People for Start-ups

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:

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.
Connect with her via email at
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

Manners Matter

Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Image Courtesy & Source:
Recently, I was putting together material for a leadership development initiative for our client. One chapter in a book I referenced talked about “Manners” and how sometimes the managers who are competent but fail in collaborative work are the ones who simply put, lack “manners”. [*]
Seems overly simple? People who fail working with other people well are those who ignore basic courtesies of human interaction and professional courtesy. The more I thought about this, the more I realized it IS true.
We may call it empathy or emotional quotient or use any other term, but in essence, it probably all does boil down to manners. Or should I say good manners. In every situation, handling a meeting, giving someone negative feedback, rejecting a candidate or a vendor: I have always noticed that the great ones do it politely, firmly and effectively.
Ever so often, we can use a gentle reminder about the basic things in life and the idea of penning this blog was to list out the manners in professional practice that help make a great manager, in my book.
  1. I'm running late: You may be late for a meeting, but it is bad manners to not inform those who are waiting for you. Traffic snarls, time spills, we are all victims to time thieves that highjack our schedule. If you’re late, let people know. After all, they DID make it on time against all odds J
  2.  He may be wrong, but you can’t yell at him in public: You have a team? Someone is bound to mess something up sometime. Don’t yell. Communicate. Personally, I feel worse when I drop the ball & the other person is calm and polite about my mistake and not yelling at me.
  3.  Rude is not the same as cool: You may be the wisecrack around but stop short of being rude, even when you have been provoked. 
  4.  It does not matter if you are the client or the employee or the vendor: No matter which side of the equation you’re on, it doesn’t give you the right to be obnoxious to someone – anyone. Remember, what goes around comes around.
  5. Telecallers are only doing their job: Yes, I am familiar with the most annoying among their breed but still, remember someone is only trying to do their job, perhaps trying to be too persistent at it. Don’t buy what they’re selling, but you don’t need to break their spirit.
  6.  Don’t cut into people’s meal times unless you’re taking care to feed them: One of our clients is so thoughtful that he ensures that we are always well-fed during our meetings. There is never an instance when we extend a discussion over a couple of hours or lunchtime without being offered food or refreshment.  It is a lesson I’ve taken to heart. It is a basic courtesy. If you’re the boss and need to give your team grief about their performance, they’ll hate it less if they’re not hungry.
  7. Say Thank you: Someone did her job well? Say thank you without trying to evaluate if she needs to be thanked for doing her job. Overthinking is a waste on this one.
  8. Get someone else to read your angry tirade mail before it goes out: Goof-ups happen. People deserve to be told they caused it. But if you’re angry when you typed that email – chances are the anger overrides the message. Get some one to read and if necessary tone it down. There are exceptions to this guideline and I am guessing most of us will have the sense to use the exception wisely.
  9.  Smile: - Really, I mean it. Even if you’re carrying the entire burden of the world on your shoulders. Smile. You’ll feel lighter too.
  10. Is this a good time? In some of my earlier teams, calling a reportee at 10 pm (no it was not a BPO or 24by7 operation!) for a chat was totally acceptable. And in the same organization, I met a senior manager who would hesitate to call after hours or if he HAD to, first check or apologize for the inconvenience. No prizes for guessing whom I respected more.
  11. A gesture means more, when it is not required: Sometimes a courtesy is appreciated simply because it is not required. Going the extra mile for a simple gesture is hardly ever going to cost you much or go wrong. A colleague returning after a sick day off will always appreciate someone who says welcome back and hope you’re okay this morning.  A thank you note for some one who did you a good deed may not be expected by the other person, but would be much appreciated for the very same reason.
  12. Give credit where due; if in doubt give it anyway: Acknowledging people’s contribution to a result or outcome is basic, simple and oh so often missed out once the job gets done.
  13. You’re not hired but good luck with your career: Yes, applicants you rejected for that job are people too. You don’t need them anymore (not today atleast) so it is easy to forget them. Dropping them a line that the position is closed and wishing them luck in their future won’t take time but it shows good form on your part.
Well, these are my top 13. I can go on but I guess you get the gist. Feel free to add your own and make this list more comprehensive. I’m sure we all have some people to whom the entire set would be a welcome gift J for self-improvement.
- Pavithra Charan
  Blog 2013#1
About the Author:  
Pavithra is Founder & Partner at Inception Business Services. A Marketing & Management professional with a keen interest in people and passion for ideas, Pavithra moved from being a Banker & Wealth Management professional to entrepreneur. Working with start ups, Brand management, Customer engagement, Content creation and Coaching/Training are areas of work that most excite her. Multi-tasking entrepreneur, mother of a 3 year old and wife of a businessman, Pavithra confesses that her 2013 resolutions include being regular with her blog writing and any encouragement in that direction is welcome. Mail her at pavithra at 

