Thursday, May 3, 2012

Will you be in business five years hence ?? !!

Extreme Turmoil and No Optimism. Country after Country is going Bankrupt. Large Corporations are finding it difficult to sustain Growth Rate & Momentum , smaller companies difficult to survive and Mid Caps are finding difficult to grow.  Commodity & Oil prices are rising and volatile,  currency rate dependency is a killer, right manpower very hard to get and retain. Governance and Regulatory Laws are tightening – in short no entrepreneurs are happy about the state of affairs he is in and managing. Yet Terrorism, Political Policy Paralysis, Corruption are the facts of the life we have to live with.
On top of these external factors which are worrying , companies usually die internally first due to various self destructing habits.  Veteran of Marketing Jagdish Sheth has written about Self Destructing habits of Good Companies. He states that companies die due to various internal inaction and ego.
 Lets run through these habits to understand what applies to your enterprise.  Objective read will help. ( I & You referred here if for business owners and CEOs)
1) Denial – Lead to Denial – of emerging technologies, changing consumer tastes, new global environment - Symptoms - I am different Syndrome, blame other for the situation
2) Arrogance – Lead to Arrogance - Exceptional success of the past, you r smarter than the other guys - Symptoms –   You stop Listening, You Flaunt it, You are high handed, you want to be surrounded by people approve your idea
3) Complacency - Lead to Complacency- Pass success if through regulated monopoly or by distribution monopoly or chosen by Govt , Govt owns and control business -  Symptoms – no hurry to make decisions, bureaucratic processes, cross subsidies by function, product ,market and customers
4) Competency Dependency - Lead to Competency Dependency – R & D Dependence, Design Dependence, Sales & Service Dependence  -  Symptoms -transforming exercise futile, thrill is gone, stakeholders are jumping ship
5) Competitive Myopia – Lead to  Competitive Myopia –  Natural Evolution of the Industry, Clustering Phenomenon  -  Symptoms – you allow small niche player to coexist, underestimate new entrants, helpless against new technology
6) Territorial Impulse -Lead to Territorial Impulse - Corporate Ivory Tower, founder’s culture subsumed in large corporate culture  -  Symptoms – many headstrong lieutenants, decision making is long and difficult process,  no one is happy, no internal communication mechanism
7) Volume Obsession - Lead to Volume Obsession – High Margin Pioneer, Fast Growth Phenom, Paradox of Scale -  Symptoms - free and adhoc spending patters, culture of X subsidies, functional level cost centers
Well some points are difficult to understand unless read with relevant examples. However its time to test check the status of your business and scenario analysis with some experts to gauge whether you will be in business five year down the line?  These pointers are analysed by the author while analysing various case studies of companies at various scales.
Risk Management , Scenario Analysis & present Health Check of the Enterprise is very critical functions and activites of the TOP management.  Just do it. Who knows Kal Ho Na ho!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

6 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Find It Difficult to Behave Ethically

- Huge corruption in Govts and Govt Departments makes their unethical behaviors justified

- Flourishing of Tax Evaders and No Govt Will or Visible Action to Bring evaders to books

- Huge Tax Rates, Multiple Taxes ,  Cost Increase , High Inflation and Competitive Pressures. Its about survival at Stake.

- Lax legal System. Tax Evaders & Corrupt go caught free for Years.

- Huge expectation from share holders, analysts and lenders

- 6th Reason - well every reader will have his own apart from above !!!

Most entrepreneurs start with clean slat and high morale but the above realities of life and culture around us makes one indifferent towards immoral and unethical behaviours. 

Everything is justified and fair in war , love and now business. This is the reason Narayanmurthys and  Azim Premijis are at premium. 

In the given scenario it is very difficult to act ethically and survive in the cut throat business atmosphere. Pity !!!!.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Customer Experience – Next Competitive Battlefield

Today on road in Mumbai and again ashamed to see the condition of the roads across the city. Its not post monsoon but pre monsoon and 6 months after the last monsoon.  Who is in charge of the city roads?

Hope our corp-orators are travelling by road and not by helicopter ofcourse not by train. Just callous attitude of the people in power and people busy with their daily duties ignoring collapsed infrastructures.

