Part-time CEO could be the right choice for your venture

Posted by on Oct 29, 2011 in Business, EPM World, Start-up business | 0 comments

Part-time CEO

The very mention of part-time CEO may appear to be something unknown for many of small or start-up enterprises.  Yes, because we are mostly used to the model of Consulting SLA whereby a consultant or an organization would meet the piecemeal services required by a venture.

At the very outset why an organization would need a CEO?  Obviously to define a right strategy and planning for the successful implementation of business objectives and to drive the vision of the enterprise.  CEO would obviously be accountable to draw organizational productivity, consistently increase the net worth of the company, and achieve stakeholder satisfaction.  These aspects would inherently demand efficient management of all business functions supported by an energetic team.

Part-time CEO services from EPMWORLD

Why do you need a part-time CEO:

(i)  You may be a first time entrepreneur and a start-up owner.

As a first time entrepreneur, you will need support right from setting up the processes, implementing the project  infrastructure, to putting the venture on commercial track.  These initial processes need multifunctional expertise in business and management.  For young entrepreneurs and for people who come from traditional business line, this might prove to be a challenge to build a professional structure.  In order to overcome this challenge, a first time entrepreneur and a start-up owner can engage a Part-time CEO who can invest his expertise on (i) Business Plan (ii) Statutory and mandatory registrations (iii) Investment model (iv) Procurement (v) Policy Development (vi) Marketing collateral (vii) Legal and organizational documentation (viii) Team deployment (ix) Technology implementation (x) Infrastructure deployment; and (xi) Commercial launch.

Besides the above, the matter of business promotion and brand identity processes suitable to the target market and customer segment is an important concerted task to be achieved with the active involvement of respective team members.

(ii)  You may be remotely handling a project.

You may be the promoter-owner of the venture who is away on other avocations.  You may be an enterprise having headquarters or business units in other part of the world.  You may want a local expert in the project location to handle the project with absolute expertise and accountability.  You need a responsible company who could extend you Part-time CEO services placing their Sr. Executive onsite.  This model will bring you required assurance on successful project implementation supported by relevant SLAs.

(iii) You may be holding some parallel projects which demand specialized techno-management skills.

You may be an individual or an organization who has got requisite management expertise and seized with several projects.  You might need a Part-time CEO who come with requisite techno-management expertise.  This will place you at ease in the initial project launch and you will also be secured about the project success under SLAs.

The model of engaging a Part-Time CEO:

You should go for a model where the role of a Part-time CEO is a mere indication of responsibilities, deliverables and accountability.  He may not be necessarily be an all-time visitor to the project site.  As a promoter-owner, you will be the actual CEO in the organization and the person in question would otherwise co-ordinate with you to effectively handle project deliverables.  The appointment of such person or organization for part-time CEO services would precisely indicate these aspects along with (i) project scope, (ii) terms of service, (iii) periodicity, (iv) remuneration, (v) Support after project launch, and (vi) exit route, in the MOU.  Regular and onsite placement of part-time CEO might give way to management and team cultural challenges on his exit.  Thus, it is desirable to have off-site services as an officiating person.

The MOU could spell the performance metrics and subjective terms like penalty for non-performance, cost over-runs, schedule delays and so just as in case of a project delivery agreement.

The challenges in going for a Part-Time CEO:

You would need to exercise openness in accepting suggested measures by the part-time CEO.  As a responsible person for project delivery, he might want contextual changes in resource handling, vendor relations, procurement preferences or even review of strategy.  Mutual trust and transparency between the promoter-owner and the part-time CEO would make lot of positive difference to the project.

The parameters of selecting a right organization or right individual

The most important parameters being (i) Multifunctional expertise specially with respect to project management (ii) Visionary with innovative thinking (iii) Ethical and transparent (iv) Sense of ownership (v) Proven background (vi) Process oriented and analytical (vii) Market Awareness (viii) Service with smile; and (ix) Always accessible; and desirably Social Media savvy.