[*]   The Effective Executive – by Peter   F. Drucker
Author – Team Inception

Categories: Empathy, extra mile, Learning

The Saga of Sales - Team Blog#2

Team Blog by Mala Dhalani - Head, Marketing Services @ IBS

For someone who dreamed of the “Brand Manager” designation while at B School, I have spent the first four years of my corporate life in Sales. As if being a Sindhi was not enough, numbers assumed a different level of importance in my life because of sales. Targets, Pipeline, Month-Ends, Pressure, Cheque - all became an inextricable part of my vocabulary. With pressure levels at most times being higher than the humidity levels in Chennai, I have seen many a people try their hand and succeed or fail at this art of sales. Now, no longer a “salesperson”, I can stand back, take a look and weigh exactly how much of a value add the last four years have been and I am amazed. Some very important learning’s as I look at them:

Empathy – Sales has certainly taught me to be more human. I no longer shoo away salesmen of vacuum cleaners or brash fully disconnect the call on a credit card salesperson. I know the grit, the hard work, the motivation and the sheer courage that it often takes to either land up on the doorstep of a stranger or to try and convince someone you do not know to buy something (in some case they do not even know what they are selling J ).

Getting over your biggest fear “Rejection” – If you are afraid of rejection, I strongly recommend a sales stint. It happens so often that you have no choice but to get over it! I would rate this as one of the top three learning. Sales has made me tougher, helped me get over my inhibitions, be more confident and most importantly helped me accept “NO” as an answer graciously (sometimes not so graciously too).

Quickest way to fame – The feeling of success in sales like no other. First and most importantly, there is the personal satisfaction of holding that cheque in your hand and knowing that you have earned your salt. Be it any value, the sense of being a contributor to wealth creation in the organization has given me very many instances to smile. Second, it is the easiest way to get recognized by the higher ups. Be it in a team of 1000 or 50 people, being in the top quartile gets you a guaranteed tete-a-tete with “THE BOSS”!

Geographical Understanding – Although I was born and brought up in Chennai, I never understood the geography of the city quite like I understood it when I started my first sales role. From knowing the secret routes to gaining ability to interpret directions (most likely received verbally from junta on road) I learnt the art of travelling through a city. Even in my second stint, where I handled a relatively small territory of five districts, the learning of the places, the modes of travel, exact places where you find roads (and not potholes), understanding of maps and shortcuts have been great takeaways.

Starting from scratch – No matter how your “Month-End” has been you always start the next with a “0”. The scoreboard is cleaned up and you need to run again. This particular learning has helped me immensely not just in business but life in general (had to get philosophical at some point). You could have been a star on the 31st and celebrated with a few beers or you could have been on zero the entire month and drank a few beers anyway (in depression) but on the 1st you are back on the starting line. It lets you move on, from your zone of comfort or discomfort and start afresh again and again and again, till it becomes a habit.

Growth and learning – My greatest learning comes from meeting and interacting with people from various walks of life. The last four years in this respect have contributed immensely to my learning curve hence making it very important to me. (I need to mention here that I have been in direct B2C and B2B sales where I have interacted with customers and users of the product/services directly). I have had the good fortune of interacting with people from industrialists to teachers from corporate honchos to fresh recruits from NRIs to farmers (and sometimes the not so good fortune also of meeting people with abysmally low IQ and EQ levels). Each of these engagements has been extremely enriching to say the least.

Business Perspective – In my view there is no other function that can give a better view of how the business runs than sales. As a sales person I interacted with almost all functions of the business - Marketing: salespeople are their direct customers; Operations: Only then is it possible to make relatively realistic promises to clients; Finance: They do not spare you unless you have your receivables all collected and kept in the bank. Now that I am spear heading our own business from scratch, I can understand most aspects of how a business runs thanks to my experience and in-turn also able to apply this learning to our clients businesses; because at the end of it I have realized that no outflow is justified if it cannot bring in the necessary inflow.

Staying the difficult times - The most important learning – to face customers when all goes wrong. I worked in the financial products sales from April 2007 to Aug 2009. The market levels during this period resemble an erratic ECG graph of a person during heart attack. It is not easy to talk to someone when you know that it any small way you are perhaps responsible for their wealth and hard earned savings becoming one third the value. But I did and I learnt my most important learning – people buy from people and stay with people. Most people have a bigger heart than we think and at the end each one respects that you have stayed the most difficult period and that’s mostly what matters and helps build some of the most cherished relationships.

All the pressure, the tensions, the rejections and the difficult conversations notwithstanding, the last four years have been a great experience (and some great money too – Incentives!!). Try your hand at sales atleast once, I guarantee you your own set of wonderful experiences. Happy Selling!

Author – Team Inception

Categories: Lessons, Marketing, Perspective, Rejection, Sales, Target, achievement, Business, communication, Corporate Sales, Empathy, Learning, Month Ends, Sales Pressure



see all