Top 5 businesses for 2012

Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Business, EPM World | 3 comments

We are in 2012 now.  The new year this time has brought several exciting business opportunities at almost nil investment to any investment size.  These opportunities are going to rule the market at least for a decade from now.  I would like to talk here about my choice of top 5 businesses for 2012.  Let us look at them:


1.0 Web 2.0 Technologies

This is one of my favorite areas of business investment.  We can explore business opportunities like (a) Online marketing (b) Social Media Consulting (c) Content development for web and digital documents (d) Enterprise Analytics (e) Services to develop personal branding.

One can start a business in this line with a minimum investment of 1 PC from home.  The one other important requirement would be he / she should be English literate with definite knowledge in written English.  This is most ideal for freshers who are passionate to work on their own full time or part-time.  Considering the rapid growth of Internet users, online media has emerged as one of the foremost options for business promotion by small and big companies.  The business opportunities indicated from (a) to (e) above surround Internet and Internet technologies.

Though this is part of Information Technology, I consider this as a marketing and branding opportunity where one doesn’t need to possess any programming or technical skills except using social media platform.

2.0 Food Processing:

Every business activity related to manufacturing, processing or trading of food items falls under this category.  It could be milk dairy, ready to eat food items, juices, edible oil, or energy food.  There are hundreds of such opportunities around us.  We can in fact aim at organic version of these products.  Government of India is consciously promoting food processing sector with loans, subsidies, technology know-how and many props.  Changing food habits, growing tastes for global food culture, and increasing purchasing power have contributed to the demand of varied food requirements besides the natural increase in the population.  Thus, food sector has become most vital investment opportunity.  The increasing presence of Indian and Global retail chains have brought the need to bring forth food variety.  Besides, it is possible to start a business in this line with low investment like INR 2 lakhs onwards.  A right business for every one including a housewife.

3.0 Retailing

This is another excellent opportunity though demands sizable investment.  What could constitute a business opportunity in this line?

Branding of any consumer product especially a private label product whether it be a food item, textile product, health care item or any other proprietary or sourced product retailing.  For example, one can source a couple of products from local manufacturers like Self Help Groups or other MSME segments and brand it in their own name.  We can see a brand name to every other item today whether it is Wheat flour, masala powder, rice or so.  It only denotes the potential to market a particular item with guaranteed quality.  The one requirement to take up this kind of business opportunity would be right sourcing of the chosen product w.r.t. price, quantity, quality and period of agreement.

Besides the market for luxury product retailing is very profitable and growing.  It can be any thing like an imported exotic food consumables, non-jewellery articles made by silver or gold, furniture, imported building material and more.

4.0 Information Technology

This is one of my favorite business opportunities.  Indian market needs considerable technology implementation in business applications.  It can be customized solutions for a particular segment, web applications, portals, or ERP applications.  I foresee a great demand for mini or micro ERP provided it comes with competitive price and cost effective support and operable from PC to mobile.

Other potential opportunity is mobile or handheld based business management for business persons to end user.  Sales force management applications ported to telecom mobiles with PC like connectivity to cloud applications will be a great choice.  A sales person in the field should be able to effectively perform his field sales, update data in real time to the server, access other business data on cloud, or switch to his personal applications from the same mobile instrument.  Every other task we perform on PC could be ported to a mobile though with limited functionality.  Even that limited functionality is acceptable to users provided it comes with ease and performance.  A provider in this line should extend total solutions consisting hardware, software, deployment and maintenance to capture real market.

Internet portals are another great business opportunity in the present times.  We can convert every offline business to online business model at a very reasonable investment.  We are all used to online transactions whether it is ticketing, product review, product purchase, online education and many more.  We are in a true e-commerce era.  A right time for people to make online a money making platform.

5.0 Solar Energy

Energy sector in India is undergoing a great movement of tense and uncertainty.  India has pitched a great hope on thermal power projects.  However, infrastructure problems like land acquisition, coal supply, institutional finance have derailed the hope.  Today, we have several pending thermal power projects which are suffering for these reasons.

Wind energy, hydel power or bio mass power are not as viable or feasible to be operated any where.

The one great choice we have is Solar Power solutions.  A right investment opportunity as a few MW plant to 1 KW roof top solar unit.  The prices of solar PV modules are very attractive.  The investment per MW plant has come down from INR 20.00 crore to almost INR 9.00 crore.  The prices are further falling internationally.  It is time for some one to invest on this as a long term business opportunity.  This is right time to build expertise and setup a business.  It can be grid connected solar plant or tailor made solution for an apartment, office building, village or industry.

