with a LEADER LIKE TRUMP!

Published in Life

One of my good friend Pradeep was sharing a very interesting incident that happened with him while he was in the US couple of months ago. They were travelling domestic to meet some friends. His wife, a Finnish had taken the window seat, he took the middle one and the aisle was empty. One gentleman came and refused to sit near Pradeep. He asked him to take the window seat so that he could sit next to a fair skinned person and not a dark skinned person. Rightly, Pradeep didn’t budge. Finally, the airhostess found a solution and allotted him another seat.

This is one such incident that I have come across. There must be many more. We are hearing more of them since Donald Trump became the president of United States of America. He has been openly and proudly advocating more jobs and benefits to Americans, than outsiders. His thoughts are reflected in his speeches, policy decisions and tweets! He wants things his ways only. Either it is his way or no other way!

When the leader of the country is like that, it would automatically boil down to the hierarchy. Then, to me it is not a surprise that some American citizens would feel that what they think, speak and do is the right thing. They care a damn about others thoughts and feelings.

Such is the case with our organizations/ team too. The organization/ team is a reflection of the leader. The staff will operate, work, act and communicate the way they see their leader doing. They take a cue out of the leader! As a leader your role is extremely important. Your actions and thoughts will determine those of your sub-ordinates and staff, which will often create an impression about the organization to the outside world.

Here are some pointers on your ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES as a LEADER – 

  1. Run the business profitability/ team efficiently
  2. Lead by example. Show results and staff will follow suit
  3. Respect the client, even if your thoughts and business styles don’t match
  4. Stay updated with the latest in your industry. Share the knowledge with your team too
  5. Always communicate in a language (choice of words) at your workplace, like you would communicate with your child. People are always watching you
  6. Elevate people from within organization, if they are capable rather than hiring outsiders. It will be a huge morale booster for other employees
  7. Create an environment of freedom, rather than stress. But without compromising on performance
  8. A mistake should always be handled gently. Fume and fury might lead to unwanted losses

Do review yourself as to what kind of a leader are you? How do you stand in terms of the above eight points?

Read more...

How to EXPLOIT INTERNET?

Published in Life

While everyone uses social media, the question really is – are we exploiting for our business gains? I think most of us are not. Here are some ways to best use social media for business gains –

  1. Select the right media platform for you – There are heaps of social media channels available today. Wanting to be present in all is stupidity. You cannot justify your presence. Your target audience will be present only on specific platform. Find the best platform and post only there
    • Facebook – Has a large following. But too many posts. But if you can identify the right target group and post interesting stuff, guaranteed to grab attention
    • WhatsApp – Lot of people in India use whatsApp extensively. Unfortunately we use to it forward positive messages, hot news/ gossips etc. If we use it in the right way, this can spread awareness about your business and allow people to keep you on top of their minds when they need the stuff. Create a broadcast list (not a group), and send out interesting stuff, atleast once a month. Do not bug the list every week. Can become irritating
    • Instagram and Pinterest – If there is any product/ service which can do justice through pictures, there is not better platform. Excellent posts from across the world
    • LinkedIn – Great to connect with people. Of late, eminent people are sharing amazing articles. Becoming more and more powerful
    • Twitter – Excellent and purposeful platform. But definitely not the one to market anything. The tweets get lost too fast. Paid ads can work, but must be ready to spend a bomb. The ratio of you following people has to be lesser than people following you. Only then your tweets will be recognized
  2. Paid Ads – There are a lot of avenues to do paid ads., like – facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. The social media marketing agencies will tell you to spend a little amount – maybe 5000/- a month to try. But let me tell you that this small amount is a waste. You will not get any business. You need to find out the ‘Customer Acquisition Cost’ in your industry. Accordingly decide if you want to spend that kind of money. Else, do free social media without any half hearted paid ads
  3. Blog – Today’s world belongs to people who are masters in their own ways in what they do. You must be thorough with the updates from your industry. With Internet, the client has become highly informed and updated. One best way to prove your knowledge is to write a blog/ article related to your work regularly – atleast once a month. Free accounts are possible on wordpress, wix, blogger etc.
  4. Email Marketing – One of the most under rated ways of marketing your product/ services. All of us get loads of emails everyday. Most of them are junk mails. Yet, a well-drafted emailer with a catchy subject line is bound to get attention. Compose an email, which will be worth someone’s two-minute look and be creative with the subject line. It has the power to get you business, more than any other media
  5. Updated website – Many of us have a website. But is your website updated atleast every quarter? If it is not, people have no reason to log onto your website regularly. It should be able to show some activity to people who visit second time. Make your website with updated software tools and ensure it is SEO friendly. Google gives preference to websites, that are updated regularly
  6. SEO – One of the most over rated and under rated tool of making yourself visible online. Over rated because some people over spend to get at the top, while other section does nothing about coming on top of Google. Balance must be created. There are enough tools to come on top and stop unnecessary to come on top. Content being a major influencer
  7. Quora – Quora has been gathering huge people across the world. It answers various questions from the experts in relevant fields. One of the best ways to prove your mastery in your field is to answer relevant questions put forth by people across the world. It will get you more following and hence possibly some business

