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7 Bulletproof Business Fundamentals Needed for Success

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Have you ever seen those “top books to read for cs” lists? It’s frustrating to see 50+ books that you have to finish reading before moving on with your startup. They make you feel like, if you don’t read them a disaster will happen.

Although that is somewhat true. I have good news for you. You don’t have to read them all! I’m going to give you 7 of the most powerful tips needed for a great start. But, am I giving you everything you have to know? Of course NOT, and that’s where the bad news comes in…

You will have to read them eventually, but just to buy you some time I’ve summarized the important starting points from all the books I’ve read, so you can get a well-informed head start. I’m doing this so you can start now and stop with the “I have to learn” excuses. Sound good? Then, get a pen and paper because you’re going to be starting sooner than you think.

Here are the seven bulletproof business fundamentals needed for success:

1. It’s all a test

You won’t get everything right the first time. Many entrepreneurs think they’ve failed whenever their product doesn’t work out. It feels terrible… I know. You work for months on a product and then no one buys it. In fact, that’s why they tell you to launch as soon as you can.

So, you can get feedback and update your product fast. Listen to feedback carefully, modify the product and then launch again. Keep repeating this process until you get better and better. You’ll never stop enhancing it since nothing will ever be perfect. Remember that a startup is an experiment lab and there’s always something to improve.

You just have to improve one thing at a time. Oh yeah, one more thing… Don’t just accept feedback. Rather you should demand it and reward for it!

 

2. Give them the fish

Customers don’t want to learn how it’s done. Let me give you an example, imagine you enter a barbershop and the barber gives you scissors and teaches you how to cut your own hair. I’m guessing, you wouldn’t be happy at all. All you wanted was to get a quick haircut and then get out of there. Right? You don’t want to learn how to cut hair. You want your haircut. That’s why you should never teach your customers how to fish. Instead, sell the fish to them!

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs

3. Target, Lock and engage

Be specific. Don’t try to do everything and don’t try to target everyone. If you think your product is too general then make it specific. I don’t care if you’re selling pizza or an online course.

Here’s an example, Would you rather be a bodybuilder’s pizza restaurant or just the next boring pizza restaurant? Obviously the first one because it stands out and it’s specific. Bodybuilders who love pizza will rush right through your doors because you told them that this place is for them, you focused on them and you welcomed them. Unlike the general pizza place that makes them feel like the next customer. When you specifically create something for someone they will feel special.

That’s not all. Have you ever considered how much it would cost to promote your products to everyone?  Hint: A LOT! Selling to everyone isn’t logical either. I mean, you wouldn’t try to sell a car to a 10 year old or candy to a 70 year old, would you? Ok, you get the point.

 

4. Playing the monopoly game

If you really want to make it big in the business, you need to have an advantage. Not just a tiny advantage, but, a great one. You need to stand out and be different. Remember that bodybuilder’s pizza place I told you about? That stands out to bodybuilders like no other pizza place ever will.

Contrary to what you learnt at school, competition is actually a bad thing and you need to try your best to avoid it. Exactly like the bodybuilder’s pizza place did. They differentiated themselves from the competition and began operating in the bodybuilder’s pizza market. It is a pretty small niche market, but they now have a monopoly in it.

As long as no one starts competing with them early on and they scale fast, they’ll still be the dominant business in the market. So what’s so bad about competition?

The problem with competition is that it wastes people’s efforts and forces them to survive rather than innovate. Innovation is what keeps our economy moving forward. Look at all the huge companies out there that are taking lead in all the innovation, they all have some kind of monopoly.

For example, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Each of those companies have a monopoly:

  • According to Smartinsights, Facebook owns 80% of the social network market.
  • According to Theeword, Google owns just over 88% of the search engine market.
  • According to Time, Microsoft owns just over 90% of the computer operating systems market (not for smartphones).

Although no company owns 100%, they do own the majority share and that’s what makes them super successful. However, these companies did not start big. They took over a small market and then scaled up from there (just like the pizza place). Facebook became popular in Harvard College then other colleges and then the whole world. It didn’t take over the whole world over night. The same with Google and the rest of the world’s largest companies. That’s exactly what you should do too.

