Walk the Walk

In this article, I am going to try and find the relevance of a Morning Walk at a popular park to running a Business Venture. Though it might seem as, there is no relation between them, but then, if you are a regular walker you would understand the similarities it draws.

1. The Keeda

On a day’s contemplation you think, you have been into a lot of unhealthy habits and eating, which is pushing your body to a limit it could take. It is time to do something which is right for you and is capable of creating a life you would enjoy living. That is the day you decide that you maybe should start a walk or a jog or hit the gym. Similarly, when you have been working at a company, it strikes you on a day that it is time to take the plunge and look at being an entrepreneur.

2. Starting Problem

Though you might have been bit by the Keeda, it is not good enough! To overpower the temptation of sleep or a steady monthly salary, you need a lot of determination and persistence. You need to have the right plan and be strongly equipped to start. In case of a walk you need: an attractive venue, the right shoes, comfortable clothing, etc.. For business: an attractive idea, the right team, relevant capital, comfortable income source, etc.. And the most important for both, the Keeda should have bit you that hard that it should not fizzle out over time and wakes you every morning.

3. Planning the Walk

The first thing you would do after deciding that the Keeda is worth it is, you shall start planning or lay out a strategy on the execution of the idea. You may visit the venue if you haven’t seen it earlier, plan a tentative route, choose a time which does not disturb your day plans, ask some friends if they would like to join in, etc.. For a business, plan your finances, choose the timing of the launch, ask for advice and opinions of well wishers, etc..

4. Initial Days

You finally manage to wake up and go for a walk or start the venture. This is the period you are the most enthusiastic and excited about the whole idea. But, this is also one of the most painful periods you may go through. You will realize at the end of the first day or the first week that your legs are breaking away, your stamina is bad, you lack sleep, etc.. Similarly, in a venture you realize, the team might be breaking away, your infrastructure is bad, you lack capital, etc.. The key is to just get pass this phase and believe in yourself and say, this is right for you.

5. Habit Revisited

Once you pass the initial struggle, there comes a time where you get habituated to the walk or the venture. This is the time you would start enjoying the walk or the venture and would now think forward on how to use the walk for better optimum utilisation of time and energy. Similarly, you think on how to increase the ROI on the business venture or how you should expand further. Hence, this is the time where you re-work on your walk or the business. It could mean you check your equipments like your clothing or shoes, check if the route needs a change, prefer to go on a different time, etc. In a venture, you could check on the capital requirement, team members, the business plan. You could read The 1000 Days Rule for more insight on this topic.

6. Peer Pressure

If you are a regular walker in a public park, you would connect with me on this. Do you also find the compulsion of moving ahead of the individual in front of you? Do you also find it difficult to let other people overtake you unless they are running (since here you do not have an option)? Do you also speed up when you hear another individual coming close behind you and might just overtake you? My answer to all of these are, Yes! I find that the competition at a park is very similar and is as cut throat as running a business venture where you always have someone ahead of you or coming close to overtaking you and the need to stay ahead keeps you up at night. When a competitor is running and overtakes you, it hurts you and that helps you strategise your next move after learning from his strengths and weaknesses.

7. Observe to Learn

You have to be a keen observer when you are running a business venture or walking in the park. There is so much to learn! For instance, I am impressed by the elderly uncles and aunties who not only just walk or jog in the park but run through the entire stretch – this is because they have trained their body for decades, there are individuals who form a group and exercise together keeping each other motivated, there is an uncle who might be in his mid 50’s but practises Hand Walk, an aunty who does yoga for 2 hours straight, a foreigner who runs in the speed of a horse. All of them teach you something in their own unique way and you sharpen your skill by turning their positive experiences or practises to your own. Please note, all of them too started on one day with a short & slow walk.

8. Walk of Business

Some tips which I have picked up from a morning walk which could be applied to business are stated below.

  • Staying fit comes with habit and practice
  • Persistence & Determination at every level helps
  • Plans & Strategies are imperative
  • Team & Teamwork is vital
  • Innovation keeps the work exciting
  • Find pleasure in what you do
  • Be equipped, crucial to take you ahead
  • No pain, no gain – Hard work has no alternative
  • Staying ahead makes you happy
  • Push your limits
  • Competitive edge is important
  • Keen observance is very important

Though most of the points in the article are matter of fact, it always helps to revisit these from time to time. Finding relevance in anything you do with something else is easy, but using these learnings in your regular life is difficult and the need of the hour.

Happy Walking!!

The 1000 Days Rule

Right before Touchstone was incorporated, a very wise man, my grandfather, sat down with me and told me, “Every business cycle similar to every relationship in life, has to go through a period of 1000 days to know if the relationship or the business would actually work the way you want it to. Give your company a 1000 days and you will know what works for you and what does not.” It is essential to review a business model you make, but when is the right time to review it? There are loads of philosophies available online on this topic which could help you understand when to review your model, one of the most famous one would be “The 1000 Day Rule”. The first 1000 days are the most critical days of a new venture and it also holds good for a new launch or a new long term strategy.

