The #1 Reason on Why Products Fail

Created on 2016-01-11 05:04

Published on 2016-01-17 10:00 –

This is the last part of the three-part series on Entrepreneurship.

In my earlier article on LinkedIn “8 Reasons to Turn Entrepreneur in 2016“, I had shared the both environment factors as well as the that are conducive towards becoming an entrepreneur. In next article I spoke about “8 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Fail”.

In this final article in the series, I will talk about the central essence of any start-up – their product. Start-ups today are building more products than ever before. The ill-fated reality however is that the success rate of these products hasn’t changed much. The odds are still heavily stacked against starting a new business and most of these products unfortunately still fail.

And therein lies the crux of the problem. Start-ups pour way too lot of our time, money, and effort into these products. Especially for a first-time entrepreneur, these failures can be a real setback both emotionally and also financially.

You could have any number of reasons that can be attributed to failed ideas. I am not elaborating them as they are self-explanatory.

But they are not the #1 reason why products fail. The Number One Reason Why Products Fail is because – We simply build something nobody wants. The other reasons are off-shoot and mediocre justifications to this core.

The Number One Reason Why Products Fail – We simply build something nobody wants.

Why does this happen?

In my view this largely happens because most-times new-entrepreneurs are fixated to their ‘singular idea’ and fall ‘madly in love’ with that idea. And love is blind. I personally have been a victim a few times on this bias.

I am not talking of “passion for making the start-up successful here”. I am talking of the blind love for the product that makes us ignore what the market wants.

Look forward to your thoughts and ideas.

LinkedIn Money Control

8 Reasons Turn Entrepreneur (2016)

Turn Entrepreneur in 2016 (8 Reasons), Published on 2016-01-08 12:15

This is part 1 of the 3-part series and has appeared on Money Control SME news recently.

Is 2016 the going to be the year of the Entrepreneur? There has never been a better time to act on your “big idea”. And these 8 reasons will tell you why!

1. Entrepreneurs are the new black

In 2015, USA breached $70 Billion in Venture Capital Funding ($47 Billion in 2014). In 1H2015, Indian start-ups raised a massive $3.5B funding, record of sorts.

Today’s news makers are the 30-something year olds like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook, 31y), Elon Musk (Tesla/ 44y), Brian Chesky (Air BnB/ 34y), Travis Kalanick (Uber, 39y). They are quickly replacing the likes of Ginni Rometty (IBM), Mary T. Barra (General Motors), a Christopher J. Nassetta (Hilton) or John P. Tague (Hertz), who would have dominated the news just a decade ago.

2.  The age of Garage Entrepreneur is dead

Entrepreneurs are no longer just two guys starting in a garage. They are everywhere – in Starbucks, in McDonalds, in Airport Lounges, in Wi-Fi Hotspots or even at our work or college environs. They come from all parts of the world. They capture markets across the globe in months and are not limited to looking at US markets. We are going through a global entrepreneurial renaissance as evidenced by the explosion in entrepreneurial programs offered in universities the world over, as well as start-up accelerators, and corporate incubators.

3. Student unemployment is helping new ideas take shape

Student unemployment of those graduating is higher than ever before in the industry. On one side education has become expensive and on the other, there is no assurance of a campus placement. There are just not enough jobs in big corporates to cater to the millions of students passing out. It is not surprising that more students are instead seeking out entrepreneurial experiences while in college – many with aspirations to build the next Facebook, WhatsApp or Tesla. The others go through entrepreneurial education simply to better equip themselves or perhaps, in anticipation of one day taking that big leap from a cushy corporate job.

4. Lifelong employment is a myth busted, forever.

The age of lifelong employment is dead! Period.

With the security of lifelong employment and associated pensions gone, more people are looking to get into the driver’s seat and take control of their destiny. Side business start-ups are on the rise.

5. Disruptive innovation seldom happens in large companies.

There is a lot more scope for disruptive innovation today than ever before. Technology has flattened the world and we all want to see the same changes and fear almost the same things.

The pace of disruptive innovation has been accelerating since 2005. We are not seeing 10-year-old companies any more, let alone 100 year legends. New comers are disrupting previous disruptors. Who could have imagined Facebook forced Google to close Google+? Who could have imagined Samsung and LGs get Nokia to close shop? Such incidents have carved out an amazing window of opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, though, the larger the company, the more they are forced to maintain status quo. Not that they wish to, but that is how they are structured. They are too big to choose a new path and jettison the past. They face too many roadblocks – shift in power centres, employee disillusionment, painful experiences and crumbling organization structures.

6. Failure is the new badge of honour

The Silicon Valley have always prided in its entrepreneurial spirit with the phrase ‘Failure is a Badge of Honor’.

The rest of the world, including mostly Asian economies like India, China and Indonesia that constitute over half of world’s population rewarded formal employment and had a social stigma attached to failure.

Their iconoclastic generation is going back with a vengeance and challenging the tenets of the older generation. The likes of Jack Ma (Alibaba), Sachin Bansal (Flipkart), Bhavish Aggarwal (Ola) have only helped the cause in creating that aura around entrepreneurs.

7.    There is no Better time to start

Internet has flattened the world. Since 2005 the advances in mobile telecommunication, increased bandwidths and broadband penetration have led to convergence of idea centres, funding sources and user clusters. Technologies like Cloud Computing and Mobile Applications have further democratised our world and have given the power in the hands of the common man.

Today, for the first time in history, people all over the world from New York to New Delhi, Amsterdam to Amman to or Jakarta to Johannesburg, London to Leningrad, have access to similar tools, knowledge, funding and people. It is cheaper, faster and less risky than ever to launch a new business, and there is no better time to start than now.

8.  You don’t even need that permission to start

The world has changed and it has changed big time. The approach of Governments has changed. The social structures have changed. The sources of funding have changed.

Just a decade ago, starting up a business was both painful and expensive. Getting Government licenses, software licences, an office space or building team or those dozens of visits to the bank for capital infusion. Today, most of these things are extremely simple or even, free.

The question today isn’t:  “Can we build this?”, but rather, “Should we build this?”

You don’t need lots of money, people, or time to answer that question. What are you waiting for? 2016 is waiting to see that disruptive entrepreneur in you!


You might also like Part 2 of this – “Why Do Entreprenurs Fail? (8 Reasons)

The author has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry and is now a serial entrepreneur. As Managing Partner at Futureshift Consulting, he often advises large businesses and new start-ups to take advantage of their innate potential and generate traction on their ideas to maximise impact.


How to juggle the three balls – Family, Career, and Money?

How to juggle the three balls – Family, Career and Money?, Published on 2014-08-24

In my not so short a career, I have learnt an interesting and important equation about life. The fundamental equation about life in my view is about three variables or what I call three balls – Family, Career and Money.

The beautiful and magical interplay of these three balls is unceasing and perpetual.

Put simply, these three balls require attention all the time none-the-less, but they require different focus at different times. For example, in early stages of life one may focus on career and learn new skills or become a subject matter expert. Over time focus may shift towards building financial security. At this point, one may want to monetize the skill sets and negotiate for better salary/ money.

Or there may also be the situation that you had just got married or you just had a baby and prefer to dedicate the next few years primarily to family while continuing to juggle with money and career to make you a the most amazing husband or a father. This is not to say that one is not important than the other. It is more of to help you prioritize these balls while juggling.

Juggling these three balls has a queer additional variable. These three balls change their form – rubber to glass and vice versa as you are juggling.

The smartness is to recognize the glass balls and drop the rubber balls if one needs to. A classic example would be a situation where a marriage is on the rocks because of a hectic travel (career focus) and one is on the brink of divorce. Or alternatively, one has a fast depleting your financial reserve while they continue to stick to a career with a firm that gave fancy titles but just have been paying you 50% of what the market can pay you for a similar job.

While they may broadly be connected and seem interchangeable – they are not. For e. g. a good career broadly would means good money – not necessarily. Good money would mean good family life – but not necessarily – you may be chasing money while, all that your daughter wants is to spend that one hour with you in the evening.

How do you action this?

Plan: Sit down and think hard. What is the most important thing in your life now? What is the goal (measurable timeline) on that front to say that you have achieved that? What is the second priority and what is the third. At which point would you want to reprioritize one for the other – money for career or family and vice-versa. It is important that you have a broad plan.

Over time, monitor if you are on the right path. (In my case I personally do this exercise every three months and give a hard relook to the past success on all three fronts every December). If at any time there is a misalignment – revisit the priorities – are you focusing on the right areas?

Are you achieving results on the order of priority? If not, reprioritize. – If you already doing the right thing be happy – you are on the right path.

* * * *


Why should you chuck a Microsoft or IBM and be on your own?

Why should you chuck a Microsoft or IBM and be on your own?, Published on 2014-08-24

First things first – If you think you are smart, capable and have fire to succeed, read on.

A formal employment gives, or at least is supposed to give three things:

  • Job security
  • Identity with a name card with title and a company name
  • Monthly cash flow to sustain living expenses and/ or to create assets.

Let us take one thing at a time –

  1. Job security: This used to be true in the 1950s and to some extent in the 80s in most parts of the world. Today, as anyone can vouch – no company gives you that job security. The very fact Lehman and lay-offs by GM, Microsoft, and IBM in 2008 and thereafter only proves that job security is fallacy.
  2. Identity: I agree – a business card and title does give one a sense of social status. More so in some Asian communities where you’re Job Title defines your invitation to a neighbour’s birthday party. Why would you not achieve the same if you start your own company and become the CEO or its Managing Partner? You have just given yourself a title and a job scope, which you have always wanted.

You may well argue about the other aspect of identity is a “company brand” or “revenues” of the company. Think about it – these top Wall Street banks just crumbled. General Motors and Chryslers reported pathetic performance, they just could not get a single act right. HP, Yahoo or IBM continues to fumble for years and none of those fancily paid CEOs or their top management team seem to have a clue to fix things. You sure are better than those CEOs when you can run your own company. At least you not betray public trust and put thousands of livelihoods in jeopardy. In your personal evaluation, your worth needs to be better than what you think by being an appendage to someone else’s.

  1. Financial: Monthly cash flow is clearly the most rational reasoning and has a practical implication. One needs money, to run their homes, pay bills, mortgage, and children’s education and get food on the table. If one were to calculate the real costs of these with a level of practicality – just go back and check your current bank reserves and re-prioritize. Most people in middle and senior management should be well off. I have seen that most can live well, without a job for even 5-10 years, with fairly good quality of life style. That is good enough time to get out there, try and experiment and create the next Facebook or at worst, if all fails – we always have the ‘employment’ option ever ready. More so since it appreciates risk takers.

Does that give instil some confidence? You are far richer than you think you are and far more capable than you can imagine.

Go get cracking!


Update January 2016: Related articles on LinkedIn “8 Reasons to Turn Entrepreneur in 2016“, and the next “8 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Fail” 


12 Laws of the New Marketing

12 LAWS OF THE NEW MARKETING, Published on 2014-09-23 07:30

Recently, I was in addressing a group of senior marketers including CMOs and industry bigwigs. When discussion moved towards the ‘new marketing’, the room was filled with animated conversations on how excited they were, to be on social media. The chatter could broadly be summarized on these four lines, nothing more.

  • “We are on Facebook”.
  • “I (CMO) have a Twitter Account”.
  • “We have asked our marketing team to post all our launches on Facebook”.
  • “We hired a company that got us 3000 followers on Twitter”.

It is appreciable that they are thinking new-online-media, I was equally surprised to see that beyond those words, the ‘new-marketing’ had not changed much in the last decade. Most think of marketing as if we were in the 1960s – campaign planning, events, features, pipeline, sales stages and 1800-numbers – the core thinking had not changed.

This article is an attempt to share on how the laws of marketing have changed over the last decade, rapidly so in the last couple of years. It is not surprising that marketers are increasingly finding themselves irrelevant and customers are obnoxiously disillusioned with marketers.

A presence on a Facebook and Twitter and WhatsApp is only means to an end. What then are the ends? In this article I am going to focus on 12 simple laws that are applicable today more than ever before. Technology and social media makes it possible to adapt and adopt these laws with alacrity and ease.

The question you may want to ask yourself is “Do I have the will to change my perspective?” If you are game, read on.

Law #1 Th!nk engagements. RIP events

The days of holding mega events are long gone. Today your user wants to be engaged. Engaged with them. Period. They want you to be participate constructively in the decision making process. Events usually end up as one-way-traffic activity where the company talks about themselves and their products and audience made to just sit and wait and watch that circus. Today, physical boundaries have disappeared, and what you must think are online and offline engagements that you can have with your customers and prospects.

Law #2 Th!nk relevance; RIP specifications

Easier said than done, relevance is what matters. In this age where consumers can find your product specifications on the Internet whenever they want. What is important is to be relevant to that segment. The rest will follow.

Law #3 Th!nk qualified leads; RIP event attendees

Attendees in an event mean nothing. The measure of success for a marketer should be on the ‘qualified’ leads that sales can pursue. While, it is easier to use attendees as a metric, it is not the metric that your sales team will be proud of.

Law #4 Th!nk demand; RIP pipeline

The current models drive towards pipeline and sales stage. With the new models where the purchaser is constantly moving ahead in the ‘buying cycle’, because of their friends, family and social media, it is time to start focusing on creating demand. Pipeline will follow.

Law #5 Th!nk buying stages; RIP sales stages

Sales stages is a passé. It presumes that the company is controlling the sale because of their sales systems. This could not be farther from the truth. Today’s customers have their own ‘buying stages’ – from realizing need, being aware about the product, to understanding what it can do, to knowing how others are using to solve their problem, and what to expect – they have their own methods and evaluation stages. Think on how you will address the concerns in the buying stages.

Law #6 Th!nk pain resolution; RIP product feature

This is a cliché, but still relevant. You may just want to pick a newspaper, magazine or website ad and see the number of marketers that spend millions in imposing on you there product features. Did you ever care? As marketer, you must address this import question for your customer – WIIFM – (What is in it for me?) and you will never regret.

Law #7 Th!nk buyer concerns; RIP sales actions

The largest of companies still think and measure sales actions. The questions on their sales cadence is almost always on if the sales person has made the presentation, submitted proposal, given price quote. Try changing the metric to addressing buyer concerns by asking questions like ‘have we addressed his core pain’, ‘have we addressed his secondary pain’, ‘Have we given a solution in their budget’, ‘Does the customer feel assured that we will be with him’?. Tough questions, tough answers.

Law #8 Th!nk available; RIP reach out!

Being available is being able to provide the information, support or service when they want it where they want it. A lot of water has flown since the days when corporates said, I will reach out to my 100,000 users or 1000 customers. You must be available when they reach-out, not the other way round.

Law #9 Th!nk social online; RIP exclusive offline

We started with this. Being social online is not about having a Facebook account. It means engaging in conversations, solving problems and available online when they want it, on the medium they want. The words say it all – social: are you interacting and being sociable and; online- you are there when they need it and where they need it. Being exclusive may seem to work for exclusive million dollar cars and watches, but even for them, if your users are talking unflattering reviews online, you need to jump-in and fix it.

Law #10 Th!nk byte size message; RIP eight-page collateral

If you cannot communicate relevance and connect in 140 characters – forget it. In this day and age, users have a fleeting look on the headline and in all probability read no further. They research at their own convenience and seldom have time to read more than what is on the first screen of the mobile. So think communicating in that space, connecting, creating interest and assuring. Well 8-page collateral will be just that – for them to research and when they need to dig deeper. Coincidentally, and not surprisingly, the ones that spend time ‘reading’ your 8-page-collateral are already a super qualified lead.

Law #11 Th!nk enable and engage; RIP sell and scoot

Enable your prospects to make the right choice. Be a part of their decision making process. The days of sell and scoot are long gone and have taken many companies down in the last decade than ever in history.

Law #12 Th!nk informed decision making; RIP sell at any cost

Give your prospects the tools and links to that will help them in better decision making. Total-ownership-cost calculator, Mortgage Calculator, industry white papers, whatever helps. Be honest and guide them, unless you are a fly-by-night operator.

These are the 12 laws of the new marketing, are you listening?