There definitely many more business opportunities.  But these are my choice.  Hope you would take-up a profitable venture.

Wishing you all a Prosperous, Delightful and Peaceful New Year 2012.

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Solar News

Posted by on Nov 27, 2011 in EPM World, Solar News | 0 comments

Reliance and Tatas among 150 others in race for Solar Projects

Over 150 companies have evinced interest in developing large solar photovoltaic projects of up to 20 MW. These include Reliance (Anil Ambani Group), Lanco, Mose Baer and  the Tatas. Also in the race are public sector companies GAIL (India) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. According to official sources, the requests for selection (RFS) were received for 218 solar PV projects amounting to a capacity of over 2500 MW, which was much higher than the capacity offered, that is, 350 MW. The RFS were invited by the government as part of the batch of Phase-1 of the National Solar Mission.

India’s Solar Power costs may fall by 2015

epmworld_solar_newsIndia’s solar power costs could fall by more than 40 percent by 2015, allowing the industry to compete against domestic oil and gas firms without the help of state subsidies, according to the head of Lanco Solar.

Solar technology could provide a kilowatt hour of power at about Rs 7 to 8 a unit in the next few years, down from the current Rs. 11 to 12, due to surging global capacity, said Lanco Solar CEO V Saibaba. That would enable solar power to become a more viable option to coal, which costs around Rs 2 a unit, in fueling Asia’s third largest economy and the world’s third-worst carbon polluter.

“The most important thing is the economics of scale are coming,” Saibaba said “In the next three to four years, I see the solar power costs coming down to Rs 7 to 8 a unit.”

Large thin film PV system installed in India

While most of India’s solar energy development has been dominated by off-grid systems and crystalline silicon technology, Belectric Photovoltaic India, a subsidiary of California based Belectric, has announced that it has commissioned the first utility scale solar power plant in India to use First Solar thin film modules, at Sri City, Andhra Pradesh. The project features 14,000 First Solar thin film modules installed over about 5.3 acres. After a four month long construction period, the project has begun generating an annual total of about 1,666,000 kWh of electricity enough to power about 7000 Indian households, and save approximately 110 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Tata BP Solar commissions another plant in Orissa

Tata BP Solar Ltd, a joint venture of Tata Power and BP Solar, added yet another megawatt scale scale solar power plant to the list of those installed and commissioned under the Rooftop and Other Small Solar Power Generation Plants scheme in Orissa. The 1 megawatt plant was synchronized to the grid recently. This project uses 4400 crystalline silicon modules of 230 watts each, spread out over an area of 5 acres. The solar power plant will generate 1.42 million units of electricity in the first year.

US bank to fund Indian solar projects

 Two Indian solar projects are receiving a total of US $103.2 million in financing from the Export-Import Bank of the US.

A statement released by the bank stated that these two approvals in the final months of fiscal year 2011 bring the bank’s total financing for Indian solar projects in FY2011 to US$ 176.4 million.

The projects called Dahanu Solar Project in Jaisalmer district and Tatith Project in Gujarat are thin film solar power plant and photovoltaic crystalline power projects respectively.

“India is making a big push for renewable energy,” Fred P. Hochberg, chairman, Ex-ImBank said. “Solar companies in the US know that if they can get into this growing market, they have a bright future ahead of them. Ex-Im Bank stands ready to help our exporters win that future.”

The last two loans approved by the Bank are for a 40 MW and 5 MW project in Rajasthan and Gujarat, respectively.

Solaria introduces high performance solar module

Solaria Corporation, a global manufacturer of solar photovoltaic modules, recently announced a new 270 watt solar module designed and optimized for industrial and utility-scale tracking applications. The 1 x 1.9 m frameless module features Solaria’s proven technology that optimizes the use of standard crystalline PV.

Solaria modules are the first PV modules with the form factor, mounting system, and installation processes optimized for tracking systems. The modules can be installed on single axis horizontal, dual axis and azimuth solar trackers using conventional installation methods.

These high-efficiency modules are also available in a complete, integrated tracker package. The Solaria STS-1 solar tracking system combines modules, trackers, and expert design services to optimize systems performance and deliver high energy yields.

Content source: Electronics Bazaar

Image source: Google Images

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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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Self employment through Blogging

Posted by on Oct 20, 2011 in Business, EPM World | 1 comment

The world population today is living in two worlds.  The real world where we all live with our physical inhabitation and the online world which is pivoted on Internet bandwidth.  The online world is also called virtual world where our presence is a mere information identity about us to the extent we share our details online.