One of the ways to reach to the world audience is least budget is the Internet. With Internet, geographical boundaries have vanished. It means that each one of us has access to customers across the globe. But the first step has to be taken by you and followed up continuously. It can take anywhere between 6-12 months for you to start seeing results. But once you are visible online ….. sky is the limit for you!

My suggestion to you – decide atleast 3 points out of the 7, which you will implement within a week. Some might need a little research, but Internet is always ready to help! Have fun and keep stumbling across success regularly !!!!

Read more...

7 Ways to INCREASE SALES ...

Published in Life

To me, business is not just about direct ways of selling, but also some indirect ways. While direct ways get you business immediately, the indirect ways will be able to earn you business from sources you would have never imagined. It will enhance your sales and maybe reach some bumper clients in the near future. Here are some 7 ways of earning indirect business – 

  1. Social Media – Be active about your business on social media like – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. Post about new services/ products, recently completed sites, important/ useful data related to your business. There would already have been times when your known people have bought stuff from others because they didn’t know you too deal in that product/ service. Let people explicitly know what you are doing. Ensure that the posts are interesting to catch a user attention (more in detail in my next blog)

We are working with Ideal Works, Italy for Microtopping CONCRETE. It is one it’s kind product. We are extensively marketing it on FB. As a result we are getting enquiries from across India and some SAARC countries, which we would have never got through traditional direct ways

  1. Google Business and Maps – It is safe to say that Google rules the world in Internet. People refer to Google for anything and everything. Google has two wonderful tools, which are free – Google Business and Google Maps. It is of prime importance to have your presence on both places. It makes you visible online and also easier for people to reach your place of business. Moreover, if you could convince your customers to rate you on Google Business, when people search for products/ services relevant to you, your listing will come at top.

All our businesses are posted and up to date on Google Maps and Business. We have got a few ratings and share the location on Maps when people are searching for us. We got a SEO friendly website to support the listings to ensure that we always come up on search.

  1. Email list – In today’s world, all of us certainly have an email account for business, which we use to exchange emails. But there are hardly any business owners who create an email list of all the customers and prospects. These people to whom you have sent/received emails are certainly interested in what you are doing. Sending them an email atleast once a month about anything useful and relevant about your business will always keep you on top of their minds for their next purchase

We used to that often a while ago, until there was a lull for a couple of years. Now we have begun doing that regularly. We have already started getting enquiries for our products seeing the emails. These are people who might not have been reached through social media. Mailchimp is a simple, easy and free to send bulk emails

  1. Sell more to same clients – Those who are buying from you are happy with your products/ services. We are happy to crack the sales, invariably forgetting that the same client might need more stuff, which he might not be aware about. It is your job to train the sales team to increase the size of their purchase

We get lot of clients who buy things, but do not know that they will need more than just this. Sometimes, they are not aware of the updated products available in the market. It is the job of the sales team to educate and sell such products/ services. Eg: A person who buys basin will also need taps, accessories and online heaters. Same client but the kitty of sales can be much broader

  1. Referrals – Happy clients are your best source to get more business. Be shameless and ask your clients if they know someone who would also be interested. Ask for referrals the moment your deal is done. The best time to get a referral is when the client is happiest. Do not delay and postpone.