 

Competitive-Advantage
 

5. How much will you get paid exactly?

Your income is proportional to the value you provide. First, let’s define value. Value simply put is answering the following question: How can I help people more? That means the more you help people the more you’ll get paid in return. It’s as simple as that. Whenever you want to create a product, always ask yourself, how can I help my target customer even more? Just make sure it’s something they really need help with.

 

6. What’s in it for me?

Who cares about features! People want to know what’s in it for them. What benefit do they get out of it? What problem does it solve for them? There are two types of benefits, logical and emotional (also known as the head and the heart benefits). People simultaneously weigh whether something fits well, is affordable, addresses a need – head part – and whether it makes them happy, look good and loved – heart part.

Features fall into the logical part. As an entrepreneur you should figure out what emotional needs you can fulfill along with the logical ones. You’ll stand out when you do that since a lot of entrepreneurs only focus on logical features. Remember, the power of emotions!

 

7. Are they talking about you?

You’ve probably heard of “word of mouth” or referral marketing and it’s greatness. That’s true, every business needs some sort of “word of mouth” marketing especially in the start.

Want to know how NOT to get it? Be boring! People don’t talk about boring. Have you ever talked to someone about what you had for breakfast last week? No, you wouldn’t even care to remember it, let alone talk about it. But, you can guess it was probably the same old boring breakfast.

Want to know how to get people to talk about you? By surprising customers. That’s because people talk about surprising out of the ordinary experiences. It usually sounds a bit like this:

“You can’t believe what happened yesterday! I ordered a Latte from the XYZ café and oh man, the interior design is just out of this world, I’ve never seen anything like it. I even got a free blueberry muffin and it was the best muffin I’ve ever tasted. You should really go and check it out.”

It doesn’t have to be something too big and expensive. In fact, it shouldn’t. Something as little as a hand written thank you card or tiny gift will go a long way. Whatever you do make sure you’re not boring, otherwise everyone will forget about you.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs

So there you have it. The 7 business fundamentals needed to run a successful business. Nevertheless, knowing them won’t help. You need to act!  You can read all the books you want, but it won’t mean anything if you’re not taking action.

Write them on a notepad and refer to them whenever you’re making your business decisions. It’s not what you know, it’s what you do that counts. If you don’t act now, someone else reading this post will.

Which tip do you think is the most important and why? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Zak Mustapha is a marketer and the founder of Foolishness File on a lifelong mission to help entrepreneurs learn from other entrepreneur’s mistakes so they can advance faster than others. Download his free eBook: 3 Common Marketing Mistakes You Can Stop Making Today to Humanize Your Brand.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Brickwork India

    Aug 9, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Hi Zak!

    The points you mentioned are Actionable, Relevant, Retainable! .

    Wonderful stuff!

  2. Zak Mustapha

    Dec 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Hey Evan,

    Really liked Charlie Munger’s “riding the wave theory”, sounds interesting. I’ll make sure to read about it.

    Thanks for your input and I’m glad you liked the article.

    Kind Regards,

    Zak Mustapha

  3. Evan

    Dec 14, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Zak,

    Thank you for this article.

    It’s superb.

    I appreciate the actionable qualities of it and I learned a lot. Number 4 in my opinion is the most important part, because like the bodybuilder’s pizza shop, you should start small, dominate a niche and then aim to take over the market by monopolizing. This is a huge plain-sight secret that I’m sure most do not know about. I spoke about this brand strategy too when I wrote my article on beating yourself – the competition is you!

    All of the major brands did this, they grabbed an important part of the market they wanted as sort of a land-grab in the beginning, then built their moat. Charlie Munger often talks about this “riding the wave theory” because you get in early, build your moat and then you’re surfing on it for a long time because you were keen enough to spot the opportunity.

    Great insights, and I also really like the first point. Everything takes so much longer than we think it will and things go down so roughly the first time.

    If we’re willing to stick the right thing out long enough, we will prosper.

    Thanks again!

    – Evan

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Startups

10 Small Startups That You Can Build on Your Own Right Now

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Having a business of our own is a dream that is very obvious and common all throughout. With the rise in startups and funding options, the market is blooming with successful entrepreneurs. And rightly so! But many ambitious people are seen dropping out of their dream of building a business only because of the funds involved in setting up one! We forget to acknowledge that the idea if planned and executed well, is strong enough to pull in all the investments.

