Sunday, October 30, 2005

Networking: Beyond The "Elevator Speech"

“Networking” has become one of the sales bywords in recent years. Many will tell you that the key to building your sales is to “network” effectively.

There is no question that building a strong network can be incredibly helpful to your sales efforts. Nevertheless, many services professionals who sell face the same difficulties in networking that they face in cold-calling. It sounds great, yet for some reason they just don't seem to be able to do it effectively. Let's look at some of the factors and see if we can debunk some of this.



Networking: Beyond The "Elevator Speech" - RainToday

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bootstrapping

Definition: A phrase used in the business world that refers to starting and running a business with no or little capital. This approach requires a large amount of creativity and ideas to bring in money quickly and run a low cost operation. The bootstrap is a strap on the back of the boot for leverage to pull the boot on, in business this is creating leverage from a small start.

View the following links for more information:

1) <http://sbinformation.about.com/b/a/129768.htm>

2) <http://www.sandhill.com/opinion/editorial.php?id=16>

3) <http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/biz/Cashflow_banking/19991101.asp>

Thursday, October 20, 2005

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL (Setting up a New Unit is a Big Challenge)

The over-riding reason for anyone to think of establishing a SSI unit can be summarized in one word - OPPORTUNITY. If one can see an opportunity to provide a product or service in a manner to generate sufficient surplus, then one way is to start up a SSI unit. This is all the more true if one believes in the maxim, "Small is Beautiful". Opportunities emerge out of ideas that one comes across by thinking about lives of friends and neighbors. This can generate ideas about products and services that can make things easier, and improve quality of life of people.

It is well known that small business plays a substantial role in our overall economy. As of 2002-2003 there were nearly 3.6 million SSI’s providing employments to around 20million people. The Small Business ministry’s definition of a small-scale industry-- An industrial undertaking in which the investment in fixed assets in plant and machinery whether held on ownership terms on lease or on hire purchase does not exceed Rs 10 million. The SSI sector has tremendous potential for generating sustainable employment at comparatively low costs and this potential must be exploited if the economy has to maintain a sustained growth in employment.

Small businesses can seek funding from numerous sources. Central and local governments offer various financing vehicles for new and emerging businesses, just as banking; public-private partnerships provide capital to firms that qualify their funding criteria. For the entrepreneur seeking financial support for a venture, the most important thing to know is which of these funding organization is the most appropriate to approach, given the nature of the request, the stage of the business, and most important, the expectations and appetite for risk of the capital provider.

Start-up Funding and Small Companies--Micro enterprise Lenders
New and small ventures often require sums that are, relatively speaking, quite modest, but are, nonetheless, critical to getting the business established. No SSI unit can take off without monetary support. This need for finance can be classified into following types:

Ø Long and medium term loans
Ø Short term or working capital requirements
Ø Risk Capital
Ø Seed Capital/Marginal Money
Ø Bridge loans





Financial assistance in India for SSI units is available from a variety of institutions. The important ones are

Ø SIDBI: Small Industries Development Bank of India (refinance and direct lending)
Ø SFCs: State level Financial Corporation e.g. Delhi Financial Corporation, KSFC, MSFC
Ø NSIC: National Small Industry Corporation.
Ø Small Industry Development Corporations of various states.
Ø DIC: District Industry Centre.
Ø Industrial Finance Corporation of India

State Financial Corporations, SIDBI and State Industrial Development Corporations provide long and medium term loans. This type of financing is needed to fund purchase of land, construction of factory building/shed and for purchase of machinery and equipment. Term loans are secured against mortgage of assets such as land, building, machines, equipment and other stocks. The short-term loans are required for working capital requirements, which fund the purchase of raw material and consumable, payment of wages and other immediate manufacturing and administrative expenses.