We always do this at our online store (e-ceramall.com). After closing the deal, we ask people if they know someone who would be happy enough to trust us to deliver ceramic and sanitary items across India. We often get some referrals especially because this is new way of doing business in a traditional industry

  1. Complimentary Products/ Services – There are places where your prospects would be going, apart from your place of business. Depending on how much you can afford, give complimentary services/ products to such places, which act as a showcase for you. Important thing is to identify which are these places/ people who can get more business in return for you

Microtopping CONCRETE is a unique product, which does not have too much awareness yet. To make it more visible, we are installing it complimentary or at bare minimum costs at places where we expect business to be generated in near future. We have also done installation at few architects’ office since we know they love Concrete and would only promote it once it is in their studio

  1. Testimonials – We are living in a world, where whom to trust and not to trust is a huge issue. If you could collect genuine testimonials from your clients, and display them at right places (on website, inside your office, in TV presentation in store, JustDial etc.) people will trust you more and might close order with you even if someone is selling cheaper than you

We are always collecting testimonials for our online venture (e-ceramall.com) and displaying it on the landing page. We have made a small Google Form to fill in. For Jain Ceramics, we request our clients to rate us on JustDial or Google Business 

All these 7 ways work great on getting indirect business. I can say this with authority as we have tried it, tested it and beginning to get results. People notice us and readily pass references to others too. Moreover, doing these things always helps us stay on top of prospects mind, which is so very important in today’s world where choices are unlimited.

Here are some useful links to get started –

Read more...

12 ways to STOP ATTRITION

Published in Life

Holding on to your staff is extremely crucial for success in your business. Your efforts to train them, will be lost if they leave you and go within a few months/ years. At Jain Ceramics, as a working partner, I have been able to retain the core staff for almost 10 years now. Here are some suggestions out of my experiences –

  1. Trust – This is the most crucial thing. I have seen many businessmen look at their staff with doubts. Identify your core people. Once they are your core, trust them unless there is a serious loophole you come across
  2. Appreciate – Praise them for good work they do. Do not think that they might become over confident. Few words of appreciation and recognition of their contribution motivates them to do more
  3. Help when needed – They will invariably have some unforeseen urgencies. Go all out and help them. Only if the are at peace, will their best come out at the workplace
  4. Empathize – Sometimes they might ask for leaves due to circumstances. Instead of making their life difficult, empathize with them and suggest the best way of handling the situation. Work out a mutually best solution to ensure that your business doesn’t suffer, and even they have a way out
  5. Money is not the best practice – If an employee is working with you sheerly because you are paying higher, they are not long-term people. They will hop across the moment someone else pays higher.
  6. Give more than just money – Apart from salary, an important question is – what more are you giving them? Eg: share things with them, which they would otherwise not learn, teach them meditation, organize seminars/ trainings, talk with them to understand their issues, ask them what can be improved at office, take their suggestions on your working style, etc.
  7. Implement their suggestions – Don’t just ask them for suggestions and conveniently ignore them. Those suggestions, which are workable and makes sense for you – commercially and logically must be implemented. Sometimes their eyes look at things from angles, which we as business owners might miss
  8. Create excitement regularly – You should be able to create enough reasons for them to come to work. Things like picnics, activities, lunches, movies, social causes etc help the team to bind and create excitement at workplace. This needs to be a regular practice and just not once a year
  9. Elevate internally – People who work sincerely and have given enough years for you, should be elevated within the organization. This boosts morale of other employees
  10. Give freedom – Everyone has their style of working, which might be different than yours. Don’t emphasize on people to adopt your style. Give them freedom to work their way as far as they are achieving results
  11. Allow mistakes – If you want to create your second line, allow people to take decisions by themselves. Even if they ask you for solutions, do not give. Ask them to handle the situation. It might lead to some losses. But, that’s how they will learn and grow. When they know that the boss is with them, they will earn you good profits and goodwill in near future
  12. Be accessible – They should have direct access to you. If your organization is large, atleast one member from every department should be able to get in touch with you directly

Keeping your staff happy and motivated might not be as difficult and most people make it to be. The issue comes when people don’t want to do above-mentioned basic things for them, but expect great results. It is like not depositing money in your bank account, but wanting to withdraw every single day.

Rate yourself as 0 and 1 on above pointers. Give yourself 0 if you sometimes do and sometimes don’t do. Give yourself 1 if you always follow the pointers. Out of the 12 pointers, if you get 10 or more, you will see that your staff invariably stays with you. Anything less than 10 means you have to keep looking for new staff all the time.