Both Facebook and Microsoft started as very small business ideas and we all know the fate of them in today’s world. The basic idea is to invest your idea and build your own brand out of it. There is a market for startups that is constantly evolving with different niches.

So for anybody looking to start small yet efficient, here’s a list of 10 small startups that you can build on your own as per the current scenario:

1. Blogging/ Vlogging

In the past few years of digitalization, this has emerged as one of the top-notch money-making investments. The cost involved is as meagre as it can get, but the returns are particularly amazing.

Before starting to blog, one has to invest in a domain name and hosting whereas, for vlogging in platforms like youtube, there is no money involved. All it takes is an expertise in any field and the confidence to present it in the best engaging way possible. Bloggers earn through a lot of collaborations and affiliate marketing whereas youtube itself pays it’s users when they reach a good set of engagement through content.

2. Baking

If baking is your passion, it can very well be your profession. Your only big investment is a good oven and then, your skills do the magic! If you’re enthusiastic about baking, you can prepare cakes, muffins, cookies, and homemade bakery items.

The market for this has huge potential as customers are always experimenting on taste and are looking for the best customization. By posting your bakery items online, you can directly connect with your customers and provide economical solutions as per your brand.

3. Stylist

With the rise in competition amongst folks to be more presentable, personal stylists stand a great chance in the market. Most everyday individuals are trying hard to keep a great profile at their display due to the increased demand for visibility.

Coordinating your makeup, your hair, and your dress for the perfect occasion calls for expert advice, and the expert advice comes with money! So put your styling sense on display and get yourself great customers.

4. Developer

This is one of the highest demanding markets if you have the skill for it! A new app or a website is getting developed all the time. From small businesses to public figures to bigger enterprises, everybody has an online presence for their brand. Web developers and App developers are hence, almost every entrepreneurs “go-to” person. The investment is null if knowledge is not counted as one if you already have a good system to back up your codes.

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” – John Wooden

5. Event Planning

Starting up with an event management company requires a dedicated human resource with a knack of marketing and networking skills. You could start your office at your home before you earn enough to expand it.

Event planning has become a need in almost every household to offices for it gives people the liberty to enjoy their event without thinking much of it. Event planning is hence a rescue measure nobody forgets to take!

6. Professional Photography

With Facebook and Instagram taking a toll on people, the demand for enriching and captivating pictures has hit people enormously.

People tend to pay chunks of money for video shoots and detailed photography to capture their big days. As a professional photographer, you are in demand for great projects!

7. Interior Designing

A dream home is always designed as per the customer’s choice. And today, almost every house purchased includes the customer getting its interior designed well for their convenience. Interior designers with a decent outreach in the market are a business of their own! The only requirement is to understand the needs and use your own creativity to earn out of it.

8. Food truck

Food at an affordable rate, and one that pleases your taste buds never goes out of fashion. A cafe or a restaurant is out of budget for most people, but renting a food truck along with a good cook is not only trendy but also a cheap investment.

Food trucks have been in the market for quite some time now and are a great spot for food lovers. A food truck also has an advantage of mobility and hence, is a great business idea that can attract crowds.

9. Tutoring

Are you good with understanding psychology and teaching methods? Then this is an exclusive business plan for anybody willing to invest the time. There is a need for quality learning methods and a greater understanding of subjects whether it is a school course, music, or an art. There is almost no investment in teaching except for the time spent. And hence, this is the most cost-effective business.

“Don’t think about your errors or failures; otherwise, you’ll never do a thing.” – Bill Murray

10. Travel agency

A home based travel agency would cost very little since it has to be tied up with a host agency. The time is such that most of the people are at least planning a tour once in a year on average. The cost of setting up a travel agency is less but the commission earned is really worth more than the investment. It is one such happy-go-lucky businesses out in the market!

Every business has its own share of failures and successes. There are a lot of myths associated with starting a new business that you will come across but you should be careful to ditch them. You will understand it only when you give it a try. Try something new, and you’ll never know where it might go.

