The Secret Ingredient of Being Brilliant

steve jobsEveryone I know wishes that they could harness the creative genius and innovation that Steve Jobs had. He inspired many with his extreme ideas, but there is one secret that I believe greatly contributed to his success – he explored his interests.

During a speech at Stanford, Jobs talked about a calligraphy class that he took:

“I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to [learn calligraphy]. I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture.

None of this had any hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would never have multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.”

Jobs wasn’t always working on the iPhone, he made sure that he explored other interests outside of it.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Unsurprisingly, this has been found true in other industries outside of tech. Apparently, fashion designers that spent time traveling abroad had the most creative designs. Something as simple as “new sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights” sparks different synapses in the brain and boosts innovation.

When you are an entrepreneur, it is easy to have tunnel vision and all you can think of is completing each of the million to billion tasks that you need to accomplish to make your business succeed. However, new experiences directly correlate with innovation and success, even if it’s not apparent at all how they do so.

However, maybe you can’t go travel or take a seemingly useless course. Try one of the following instead:

Take a Walk

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner regularly hold walking meetings  because walking boosts creativity, backed by research conducted by Stanford University. Even if you feel yourself falling into a rut in the middle of the day, get outside and take a few laps around the building.

Take a Risk

As Mark Zuckerberg put it, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.” If you find yourself just treading water, that probably means that you need to make a move that involves some risk. It’s too tempting to only focus on “surefire” projects and ones where the payoff is incredibly apparent. However, it’s beyond important to take those riskier leaps, even if they scare you.

Take a Class

No, not actually – but you are going to treat your own business as such. Ask questions about everything you’re doing. Ask if you’re finding the quickest route from point A to point B. Ask if your approach will produce your best and greatest work.

You should be constantly challenging yourself, creating new problems, learning how to find new solutions. Incorporate at least one of my suggestions into your life and let me know what happens, I’m sure you’ll be surprised.

5 Reasons Why Startups Are Failing

Over the past couple of years, the most popular world to be occupying the business world, especially in tech is “Startup.” Even economics sections of daily newspapers and magazines have been filled with news of start up culture.

Startup-failure-rate-infogrraphic

In the Mecca of Startups, Begaluru, India, the buzzword has been quite casual and an every day phrase – a symbol of popular culture. From businesses like Uber, Dropbox and local Startups like MuSigma and Flipkart, it is about time that the entire world gears up for a turnaround in the type of businesses that we run.

Even though Indian Startup companies are likely to have received almost $5 billion in funding from investors by the end of the year, many Startup companies fail to make a mark – often dying after a brief period of popularity. I want to take a stab at why this is happening.

  1. Rushing to Fail – instead of creating a feasibly strategy and term based goals, many founders and mentors just want to create visibility in the market. That is all that matters since investors are lining up to provide considerable monetary assistance without taking much contemplation.
  2. Lacking Vision – Time tuned goals, well-knitted strategies and clear vision will always reign. The serious issue with Startups is that the focus is often on business operation and the creation of the product. This takes away the attention from holistic and proven aspects of running a business.
  3. Not Thinking Analytically – You have to realize that the world runs on statistics and numbers. Somehow, Startups fail to use even free resources to analyze market data. They can even use some of their investment money to pay for great resources to do it for them. In some ways, spreadsheets are more important than any programming language.
  4. Inefficient Cost Control – Startups have to preserve the investors’ money and use it optimally because ultimately, if you run out of money before you turn profits, you’re done and that is why most Startups fail. Throwing people big pay packages and acquiring office space in prominent business parks should be avoided especially if the budget doesn’t permit it.
  5. – Most Startup founders are pretty young (especially in India) with little to no experience. Thus, they hire domain experts to manage their business operations. However, business leaders have to constantly interact with their employees and allow them to contribute ideas based on their experience. I don’t think that Startups fully tap into the potential skills and knowledge banks of their employees.

What do you think of this list? Let me know what reasons you see being a huge factor in Startup failure.

Keep Calm and Become an Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur can be extremely stressful and anyone who is trying to create their own business right now understands what I am saying to the -nth degree.

