We always hear about people starting with a thought, a concept and then growing it, going through ideation, surviving VoD and then "scaling" it. Well what if your idea began with visions of the "scaled" concept of your business and had to find the FOCUS and what is that other loosely thrown around word that everyone likes to advise you with...oh yeah..PATIENCE to scale it BACK so that you can find a starting point and then see it through.
My humbling journey starts here: Being at Acton and talking to Bijoy for 9 months about turning BIG AUDACIOUS DREAMS or B.A.D (coined by my partner, Hamid) in a scaled down reality so that I can wrap my tiny brains around it for now.
While, having the audacity and courage to dream THAT big has its "sexiness" factor and is very inspirational to the point that it often gives goose bumps to mortal souls including yours truly; it takes that much extra energy to lug it around, open the B.A.D bag and fish for an offering of wisdom that the Universe may or may not choose to share with you for the day, based on which- you will take action.
Our B.A.D: Brand Bangladesh as a global business player, increase socially conscious business development, have the most beautiful resorts, be part of showcasing the beauty the country has to offer.
Our Reality: Design research projects for Universities, manage customized logistics A-Z, build and nurture business relationships for the customers with the right people on the ground, consult on business development projects that come out of the exposure trips and help in execution.
Our VoD challenge of the year: Loooooong sales cycles, wiggling through red tape, complexities of off shore operations (both partners are overseas).
So, I would like to share strategy on focusing for the "short attention spanned mind" and how to walk while we wait to grow them "wings" that will take us out of VoD:
1) Reality of F-O-C-U-S ing:
Flavors of the Week (Internal Process): We have divided the week into Marketing, Web development, Account Generation Strategy, Internal Process and Catch up day. (I got this idea from a boostrap post I read by Chen). All these pretty words are great in theory and works 60% of the time. I have had to simulate the effects of a "chill pill" the rest of the 40% of the time.
Customers: The hardest thing to do is to pick ONE type of customer esp. when we are new and some revenue have come in. Each type of customer demands a different marketing, account generation and execution strategy.
Lesson Learned: As long as our productivity level is above 50%, we will survive. If its not above 50%, we will survive if we are still focusing on B.A.D. a.k.a having passion. Even as I add to the tablets of "endeavors" on this blog, trust me, I know how hard it is to be "sunny" every day. I am hoping that as you read this, you understand that you are not alone.
We retained our sanity by accepting to serve one type of customer. We realized it would strengthen our brand to that type of customer if we stayed in that market.
2) Reality of the Power of Two:
Team & Deal Structure: I have the "right people". We hit the ground running. We served our first prestigious customer. Our team members are dreamy, well accomplished and ALL driven by long term successes. What does an internal deal structure look like to protect the company, keep all players happy and create the right incentives for each: a spouse, a best friend and a relative? And by the way, what am I worth?
I am ploughing through legal language trying to figure out how much "fine print" I really need to define our relationships. What magic clauses will save my friendship and family ties? What do the exit clauses look like?
Lessons Learned: Taking breathers throughout the process of deal structuring.
We learn a little more about ourselves and about the other team players everyday. Doing business as is, and still making some incremental progress every month.
Holding on to the "Right People" because they are really hard to come by.
Btw, the right people = people who are trustworthy, people with similar ethical standards and work ethics, people who are passionate about the same cause.
3) Art of PATIENCE:
What does a high energy, over ambitious dreamer do to pass time on the path of entrepreneurship in the VoD? What does Patience look like?
a) It means working out a few times a week no matter what! I had given up exercising so many times and paid the price. Physical exercise helps maintain the endorphins (happy chemicals) in your brain that is imperative for clarity of thought, remaining motivated day to day and increasing productivity.
b) It means taking an afternoon off to meet a friend for lunch so you don't fry your brains.
c) Taking time out every day to play with the kids (if you have any) and/or picking up on a hobby.
d) To know when to talk about your company and when to be quiet about it.
e) To let the Universe just do its "thing" when you have run out experiments to try out.
And when all efforts of retaining sanity fail, call the hotline: BE-JOY. For some one who does not believe in the existence of God, he sure knows how to surrender to the Universe. His energy and words provide a framework to find reason in the unforeseen path of entrepreneurship.