Which one of these 10 startup ideas resonates most with you and why? Let us know your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Startups

Working With A Bad Boss Is The Real Soul-Crushing Dream Killer

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Bad bosses are ruining great companies all over the world. The problem is not the people it’s the bosses that they work for.

You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had one of these bad bosses.

  • They micromanage
  • They promise the world and deliver nothing
  • They overload you and know you’re going to fail
  • They never listen
  • They’re always too busy (busy doing meetings aka socializing)
  • They never back you in performance conversations
  • They get angry at you when you’re doing your best

I could go on for hours.

BAD BOSSES SUCK and are destroying otherwise great companies.


My bad boss

I’m lucky. I’ve only had one bad boss.

This boss would complain to everyone about how bad the company was. He told everyone he wanted to leave except me. I asked him several times and he lied to me. His only trick to motivate me was to remind me that bonus time was right around the corner.

Somehow that bonus was supposed to make up for the fact we hated going to work and it was soul-crushing.

Everything this boss taught me was wrong.

Stab your colleagues in the back on their way out. Bag other bosses and then pretend you didn’t. Never support your team’s personal goals outside of work.

For around six months, while this bad bosses reign of terror lasted, no one wanted to come to work. The best part about work was going home. Even better was long weekends and any excuse not to have to talk with him.

The company had a good name and quality products but the culture had spiraled out of control. This bad boss had become one of many.Conversations at work became nothing more than weekly meetings where everyone would go through what they did and have KPI conversations. It was demoralizing.

I tried to tell him that I discovered a major client was leaving. He ignored it and told me I was wrong. I gave him clear evidence. He still denied it — until the client finally left.


Titles, salaries and bonuses are not enough

Who gives a damn about all of that.

These things feel good for about a day and then they become nothing more than trivial pursuits that don’t mean anything at the end of the day.

Titles, salaries and bonuses are like dog treats used to lure dogs into obeying orders. Is it really acceptable to treat humans in this way and reward them like incentivized dogs that should do as they’re told and roll over?

I’ve had some good bonuses in my career. The best year was when I made no bonus and got the girl I’d always dreamed about.

I’ve had some awesome job titles in my career. The best title was the one of leader which was given to me by the internet after I spent years inspiring people through personal development and entrepreneurship. The titles you appreciate are the ones that don’t describe a department or area of a business.

I’ve had some awesome salaries too. The difference between five figures and six figures is hardly noticeable. I didn’t suddenly go from homeless to driving a Ferrari. In fact, when I had less, I appreciated it so much more. Saving up to buy an iPad felt like a huge achievement.

There are too many bad bosses waffling on about KPI’s and incentives and not enough trying to show their people how to find meaning in their life and do work they love. That’s the work of a good boss”


How do you escape a bad boss?

“Having a bad boss isn’t your fault. Staying with one is” — Nora Denzel

Take responsibility. Do something about your bad boss. Change departments or change companies. Whatever you do don’t give your boss the thumbs up by sticking around. Instead, give them the quiet middle finger and get your ass out of there as quickly as you can.

It’s your responsibility to vote with your career and show them who’s not your boss.

Respect yourself too. Escaping your bad boss is less about them and more about you. If you respect yourself, you’ll escape. It’s not prison. You can use platforms like LinkedIn to find another career. There’s lots of nice people out there that will help you escape your bad boss if you’ll just have the courage to ask them.


Nothing will kill your dreams quicker than a bad boss.

A bad boss can affect you more than you realize. They make you feel sick, they make you lack energy and they don’t support you thus killing your goals and dreams.

You need a good boss that’s willing to let you do projects, do good work, and meet people that are aligned with your dreams. Not working towards your goals each day at work kills your motivation. Keeping a bad boss happy is soul-crushing.

You need positivity, advice, coaching, and the right people to achieve your personal goals. A bad boss is never going to listen to any of that because they are all about themselves and their KPI’s.

Stick KPI’s where the sun don’t shine. No person has ever been or ever will be genuinely motivated by that three letter acronym ‘KPI’ that you bolster on about until we all want to fall asleep”


What does a good boss look like?