After a 1000 days of running a venture, you would realise what is it that drives it and what is it that needs to be reviewed. Below are some questions which you could spend your time on after you cross the 1000 day mark. The intention of asking questions is that every venture works differently and hence every question gives a different answer:

  1. If you offer diversified products or services, what is it that gives you the maximum outcome?
  2. The product/service which gives you the maximum outcome, does it have the potential to become your core business?
  3. Of the various strategies you run, which ones should you choose?
  4. The chosen financial model, does it give you the maximum ROI?
  5. Of the huge number of vendors you work with, whom can you trust to build a long term relationship?
  6. The quality you maybe stressing on, is that the best?
  7. The accounting process of your organisation, is that the most efficient?
  8. The inventory system of the business, can it be improved?
  9. The employee tracking system, does it deliver?
  10. The motivation you need to offer, is that the finest?
  11. The expansion model you intend to work on, do you need to re-think?
  12. Of the geographies you work on, are they confined or too large?
  13. Employee number in the company, are they enough?
  14. Marketing strategies, do they make the right noise at the right places to the right people?
  15. Investment you made or investors made, are they rewarding?
  16. Fun created at the work place, does it need a check?
  17. The payment cycles you follow, is it a win-win?
  18. Long term, medium term and short term plans, do you need to review them?

Each of the questions above, need to be answered in detail. Once you have succeeded in doing so, you would be prepared to face the future in a more systematic way. The disclaimer here is, this have been learnt from running my small organisation, these may or may not hold good for your requirements. Please forgive me if I have not been successful in covering all the important points.

The Art Of Professionalism

“Professionalism” is a very loosely used description to an individual’s business temperament. Individuals think if they are well equipped with the English vocabulary, they carry professionalism. But then, what is it that defines the word professionalism? Defining the word is difficult as it is a perspective of an individual’s opinion. I am trying to make an attempt to examine what is it that could add to portraying professionalism.

1. Under Commit, Over Achieve

Yes, this is a tip which adds to professionalism. It is critical to commit to clients or business partners below your delivery levels but achieve above those expectations you’ve built. No, this is not a marketing gimmick! There will also be times when you would deliver only to the committed levels and hence you would still display professionalism. This is applied in cases of: delivery of products and services offered to clients, pricing of products and services, payment time lines to vendors, etc.

2. Black & White

Any business deal should have all the terms and conditions in printed, written format. There should be no place left for assumptions or wild imaginations. Humans have a tendency to take certain things for granted and details regarding a business deal is one of them, this usually happens when there is a repetition. Clients and business partners appreciate that all minute details discussed are penned down and there are no ambiguities left.

3. Cover The Loop

When you start something, drive it till the end. Perseverance and follow up systems should be powerful that once you open a loop, you know it will be closed. This always proves that you are under control and have a drive to deliver. It is critical in any lead generating mechanism as conversions happen only after dedicated perseverance.

4. Nurture Talent

The fastest way to grow in your career is when you train talent to take your place. Only when they reach that stage of their career, you would be able to take your step ahead. This also ensures that the entire organisation follows the same process and also that professionalism flows from top to bottom. The added advantage of nurturing talent is the learning process for yourself never ends.

5. Stick To Your Commitment

I am reminded of a line from a Hindi movie, ‘Once I commit, I do not even listen to myself’. Professionalism is an outcome of promises and commitments upheld. At times this is possible by suffering a financial loss, but the goodwill profit you build would make up for it. When you do suffer a financial loss, do keep the other party posted that you would still maintain your commitments despite a loss. This will be appreciated and aid building a long term business relationship.

6. Process

Process is a critical part in building world class organisations. Process driven account keeping for internal and external reasons, will not only give you the peace of mind but also portray professionalism. Even while driving sales, following a process would add to higher conversions. Individuals would be more than pleased to work with an organisation where they know that the process followed would drive their requirement till the end. Processes would also ensure a Win-Win situation with employees, vendors and business partners which I shall elaborate further on.

7. Happy Quotient

Happy quotient is a measure which is best judged by the ‘quality’ of your product or service. The finest quality of a particular product or service will not only ensure continued business but would also ensure Happiness. Even while dealing with other business partners, if you do pay an extra buck and expect supreme product or service by a vendor, he would be more than happy to provide you with it. Quality benchmarks acquired must be maintained or risen every time!

8. Thank You

Many a times, once a business deal is completed, organisations forget that the other party yet exists. A relationship does not start and end with that one deal, but it only creates a foundation for the future. Small steps taken like – to connect with a client to take feedback, thank a vendor for the quality maintained, appreciate the timely delivery of the courier company, be thankful to your employee who ensured that the job was done – do go an extra mile in portraying true professionalism.

9. A Win-Win

While dealing with clients, we always expect that the price they pay should always match up to the quality you provide, creating a Win-Win. The same holds good also while dealing with vendors, business partners, employees. It is imperative that all payments to be made are done on timely basis. Business partners and employees value this deed and would look forward to working with you more often. This also facilitates improved quality standards, thus creating a Win-Win!

10. Flexible Return Policy

Nobody wants to manufacture a bad product/service. But at times, the expectation of a client could be higher than your delivery. At this time, the return policy you follow should be flexible enough to accept the return and replace the product/service in minimum turnaround time. This will go a long way in creating a comfort level for the client which will guarantee that they work with you again. Professionalism is at its best when you are willing to accept your weaknesses or mistakes and amend accordingly.

11. Attitude & Commitment

Though this is the last point here, this is the first step towards professionalism. Only if an individual is willing to learn, has the attitude to make an effort, is committed to build a world class organisation, the art of professionalism can be achieved. The attitude and commitment of an organisation which strives towards achieving all of the above stated points will eventually portray effortless and natural professionalism in everything they do.