Investing time for your staff is the best investment you can ever do!

Read more...

16 DONT's of a BUSINESS

Published in Life

If you want to have a business, which sustains in the long run, here is a list of things that you must avoid as a business head

  1. Do not skip taking phone calls of customers just because the delivery of product/ service is delayed. They need to be updated about their requirements, which are dependent on you
  2. Do not skip calls of suppliers/ creditors just because you do not have arrangements for payments. Pick up their calls and let them know that there is a delay. They might be upset; but will keep the trust factor alive
  3. Do not send superior/ inferior material than selected by the client. Update them about any changes that you wish to make for any reasons. Incase you don’t, it might cause a hindrance in future purchases they would make
  4. Do not give any misleading answers to your prospects/ customers. Always speak and give right knowledge
  5. Do not over-promise and under-deliver. Infact reverse is better – Under-promise and Over-deliver
  6. Do not engage in a price war just to take an order or for ego satisfaction. The ultimate winner is the client, whereas you lose out on the profits that are needed to run your business
  7. Do not wait for things to become better. They never will. Be proactive and take action to make things better
  8. Do not ever take it easy. Until you wish to survive in the market, you got to be on your toes
  9. Do not copy your competitors. Stay one step ahead
  10. Do not rely on 1-2 customers for your business. What if they suddenly decide to stop buying from you?
  11. Do not be over confident even if you have good partners/ team. Keep abreast of what’s happening at your business and the industry
  12. Do not shy away from meeting fellow businessmen from your industry. They might share some important information, which might increase your business dramatically
  13. Do not fail your commitments often
  14. Do not become stagnant just because business is doing well. Improvise and keeping adding
  15. Don’t safeguard yourself when someone complains about your product/ service. Stay neutral. Look at it from a customer’s perspective; as if you are the customer to whom that has been sold; and then give a response
  16. Do not take your employees for granted. Only if they feel, happy and excited to work, can you produce excellent results. Do enough for them

All these pointers are to be implemented by every business owner. None of these points are optional; they are all compulsory to be followed! Even missing out on a single one could spell doom!

 Finally .... "It takes a lifetime to create goodwill, and only a single mistake to lose it!"

Read more...

CROSS-INDUSTRY

Published in Life

BUSINESS TIP –

“Do not look for innovative ideas on how to run your business within your industry. The entire world is copying a model that is already successful. If you want to scale heights, take ideas from a business that might totally not be related to you!”

EXAMPLES –

McDonalds – The concept of ‘drive through’ in McDonalds, was borrowed from the banks in US, which allowed banking transactions to be done without getting down from the car. One school of thought also feels that McDonalds drive through was inspired by a ‘pit stop’ in F1 race

Baby Pram – Owen Maclaren developed first foldable lightweight baby pram taking inspiration from the retractable landing gear of an aircraft

Bullet Trains – The kingfisher bird’s beak became the model for the nose cone of Japan’s 500 series Shinkansen Bullet Train (more aerodynamic, less noise)

HOW TO IMPLEMENT?

  • Open your mind to this possibility. More often than not, our thinking is to copy strategies that are working well for our competitors. We don’t even look outside them. Take a decision now – you will not copy anything that your competitors are doing
  • When we go to buy something, we simply visit the store, purchase the product/ service and walk out. But fail putting our thoughts together to borrow the ‘good things’ about that store into our business. Decide – whatever good you see/ experience anywhere, can it be implemented into your business
  • Anything new will always be laughed at/ ridiculed! Be happy – People think you are crazy! Only crazy people have done something phenomenal in their lives. Don’t be bothered about the negative motivations/ comments from people, as far as you are convinced about it
  • Results might take a little while to come. You need to pursue the idea and implement it for a long span (atleast one year) to start seeing the impact

MY IMPLEMENTATIONS –

THEME OF THE MONTH – Usually malls always have themes of months/ season. We took that concept and used to have different themes every month. We would decorate the showroom accordingly every month. We did this for about 18 months until there was newness in every theme. There were people who would visit us every month just to see the theme we had for the month

UNIFORM - In our industry, uniform is not really heard of. People are free to wear what they feel is okay. But I thought that having uniform gives a professional look to the organization. Also, it is easy to identify who is part of Jain Ceramics and who is a customer (so many times I have been thought to be a salesman in mall). It is an additional cost to the company, but worth it. I picked this idea from an engineering factory I had visited.