Why is it so hard? You need to work harder than you have ever working before. You have to push yourself to the limit of your emotional, mental and physical capacity. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth pursuing.

The Issue

Every business owner had this moment in their life that they have an “entrepreneurial awakening” that totally redefines their life. You know exactly what I’m talking about – when you realize that you are not satisfied with your life and finally understand that it is because you are meant for something more.entrepreneur-001

The problem is that this burns inside of you – your plans to build something remarkable. You want it to be significant, something you can pass onto your kids and create a wealthy lifestyle. So, you begin to act on it.

Emotional Rollercoaster

The emotions are a huge reason of why entrepreneurship is so hard. Sometimes you feel excited – every time that you make progress. You feel like you can take on the world and succeed. Then, some times you are not making the progress that you want to make and you fail one of your deadlines. You looked at it all and feel overwhelmed. There is so much that you want to do, but have no idea how you’re going to get it done. You start to doubt yourself and feel discouraged, maybe uninspired. However, you shouldn’t have to lose your sanity to become an entrepreneur and you won’t.

Remember Why

mistakes-entrepreneursWhat made you decide to start this journey? We get so caught up in what we’re doing that we forget why we are even doing it, but there are actually two why’s. What do you want to get out of this and what do you want your business to bring to others? Make sure to keep this in the forefront of your mind as much as possible – it will motivate you when you begin to get discouraged.

Gratitude

Practicing this daily can change your life. It makes you focus on the positive and doesn’t allow yourself to dwell on little troubles or struggles. Remember, you can always be thankful for how far you have come. A fun way to practice this is by having a journal. No, I’m not kidding. Write down something that you are grateful for at the end of each day and look through it every morning before you get started.

When it comes down to it, being an entrepreneur is persevering no matter how hard it gets. Begin to practice you why’s and gratitude and the emotional roller coasters will get easier!

How Chinese Companies Win the Customer

China’s greatest success has been in industries that are very customer-focused such as household appliances (39 pdownloadercent global revenue), Internet software (15 percent) and smart phones (10 percent). In these sectors, the majority of the growth is from local market sales – the size of China makes domestic leaders, global leaders.

Based on the enormous size of the Chinese consumer market, appliance makers like Haier and Internet companies like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu have grown to be world leaders. However, the Chinese consumer market is also quickly moving. The disposable income of its consumers has risen by 10 percent every year for over a decade and now 85 million households have joined the consuming class. In the Chinese market, innovations are rapidly scaled up and commercialized. So, Chinese companies have learned how to adapt global products by tweaking designs and better addressing the consumer needs. A new generation of Chinese entrepreneurs have been solving consumer problems in a unique way – the Chinese way.

China has a highly fragmented retail industry and this harshly limits decent choices for consumers if they are outside of major cities. However, Chinese entrepreneurs saw this as an opportunity and build a world-leading e-commerce industry, Alibaba. It has grown to be the world’s largest online market place based on the value of the merchandise sold – $349 billion last year. Further innovations by Alibaba is Alipay, a payments system and Ali Finance which helps to finance small scale suppliers that don’t have a traditional banking system.

Rethink Business Models

Chinese entrepreneurs greatest flair has been inventing business models. To understand, I’ll let you know that in most parts of the world, 60 to 90 percent of revenue for online businesses comes from advertising. In China, this is not the case; their advertising industry is actually only about a quarter the size of the US industry. Chinese companies needed to create new business models to monetize the web traffic. One company, Tencent generates 90 percent of its revenue from online games, sales of virtual items on social platforms and e-commerce. The result? The average revenue per use is $16 compared to Facebook’s $10.download (1)

Cheaper, but Better

China is known for creating products for about half of what other countries charged, but only at about 80 percent of the quality. With the rise of a wealthy class in China, now they have to create cheaper, but better products to win their consumers. A Beijing-based market phone maker, Ziaomi has become one of the world’s most successful startups. Xiaomi phones usually cost half of what top products of global brands cost for the same and even better hardware features. How do they do it? Ziaomi has achieved this by embracing business model innovations like online only sales and risk sharing with supplier. Now, Xiaomi is the largest smart phone player in China and is preparing to enter foreign markets.

