5 arguments: The X factor in entrepreneurship is courage

Reproducing here my column from your story.com

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Entrepreneurs rarely bear grudges. Not for them, the expensive pursuits of the ego. Often, investors are dismissive of very raw ideas, and they don’t mince words. Entrepreneurs’ ideas get rejected  all the time — but it goes down only so far. The same investor is more than welcome to see logic in the business in 12 months’ time, and offer series A funding. The entrepreneur is only too happy to let bygones be bygones, forgive wholeheartedly and absorb the funding.

The ability to forgive anyone and everyone is the first argument that the X-factor in entrepreneurship is courage. Only the truly courageous can forgive and move on!

We all know we make our world more significant by the courage of our questions. Courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.

Let’s look at four more arguments.  (Please note that some of it is deliberately exaggerated for a hearty laugh.)

Argument 2: Perseverance

Entrepreneurs often forget which pocket they placed their visiting card in! (There are normally two suits, the college convocation suit and the wedding suit). Rummaging and fumbling, they mutter breathlessly about a project that has currently immersed them in its vice-like grip. It is a moment’s work for them to have rattled off 100 words in 30 seconds that make sense to them and them alone. Scan a networking dinner, and you will spot startups a mile away — because they don’t care how much food they spill, on themselves, or on the floor, as long as they get to meet ‘that VC guy’ whose wallet shines with possibility. And this goes on, dinner after dinner, rejection after rejection. There is no diminishing the enthusiasm of the startup that has a business idea to sell!  From an unrefined amoeba of an idea, to a full-blown revenue model, the startup stumbles in and out of half-meetings and networking dinners till he secures his first angel investment.

Argument 3: Danger is real, but fear is a choice.

The home rent is not paid. The better half is hopping mad and does not understand your passion. You have no idea where you will be in three months’ time. Better still, unless asked, these questions don’t even arise in your mind.

Somewhere inside, you know that, sooner or later, your work will do the talking. This belief is all-consuming and everything else can wait. The degree of self-belief, by itself, is often the defining factor in the varying levels of success between any two entrepreneurs.

Argument 4: Adaptability

Customer interfaces bring out the best in entrepreneurs. If a situation calls for it, they can instantly profess to have an interest in classical music – give them 24 hours, and before the next meeting, they have read up about Pdt. Bhimsen Joshi and Lalgudi Jayaraman, both! Interest areas can be newts, astrophilia or even Karl Marx! So long as the discussion can be put off till the next Google search (answer nature’s call if need be), love for unknown things can be professed to advance a conversation.

Argument 5: Venturing

All an entrepreneur needs to be told is: “Why don’t you go and meet this guy? He can really help you.” The dinner plate is down, and quicker than Edward Cullen in ‘Twilight’ saga, the entrepreneur will be out of the room,  looking up the  six degrees of separation between him and “the man who can help” on LinkedIn.

The best part is the awkwardness of wanting people’s time and attention without really knowing them or needing an introduction, does not cross the mind at all. Venturing wherever needed, taking charge and not worrying about upsetting people comes with the startup welcome kit. All in a day’s work.

Summing up

On a serious note, courage evolved through time when our ancestors wanted to overcome the climatic challenges to live. Courage evolved when there was something they wanted to call their own, and had the gumption to fight to claim it and preserve it. Courage evolved when human consciousness allowed for slightly more complex thought.

Forgiveness, perseverance, belief, adaptability and venturing are five manifestations of courage itself. Interestingly, courage is what we look for, even in leaders, in our spouses, our partners and our friends. Courage, by virtue of what it means, is closely related to “massive determined action.” This is the X-factor of all entrepreneurship.

Heres the link.
http://yourstory.com/2015/05/x-factor-in-entrepreneurship/

If you want to shoot, shoot! Don’t talk.

good bad ugly

If you want to shoot, shoot! Don’t talk.

This line in the cult western classic, “the good, the bad and the ugly” encourages you to do what you need to do in the moment- “position your brand and service” sharply, as opposed to “talking about it”

What is the current market problem? Does your product or service solve the problem? Have you managed to make your customer see it?