There is, however, a Single Widow Scheme, for SSI units. Under the scheme, one agency, either the bank or the financial institution, funds both the term loan and working capital requirements. This scheme applies to all SSI projects with project cost up to Rs. 5 million. The working capital loan is generally secured against

Ø Pledging of stocks, raw materials and finished goods
Ø Advances against work-in-progress (WIP)
Ø Advance against bills
Training and technical assistance in business administration are as important as financing to the viability of SSI’s. SSI’s often need guidance on the principles of operating a business, such as developing a business plan, implementing accounting and financial-reporting systems, and creating marketing strategies. These essential elements of business management are vital to the growth of an enterprise because they demonstrate a firm's organizational capacity and position it for future development and financing opportunities. As a result, SSI lenders typically offer extensive training and individual counseling in conjunction with their credit programs. With the mission to serve and promote SSI’s, these organizations have the expertise and the capacity to connect very small businesses with the resources they need. The technical assistance that these programs offer is consistent with the organization's objectives and tolerance for the level of business and credit risk that is inherent in newer, undercapitalized firms.





Patient Capital--Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors

Depending on the entrepreneur and the business, another source of funding for new and developing businesses may be equity partners, often known as venture capitalists and angel investors. This type of financing represents the opposite end of the funding spectrum from SSI lenders and is provided by professionals who invest alongside management in young, rapidly growing companies that show the potential for significant growth. With an ownership interest, these investors have a stake in the success of the business, and with the acceptance of a higher level of risk come the expectation of a higher return. Not only do they provide capital, they also are generally active in the management of the business, participating in management decisions such as the development of new products or services and business strategies. With extensive experience, these investors bring considerable business expertise to an enterprise; they are valuable resources in managing its expansion and have a long-term orientation when evaluating a firm's potential. However, despite this longer-term focus, these investors also have a definite exit strategy. They expect, at some point, to sell their share of the business.

Equity partners, be they corporations, foundations, pension funds, government, or individuals, are a source of patient capital that can be critical to the growth of a business. Equity provides a buffer during cyclical or periodic downturns in a firm's cash flow and serves as leverage for other types of financing, such as bank credit. Venture capital funds often specialize in providing capital to businesses that fit their investment profile, as defined by a point in the business life cycle, by an industry, or by a mission. Equity investment is available to firms that offer the promise of creating jobs and improving the economic prospects of lower-income urban and rural areas.

Entrepreneurs seeking equity funding to support their firms' growth and development should identify investors whose investment objectives are consistent with their businesses' needs, characteristics, and role in the local economy. Some of the venture capitalist firms in India are listed below

ü ICICI Venture Funds Management Company Limited
ü IFCI Venture Capital Funds Ltd. (IVCF)
ü SIDBI Venture Capital Limited (SVCL)
ü IL & FS Group Businesses
ü Gujraj Venture Finance Limited (GVFL)








Business Operations Financing--Bank Creditors

When considering bank financing, it is helpful to first understand how banks as lenders differ from investors. Unlike the venture capital business, banks are lending their depositors money and therefore operate on a much lower risk tolerance. Because bankers have a very low tolerance for error, they conduct careful analyses of a business's financial strength and ability to service the debt from its operations and cash flow. Banks can lend money to either purchase business assets, or to provide ongoing funding for business operations. In either case, banks carefully analyze the capacity of the business to generate the funds to repay the loan. Therefore, typically, banks rely on at least two years of financial statements and the business's track record of meeting its obligations to evaluate credit worthiness and debt-service capability. Bankers also recognize the need to provide financial planning assistance and specific financial management guidance but do not assume the same day-to-day management involvement as would a venture capital investor.

For loans from commercial banks a formal application needs to be made. The details of documentation that need to be provided with the loan applications are shown here.

Ø Documentation for Loan Application
Ø Balance Sheet and Profit Loss Statement for last three consecutive years of firms owned by promoters
Ø Income Tax Assessment Certificates of Partners/Directors
Ø Proof of Possession of Land/Building
Ø Partnership deed/Memorandum and Article of Associations of Company
Ø Project Report
Ø Budgetary Quotations of Plant and Machinery

A sanction or rejection letter is issued by bank after its assessment of the application. After receiving a sanction letter applicant need to indicate in writing their acceptance of terms and conditions laid down by FI/ Banks. Subsequent loan is disbursed according to the phased implementation of the project.