Notwithstanding the above, the final responsibility again lies with you to monitor the effectiveness of part-time CEO and his deliverables.  Ideally, you should undergo a few sessions of detailed inputs from him before the project start and during the project handling on the approach, project baselines, performance parameters and controlling measures.  Choose a person as a part-time CEO with guts and confidence and through thorough screening.

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How to start an Online business

Posted by on Oct 11, 2011 in Business, EPM World, Marketing, Branding, Start-up business, Technology | 7 comments

Online Business:

The digital world has paved way for a new and additional business source in the form of online business.  The traditional marketing budgets which were in the range of millions and billions of dollars are no more a must for someone who would like to attract global business sales.  It could be a largest retailer like Wal-Mart Stores or sheer online shopping mall eBay.  Generous broadband connectivity and Internet proliferation have brought dollar cheers to business men and discount cheers to customers in the online business world.

The significance of online business is its nature to be able to function as the tiniest business model propelled by a single PC to the largest business model driven by gigantic technology infrastructure.  It is as practical as that, an ordinary individual who can invest $100 (INR 5000) of his pocket money can even create blog based online earning revenue model.

(A)  Types of online business:

Online business is prominently dominated by product sale.  Consumer electronics, household provisions, ready made garments, drug store and the list is unending and is limited to our imagination.  The other business type is service sale.  The most popular among them are job portals, matrimonial sites, service exchanges and even research services.

(B)  Online business idea:

epmworld online businessChoose a single product which has large scope in the market and which can be sourced by you at required parameters.  You can go for marketing of all cereals like Green Gram, Black Gram and so.  You can choose art items if you are an artist.  You can go for designer garments if you are a designer.  You can sell photo frames if you are an artisan.  Or you can market handyman services.

Every business opportunity is portable as online business model, provided you know the target market scope.

(C)  Approach:

Idea consolidation:  Finalize the product choice after proper market research.  Make a quality business plan to understand the investment and ROI.

Technology: The major points of consideration could be:

  1. High level requirements of portal
  2. Operating System & Database
  3. Hosting platform
  4. Design considerations for Front-end feel and look
  5. Analytics and Reporting structure
  6. Payment Gateway options
  7. Support
  8. Security measures; and
  9. Development and deployment time.

(D)  Process development and deployment:

What constitutes this?

  1. Finalization of terms with vendors, affiliates for product supply or service deliver.
  2. Statutory and mandatory rules & regulations related to sale and purchase of products contextual to target markets.
  3. Procurement and supply logistics.
  4. Transaction cycle like Ordering, invoicing and delivery.
  5. Operational structure.
  6. Performance monitoring and controlling procedures; and
  7. Customer Data & Privacy Protection Controls.

(E)  Marketing and promotion of portal: 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media tools are the cheapest measures to market any online businesses.  You should engage a professional organization or designate an internal two member team who will promote your portal on continuing basis.  You could check this link on ways and means of online promotion.

epmworld online business portal

(F)  Consistent improvement through market intelligence: 

The success of online presence majorly depends on the factors like (i) Ability to introduce trendy and quality things (ii) Accountability on extended services (iii) Tech intelligence to identify the constraints faced by users during their engagement with your portal.

(G)  Common mistakes:

Several online business portals go bankrupt or wound-up in the early stages owing to poor planning, unfounded projections or technological challenges.  The mistakes to be avoided among other things would be (i) Keeping the site static in terms of design, look and user experience components (ii) Faulty design or insufficient features causing navigational confusion and frustration (iii) Poor performance like slow loading of site (iv) Inadequate or slow support (v) Limited payment options; and of-course (vi) non-competitive in price, product, offers or variety.

(H)  Success metrics:

When you ensure rectification of failure points as indicated above you would obviously find success in your way.  Still the major points or metrics of online business portal success would be (i) Efficient technology (ii) Presentation of clutter free and just in time and contextually required feature(s) (iii) Price and product attraction; and (iv) Real-time support.

