People for Start-ups

CAPITAL P
While doing my research for this article, I was amazed! When you type ‘resources for start-ups’ the most common and top of the line entries focus on financial resourcing, idea resourcing, design resourcing and so on. So little has been said about ‘people resourcing’. Getting the right people is half the battle won, for after all, they are the ones who will take the company forward.
Here are some important things to keep in mind while hiring for your organization.
Sharing the vision:
In this day and age of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Job sites etc. it is easy enough to get applicants to see and apply for a job at your company. However, irrespective of which level you are looking to hire for, an important criteria in the process should be to ensure that the candidate shares your company’s vision and truly believes in your proposition. The candidate should understand the values on which you have established your start-up, the path you chose to expand the business and be able to identify and contribute to these through his or her own skills. Fantastic growth and hence immediate increase in pay, on-the-job perks etc. are things that many candidates look for when they join start-ups. While growth in Start-ups is definitely faster, the expectation of immediate rewards can lead to disillusionment and disappointment in newly hired candidates. So while recruiting for your start up, remember to give a balanced picture and focus on the vision rather than on the compensation.
The Law of Averages:
When recruiting for your start-up you will find a lot of young talent applying for the positions. While it is tempting to hire fresh young candidates to keep the enthusiasm and energy going, it is equally important to have a few seasoned employees on board. Senior team members tend to bring in a practical angle and are great at handling relationships given their years of experience. They discern the possible and the probable and add tremendous value with their insights. The cost of such resources may be higher but well worth the investment. The ultimate goal is to have a good mix of young talent that is enthusiastic and buzzing with ideas and having experienced hands giving direction and shape to the organizations development. Once the balance is achieved, you have a winning workforce!
Equity- A start-up’s best tool!
What happens when you start a company with minimal capital and are keen on hiring talent? Today, the trends are shifting towards offering a part salary and a part equity stake. Many start-ups are extremely successful in attracting the right talent by offering compensation through equity- wholly or partly. The advantage of this set up is that often you will end up attracting those who are genuinely interested in the company’s business model and want to be part of it. “The people you want to attract to your business are the people who want equity”- Bill Harris, founder of Paypal (See what else Harris says here ). People come on board for the challenges that the start-up offers and are happy to be compensated for their work through equity. As an owner, you are also sure that your liability is limited to the performance of the business and are not taking on the burden of fully salaried employees.   The flipside to this though, maybe that your relinquish decision making to some extent. However, if you can find a perfect trade-off, this approach may serve you very well in the long run. You can read up on how to calculate equity here.
Keep looking- even if you are not hiring right away
Almost every guide on hiring for start-ups has this point. And yet I believe it is not emphasized enough! From personal experience, I have seen that keeping your mind and doors open can land you resources you would have missed out on had you believed otherwise. So many hires happen without it being part of the plan. If you meet a like-minded person who you think will fit into your business scheme (maybe not today but sometime in the future), express your desire to have them on board. Even if they do not consider it immediately, they know that there is an opportunity open to them to consider. And even if they will never consider it, they may know others who will form a good fit for your organization. So stay open to networking, not just for business but also to procure the right talent for your organization.
People contribute directly to the organizations performance, and hence getting the right people and offering them adequate reason to stay will put your company’s growth on the right trajectory!
If you’d like to read up some more on hiring for your start-up, here are some reference links:
For more interesting perspectives on People and Talent for start ups and young organisations, join us for Inception Day on 1 st June 2013. Our People Panel promises to be a great forum for talking about this. To confirm your participation at the event, click here:  http://event.ayojak.com/event/inception-day-2013

About the Author:  
Madhumita Ganapathy  - Associate Consultant at Inception Busi ness Services
Madhumita is a brand marketer known for her exuberance and zeal for getting things done. An MBA grad, Madhu started her marketing career at ITC and has been with IBS since mid-2012. She has contributed immensely to shaping  some of our young client brands. She now supports us in her new role as Associate Consultant based in Connecticut, USA. Apart from her passion for brands & marketing, Madhu loves classical Indian dance, travel and writing.
Connect  Madhu on LinkedIn.
or
Connect with her via email at  [email protected]
Author – Team Inception

Categories: 4P's of Marketing, Inception, Inception Day, Marketing, People, Start Ups, Business, communication, Customer Service, Empathy, Employees, innovation, P's of Marketing