Small businesses play a substantial role in the economy of the country. As each of you pursues dreams of business ownership, you also contribute to the economic health of your community and your country.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Recognizing the Bursting Point

Many business owners and CEOs make the same mistake: They rely on what's in hand to do jobs that would benefit from more robust technology. A fear of change or a lack of education on what's available causes many businesses to approach adopting new technology warily. Instead, they take a Band-Aid approach, and coast along until problems appear. When problems arise, businesses scramble to find a quick fix and forgo the necessary planning that is needed to make solid IT decisions for their businesses. "If you don't start planning early," explains Kevin Fessenden, president of Web and software consulting firm UnitedWare based in Cincinnati, "you're going to develop some bad habits. Employees will get used to doing things a certain way, and everyone will be more resistant to change."




Inc.com Recognizing the Bursting Point

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Find Time for Marketing

Very often, it so happens that you start your business, fall in love with it, and then start getting so much into operations that you don't find time to market it. Now, if you don't market, you are right where you started. So do you see the picture, honey? Here is an article in www.entrepreneur.com which enunciates the importance of finding time to do your marketing. Finding time? i'd say, find the time even in your grave.

Find Time for Marketing

Google's Still Got It

Is google really that good as it is made out to be? Do it's market share and brand value lie to us? IS is it a tad over done? So is google worth it? How special is it when compared to it's competitors?

Businessweek.com has come out with an intensive review as to the justication of Google, The brand.

Google's Still Got It

How To Get Your BLOGS Site Feed Listed In Yahoo! and MSN Within HOURS Is Easier Than You Think

How To Get Your BLOGS Site Feed Listed In Yahoo! and MSN Within HOURS Is Easier Than You Think

8 TOP Ways To Promote Your RSS/XML Feed For MAXIMUM Exposure

8 TOP Ways To Promote Your RSS/XML Feed For MAXIMUM Exposure

Top Five Things NOT To Do When Cold Calling - RainToday

Getting on the phone to sell cold is sort of like exploring a very large and somewhat intimidating city for the first time: initially, it can be more important to know where not to venture in order for your experience to be a rewarding one.

On the phone, I have earned more than a few lumps stumbling into pitfalls in this tricky landscape. While I continue to learn new ways to navigate an organization in order to reach my prospect, I know at least five routes to avoid:



Don't Pick Up The Phone Until You Know What You're Going To Say.

Recently, a client told me how disappointed he was in the outcome of his cold call campaign. When I asked him what he wanted to accomplish, he replied, “I don't really know. It depends on the conversation.”

While some improvisational room is necessary for each call, the objective should be clear at the outset. It can be to schedule a meeting, to announce a special offer, or simply to introduce yourself prior to sending company information. Without having a clear goal and outcome for your call you won't know how to direct the conversation, your prospect won't know why you're calling, and in the end, your outreach efforts will founder.

The old adage is true… “If you don't know where you're going, you won't know when you get there.”

Read More ...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Have you been wasting away online?