Online business portals offer the advantage of business numbers which means a huge market, though with small margins.  From backyard products, house made items to far off place products every item could be traded online.  The secret is creating a brand of your own and maintaining it on consistent basis.  A small mistake or ignorance could distract the long-time customer.  You may tread slow initially but once the portal becomes attractive you would transact just dollars not the merchandise.

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Why you need a Website or Internet Blog?

Posted by on Sep 14, 2011 in Business, EPM World, Start-up business, Technology | 2 comments

The answer for ‘why you need a website?’ is though subjective, I can answer it in one word ‘indispensable’.  Online identity i.e. having a company’s website and / or blog are very important business need(s) for a small business establishment to a large enterprise.  This has been rightly recognized by the business houses and is quite evident from millions of websites present today.

However, small business owners are not able to rightly exploit the investment made on the website owing to (a) bad content, (b) duplicate content (c) bad design of website, (d) improper presentation of company’s service offerings or expertise, (e) poor hosting services and (f) nil maintenance.  What is the result of such online identity?  Bad representation and misrepresentation the company.

I would like to discuss here the important considerations to develop a website which can make your investment worthy.

The quality of web content is the most important thing:
Yes, you should ensure that you have right content for your website that would aptly represent the services you offer, the expertise you hold, the service delivery model you have in place.  Remember your content should not be a borrowed content from any other Internet source.  Such an approach would only make your presence redundant and you would not be faring well in search results.  Moreover, it would be a copyright violation.

Website designing is all about your understanding of the user habits of navigation than rich graphics:
Most of the low priced website development companies develop your website using the free website templates from Internet source.  Instead, you should ask them to develop a custom design for your company keeping in mind (a) the business sector you belong to (b) the service items you want to present online (c) the features you like to provide through your website i.e. for example you may like to have ‘real-time chat application’ for online support to your customers or to attract and deal with online sales calls, or video streaming of your Company’s profile, projects, achievements, employee statement about their experience with the Company or feedback of clients.

epmworld websites

All such or any further features of your website should be properly designed with dynamic and scalable architecture considering the user friendly navigation, security, clarity and lastly an experience to the visitor of your website.

Online identity is like a perpetual racing competition:
Another important aspect that one should take note of before creating online identity through a Website, Internet Blog or / and Social Media profile(s) is introduction of your website or blog to your existing customers, prospective clients and to all relevant stakeholders.  Website should never be considered as one time job.  It should undergo frequent update of company developments, client acquisition, induction of new management members, if any, and more.

How do you announce your website to your customers and other stakeholders?
An important question, indeed.  My suggestion in the context would be:

  1. Send email communication to all your present and prospective client(s) with the link of your website
  2. Create an official blog as a sub-domain or as a folder to your company’s domain.  Make the blog content rich with information about your product, your team’s expertise, service and support issues, market trends, technology trends, stakeholder achievements and more.  Share this link with all concerned on regular basis through email subscription or RSS feed.
  3. Create social media profile with links to your website and blog.  Actively involve with your stakeholders reaching them with the data concerned to them.
  4. Ensure your website and blog addresses are printed on all the company’s stationery, marketing collateral, and announce your website in all the marketing announcements in conferences, presentations and campus interviews.
  5. Encourage your employees to participate in your blog and invite participation of their contacts wherever the product and your content would be relevant to the participants.
  6. Release small advertisements just with your website and blog addresses and telephone numbers on regular basis.  This would not cost much and at the same time would educate people about your services.  The advertisement so decided can be a simple content like: “Visit us for your business consulting services.  www.blog.epmworld.in”
  7. Use moving media extensively to announce your website.  It could be a collaborative advertisement where you will share the ad space of other advertiser like movie advertisement.