There’s Opportunity in Brazil

“They have a joy for life in Brazil unlike any country I’ve ever seen.” – Morena Baccarin

150218100037-brazil-economy-780x439

Today, Brazil is facing high interest rates, rising inflation and unemployment. However in this scenario, there is an opportunity to innovate and reinvent old industries. As a result of the first two world wars, many inventions were created. Just a few examples that were born in crisis are the zipper, the drone, the wireless radio, chemotherapy and even the Internet.

Although there has been volatility in Brazil’s market, the country has been doing well. It has an energetic democracy, growing middle class and Brazil’s GDP has risen to $2.2 trillion, making it the seventh largest global economy. Even though the GDP growth was actually flat, Brazil’s web and mobile sectors increased by over 20 percent. Brazil also has 199 million people under 30 years old and 30 million people crossing the poverty line, becoming new consumers.

All of these factors contribute to why I believe that this is such a conducive time to invest in online and technology startups that are focusing on consumer consumption, small businesses and credit. I think that it will be these successful technology innovators that contribute to more economic vitality and broader growth in Brazil, not the proposed Austerity Plan.

Let me explain an example with BankFacil. They are financial tech innovators that are democratizing access to affordable consumer credit. How do they do this? BankFacil enables secured, online loans with the aim to reduce interest paid by families and the time that is spend on paperwork by banks. They use digital channels that eliminate the high costs of physical branches. The clients can manage the process with much less democracy.

Reais

There are some intriguing mobile innovators such as Qipu, an accounting app for nano-entrepreneurs; Grubster, a restaurant service that is similar to Reserve; Memed, an online medical database and prescription platform kind of like Epocrates; and Pipefy, an online team management and workflow platform.

It is inevitable that Brazil’s citizens will be more mobile-driven. A research survey from eMarketer showed that the number of smart phone users in Brazil will increase from 39.7 million last year to 77.6 million over the next four years.

There is a saying that goes, “the same wave that drowns one person is the wave that propels the other.” It is times like this that disruptors have a huge opportunity to deliver and leverage technology. Innovators in Brazil, now is your time to be brave and motivated – go after the market and you will be successful.

From Entrepreneur to Business Owner – Surviving the Transition

Entrepreneurs are masters of economic art. They are most often resourceful and able to turn ideas into successful products or services. Business owners are more of a capitalist mentality. They are calculating when it comes to risk, focusing on the real objective rather than the creative idea. To transition, from one to the other, you must be able to do both. To put it simply, a successful business owner must approach the development of their business and their strategies with an entrepreneurial mindset. Otherwise they might not see their idea come to fruition.

Having a diverse set of skills could be considered textbook when it comes to being a well-rounded business person. However, it becomes vital to overall success during the growth and transition. Not only must you have the desire to take things to the next level, you must have the attitude and the discipline. There is a point in every business journey, where things start to become a bit grey, in terms of direction and decision-making. This is usually where you start to see the separation of the businesses that might be successful in the end and those that end up failing. This is where the risky entrepreneurial side has to trump the stable, small business side.  In order to experience a continuation of growth, you must continuously take on certain amounts of risk. When there is an unwillingness to do so, there is an almost certain guarantee that you have stifled your business’s opportunity for success.

Source: Huffington Post

Source: Huffington Post

Some experts say that you must choose to be one or the other, answering the question: “are you a business owner or an entrepreneur?” Others will say it is the individual who inevitably decide that one path defines them better than the other. Their passion for new ideas, versus their desire to nurture just one and be a part of its growth and day-to-day, could be their answer. But then there are those who have taken an idea, built a plan, made the investment and sacrifice, took the risks and in the end, had the most rewarding experience of surviving the transition from entrepreneurial idea to successful business owner. These are the people who were able to submit to and endure the mindset change that is required to go from creating the idea to building the business and then ultimately maintaining it successfully.

There are a number of entrepreneurs who have survived. They have seen their innovative idea successfully evolve into a self-sustaining business. These business owners completed the journey from entrepreneur and are either happy to stay where they are or eager to pass the baton and start down the path to their next big idea.