Categories
Startup Entrepreneurship SaaS

There is No Plan B

When I was doing customer-development and searching for a co-founder for Avoma, people often asked me – “Are trying to throw this idea on a wall and see if it sticks?”

I hated that question.

There was no Plan B for Avoma.

I strongly believed in the problem with extensive customer research and the gap in the market.

I had a point of view to solve this problem and an ambitious vision of what the world would look like in 5-10 years.

I left the high-salaried full-time job without having a co-founder for 6 months, without having a prototype, or any sort of commitment and clarity on any milestone.

I never doubted my vision and the opportunity even though we had very (I mean really “very”) highly-funded competitors.

We had many investors rejected us because we had “many” highly-funded competitors who had already launched and were ahead of us in the market.

There is not even a single day since Avoma’s inception I ever thought about a Plan B.

There is no Plan B.

Categories
Entrepreneurship SaaS Sales Startup

I Have Fallen In Love with Selling

I’m an engineer by training. But have fallen in love with selling.

Here is why.

Selling is personal. Share your stories. Be vulnerable.

Selling is interpersonal. Meet new people. Build relationships.

Selling is collaborative. Get help from colleagues. Strategize with the team.

Selling is disciplined. Be consistent. Make and keep promises.

Selling is scientific. Follow the process. Learn from the best.

Selling is artistic. Be creative and solve problems. Make it unique.

Selling is hard. Face many rejections. Persevere until you succeed.

Selling is addictive. Win one, two, ten. Keep winning more.

Selling is rewarding. Create impact. Make companies successful.

Selling is mysterious. Wonder why it worked. Diagnose why it didn’t work.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Startup

How Do You Hire for Passion?

In the previous post, I shared one of the hiring mistakes we did at Avoma that we hired for skills and not for passion.

But the question is still unanswered, how do you hire for passion in early-stage startups?

If I want to hire for passion in the future, I’ll ask these two questions:

1. What are your passions? (So clichéd 😊)

The goal is not to understand “what” their passion is, but “how” they talk about it.

Their passion could be about literature, painting, sports, etc. and not necessarily about early-stage startups.

But you can judge how passionately they talk about their passion, how deep they go, how do they find time to work on their passion, etc.

2. Do you have any side hustles?

The goal is to understand if they have the ambition to turn their passion into an additional income source.

It indicates their resourcefulness and creativity.

And that’s why they might have a higher chance of being more successful and instrumental in early-stage startups.

Do you agree? Is there anything that you would consider?

Categories
Entrepreneurship SaaS Startup

Hiring for Passion, Not for Skills

In Nov 2019, we were a team of 7 people at Avoma, then by Jan 2020, we were a team of 13 people, and then by Mar 2020, we were 10 people again.

And no, these reductions are not due to COVID, but what I believe is due to passion (or lack of it).

Early-stage startups are a different beast (note, I didn’t say “hard”).

They require a different level of combination of skills and passion.

I think the mistake we made was – we primarily hired for skills and experience on resume.

But we didn’t hire for passion and grit.

We can teach new skills, product knowledge, subject domain, strategies, tactics, etc.

But I don’t think we can teach passion, drive, or grit.

I believe we should hire for passion and grit.

And then bridge the gap for skills and domain knowledge if there is any.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Marketing Philosophy Product Management SaaS Sales Startup

Know More

What separates a great salesperson from a good one?

It’s the same thing for a marketer, copywriter, engineer, lawyer, surgeon, and many others.

They know more.

There are only 3 ways they can know more:
1. They have more experience
2. They seek more knowledge
3. They continuously apply their knowledge

1. The hack to gain more experience at less age is to be more curious and take risks to work at small-scale companies.

The first job I got in 2002 after college was with one of India’s largest IT providers – Infosys.

I left it in 8 months, took a 40% pay cut, and went to work for a 100 person company.

2. The hack to seek more knowledge is to have a growth mindset and devour as many books and training as possible on the subject matter.

I’m an engineer by education, but people get surprised by how much I know about UX Design principles, Sales methodologies, or Copywriting.

All credit goes to reading a lot of books and taking online courses.

3. The hack to apply more knowledge is to try more in your day job but also do side hustles.

The only way I became an SW engineer from an HW engineer, or a product manager from an engineer, or a salesperson from a PM is – my side hustles.

So invest in yourself and know more than others.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Philosophy Startup

Our Attitude, Action, and Ambition

Right now, most of us are trying our best to achieve our adjusted goals, but we’re still finding something is standing in our way.

And I hope it’s not one of these:

  • Our Attitude
  • Our Action
  • Our Ambition

Our Attitude

Let’s make sure we see and understand what’s occurring around us with the right mindset.

Let’s:

  • Control our emotions
  • Be objective
  • Embrace constraints
  • Think differently

Our Action

Let’s make sure we don’t keep doing the same thing, or blame society or economic conditions and, in the worst case, not do anything.

Let’s:

  • Keep moving
  • Practice persistence
  • Iterate constantly
  • Follow the process

Our Ambition

Let’s make sure our internal willpower is strong enough, so it’s not affected by the external world.

Let’s:

  • Build inner strength
  • Find a purpose bigger than ourselves

We’re in this together, and we’ll come out of this stronger.