There could be many more approaches.  However, you should consistently ensure that your website and blog are (a) available on 24x7x365 basis (b) no broken or dead links (c) you respond to each and every query from a website or blog visitor (d) you will honour whatever you propose through these channels.  Most important again is the fact that your company’s team who respond to the enquiries of website must have thorough knowledge and coordination control on required actions.

I will highlight on the promotion through SEO again.  Meanwhile you may also visit our other blog on social media.

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The need for Entrepreneurship Education

Posted by on Sep 4, 2011 in Business, EPM World, Marketing, Branding, Self-employment, Start-up business | 0 comments

In my earliest posting I have cited several contributing factors to become a successful entrepreneur.

While starting a business is one side of a coin the other side is running it successfully duly strengthening the confidence of all stakeholders.  The top three problems faced by start-up entrepreneurs are mostly (a) marketing, (b) management and (c) working capital.  However, majority of entrepreneurs point their failure towards deficient financial resources or short working capital.  The creeping fact indeed would be mostly the failure in marketing.  Poor marketing and sales would create a vicious circle where poor sales results in piling stock in the warehouse, which in turn would make a dent on working capital leading to management confusion.

A good percentage of start-ups are initiated by first generation entrepreneurs who lack the knowledge or experience in the business processes or functional priorities in business.  Many don’t follow the business setup processes like:

  • Opportunity/Idea research: If not done it would result in inappropriate, unviable or bad business selection.  This would lead to obvious failure at the end.
  • Feasibility Study: If not done it could result in incorrect product / service selection for the target market, improper sales projections, wrong or deficient strategies to face competition and more.  The end result would obviously be either product failure or market failure.
  • Detailed Project Report / Business Plan: If not done it will not let you know the sequence of processes, actions required in the end-to-end implementation of project and the planning & strategy required to conduct business operations.  Besides, these documents would be highly essential in securing business loans, availing government support with respect to loans, and subsidies.  DPR and Business Plan are the mirror to the business / project and an entrepreneur should invariably get the same done and imbibe the contents for right implementation.  The documents should never be considered as a record alone if a true and transparent success in the project / business is to be achieved.
  • Project Management: This is related to the setting up of business or executing the project in a structured, disciplined, transparent and an accountable manner.  Project Management is important because if you don’t manage project effectively, you will find yourself at the negative end of the road.  The saying goes very clearly that when you don’t plan, you plan to fail.
  • Marketing Strategy: The sin in business is allowing the produce to remain in the warehouse than pushing it into the market.  How is it possible to market a product without right strategy that could tell you the means, resources, methods, and schedules to market your produce?  Hence, marketing strategy is highly essential for the very viability of business.
  • Financial Management: Financial resources i.e. money is every thing in the business.  Inadequate money or improper financial management will result in several failures.  This is especially difficult where the business procures secured or unsecured business loans which will need servicing of loan on time for peaceful running of business.  Many businesses will again misjudge the spending on CAPEX and Working Capital.  Going beyond the budgetary allocation for procurement of capital goods or high spending with poor negotiation power will result in drain of budgetary resources.  The effect would be a strain on working capital.
  • Induction of human resources and expertise: Team is everything.  Induction of quality team depends on right job description and right recruitment processes.  This plays a pivot role especially in the matter of senior management personnel.  This would always need professional consulting services and business should not go for just known resources or cheap resources to save money.
  • Communication management: This could be resolved through professional management processes and should not be ignored.  Right communication and interactions would create brand identity and corporate identity in the organization pervading transparency across the enterprise.
  • Collaborations & Partnership: Identification of partners who can complement the business abilities and requirements, proper negotiation of terms, clean exit plan and assessment of ROI on partnership are most important aspects which could be done only through right understanding of market.
  • Stakeholder Management, CRM: If the aspirations and expectations of stakeholders are not properly analyzed and right customer support system and Customer Relationship Management is not in place, it would result in customer dis-satisfaction and business erosion.
  • Return on Investment: Business should be directly related to the Return On Investment.  Having cash flow for some reasons may at times make you believe that business is doing well.  Professional assessment of return on investment is an important process and business must know the short-term and long-term returns to be received and investment recovery time lines in order to drive the business in right direction.