In the 1990s, “fair and lovely” was a product that would “make you look better and get a better husband.”

Today, with changing times, “fair and lovely” is a product used by many women, “to feel better about themselves (self-confidence).”

From wanting a “better husband” to “wanting a better life, where family and career were both important” Fair and Lovely has positioned and re-positioned itself to be relevant.

While some of these could have been “their own realizations”, some were prompted by aggressive competition that communicated better. Learning from the customer, and learning why the customer is responding to competition, is always a good thing in business.

Positioning your product or service is “precision communicating”. Such precision communication requires homework. Truckloads of it! Such as-

  1. Observing customers when they interact with your product/service.
  1. What were they seeking, to the exception of all else?
  1. Out of the 10 attributes present in your product/service, were there some they didn’t even notice? What is the dead cost of those features?
  1. If there is an existing product in the category, is it doing better or worse than you and why?
  1. What are the established prejudices in your industry that you have to be aware of? Have you done something about it?
  1. Is your pricing compatible with the customer you feel is your TG?
  1. Is there another way to fulfil the same need, without paying the price you’re asking for?
  1. Do you learn from the customers who’ve accidentally discovered what they like about

your product?

  1. Are you using this learning to help more customers discover your product?
  1. Is your business about scale or about service? Volume or specialization? Do you need to be available at more accessible points or with more enhanced service proposition in fewer locations?

Put pen to paper and ask yourself these questions.

Positioning can be developed consciously, but oftentimes develops through trial and error and the natural evolution of a business. Understanding your business’ positioning is vital, and is the baseline for strong marketing strategies and execution, and in the end will determine the success or failure of your business.

Whether you are a small corporation or large, your product talks to your customer. Guiding this conversation is the key. The words and creative concepts you use, create an image in the mind of the consumer, which is pre-coloured by 4 billion years of evolution. Make sure you contribute to creating the right image.

Positioning is more returns for less headache!

Positioning is about setting yourself apart from the rest- in "usage" terms.
Positioning is about setting yourself apart from the rest- in “usage” terms.
The focus of this blog is to connect the dots- from how we evolved as a species- acquired language and how we use it to communicate today.

Positioning is the pinnacle of all communication- like the six-pack abs of body constitution. Everyone would love to have it- but its not easy to achieve and maintain.

Positioning is more returns for less headache!

In our “overcommunicated universe”, no brand or person or institution, has the luxury of being indecisive- hence the need for a sharp positioning (the process of identifying an appropriate market niche for a product, service or brand and getting it established it in that market)

When most entrepreneurs/organisations/marketers hear the word “positioning,” they think “very big brands.”

They lament that they cannot lose some of their customers, because ‘positioning’ makes it look as though they’re interested in only a ‘certain kind’ of customer.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it’s actually quite the opposite.

It is true that bigger brands have a little more ‘room for error’ than smaller businesses- but if any business should write a brand positioning, it is the small business or an entrepreneur or an organisation that’s looking to strengthen its position in the marketplace. It doesn’t cost a dime to write one, and it could save hours of time and enormous resources.

For one simple reason: focus.

Positioning is more returns for less headache!

Focus is a companies’ best friend, and a well-crafted brand positioning can bring greater focus than ever before. Simply put pen to paper and add some clarity to your activities- and share this with your agency-

You have to decide-

a. who is the most profitable target customer (80% revenue)

b. who is the definitive business to compete with (parallel offerings)

c. what you can best bring to the marketplace (what your customers come to you for?)

d. how to connect emotionally (what do your customers feel when they interact with you- relief from pain? Break from hunger? Time saved? Convenience? In safe hands? Protected?)

Once you know what ‘value’ to bring to mind, its very easy for you to figure out everything else. In the short term, it may appear that you’re losing customers- in the long term, you will be spending far lesser money- by targeting your communication- to people who ‘have use for it.’

Your positioning is a gift of prioritization that no other document can give you.

Your brand-positioning statement can give you the clarity you need to move your business forward. And yes, always remember that positioning is not about being “stuck”. Within your core positioning, you evolve to be consistent with a changing world.