LOOKING IN AT CULTURE – MY YARDSTICKS

Most organizations boast of having a culture. And no one is wrong when they do so, because every organization does have a unique identity and a way its employees perceive that identity. Organizational Culture, as defined on businessdictionary.com, is “the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization”.
Removing all the jargon from this definition, what it really boils down to are some basic questions. What does the organization believe in? How does it react to employees who may not share the same beliefs? Do the employees feel proud and happy to work for the organization? Or is it one long dreary engagement between two unlikely entities?
So much has been written on organizational culture and matching the employee and the organization and so on and so forth, yet we find a high number of dissatisfied, disgruntled and positively unhappy employees around us in this corporate world. So here are some of my yardsticks to evaluate or understand an organization’s culture – looking in from the outside. Starting from the first job these yardsticks are valid and have value in every transition made.
1.       The Start
There was once an interview I attended where the interviewer questioned me for about 45 minutes. When I stepped out I felt like I had just committed a felony and had been interrogated instead of being tested for my knowledge on the relevant subjects.
Many companies approach the interviewee with the idea of stressing them out, purportedly to understand the individual’s capability. However, my view on this has always been that jobs in the corporate are not ‘life-endangering’ and ‘constantly under stress’. Compare a job in marketing or finance to one in a hospital- as a surgeon or a nurse. People quite literally perform under stressful conditions there! However in business you have time to evaluate your options to approach a problem in the best way possible, especially jobs at entry and mid-level. So the concept of stress interviews never has made sense to me.
2.      The People
When you walk in through the door, you notice a lot of small little things- the décor of the office, the arrangement of cubicles, a professional air around the place and so on. Yet, to me, the most important and palpable vibe comes from the people. When you sit down and the interviewer asks you if you’d like a glass of water, you know they think a little beyond themselves. Trivial and obvious as it may sound, there are many places where the interviewer may dispense with this or other cursory politeness. This for me is a no-go. The demonstration of care begins from minute one. Because culture is not something that begins when you join or stop when you leave – it is the cumulative effect of many such small behaviors.
3.      Scope to Learn
Unless you are at the point of retirement, every job will have a learning curve. The biggest challenge for most organizations is to keep this curve steep for as long as possible. When evaluating a job, I believe, figuring out the organization’s attitude towards encouraging learning is critical.
If you choose to pursue a course to improve yourself, would the organization support the move? Would the job give you enough time at work to read up and research the latest in your field of work? Would it be viewed as something one should do on one’s own time? Answers to these questions would help in assessing the organization’s attitude towards enhancing your learning experience. And this is for me an integral part of the work culture.
4.      Your Peers
Our experiences at our workspace are largely defined by our peers. How your colleague responds to you will essentially make up how you are going to behave in the organization. When your peers guide you, encourage you, and help you learn the ropes you know you have the right support system. Additionally if you can use them as sounding boards for great ideas and they respond to you, you know you have struck gold! What is important here is the fact that the organization is an eco-system comprising of you as well as others. The better you vibe, the better your experiences in the organization.
5.      Your Boss(es)
This seems like a no-brainer in the organizational culture context. Statistics say that amongst the most common reasons people are looking to quit their jobs is the fact that they are dissatisfied with their bosses. They associate a plethora of problems linked to poor leadership. You can read some instances here. So what is seemingly obvious is for some reason not so obvious. When you join a organization you look for leadership and direction but on a more personal level, you look for challenging tasks, fulfilling work allocations and appreciation- all of which the boss will hand out. So often, organizations invest in building a culture and then fail in maintaining it because of a few bosses who believe otherwise! Culture is as great or weak as it is in the hands of your managers.
To some the above points may seem like the makings of an ideal and perhaps unrealistic work culture. But truly, culture-wise, there are many organizations today that are consciously investing in giving their employees the best they have to offer. Some offer work-life balance, while others offer a great work atmosphere, while still others offer great learning opportunities. When you see the right mix of some of these aspects; you can be sure that the organization has taken efforts to build its culture with great care.  
If you lead an organization, you may want to relook at some of these points to take a reality check on what prospective colleagues read about your culture when they meet you.
Write in to us with your thoughts on building or evaluating culture, especially in start-ups and growing businesses. We think it is a very important aspect of building a sustainable organization. Which is why some of this will be discussed in our People panel on Inception Day on 1 st June 2013. Read more about that here. For Event details click here:  http://tinyurl.com/adktfmz and for Registration click here:  event.ayojak.com/event/inception-day-2013
About the Author:  
Madhumita Ganapathy  - Associate Consultant at Inception Busi ness Services
Madhumita is a brand marketer known for her exuberance and zeal for getting things done. An MBA grad, Madhu started her marketing career at ITC and has been with IBS since mid-2012. She has contributed immensely to shaping  some of our young client brands. She now supports us in her new role as Associate Consultant based in Connecticut, USA. Apart from her passion for brands & marketing, Madhu loves classical Indian dance, travel and writing.
Connect  Madhu on LinkedIn.
or
Connect with her via email at  [email protected]
Author – Team Inception