Categories
Entrepreneurship SaaS Sales Startup

Pain Killer Vs Vitamin

Is exercising a pain killer or a vitamin? 🏋️‍♂️

Is a reading book a pain killer or a vitamin? 📖

Is eating nutritious food a pain killer or a vitamin? 🥗

Is playing sports a pain killer or a vitamin? ⛹️‍♂️

Is meditating a pain killer or a vitamin? 🧘‍♂️

All things that are essential to living a happy and healthy life don’t seem to be a pain killer. 🤔

Then why the heck while running a business, everyone advises buying only a pain killer? 🧐

Isn’t it too late to buy a pain killer to fix your broken organization?🤦‍♂️

Shouldn’t you actually be investing in running a better organization and making sure it doesn’t break all the time? 🤔

Of course, you can still buy a pain killer (or a band-aid) occasionally when the organization breaks. 💊🩹

But why be reactive when you can be proactive? 🤷‍♂️

Categories
Entrepreneurship Philosophy

How To Keep Going in Life when You Face Rejections

Heard about this formula to keep going in life when you face rejections after rejections from Joe Gebbia on a Tim Ferriss podcast:

SW² + WC = MO

Which stands for:

Some Will (like what you do) & Some Won’t (like what you do) + (but) Who Cares = (just) Move On.

Categories
Design Entrepreneurship

Idea Vs Execution

I have been out of touch of software programming for a couple of years now, and I wish I get time to get back to it. Knowing how to program is the difference between your ability to come up with an idea vs actually bringing it into the world.

For the last few days, there has been a lot of backlash around the new Twitter design. Honestly, I actually liked some change, but certainly as many noticed, the right sidebar Trends were pretty useless, and left sidebar menu seemed too big.

So as a problem solver, I immediately thought, there should be a Chrome Extension such that, every time I visit Twitter website, it would hide the right sidebar entirely and convert the left sidebar menu into small icons and expand to full menu only on mouse-hover. That would make the new Twitter experience much cleaner.

I thought, what a great idea. But I just thought about an idea and moved on. I didn’t execute on it.

Firstly, I didn’t have chops to develop a Chrome Extension. Secondly, I have 100 other things to do on my plate.

And a couple days later, I found someone exactly just built that: https://twang.dev/minimal-twitter/

That’s the difference between having an idea vs executing it.

Identifying a problem, in fact, a lot of them is really important. Getting really good at coming up with elegant solutions is even more important.

But nothing trumps executing on your idea and bringing your solution into the world. And if you can sell your solution, then you’re unstoppable.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Philosophy

High Vs Low Self-Confidence: Which Is Really Better?

Last week, I had brief interactions with 2 different entrepreneurs – one came across with very high self-confidence and another came across with somewhat low self-confidence.

Normally these differences are not so stark to notice it, but in these cases, I immediately noticed it as the former came across more like – arrogant and delusional, and the latter came across more like – humble and pessimistic.

My first thought was – is one better than the other?

We have been told by motivational speakers that having high self-confidence is the key to success in life. But based on my limited information available on the public internet about their financial success, both seem equally successful.

That got me thinking, what’s the correlation of someone’s self-confidence with their success. Initially, I looked at it only from a financial success perspective, then quickly realized, that’s a very narrow way of looking at it.

In addition to financial success, some people might also care more or equal about other factors in life like relationships, friendships, legacy, etc.

Another factor is – some people are not always authentic. They may show themselves as someone else than who they truly are.

I think there are 4 kinds of people:

  1. People who have high-self confidence, and also display high-self confidence
  2. People who have high-self confidence, but display low-self confidence
  3. People who have low-self confidence, but display high-self confidence
  4. People who have low-self confidence, and also display low-self confidence

Let’s dive into these in detail –

1. People who have high-self confidence, and also display high-self confidence

  • These people often come across fearless, but also arrogant and delusional
  • They have high self-confidence due to their past success, but that quickly turns into “I know it all” mindset
  • These people don’t seem to be more open to feedback from other people, listening to other perspectives and ideas
  • Because of these reasons, my hypothesis is they may not have many true friends or long-lasting relationships – people who are around them for their financial success and status

2. People who have high-self confidence, but display low-self confidence

  • These people often come across confident, ambitious, but also self-aware and approachable
  • They seem to be more open to listening to other people’s ideas and feedback and because of their humility, more people seem to relate with them and often have open and authentic conversations
  • They tend to under-promise but end up over-delivering
  • Because of these reasons, my hypothesis is they have true friends and long-lasting relationships, and people genuinely care about them and want them to be successful

3. People who have low-self confidence, but display high-self confidence

  • These people often come across humble, self-aware, and ambitious
  • They are authentic about their confidence in personal circle, but fake it in professional circle
  • While they doubt their abilities and have more pessimistic views, they prefer to come across positive in achieving their ambitions, and because of that, people are open to give them chances and willing to help them
  • They seem to over-promise but fall short on delivering some of their promises
  • Because of these reasons, my hypothesis is they have true friends and long-lasting relationships, and people genuinely care about them and want them to be successful

4. People who have low-self confidence, and also display low-self confidence

  • These people often come across more pessimistic, less ambitious, and unsuccessful
  • They often doubt their talent and skills, and it often causes other people to also not believe in them too
  • They have more pessimistic views about feedback, ideas and advice other people give them
  • My hypothesis is – they struggle to build long-lasting relationships as while people genuinely care about them and want them to be successful, eventually they stop helping them when they realize their advice is going in vain

In the end, it seems neither of the extreme conditions is great (#1 and #4), and it’s better to be more balanced (#2 and #3) – i.e. it is better to be a little less confident in certain situations even though you are very confident and at the same time, it’s better to be a little more confident than what you feel in certain other situations.

Amongst the better ones, I think it is better to be someone who truly believes in themselves and have high-confidence, but continue to practice being humble, self-aware and open-minded by displaying low-confidence.