ONLINE CERAMIC MALL – We launched e-ceramall.com about two years ago. Tiles business has always been done traditionally. Looking at success of online models like Flipkart and Amazon, I thought why not tiles business also be done online. It had never been done before. People thought and still think that it is a foolish to expect that it will be successful. I am extremely positive about it. We are not beginning to get requirements from across India. Let’s see how future unfolds …

Borrowing ideas and implementing in your business can be exciting, but challenging. It will make you go beyond your comfort zones. Your own mind and people around you will give enough reasons to stop you. But if your vision is to be ahead of your competitors, this will have to be done. First mover advantage is always going to bear fruits and give you additional margins – maybe not immediately, but definitely!

Incase you have already done such innovations; I would love to know about it!

Further reads –

https://hbr.org/2014/11/sometimes-the-best-ideas-come-from-outside-your-industry

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/15-cool-examples-cross-industry-innovation-action-wing-wang

Read more...

STAND - (OUT)

Published in Life

BUSINESS TIP –

“If you have to survive in the competitive world today, irrespective of the business you are in, you have to do something that makes you STANDOUT amongst others.” – Hrishikesh Jobanputra, (Hrishi) of www.ecomnation.co 

EXAMPLES –

  1. Google – While there were other search engines available when they came, their results were fastest and most relevant. Their algorithm was user centric
  2. JustDial – There were lots of heavy phone diaries called Yellow pages, which people would use. JustDial did not print a diary, but created an online platform. Today most of the people who want a number, log on to justdial.com
  3. Autorickshaw with free wifi, newspaper etc – Sandeep Bacche in Bandra, Mumbai provides numerous services to his customers without extra charges. His auto is equipped with free wifi, newspaper, phone charger, LCD etc. He does charity, and free service on medical emergency. (Read more - https://bit.ly/2GnLgox)

IMPLEMENTABLE TIPS FOR YOU –

  • Add a service to the product that you trade in. Eg: If you are selling tiles, can you offer installation services?
  • Add a product/ service, which need not necessarily be your line of business; but where client base is the same. It will allow you to increase business and expand horizontally without extra effort of hunting for new clients
  • Continuously offer something, where you are the 1st in your market. It will always take time to build the product/ service, but you will have first mover advantage and can scale good profitability. This new is not a one time phenomenon, but a continuous process until you wish to be a leader in your industry
  • Create a whatsapp broadcast list (not a group), an email list or SMS list to update your clients with your new products/ services
  • Create a Google Business Page for your business. It’s free and can give lot of mileage during Google search
  • Get clients to rate you on JustDial and Google. Offer freebies if you deem fit
  • Offer free video calling service to your clients incase they want to interact with someone who couldn’t come for selection
  • Find ways to occupy accompanying children so that the parents can shop at ease while at your place. They might end up buying more than they thought
  • Offer tea/ snack whether they have bought from you or not. Don’t wait to offer until they buy
  • If parking is a major issue at your business place, have a valet service for customers

MY IMPLEMENTATIONS –

  • MicroTopping CONCRETE – Added a new product called MicroTopping, where client base of architects/ interior designers is same. Earlier we used to only buy and sell products where price was the only criteria for buying. This product is with execution; which means difficult for my competitors to enter. Moreover, it is trending for use on floor, walls, furniture exterior etc. across the world. We are get enquiries from across India for this. Massive scope ahead …
  • AQUATRON – While we are building loads of toilets under Swacch Bharat initiative, no one knows how to dispose the solid and liquid waste coming out of the toilets. It is a SHITTY business; but a niche one. We have ventured into it. Installations are being welcomed across India. Just waiting for it to reach PMO! Then sky is the limit. Again – nothing even close is available as a solution to AQUATRON

These two products are making us STAND OUT of the market and competition. While my competitors are busy cutting each other’s throats and extending credit, we have moved in a different direction and moving ahead!

Are you willing to STAND OUT? All it needs is a little bit of your time to think and courage to venture into a product/ service no one is offering yet! 

P.S. – Special thanks to Hrishi for coaxing me to start writing on business. It is his belief that has got this series going …

Further reads –

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/biz-entrepreneurship/7-simple-start-up-ideas-that-have-earned-lakhs-crores/slideshow/19105718.cms

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed