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Book Review: Easy Rules To Succeed

The book is designed to help potential and existing entrepreneurs to improve the probability of success of their ventures. In fact, the book can be easily described as a ready reckoner on not just entrepreneurship but also useful for new product and business development teams

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Among the various initiatives launched by the Indian government to foster entrepreneurship, Startup India Learning Program, a free online programme, seems by far one of the most successful. Industry experts and company CEOs are on the panel to help and handhold those who have enrolled for the programme. IT entrepreneur and currently co-founder of Happiest Minds Technologies Ashok Soota along with startup consultant S.R. Gopalan have brought out Entrepreneurship Simplified, which probably seems like the right fit to the spirit of current enterprising individuals aspiring to launch something new.

The book is designed to help potential and existing entrepreneurs to improve the probability of success of their ventures. In fact, the book can be easily described as a ready reckoner on not just entrepreneurship but also useful for new product and business development teams.

Unlike several books on entrepreneurship in the market, Entrepreneurship Simplified focuses on:

*What and what not;
*Why and why not;
*How and how not; and *When and when not. Based on vast experience of the authors and the many startups they have mentored, Entrepreneurship Simplified is rich in takeaways not only for entrepreneurs but also for intrapreneurs and leaders of large enterprises.

Here are a few takeaways from the book applicable to all those thinking of launching their own venture or managers planning to join a startup:

1) Your venture is only as good as your idea. Accordingly, evaluate multiple opportunities before you settle on one for your ventures. Idea generation methods can include the kaleidoscope approach. Your chosen idea must solve a customer pain or be a new way of delivering an existing service or disrupt existing businesses. You must put your idea through an inexpensive validation test, including for scalability and defensibility.

2) You should have a strategy for the entire cycle of fund-raising till the pre-IPO round. Work backwards and decide on the money to be raised per round. The objective should be to maximise valuation at each stage and minimise dilution. Equity once given away can’t be recovered.

3) Organisational culture can be your most unique and enduring differentiator that others can’t replicate.

4) Here’s a gem in the book: Don’t just call your company and team a family without being able to demonstrate the same through the way you behave, particularly in difficult times.

5) The organisation structure is not so much about hierarchies or reporting relationships, but defines your go-to-market approach, operational efficiency and accountability. Your profit centres will determine your organisation’s power structure.

6) You need a continuum of strategies including a start-up strategy, a scale-up strategy, a strategy to compete against much larger players, a strategy to pivot if required, a strategy for risk reduction and a strategy for acquisition. For every inflection point in your company or major externally induced change, you need to revisit your strategy.

7) Price is not a strategy. It is a mug’s game. Market entry at lower prices is only justified if your costs are lower, allowing you to sustain healthy margins. 8) The best publicity is free publicity; third party statements such as media articles and social media comments have a higher credibility than your own statements or paid advertisements. Customer testimonials are the most powerful publicity.

9) An IPO requires years of advance planning. This includes action on governance and disclosure requirements of the Companies Act and stock exchange listing agreements which become applicable to you as a public limited company. About 12-18 months before your IPO you should expand the board to meet the requirements of having the required proportion of independent directors. Select directors who bring in complementary capabilities and who can add value.

10) Failure and success are two ends of a spectrum. At the low end are situations where you have to shut shop or make a distress sale. In between are ventures with varying degrees of under- and over-performance. At the top end are ventures with excellent financial success, good corporate governance and a sustainable business model for the future.

11) You should be passionate about your venture, but don’t get consumed by it and destroy your personal life. Apart from achieving financial success, entrepreneurship should be a joyous journey and a journey filled with purpose to be called truly successful.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Nita Kapoor

Kapoor is Head, India New Ventures, News Corp & CEO, News Corp VCCircle

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