This happens when there is no mind for Customer (Citizen) Experience.  People who votes and who are suppose to be served are ignored for various other priorities. Citizen comes last if at all.

Now moving to the corporate. Customer Experience is also not a priority here.  Customers are adjusted to sub standard customer services and experience.  My earlier post r CEOs PASSIONATE abt their CUSTOMERS? I had stated that problem is at the TOP.

Culture percolates from Top to the bottom.  Amazon CEO Bezos is a great fan of creating wow customer experience. He had stated about Inverted 30 : 70 Ratio - Customer Experience.

Companies spend huge sums of money on marketing but hardly work on creating amazing customer experience which in turn will reduce marketing spend, shorten sales cycle and build powerful brand through word of mouth.

Enough is Enough. Be it government or companies , time has come that non performers or rather non wowers will be out of the business. If your government is not focusing on citizen need or company is not focusing on creating superior customer experience, all other competitive advantages will soon become history.

In his recent blog post Jacob Braude, vice president of strategic planning at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness rightly writes that Experience Is The Next Frontier In Marketing.

I think time has come for every entrepreneurs to embrace new battlefield and start working on customer experience design. In Govt space Gujarat and Bihar govt has already embraced and made the citizen their focus area.

Competitive landscape is changing and focusing on customer experience is the right strategy for everyone be it corporations, government or NGOs.  Strategy for Next Financial Year - Customer Centricity - Customer Delight - Referral Marketing - Improving Net Promoter Scores  { Rest all strategies and parameters will be taken care of }.

* Inviting interest from readers to join Customer Experience Professionals Association of India.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Innovation is not about LABORATORIES , its about Mindset.

" When you choose to be an active BLOGGER, you become a keen observer of things round you. "  John Jantsch of The Referral Engine

Yes you start observing things keenly , small but different things. Similarly small innovation is natural and originates not from laboratory or after brain storm. 

Autorickshaw in Mumbai are small lifeline and they in thousands in number. In many cities its a means of commuting for millions of people daily. There is nothing new about it. 

Newness and innovation comes when you see an autorickshaw which is a moving library cum book selling store cum social service activist. 

Yes name is Sadanand an Autodriver has converted his vehicle as library and  book store. 
He displays religious books at the back of his seat. Commuter can read the book of their choice for a free while commuting . Now if commuter likes the book he can buy the same from him immediately while finishing his commuting. Library cum book store done. 

Now if you dont want to buys even through he will give you some  religions book or pamphlet for a free i.e. social service.

Read, buy and get it for free if you don't want to buy. All these when you have nothing else to do but waiting and killing time some how.

This small innovation is interesting. Its a clue to many service providers and entrepreneurs to think of something which can add value to the customers time while dealing with your enterprise of-course over and above what is expected from your enterprise.

Autorickshaw is taking commuters from one place to other place i.e. primary expectation and everything happening in between is innovation and value addition.

Bettering customer experience requires just a mindset to offer something better, extra and
pleasantly unexpected and relevant value addition. 

Pause , Check Business Processes and  Innovation Index of the Enterprise , NOW. WOW!! can happen only then.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Totaram’s Tea – Lesson for Every Brands

I encountered Totaram's Chai ( Tea ) in Surat while I was travelling in Karnavati Express to Baroda earlier this week.  This tea vendor boarded the train from Surat and started selling his so called branded Tea as Totaram's Chai. Rest all Tea vendors were selling Masala Chai and  this guy was selling Totaram's Chai.  Immediate differentiation and visibility. 

How to make your difference known to your target audience even if you are selling commodity products ? Totaram is the answer. 

I inquired to my fellow passenger  - What this Totaram is all about ?

He was so over whelmed with the brand that he told me - you just had a tea but now you taste this Totaram's tea and feel the difference. { he recommended } . He didn't stop with just recommendation but even paid for my tea and refused to accept money from me.

When you are selling WOW!!! experience and customers r your brand advocates, customer will go to any extent to  make their peer group consume that WOW !! experience. When we have WOW !! experience we love to tell others and even want others to experience similar WOW !! experience to make them know our taste and reach. 

