It’s Game time! Stop Overplanning

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Analysis is Paralysis

Analysis is Paralysis (Photo credit: Poldavo (Alex))

I have heard that there are three people in the world.

Those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those that don’t know whats happening. I have also heard that there are two kinds of people in the world. Those that believe that there are two kinds of people in the world that those who don’t.

I might not agree with the latter but there is definitely some evidence for the former. Sometimes we are a bit of all three. We are at some point shaping the universe, consuming it or simply assuming it.

I honestly believe the most dangerous position is to strictly be one kind of person. You don’t need to be a watcher all the time and neither do you need to be a game changer constantly.

I personally have a greater leaning towards being the guy who makes things happen. But at the same time I have always felt that if I don’t watch things happen then I might impair my ability to make things happen. You need to observe in order to act, to learn in order to work. There are crucial lessons to be gathered once we open our eyes once in  a while to what is happening around us each day.

At the same time there is a need to ignore what you see once in a while. Too much information flow can blind you. Switching off is the term that is sometimes used.It pays to not know what else is happening especially when you are needed to make things happen. That’s usually what is referred to as analysis paralysis. We see it happen all the time. Big corporates have this tendency to search for more and more information in order to act. Sometimes the wait is in vain and the value added for the data presented in the end turns out to be insignificant. In fact at times it only produces a loss.

 

Waiting for game time is a balancing act that the mind needs to master. To be a real game changer, you need to:

Think at the right time

Act at the right time

Switch off at the right time

… else you will end up in a deep dark maze.

Communication and management

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You need two skills in business.

Communication skills and management skills.

Communication is what sells your product

You have to be on everyone’s ears, eyes and noses. Keeping in touch with your clients helps you form more than just a clientbase but a relationship too. Communication helps you define that relationship. You want to be their friends but you want them to be your loyal customers. Its crucial to make that boundary.

Communication also calls for innovation. Its an art. One does not simply say 499/= for a set of headphones. One can also give a free cd from some artiste you are in pertnership with. You can pack it up in some really trendy package while you are at it. Be creative with it. Its an image thing not a ‘sell and move on’ thing. You are looking to make your business viral by selling an image and not just a product.

Imagine you have product A. It a drycleaning business. All you need is to break even with all the expenses you took up when starting it. Getting clients from the neighbourhood alone will not help that. You have a dozen other hoods around and they don’t really have access to a good drycleaning store.Sounds like an extra market to me.

What a typical drycleaner would do is to put up a sign that reads Mr CleanPress Drycleaners above his shop. That will get you all the clients from the neighbourhood. It will take you 1 year to break even with such a market. A more than typical drycleaner would put up the sign and put other small signages around the other hoods. This will get you your own neighbourhood’s market and a few clients from the other neighbourhoods. This will help you break even in 8 months. An even better drycleaner would add some buzz and put some jisty graphics onto the signages so that he can pull everyone’s attention. On top of that he can give a 3 month offer where everyone gets a funny t-shirt for free for signing up into monthly premium membership. You break even in 4 months. After that you will be literally rolling in dough.

Communication is also about listening. Put two or three attendants at the door of the shop once a week to take queries and suggestions from each customer. Even a note can suffice. But do not write suggestions or comments at the top of the note. Ask two vital questions that will actually help the business. Did the cashier attend to you well? What products do you want to see introduced?

Communication and management

Then comes the management needs

I always say, you need to ship in order to stay in business. Management is about keeping your head above things – knowing exactly whats going on.

It’s the science in the business. This involves promptly delivering, improving your product, keeping operational policies in check, checking your finances and careful expansion. You do not need to be creative with this. You simply need to observe, note and conclude. You are basically the scientist analyzing a system that is in progress. A notebook is very useful when managing your business. It keeps track of everything that has been assessed so far. You can use ledger and minutes but if they are only going to complicate your life then toss them in the bin.

People often disregard the importance of controlling a business’s quality. Banks have suffered business because of this. The biggest complaint that any bank client normally has is the long queues they experience. Because of this a lot of banks have turned to internet banking. But imagine the frustration of taking an internet banking plan only to find out that it has some technical issues and you cannot finish your transactions in one day. That’s where management comes in. If you cant ship an extra item don’t even launch it. It beats sense to have more complaints about the firm’s products simply because a new product has been unleashed. Make it available and make it functional.

You also need to manage your staff. If you hire someone you will want to make them want to work and not need to work. This way they can even add hours without being told to which always translates to additional costs. People management calls for understanding and appreciation.

When these two tools are used hand in hand. You are bound to make a lot of organic growth in your start up in no time.

 

 

 

 

Spreading an Idea Through a Business

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The most successful businesses on the planet thrive on spreading ideas. They make a concept and morph it into reality by creating products that represent it. They say actions speak louder than words but products are a big package of action that can speak even louder when spread to wide markets. Think about every slogan you have ever heard of after a business title. For example CNN have this phrase they use – beyond borders. It exemplifies their dedication to getting hold of the news from every nook and cranny on the earth’s surface. It represents the idea that the world can be constantly updated with important happenings regardless of where they take place. American Apparel always rode on the idea that dressing should be a way to bring out the sexy in everyone. Safaricom have always had a vision to better lives even when they came up with the mobile money transfer system M-Pesa. Thus their slogan “The better option” says it all.

Companies turn ideas into businesses

The problem with a lot of people who start businesses and fail is that they start from the notion that the business is there to make them money. They start with the question which thing should they sell instead of which idea. That is the kind of thinking that triggers a series of self sabotaging thought processes. Think about it for a minute. Literally anything can make you money and lots of it at that. We are not really motivated to run good businesses because of  the money. Its very easy to make a shit product and sell it to a market segment that doesn’t know any better. This kind of attitude can easily make you a few buck but it will eventually send your customers away and in the end you will have little money coming into the business. And then the closure.