Really simple everybody:

  1. They respect you first and you respect them back.
  2. They trust people to do the job and support you to do so
  3. They don’t give you the answer they help you find it for yourself
  4. They have emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion oozing out of them
  5. They appreciate the work you do and the challenges you face
  6. They’ll never ask you to do something they’re not prepared to do themselves (i.e., managers that don’t talk to clients)
  7. They help you to grow by giving you challenges aligned to your own goals

I’ve had many good bosses that follow this format. One such boss got me to attend Toastmasters which not only helped my public speaking but built my confidence.

This same good boss also allowed me to work one day in social media. He’s the reason I now work a four day week, so I can continue that tradition of working one day entirely on social media.


A message for the bad bosses of the world.

You can’t hide any longer.

People are catching on to the fact they can choose any company they want to work for.

“LinkedIn now provides us with endless opportunities to get the hell away from you and meet good bosses”

As freedom in the working world spreads, bad bosses are going to be ignored and therefore be forced into hiding and made extinct like the dinosaurs. Bad bosses, we’re coming for you!

We’re going to silence you through leaving your ass behind.
We’re going to encourage others to do the same.
We’re going to choose ourselves first.

There’s no excuse to be a bad boss….ever.

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Startups

4 Simple Ways to Transform Your Startup Into a Success

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Who said for a startup to become a success it must struggle for years? If planned and executed smartly, any startup can sail on the ship of success without any hurdles.

There are many myths associated with startups like ‘It has to be small because it is a startup,’ or ‘You just need an idea and the rest will follow,’ or even, ‘Investing in marketing or advertising for a startup is a waste”. Just because a startup is something new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for people too.

There are thousands of others with your same idea already out there in the market. Hence, for your startup to climb the ladder of success as soon as you roll the dice, you better get the right figures i.e you better do what you need to do in the right manner and proportion. Confused? Let us make it more clear to you.

One of the most often quoted statistics is that 50% of all startups fail to survive even five years. And the reasons for their downfalls are so silly that later they repent only if they had taken care of it at the beginning itself, the startup could have survived. A post-mortem of 287 Startups was carried out by CBInsights among which, the common reasons of startup failure that emerged out were:

  • Lack of focus, motivation, commitment and passion
  • The eagerness of scaling too fast
  • Floating with pride and spending a lot
  • Ignoring good pieces of advice and falling into the wrong company
  • Lack of general and domain-specific business knowledge: finance, operations, and marketing and experience
  • Investing blunders and running out of cash
  • Improper budgeting
  • No getting market exposure
  • Poor product/service
  • No business plan/strategy
  • No/Poor marketing
  • Focusing only on profit and not on customers

For a startup to succeed, money and ideas are not enough, it needs a lot of input from your side as well to grow and survive, like your passion, commitment, willingness to adjust, patience and persistence, observation, relationship with all and basic knowledge and skill. But above all, professionalism is the most important factor. Starting small and new is nothing to be taken lightly. How you interact with your investors, clients or customers, matters, after all, they are the one who will make or break your startup.

Here are the 4 simple ways that will reflect your professionalism as well as turn your startup into a success:

1. Two heads are better than one

Go get a co-founder. Studies show that a startup with two founders significantly increases the odds of success. How? Because two balanced and fully invested partners can keep the startup going on their shoulders equally well. A co-founder means you will have someone to rely on, share the load, chip in during critical times, handle responsibilities, motivate each other and so on. In the end, so what you will have to share the fruit of success, at least your startup will have a balanced support which will prevent it from drowning in the future.

Take for example the Mistay Founder Pranav Prabhakar who believes that, “Multiple founders with complementary skills bring in wider perspective to the team. While taking key decisions and at high-pressure situations, it’s always preferable to have someone who can provide support and an alternative perspective,” and hence has Sandeep Jaiswal as the co-founder of Mistay.

According to Sandeep, ‘A co-founder makes it easy to navigate through tough times. A partner with complimenting skill-sets and different style of thinking is important to help avoid mistakes one would otherwise make, he stressed. So having a co-founder is like an extra support for your startup.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

2. Get a website/app or both

If you are thinking an investment into web/app is a big waste of money, then hello, it’s 2018 and today from kids to oldies, everyone is constantly browsing either on a desktop/laptop or on mobile. Your potential customers, clients and investors are out there on all platforms and to make them learn about your startup, you must have a website or app of yours ready.

