Common Sense is Uncommon

Fail Fast

19/09/2013

 
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It's been a while since I wrote something... been having other things on my mind and I keep forgetting what i wanted to write about anyway...

As i was talking the other day with the FI group, we talked about failing fast. We were discussing it on the context of starting our own company and knowing when it is time to pull the plug. It's not about failing but to know when is not the time to push things through. 

I think this is quite relevant in our daily lives covering everything from fixing the leaking pipe to the light bulbs and to some extent, even our relationships. We must know when it is time to pull the plug and call for help! We can't do everything alone and even if we can, it probably is not good for our mental health. 

Many times in our lives, we will always try to make things work out. We will work harder to complete projects, burning the midnight oil just because we have to. We will tolerate behavior from our colleagues that is detrimental to ourselves and yet we persevere because we are afraid of what may happen. End of the day, we have to learn to let go when the time comes. To fail fast. 

A case in point we were discussing the other day were some start ups that have been around for 2-3 years but nothing major has materialized out of it. The idea when it was founded a few years ago was great but with the world and technology evolving at such a rapid pace, it has now become an OK idea. So is it time to fail? It will always depend on the founder and how much emotional attachment he/she has on the project. And also how much money the person has. 

End of the day, we need to know when it is time to move on. When to look at other things and when to push to complete things. It is a choice we have to learn for ourselves...



 
 
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So as part of my sharing on what i learnt from startup training is to simplify things. Many times in our life, we tend to think a lot of what we want to do, analyze the situation, what others will think and so on. This makes everything complicated. More importantly it makes us second guess ourselves. 

Even when it comes to our ideas, what we want to do, what do we want to achieve, we usually will think all sort of things and add more and more layers in order to cover what we think or what some other people think will be the shortfalls of the system. 

This complicates things. 
Keep it simple. 
Strip it down to the core
And if its something you cant explain in 5 minutes, its too complex.

Strip the idea down to the core, understand what is it that you want to do, why is it special an

 
 
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Somehow or rather, both sides don't seem to like each other.

MNC's will say startup guys are
  1. Hard to control
  2. Lack discipline
  3. Un-manageable
  4. Crazy
  5. Slackers

Startup guys also say MNC people are
  1. Rigid
  2. Looks only at processes
  3. Numbers driven
  4. Looking to corrupt the world
  5. Slow to adapt


Maybe I am exaggerating but that is the feeling I get when I was going through the FI course. It was not just local guys but those who were sharing with us from the US as well!

But I really feel that MNC's will benefit from having people with startup training in the organization! Maybe not in all roles but for project based roles or product based roles they will be great!

So why do I say that?
  1. Startup guys will slog to get things done. What is sleep when there is passion!
  2. Startup guys are resourceful. If they can't do it, they know where to look!
  3. Startup guys know how to get things done cheaply. They don;t have huge budgets!
  4. Startup guys can do multiple roles. They have to plan, design, program, pitch, financials and clean the room!
  5. Startup guys can think out of the box. There is no point to do something which someone else is doing!
  6. Startup guys can quickly look for solutions. No point in crying over spillt milk!
  7. Startup guys can pitch in 5 minutes. Save time, do more!


I'll talk about why corporate guys are good for startups later on... but these are my thoughts for today. Do let me know if I forgot something!

 
 
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As I ponder to share what I learnt from startup training, I realize I see many similarities in it while working in the many companies I did previously. Today I am going to talk about the fundamental thing of any company. Get shit done!

When working in a company, the difference between a good employee and a bad employee is not how much they do, but how they communicate what they did. In startup life, it doesn't matter how well you can tell what you did, but what did you do. Did you get shit done?

A lot of time is wasted in meetings and meetings and even more meetings to tell others what did you do. Sharing of reports, analytic studies, decision making, making sure everyone is happy and heard. It's important but many times, those who make decisions are not those who need the meetings, but those around you are the ones who do. Much time is wasted validating each others decisions to ensure no mistakes are made.

But then, it is good as you will always know what is happening... right? We all don't have time to read emails because we are all caught up in meetings are more meetings. It does helps us come to a decision when we are not sure but so does a phone call.

Anyway, I would like to share with everyone is to focus on getting your work done first. Reduce your meetings and always have a PAL with you during your meetings. If you don't have a PAL, your meetings are useless. Ensure you know what you are spending your time other than getting shit done.

 
 
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After the FI graduation, while we were having some drinks, I started to think "Will startup courses like FI be relevant to MNC companies?"