Alternatively, you could decide to make a better product but to do this you must gain interest in the product itself, how it works and how it meets people’s values. Inevitably, you find yourself drawn to having a better relationship with your product – one that is grounded on more than just pure commerciality. I always say that once a person takes interest in bettering something they become inevitable fond of that thing because it reflects who they are. The more focused you become at creating a better business and more value for people, the more passionate you are bound to become about the process.

As soon as your passion unfolds for your product, you will clearly possess a vivid picture of what message your business is sending to the world. A doll making company can send a message of love. So can a wedding cake maker. The business becomes an entity with organs, duties and character. It ceases to be a labour of focus but one of purpose. Once you know what purpose and passion you derive from the business, running it becomes a natural endeavor. The idea you are sending through your business comes first. The money comes later. Although the two are inter-related. More money can encourage building the idea further and building the idea further can spike profits up.

Ideas are seeds for business growth

One of the most popular ways that corporations all over the world fuel their profit growth strategies is by sensitizing everyone on the team about the idea being spread. Film production companies do this all the time. Ideas makes them profits. A bad movie idea is only a brewing recipe for massive losses. A Hollywood screenwriter once told me that once you write up a movie script and hand it over to some big time movie producer, you have essentially created a new company for the period in which the movie is going to be made and sold. The same thing applies to musicians.

Google have perfected this art and embodied it in the organizational culture of the firm.Working at Google feels a lot like working at home. Employees get to eat and play around at the office. This way the system becomes democratic. The organization thus works to serve the best interests of those who keep it alive everyday. The philosophy then spreads to the end product which is made with the consumer in mind. Google’s home page is the easiest search engine page to use in the world. It is also fast and relevant. It has everything a user would primarily ask for. Google offices similarly have everything an employee would ask for and with such an intimate relationship between creator and creation the firm has always been set for success each and every year.

So with business there are no two ways about it. You are either in or out. Don’t worry much about the money because that’s can only come from the consumer who wants a good idea in return for it – he wants a good story. What’s your story?

Getting things done is not how to stay focused

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What do you understand by the phrase getting things done?

The concept has often been sold as the general solution on how to stay focused. The more you get done, the more you will be committed to the cause. 30 years of being a tired dentist attending to 30 clients every day has worn many a practitioner down. They did more but got less. It became rigmarole. The obvious implication is to simply ship and not to think much about the shipment. It does not matter how awesomely you shipped or how much thought you put into your final package, you just wanted it away and done with.

The central notion is that you need to get rid of something that’s a nuisance to you. In other words you hate what you have to do. Then it begs the question, why are you doing it in the first place? That’s the precise mentality that takes any project downhill. Its the classic case of quantity vs quality, efficiency vs effect.

The subject matter.

People lay too much emphasis on figuring out how to stay focused on ticking off the task list instead of generating a good product. Time is always of the essence. The argument is usually that there isn’t enough time to focus on quality. It should however be the other way around. The time you have spent on it will be much better spent enjoying the process of working on something. Shipping the end product becomes more valuable this way.

Beating deadlines

Beating deadlines

Yet unfortunately, there are so many scenarios we encounter where we fail because we did not put our passion into something. We were too intent on beating deadlines. At the end, we realize it wasn’t worth it because we aren’t too proud of what we have created.

Becoming passionate about what you’re getting done is challenging. It requires us to change who we are and what we stand for. You can pretend to be passionate about something but there is only so much fuel you can put into such an act before you burn out. But really being passionate about something makes both the work and the result a pleasure to have. With such an attitude, work time becomes play time. And in this kind of mindset, staying focused is involuntary. You no longer need to stay focused, you want to. Imagine a situation where everything you need to do becomes something you actually wanted to do anyway. Sounds like a happy lifestyle to me.

 

The Two Step Process of Art

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When Christopher Nolan came up with the idea of a remake for Batman, every0one was anticipating a flop. He proved them all by making an elegant blockbuster. What he made was a work of art. In art, what matter si your perspective of the universe. Everything else is sheer politics. The sexier your view, the more attractive your art becomes. It really doesn’t matter if the idea has been there before – there’s always room for version 2.0.

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight is the new title for Batman movies

There are two parts to making a work of art. There is the draft and there is the final edit. Each is just as important as the other.

The draft is where your artistic genius shines through. A draft is an open space to let your mind gravitate and become unhinged from whatever this world expects of you. At this level, you have an ahaa! moment that transforms into a remarkable idea. That idea could be a painting, a sketch, a novel, a movie, a sculpture, a music album or generally just some brand. Your duty at the draft stage is to freely doodle your idea to map out your perspective of things. Your emotions could guide them. Or it could even be an observation of something interesting that turns into an artistic interpretation. If you open your mind to the possibilities, your artistic self can produce amazing things in the name of art. So it is very important that you do not inhibit it. The draft stage is the only chance to let inspiration run free and take control. The task of saying what works and what doesn’t comes in the second stage – The edit.

At the editing stage, you finally succumb to a sober mind. It is with this sober mind that you look back at what madness you have spilled forth and ask yourself “Do I like it?” If you do then it is quite possible that a thousand other people will too. If you don’t then there is no need to worry. At this editing stage you can also find bouts of inspiration to further improve the draft. A statement here and there can be substituted by a metaphor in your new film script. You can easily add colours to a painting and more tracks to a song. Editing provides a chance to feed off the inspiration blooming from your own work. And you don’t have to just edit once. The more times you go over your piece the more gaps for improvement you will see.