If you are still worried about the budget, for starters, host your site on WordPress which is the most popular CMS of the planet. Its versatility and possibilities are endless which you can take benefit of or go for professional pre-made website templates that easily available at affordable prices.

3. Let people know

Branding and marketing both are lifelines for a business and just because you are a startup doesn’t mean you can survive without them. Branding means establishing a professional presence in both online and offline medium. Make your company logo, colour and other identities visible everywhere as much as possible. Give your clients pens, diaries or other stationary items with your company logo, this will remind them of your great service.

Also, spend rightly on marketing even if you are running a single campaign, make it an effective one that creates an impact on the people. Don’t forget to check whether the market is right for your product/service. Marketing at the right time only will prove beneficial. For eg., marketing your summer clothes brand during winter is useless.

4. Deliver what you promised

Sticking with your word creates your professional image and even a slight slip in it will bring down your startup empire. Nothing is more irritating than a business failing to deliver what it promised. Don’t brag about anything it will only lose your potential customers, stain your reputation and in a worse scenario, get you in legal troubles. First, deliver what you told them you can gradually add and inform them if you wish to serve more. Until and unless, as a startup, don’t try to go overboard and create a mess of everything.

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Turning an idea from concept to production is no cakewalk. The eagerness to establish into a giant is understandable, but, why take unnecessary big risks and crash in the end? Better study the market first, define what new you are giving, plan at its best, execute smartly and enjoy the rewards.

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Don’t Let The New Person Have Lunch By Themselves.

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I joined a new company two weeks ago. I’ve been the new person at work many times before — I know what it feels like. A new workplace is scary, overwhelming and challenging.

What I’m about to share with you makes me incredibly emotional and it’s very close to my heart.

During the week I saw someone else, who was also new, having lunch by themselves.

They walked through the big grey door by themselves, took one look over at all the tables, and then headed towards a table in the corner away from everybody. My heart sunk.

I knew what he was going through and it wasn’t easy. Right as he walked through the door, I was in the middle of a conversation.

Mid-sentence, I said:
“Excuse me for just a second. I’ll be right back.”

People sitting on my table looked at me funny. They knew I was odd and did weird stuff. They were trying to figure out what I was about to do in their own minds.

I’ve always been told that leadership is not about being the boss but setting the right example

I walked over to the other side of the lunchroom. I said:

“Would you like to come over and have lunch with us?”

I wanted him to feel part of the team. The first couple of weeks in any career are make or break — I should know given my recent exit from finance after seven years.


I know what it’s like to be the new person.

I was the new person in insurance.
Then I was the new person in business banking.
Then I was the new person in eCommerce.

Each time I was the new person I felt scared, incredibly fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and self-conscious. Not much has changed really. I still feel like that which is why I’m obsessed with being part of the solution.

The solution is this:

“Don’t let the new person have lunch by themselves.”

Taking the time to make people feel included and like they matter makes a difference. You could be the difference between a new person staying and having an epic time at work, or giving up in the first few months.


The difference is even bigger than you think.

What do I mean? If being the new person doesn’t go well, it can lead to many issues that you may not have realized. The new person could become lonely; the new person could underachieve and be fired; the new person could struggle to make friends.

These issues could lead to a failed career or not being able to pay bills or even mental illness.

As a worst case scenario, these issues could even lead to suicide. The difference of helping that one person to have lunch with the team could be far greater than you realize.


Inclusion is how we cure loneliness.

Loneliness is why we have social media, dating apps and cafes.

No one wants to be that person having lunch by themselves because they feel like they’re not enough or can’t fit in.

The cure to loneliness is inclusion”

You can be the difference by encouraging inclusion.

Be the leader and set the example of inclusion.

Embrace differences in culture, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Stopping someone from having lunch by themselves will teach you far more about life that you might think. Bottom line is this: we’re all the answer. Be inclusive.


One sentence can change everything.

That one sentence “Hey would you like to join us for lunch?” means more than you think. You were the new person once. I was the new person too.

That one sentence can change someone’s perspective.

It’s not about lunch buddies; it’s about leading with heart and being a good human being.

It’s what you must do. Next time you see someone having lunch by themselves, invite them over. If they are too shy to come over, sit down with them and have lunch together.