Problem is that MNC's don't liek startup guys and well, startup's don't like MNC guys as well. There were so many mentors who said don't hire people from MNC backgrounds but realistically in today's economy, if you don't have a steady income or savings, how are you going to get a company up and running in Malaysia?

So I started thinking, what did I learn in FI and would it be useful if I was still working in an MNC? How will it help? Will it be beneficial at all or would it make me quit my job?

Well, lets break the FI curriculum down.
  1. It all starts with what are you planning to do? What do you want to achieve?
  2. Then it moves on to knowing what are you doing. Are there competitors? Has someone else already done it?
  3. After that its about your name and how will it be perceived. How do you come up with a name? What are the connotations on it?
  4. So, after a few short weeks we now have to present what we have.come up with and be scrutinized by trained professionals who have made money from doing all this before. Best part is we get a spanner thrown in the works a couple days earlier and we have to dig deep to be sure on what we are doing.
  5. Next, we talk on legal stuff, hiring and firing people, our revenue and cost model and how to get a product developed. 
  6. Again, we get checked to ensure what we have done is useful and will be fruitful.
  7. Then I find it got interesting, how to present, simplify your presentation, marketing your company and asking for money.

Later on I will expand more on to what I have learnt during this time and how I feel it is beneficial for anyone who is working at an MNC 



 
 
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After the FI graduation, a group of us were having a chat on getting stuff done. I have met so many people who have great ideas but most of them are too scared of getting it off the ground and just following through with it.

I do agree that we all must be able to sustain ourselves but I always feel that we burden ourselves with items that the media and marketing companies have ingrained into us... the sports car, the expensive clothes, the watch, the life style. Take that all away and you can do a lot of things!

Anyway, today I want to talk about the tools available to get a MVP, Minimal Viable Product.

So before you begin, you need an idea, then get a domain name for it.

After you have your domain and your free email, you need to start conceptualizing your product, here there are many tools available to you. Some are free but some have nominal prices.

  1. Balsamiq.com
  2. FluidUI.com
  3. Weebly.com
  4. Squarespace.com
  5. Wordpress.com
  6. Numerous shopping carts (shopify, Magento, ECWID etc)
  7. Google Webmaster and Analytic tools
  8. Bizspark.com
  9. aytm.com
  10. prezi.com
  11. piktochart.com

The list I have is not all encompassing, it covers what I have used and what I find interesting to be used. There are many many more tools available and it is great that being able to be used online simplifies 

 

I graduated!

16/07/2013

 
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Well, I have been involved in the Founder Institute 2013 Kuala Lumpur chapter and I am glad to say that I have finally graduated! Out of the 31 people who joined, 9 of us made it to the end!


At times I was unsure whether we would make it and if the idea had enough legs to float but I feel that the final idea we have come up with will work and all I need to do now is to build the core team up and it will be able to continue on.


Do keep an eye out as I write about the journey here. I think its much better for me to write it all here instead of the company blog as it is much easier for me to compile everything together! 

Thank you God for giving me another day, another chance to become a better individual, another chance to give and experience love. Thank you God for giving me health, for the food you provide, for the awareness you have awaken in me...Thank you for the energy that feeds my soul, the sun that warms our bodies and the air that fills our lungs... Because of you I believe in the good without the bad and the ugly, because of you I am learning to love and accept myself, because of you I believe in believing. My source, stay connected to me today and always, for I need you in order to fullfil my spiritual tasks...God, show me how to love myself, to be able to love others. Help me become the type of person that I would like to befriend, help me forgive myself and forgive others... God, make me a channel of your energy and help me understand. I thank you God for giving me another day, another unused opportunity to do it right. Keep us all close to you and listen to our prayers.Amen. 
 
 
As part of going through the Founder Institute program, I feel that there was a section that was talked about but not stressed enough. That is "To take care of yourself first".

Before we can start to build the next greatest tech company that will dwarf the likes of any of today's giants, we must always remember that we have to ensure that we are able to take care of ourselves first! It is probably no wonder why only those who are successful previously are able to continue their successes by starting up another company and another after that. Serial Entrepreneurs...

So for those with a dream to become an entrepreneur, do remember that before you start, ensure that you can take care of yourself for the journey. Money is not going to fall out of the sky to fund you at all. Many funding grants are pay first, claim later type of deals. So if you don't have the money or can't raise angel seeding from your friends and relatives, it will be hard at first. Not impossible but hard.

We can't think well with an empty stomach. :)