Categories: Office Culture, Organization, Peers, Work, Boss, Colleagues, Culture, Employees, Learning

CROWD SOURCED FUNDING – AN INTERESTING WAY TO FUND YOUR BUSINESS IDEA

You wake up one morning and it hits you. The product or service that wants to get created stands in front of you and beckons you. Sure enough every entrepreneur has faced this moment - the moment your idea stares you in the face and awaits your efforts to make it a reality.   And it is here that your journey begins- you hit the drawing board and plan how you want your product or service to take shape, who are the people you want to rope in and what your ultimate goal is going to be about. And that’s when you realize you need a lot more than your idea- you need money. 
It’s a common journey for most entrepreneurs. While the ideas and resources required may vary from case to case, the common need for most is the dough (so to speak). A lot of entrepreneurs begin with investing their own savings, mortgaging assets and borrowing from friends and family. Yet there’s that point where one realizes- this just isn’t enough. Additional funding is the only solution to this roadblock. The options available today are numerous ranging from bank loans to Angel investors to Venture Capitalists and so on. 
However, the focus of this article is an interesting angle to fundraising. Kickstarter.com is a US based fund raising platform that provides tools to raise funds for creative projects.  Launched in 2009, Kickstarter has had over 96,000 projects that have been launched on their website since their inception. While you can read more about Kickstarter.com here, in this article, I am focusing on what it really stands for and how you as an entrepreneur can fund your project using a similar concept.
The basic model is that of crowd sourcing funds. You have a fabulous idea and not enough monetary resources. Wealth, on the other hand is distributed. This is not about a few big Angel Investors or VCs trying to make money by giving you a boost. It’s about the number of people who believe in your idea and are willing to back you up with their own small contribution. 
The core concept of Kickstarter hinges on the idea of connecting likeminded groups of people- when you find a set of people who see value in your proposition, they will (literally) put their money on you. It brings together people who are genuinely interested in seeing ideas through and helping people achieve their fund raising targets. It allows participation of a multitude of people who may not have millions of dollars to throw into a project and yet can be a part of a fabulous, one-in-a-million idea by contributing as little as $5. The rewards offered, give them the feeling of having and owning a badge or a title of an investor and the chance to receive uncommon, project-related merchandise. The promise of an early preview or early benefits in association with the business idea drives individuals to make the contribution and opt into a cause they believe in. And most importantly, it makes this group of investors belong to a community of those who have contributed. In marketing parlance one could say this model attracts the innovators and early adopters. In many cases it even attracts the early majority.
So if you have a fantastic idea waiting to see the light of day and your biggest constraint is money, just look around- you may find that there are many who believe in your idea and are willing to invest in it in their own small ways. Build a fundraising program that is inclusive and accessible to a large group of interested investors and ensure that you make them part of your journey. The quantum of money one can bring in is not necessarily a criterion for an ‘investor’. Ensure that one can donate a minimum amount (based on the tiers you set up) and yet become part of the project. Attract the ‘right kind’ of people to invest in your idea. Design the fundraiser to catch the attention of those with interests similar to your business’s idea. Passion for similar things often leads to heavier investments by individuals. 
It definitely beats the other option of doing an Initial public offer hollow ! Without the hassles of regulatory shenanigans, you can get access to a large base of investors. The one thing you must remember is that when you crowd source funds, you owe every investor the courtesy of being accountable to them especially because they don’t have the big regulators protecting their interests. You got to respect that.  
When you begin to look around, figure out the value you can deliver to an investor at various levels of investment. Include them into your grand plans and reward them with exclusive previews, merchandise, access to resources or whatever else you can offer through your business idea. You will be surprised at how many people are actually interested in making things happen for your business! Insignificant as a small contribution may seem to begin with, remember the saying little drops make an ocean!

(For more ideas and perspectives on how to fund your business, register and attend Inception Day 2013 and catch our panel discussion on Finance & Funding. Click here to know more.)

About the Author:  
Madhumita Ganapathy   - Associate Consultant at Inception Busi ness Services
Madhumita is a brand marketer known for her exuberance and zeal for getting things done. An MBA grad, Madhu started her marketing career at ITC and has been with IBS since mid-2012. She has contributed immensely to shaping  some of our young client brands. She now supports us in her new role as Associate Consultant based in Connecticut, USA. Apart from her passion for brands & marketing, Madhu loves classical Indian dance, travel and writing.
Connect Madhu on LinkedIn.
or
Connect with her via email at [email protected]
Author – Team Inception

Categories: Capital, Finance, Inception, Inception Day, Investors, Start Ups, Crowd Sourcing, Funding, Ideas for business, innovation, Raising Money

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