Several SSI and SME firms have a bad notion that businesses would not need such a strict rules to follow documentation or detailed processes as above.  That is the very cause of business failure.  Process and process quality is inevitable for business success.  There is no thing called ‘small’ or ‘big’ in the matter of ‘success’ or ‘failure’.  Both would have same bearing and would have same background in all likelihood.

The situation calls for professional education for entrepreneurs before they start their business.  Interested individuals can contact us for Start-up education or start-up services at any stage of their business progress.

http://www.blog.epmworld.in

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Project Reports, Project Profiles – 1

Posted by on Aug 13, 2011 in Business, EPM World, Self-employment, Start-up business | 0 comments

I have herewith attached some of the Project Report summaries and brief Project Profiles as compiled from various sources.  I will keep adding more and more for the benefit of several budding entrepreneurs who contact me for initial understanding of project cost and related metrics.

Baby-bloomer-suits
Infant-garments
Bed-sheet-and-pillow-covers
Briefs
Cotton-knitted-fabrics
Cotton-lycra
Cotton-yarn-dyeing
Denim-garments
Gents-ready-made-garments
Gents-t-shirts
Knitted-fabrics
Shirts-and-skirts
Fish-meal
Spices-grinding
Tomato-Sauce-Ketchup-and-purees
Macaroni
Mustard-oil
Milled-maize-product
Potato-products

Please talk to us for more detailed report and support in setting up any of the above businesses.

http://www.blog.epmworld.in

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Protect your individual side to save your enterprise from failure

Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 in Business, EPM World, Leadership, Self-employment, Start-up business | 1 comment

Enterprise failure is leadership failure.   This is my personal belief and experience too.  In an environment where entrepreneurial spirit is growing fast, it becomes imperative for us to analyze the causes of failure.  This is similar to risk analysis.  Failure can come in several disguises. At times success can also follow failure if not maintained right.  And failure after success is more painful.  Thus, an individual as a business leader and as an owner of a startup project should take note of the foregoing to join the coveted list of successful entrepreneurs.

Respect business hours: A business leader should never make his team unduly wait for his audience or allow communication gaps.   The habits of working beyond office hours, going unavailable during crucial moments, and disregard to the personal time of the team members are some of the discouraging practices that affect the working spirit of your team.

Clarity is every thing: Ambiguity and indecisiveness can mean lurking risk.  Ensure that you have absolute clarity for every ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ you deliver.  Don’t yield yourself to a specific situation out of obligation or pending confirmation of dependent facts.    Don’t also allow swinging moods or thoughts which could fuel the operational inconsistency jeopardizing the business progress.  When you are faced with conflicting opinions or numerous opinions weigh your decision taking the help of professionals or professional tools. This will save you from possible trying situations in future.

Be business wise: Never act prerogative to over rule or ignore project metrics.  Believe in analytics and respect facts and figures even if they present an unpleasant picture in a given situation.  It is easy to take things for granted but will be very difficult when it comes to bearing the bad consequences.

Nurture professional identity: Stand for the honest, transparent, value driven, and complementing culture, duly honoring the commitments and promises made to stakeholders. Your personal stature and professional conduct largely influences the sustenance and growth of your venture.

Never holdback resources with intent of saving: When your business demands certain resources be it time, team members, consulting expertise, money or other infrastructure, spare it as planned and never start projects without ensuring these things either.  We can’t churn out relishing dishes with scarce ingredients.

Don’t interfere with the functional style of team members: Understand the core strength and working style of your team.  Never interfere in their functional style or resort to constant follow-up.   No two leaders will approach an issue in the same style.  Freedom, empowerment, and delegation are the most required elements for successful productivity.