Since the last ten years the online world has grown tremendously through WEB 2.0, Social Media resources and tools like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, Search Engine Optimization, Wikipedia, BitTorrent, AdSense and more.

blogs and business

Having more than 2 billion Internet users world over, the Internet has emerged as an important commercial platform for business transactions besides being the first choice for information research and knowledge acquisition.  The growing presence of web can be seen from the facts that there are around 2 billion Internet users world over.  As per Google India, India has over 100M Internet and 40M Mobile Internet Users where an average user spends 16 online hours a week on par to TV.

With such a growing popularity, Internet has evolved as the increasing choice for online advertisement hosting.  Blogs, websites and social media channels have become the ad hosting platforms.  Individuals especially home based online users have started earning cool money through blogging.  Mr. Amit Agarwal is considered as the pioneer in the Indian blog scenario with his huge online popularity and online earning.

The above situation throws up an opportunity to the unemployed population to utilize their free time and start earning decent income.  Internet and Internet blogging is a self-employment opportunity with almost NIL investment.  The only investment is time, quality time, and quality content to be presented to the online users.

Google is in fact the driver of such self-employment opportunity.

How an individual can start earning online income without investment?

  1. Choosing an area of interest or strength to create online presence
  2. Creating a blog preferably on his/her own domain
  3. Building quality content
  4. Blog promotion (5GW97GUVPBGU)
  5. Ad hosting through Google AdSense
  6. Income generation

It is time that the unemployed youth exploit the online potential to attain self sufficiency.

Note: This post/article has been originally published at Page3 Social Media.

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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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Plan for Growth to grow big and achieve success

Posted by on Sep 21, 2011 in Business, EPM World | 1 comment

Growth – a vital requirement

Growth is the vital requirement in business.  Once a business achieves break-even and recovers its investment, it should focus on the plan for growth.  In fact, the very initial business plan or business strategy would have spoken about the plan for growth.  Business plan would not always go as per initial plan.  Many businesses would review the original plan and make changes as required during the plan execution.  Generally (a) requirement change, (b) external factors, (c) deviations in resource mobilization, and (d) lapses in schedule, milestone achievement would force changes to a base or original plan.

Any plan for growth inherently should consider factors like:

The facts related to your present business:
What is your business today in terms of (i) sales volume, (ii) profit ratio (iii) net worth (iv) cash surplus (v) credit limits (vi) product / service offerings (vii) production performance (viii) delivery efficiency (ix) brand identity (x) market conditions (xi) market reach (xii) stakeholder feedback (xiii) geographical presence (xiv) export potential; and (xv) scope, nature and area of expansion.

business growthFuturistic view to maintain present growth or stature:
Before you initiate and implement a new plan for growth or expansion, it is imperative to evaluate the futuristic perspective of present growth.  You should ensure that the prevailing processes, conditions and assumptions are valid for maintaining present business stature.  The future plan or resultant diversion of management’s focus should not in any way effect the existing business at a later date.

The nature of growth being planned
Before you initiate and implement a new plan for growth or expansion, it is imperative to understand the nature of growth being planned for.  Are you planning to increase present production capacity or service range to achieve business growth?  Are you planning to enter into new area(s) of business?  Are you planning to enter into export market? or Are you planning route of acquisition of related business?

Evaluation of planned growth:
Once you are clear on the nature of growth being planned, the next step would be evaluation of supporting and required parameters to initiate your plan.  They include market data, strategic planning, financial plan, implementation modalities, and schedules.

Gathering and analyzing market data
Gather and analyze market data related to the performance of similar model, future outlook, technological advancements, stakeholder analysis and market segments. 

Determining investment model
How do you plan to mobilize required investment?  What are internal accruals and own equity?  What is the portion of Debt?  What are the participative / partner investments?

business success

Evaluating financial projections
You should have pragmatic projections on sales and expenses.  Besides, the cost of capital, WACP should be properly analyzed.  The most simple measurement would be to understand the return for each dollar being spent and the time frame by which you will recover your investment.

Designating core team
The performance of any plan hinges on the core team who implement it.  Core team must reflect core values like responsibility, accountability, proven capability, commitment and passion for success. 

Monitoring KPI and Growth
Monitor the implementation and growth inline with the business plan.

There are several under performed projects which were wound up by the management before it was too late.  Any bad project, or hasty investment will increase the liability factor unless the facts are identified in the earliest stage.  Regular monitoring of projects or business would really help any time.  The plan for growth should never be driven with complacency.

Image source: Google Images

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