluding the online spend for Google. Certainly with all other trends like increase in broadband usage in India across tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities, and introduction of mobile devices with internet access, it makes a lucrative business model to be explored.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What are the Traits of Women Entrepreneurs?

What are the unique traits which make women as harmonising counter-parts in the corporate world? What makes them see an opportunity or what triggers their networking skills? Whether as entrepreneurs or key decision makers women definitely have some skill-intelligence qualities which are better demonstrated by them than by their men counter-parts. Other than education, which can depend on a lot of circumstantial reasons, women do have few unique traits which can make them very good leaders.
Physiological Advantages:
Biologically, a man’s brain is 10% larger than a woman’s brain. But that does not necessarily conclude that all types of skill-intelligence are higher in men than in women. It is found that a female brain has more nerve cells in certain parts of the brain. Female brain has a larger corpus collusum which gives women an ease with which they can multitask. The brain-structure gives them advantage over men. Men tend to use left-brain more and hence are usually good with numbers and solving problems. The grey-matter, which allows thinking is 55.4% in women and 50.8% in men.
This brief anatomy of a human brain tells us that women are naturally good at fostering relationships, not just with friends and family but around her professional world too. This translates into unique networking quality which is seen as an important corporate leadership quality. Her multitasking skill translates into effective managerial and organizational skill which is so very important to put the processes in place and execute the ideas into a flourishing business. Her natural skills lead her to nurture management & leadership around her professional world.
In my book Women Entrepreneurship, you will find the various qualities that make it important to understand the need to push Women Entrepreneurship. It is a corollary to a study done by McKinsey, followed by 19 case studies of women entrepreneurs.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Future of Online Networking

Facebook is losing its sheen. With about 13 million* users [as of September 2010] in India alone it is not surprising that many of them have started finding it more of a clutter. Users feel it is does not allow enough privacy and gives less control to the users. Similarly it is the case with websites like LinkedIn which is more for professional networking.

It is true that networking sites like Orkut, Facebook and LinkedIn showed the way, taught the power of networking to the masses and brought out the true sense of web on the internet. Now that they have taught users the phenomenon of networking, the need for more meaningful connectivity has risen. The concept of networking itself has reached a new dimension. While social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn will still rule the roost, there is a certain segment of such users who want to build their own social sphere with more meaningful interactions. People are looking for more purposeful connections. The concept which was more of a fad once has become a necessity and has created demands for websites with improved control features.
There are already few sites which offer networking options to a selected group or provide options to customize your online network for specific purpose. Even corporates go for such networking sites which provide better security and can have better qualitative networking among their employees.
Websites like Ning, GoingOn, CrowdVine, KickApps and Haystack are a few such social networking websites which offer different value propositions to the social networking users.
This is just about a segment in one industry of online social networking. There are many segments to be identified in various industries as these indutries evolve. Read my book to understand the importance of segmentation in the complete 3-Step process of launching your entrepreneurial venture. This book will show how segmentation can help you identify opportunities for your start-up!

*Approximate value; data not verified.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Challenges Start-ups Face

Yogesh M.A. of OOH Media graciously approached me to share my opinion on the question asked by him on his blog 'What types of challenges do Start-ups face?'
He states that due to lack of mentorship for promoters/entrepreneurs, it is important that the start-ups have one or many consultants/advisors, have marketing budgets for their products, must have teams for various departments etc.
While this is a whimsical set-up that a start-up can have, the bare truth is that the start-ups are usually not heavily funded. So to have all the above-mentioned things is luxury for most of the start-ups. Even the VC funding comes-in only after certain sustainable revenue targets are in place and the profits are reported. If you expand with all the above-mentioned things, then you are first increasing the overheads without starting revenues, and hence delaying the break-even level. Forget the profits!
So the real challenge is how to do all the above with a lean budget and still bring in the profits to lure external investment? This is the trick that should be mastered.
The good news is that the benefits of all these are still feasible with network marketing and having right spirited human capital who can help keep the structure lean by donning different caps as the need of the start-ups may-be [thereby avoiding big teams and departments]. Many smart start-ups are switching consciously towards Viral Internet marketing and Cloud Computing phenomenon to keep the costs at bay.
In my book WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Role of Women Entrepreneurs Towards more Inclusive Economic Growth, many women have started their ventures with lean budgets and are progressing well with the help of need-basis services, for e.g outsourced CFO services, smaller budgets for online and network marketing and freelancing development work, just to name a few. Book your copy of the book today to know more about the stories of these entrepreneurs – how they overcome many obstacles to realize their start-up dreams.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


As the name suggests, ‘Mompreneurship’ is an off-shoot of entrepreneurship fostered and motivated by Motherhood. Many baby products have been the result of Mompreneurship. This was more of the needs created and/or perceived when moms were either not satisfied with some products or were not able to find that ‘perfect’ stuff for their kids. Such women as entrepreneurs can be said to have a high ‘Entrepreneurial Quotient’. They could map problems with the opportunities, and this, according to me, is a significant measure of the Entrepreneurial Quotient.
Whereas the West is inundated with the stories of Mompreneurs, it is akin to searching a pin in the hay-stack when it comes to India. Apart from promoting Women Entrepreneurship on the whole, it will be important to show way to the Mompreneurship also. It will be an added equity in the entire gamut of investment for the economic growth.
My book explains what Mompreneurship is and narrates three such interesting stories which are truly inspiring. Book your copy today.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Women Entrepreneurship: An Inclusive and Strategic Economic Force

There is a deluge of advice and tips on Entrepreneurship around the world. As Guy Kawasaki [MD, Garage Technology Ventures] said, “A practical problem that entrepreneurs face is too much advice.”* But seldom will you find exclusive discussions on promoting Women Entrepreneurship, when the strategic gurus worldwide understand the growing importance of women in the changing landscape of the world markets. It has been recognized that Women Entrepreneurship is an untapped resource for economic growth whose potential needs to be utilized optimally. This has two-pronged aspects to it – one, the leadership skills and talents of women as labour force is an underutilized resource and second, the role of entrepreneurship itself as a means for robust economic growth.

One of the reasons for relatively lesser attention towards promoting Women Entrepreneurship has been the choice of the industry or the sector that the women make in undertaking an entrepreneurial venture. It is generally perceived as ‘less-important’ a field for economic growth when compared to the mainstream technology and manufacturing ventures per se.

This is one of the reasons that is reflected in my book WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS. It talks about many women entrepreneurs who have ventured into areas that are not highly represented in the business arena. The book also highlights the key reasons on growing importance of Women as Entrepreneurs in the future. My objective is to promote Women Entrepreneurship and my book is the first step towards it. Book your copy today. Your contribution will make the difference.

Bolstering Women Entrepreneurship is for promoting inclusive Entrepreneurship and hence a comprehensive economic growth.

* From Corporate Dossier, The Economic Times, 31st December 2010