Maintain calm and composed attitude: It is highly conducive to arrive at conclusions with a calm and composed attitude.  Intolerance, emotional outbursts, and hasty inferences on important issues will mean big damage.  This will reflect you weak in the minds of your team.

Listen without bias: Listening to others is the most important trait of any leader. At the same time don’t give prominence or encourage eavesdropping and whispers.  A team member with this habit will become a big nuisance some time later.  Also never dislike any thing or any one.  Dislike is the first hurdle in learning process and leader should be a constant learner.

Trust every one knowing when and whom to mistrust: Build trust in your team.    Inculcate the intelligence to read in between lines when situation demands.  Don’t wear the attitude of mistrusting every one.  Mistrust produces counter measures.

Boss is the primitive word: In any working environment every one should be given specific responsibility and be empowered with relevant authority to achieve designated tasks.  An entrepreneur as a true business leader should never feel himself / herself above board at least overtly.  Be friendly with your team giving them required space to interact with you.  A business leader should be a solution provider and problem solver first to his team and then to other stakeholders.

Ignorance is not bliss in business: Keep yourself abreast of things in your business line.  It could be any or all of the areas like technical, market related, team related, growth related, company documentation or about the evolving innovations in the line.

Know the benefits of technology: Be open to introduce technology tools to increase your business performance or accelerate business growth.  It could be your web identity, an ERP product, or customer support infrastructure.  Exploit the social networking platform to expose your entrepreneur profile and build personal branding.

Invite change: Many entrepreneurs remain themselves static when it comes to expansion or growth.  They are content with the achieved self-sustenance and like to continue even for decades.  However, a true leader should always hold big picture and invite any change required in this direction.  At times the change could be towards improvement of present environment or changing your functional style.  You should move ahead strategically, leveraging the benefits of core competence, expertise and present net worth.

Greed is voracious and if not controlled will even eat you: Business should always be a win-win contract.  You can earn only when you allow others earn out of you.  Don’t try to milk the cow beyond the last drop.

Respect, respect, and respect: When we respect others we excel ourselves.  Respect brings in the best reciprocal value.  This reflects our individual culture.  So don’t be biased as to whom you will respect or who not.  An employee at the lowest rung to an external stakeholder, every one is equally important in the business.  Every business must conduct itself with an attitude akin to hospitality industry.  Love and respect should be proactive feelings and should never be limited by barriers.

One man army: If you are the lonely team member in your business setup, you can have collaborators and partners as an extended and external team.  Collaborative productivity is more powerful and instills better confidence in the stakeholders.  Be socially active so that you can build an excellent team as you progress in your stride.

Resist temptations: Don’t indulge in any such thing that can cause a blemish to your character, professional image or future prospects.  Resist them at the very sprout.  It could be to amass sudden gains through unethical means or get entangled in relations that could bring embarrassment at a later time.

Restrain family involvement:  Unless it is professionally relevant, an entrepreneur should never involve his family members in the business matters.  At the same time, the personal side of yours should never affect the business matters.  Don’t allow your personal problems impact the business affairs.

Nurture big picture: I quote here one of the tweets I came across on Twitter “If you are dreaming, dream big” (apologies, I will not be able to provide immediate reference as to who said it).  Dreams are the first sprouts for your growth.  Plan to achieve your ambitions and make your dreams true.  Document your dreams and ambitions so that you can develop them into an action plan.

Enjoy criticism: Critics are our well wishers.  Criticism is a tool to achieve refinement. Accept it with humility wherever it is genuine.  Allow it silently even if it was unreasonable and respond appropriately.  Criticism may not always come from expected or deserved sources.  Still it is an exercise made by others on your behalf and for your benefit.

Contribute to social causes: Society gives you business.  What are you giving back to society?

Once you raise an enterprise and connect with several stakeholders, you are socially responsible to nourish it healthy.  When it fails it would mean a loss to several stakeholders including the very employees who worked for it.  That way, an entrepreneur should always guard himself first, so as to ensure his enterprise flourish and enjoy social pride.

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