Whenever I happen to stumble across message forums and message boards, I notice thousands and thousands of "business" ads, inviting people to join and earn "some extra money " per month. Of course, I fell prey to them too, I even tried responded to some of them and burnt my fingers. It was all abortive. Some of them are legitimate, but then, there is something strange going on. The very fact that you are doing this, is to exercise your opportunity to " Be your own boss". How can you be your own boss, when the amount of profits you are about to make in these schemes ( whatever they might be, from amway to insurance), is already set by them?
Similarly, With franchises, Most people think, that owning a franchise can be an easy to way to be ones own boss. It might be, it might not be. For creatively driven people like me ( and most others of my ilk ), this just kills our creativity. There are rule books and service manuals. You need to do what Mc Donald or Subway would ask you to do. So they are down, you might be down. No? Well, Pray that the community you are located in is far more altruistic than it is, really.
So what must you do? Need to earn some extra money, but you are suddenly distrustful of the online scheme gurus? I would say, that, if there is one thing that could be sold - that's YOU. But what the heck? What do we know?
  • If you been lauded or complimented on your writing ( you could have written a letter to your girlfriend, your teacher whom you had a crush on, your mom, your granny ) - you know what I mean? With a little effort ( Much less than what it takes to keep searching and responding to various ads online ), you could try to be a freelance writer.
  • If you are technically inclined and have a way with gadgets and gizmos, maybe, you can can try learning a little HTML and take to blogging, mini websites, and designing websites. Trust me, I have been searching a tech head for a very very long time, and this part of the cmmunity seems to be extinc, while I need them badly. Do you see a skewed Demand- Supply Equation?
  • If only you looked deep within yourself, I am sure you would come up with many ideas, you could employ to earn that extra money, which, one day, with concerted efforts and your determination, will turn into a full time, recurring income.

That said - For heaven's sake, don't do data entry jobs, Cheap jobs, Surf-to-get-paid crap, email- to - get paid, Stuffing envelopes and what not. I think you deserve something better. So it's time you held your horses back and BE your own BOSS. And mean it for once.

Are you Hosting Blind? Or do you have too much money?

Guess what I have been noticing? Our people, here in India, buy website hosting packages only from Indian Providers. I don't understand. Here is how a sample hosting package, by an Indian Provider looks like,

10 MB hosting + 10 email ids, 1 GB Data Transfer - Rs 850 per Yr.
And if you increase the size and the Data Transfer, You are in for a very pleasant surprise. These packages cost a lot more than the US ones( quite a bomb, What? 18,500 INR ?Thank you very much. And they don't have a fraction of the features thse US web hosting companies provide.

I mean, Check any domain name registrar, any web hosting provider, in the US, Say www.godaddy.com or something. And check out their packages. 4 $ dollars per month ( Rs 176 pm or Rs 2112 p a ) . Most hosting providers have their prices in the same range. But there is something they all hav, which Indian providers don't give. Website builders, Marketing tools, Blogging software and so many more, that it is impossible to name them here.

I don't know if it's because we are ignorant, or because we apparantly seem not to care. But there are better deals out there for your web hosting requirements, if you care to look around. Wake up, Honey, You are in the Cyber world. And someone forgot to draw borders around your country and the rest of the world.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The very best of the net - An Authoritative List


You know what? I am not an Online expert, but then, ever since I knew what Internet was, I was set about researching the best internet had to provide. So, I was wondering if it would be a good idea to list down those sites, which I thought were just awesome. You might be familiar with most of them. I guess. This will be updated continuously. You may please add your comments too - I would be including only those which are relevant to business and services.

News & current affairs ( Business, E- commerce, Politics and general ) :

Business Magazines & Online journals

Writing, Freelancing and self-employed professionals:

Marketing & Online Promotions :

Webhosting Providers, Domain Name Registrars and Web host review sites:

  • Go Daddy ( one of the very best and the largest domain registrar in the world )
  • Host Excellence ( One of the top rated hosting firms )
  • Net Firms ( It includes a CD for website Building )
  • Third Sphere - This one comes with a comprehensive package for about 24.95 USD ( Rs. 1000 and Odd Per month )
  • Tophosts - A very reliable webhosting Review Site
  • Webhosting Info - An official web hosting review site ( Global Coverage, Including India )

Online Automation Systems, Email Systems, Auto responders and other Web Tools:

  • Bravenet.com - A free haven for lots and lots of tools for your website ( But then, you will have to live the " Bravenet Name " on each of those free tools )
  • 1shoppingcart.com - A paid Online Automation Systems, Email systems and Marketing Systems provider.

Services As a Niche - Content Sites :

Classifieds :