Brand Advocates are passionate about the brand. They become the seller and aggressive seller of their passionate brands.

Its all about little innovation and one can make even commodity a reputed brand.  Tea was marginally better than the one earlier I had but  sheer way of his selling style and branding differently than mere Masala Chai (tea), this Totaram has become favourite of the commuters.

& ofcourse he was selling tea 20% costlier than other commodity masala chai.

- Little thinking and innovation can make even commodity a branded product. Simple product like ready made Tea can be made branded by giving a brand name , making & selling with passion.

- Brand Advocates are more aggressive than even brand sellers

- This kind of commodity brands can fetch premium in the market

- It gets noticed and become talk of the town. Even media reports about the same 

- Customers become sellers and media becomes PR agency - all for free.  Just offer WOW !!! Experience. No need for wasteful advertisements. 

Unfortunately there was only 1 Totaram from among 10 tea vendors.  Same applies to all products and services.  Wowers are rare breed of entrepreneurs and they are the winners. Two kinds of businesses never face bearish phase - entrepreneurs doing unethical practice and the other who are offering wow!! Experience.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

15 Ways Union Budget 2012 CAN Change Our Life for Better

First and Foremost accept all industry association and professional bodies demand in toto , specially procedural simplification.   

Personal Impacts

- No Personal Taxation till Rs.10 Lacs. Thereafter 20% Flat (irrespective of type of income incl Agri Income) . Lots of time and effort saved - in the dept and at personal level.

- Every constructed property deal above Rs.100.00 Lacs to be put on public e-auction for acquisition at 20% extra premium for 3 days. This can be avoided if the buyer agrees to pay 5% Property Tax on the deal value. Black Money is mostly consumed in property deals so to deter or earn out of it.

- No Deduction from Income Tax. Entire Section 80 should be abolished. No wastage of time in useless planning.

- All donation and investment to be left to personal discretion not guided by Tax Benefits. Rational thinking.

- Return Filing Voluntary for below taxable income individuals. May be used as continuity and loan purpose.

- Refund in 15 days of filing return. Why do they need more time?

- No scrutiny for income below Rs. 50.00 Lacs, Let the common men remain away from the dept.

- Black Money Scheme of Tax at 50%. Deposit tax and credit equal amount in capital a/c. Anytime ongoing provision.

Business Impacts

- No Business Taxation till Rs. 50 Lacs turnover. Thereafter profit flat at 8% of the Gross Turnover and taxed at 25% or else audit and stringent scrutiny.

- For thrust & weaker industries flat profit @ 6% and tax rate of 15%. No other capital or interest subsidy.

- Tax Audit for Turnover above Rs. 200.00 Lacs. It will be a Turnover Audit so form 3CD will be reduced to one   page

- Entrepreneurs below 35 years , no business taxation till turnover of Rs.200.00 Lacs. (Majority partner or directors should be below 35 years)

- Entire section 36 and 37 to be abolished

- Similarly Standard GST rates as per Industry Association Demands

- Compulsory Single Window Clearance in all states for new ventiures

Credit Policy (These are extra thoughts

- Education Loan simplification and promotion for next 5 years. Make the target 100 times.

- Strong CIBIL Data Sharing

- Business Loan Procedures Simplification & Business Banking Separate from Personal Banking

- State between Not Good to NPA to be monitored and mentored more closely. More data analysis than mere 
collection without action.

- Banks to become knowledge centres

- R & D Funding Institutes in line with Infra Funding Inys

- Start Up Funding Institution/Banks to promote entrepreneurship

We need complete overhaul of budget making & thinking process. Let the economists step back and management consultants and seasoned entrepreneurs take the front seat. Its a CEO's call and not Economist's shot. 

Certainly Budget can bring mental peace & happiness to the society if the time taken for approvals come down, if the tax laws are simple and rates are affordable, procedures are simple, govt interference is lesser, sector need encouragement gets adequate push and support. All these efforts and initiatives can bring Happiness in the society. Finance Ministry's actions directly impact with HRD & Home Ministry's burden.