It’s the simple hacks like this that will change your reality.

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80 Albert Einstein Quotes to Inspire You For Life

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Albert Einstein is recognized around the world as one of the most iconic and intelligent minds ever.  From his fantastic scientific discoveries, to the hardships he endured during his life; Einstein shared a lot of wisdom and insight on life, people, and the world in general

(more…)

Joe Kleckner has a passion for all things motivation & self-development.  From blogs such as Addicted2Success, to the videos of Eric Thomas and Elliott Hulse, to the lectures of legends such as Tony Robbins.  This passion has landed him an internship with Addicted2Success. Follow him on Twitter & Snapchat as he journeys towards greatness, one day at a time.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Brickwork India

    Aug 9, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Hi Zak!

    The points you mentioned are Actionable, Relevant, Retainable! .

    Wonderful stuff!

  2. Zak Mustapha

    Dec 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Hey Evan,

    Really liked Charlie Munger’s “riding the wave theory”, sounds interesting. I’ll make sure to read about it.

    Thanks for your input and I’m glad you liked the article.

    Kind Regards,

    Zak Mustapha

  3. Evan

    Dec 14, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Zak,

    Thank you for this article.

    It’s superb.

    I appreciate the actionable qualities of it and I learned a lot. Number 4 in my opinion is the most important part, because like the bodybuilder’s pizza shop, you should start small, dominate a niche and then aim to take over the market by monopolizing. This is a huge plain-sight secret that I’m sure most do not know about. I spoke about this brand strategy too when I wrote my article on beating yourself – the competition is you!

    All of the major brands did this, they grabbed an important part of the market they wanted as sort of a land-grab in the beginning, then built their moat. Charlie Munger often talks about this “riding the wave theory” because you get in early, build your moat and then you’re surfing on it for a long time because you were keen enough to spot the opportunity.

    Great insights, and I also really like the first point. Everything takes so much longer than we think it will and things go down so roughly the first time.

    If we’re willing to stick the right thing out long enough, we will prosper.

    Thanks again!

    – Evan

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Startups

10 Small Startups That You Can Build on Your Own Right Now

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Having a business of our own is a dream that is very obvious and common all throughout. With the rise in startups and funding options, the market is blooming with successful entrepreneurs. And rightly so! But many ambitious people are seen dropping out of their dream of building a business only because of the funds involved in setting up one! We forget to acknowledge that the idea if planned and executed well, is strong enough to pull in all the investments.

Both Facebook and Microsoft started as very small business ideas and we all know the fate of them in today’s world. The basic idea is to invest your idea and build your own brand out of it. There is a market for startups that is constantly evolving with different niches.

So for anybody looking to start small yet efficient, here’s a list of 10 small startups that you can build on your own as per the current scenario:

1. Blogging/ Vlogging

In the past few years of digitalization, this has emerged as one of the top-notch money-making investments. The cost involved is as meagre as it can get, but the returns are particularly amazing.

Before starting to blog, one has to invest in a domain name and hosting whereas, for vlogging in platforms like youtube, there is no money involved. All it takes is an expertise in any field and the confidence to present it in the best engaging way possible. Bloggers earn through a lot of collaborations and affiliate marketing whereas youtube itself pays it’s users when they reach a good set of engagement through content.

2. Baking

If baking is your passion, it can very well be your profession. Your only big investment is a good oven and then, your skills do the magic! If you’re enthusiastic about baking, you can prepare cakes, muffins, cookies, and homemade bakery items.

The market for this has huge potential as customers are always experimenting on taste and are looking for the best customization. By posting your bakery items online, you can directly connect with your customers and provide economical solutions as per your brand.

3. Stylist

With the rise in competition amongst folks to be more presentable, personal stylists stand a great chance in the market. Most everyday individuals are trying hard to keep a great profile at their display due to the increased demand for visibility.

Coordinating your makeup, your hair, and your dress for the perfect occasion calls for expert advice, and the expert advice comes with money! So put your styling sense on display and get yourself great customers.

4. Developer

This is one of the highest demanding markets if you have the skill for it! A new app or a website is getting developed all the time. From small businesses to public figures to bigger enterprises, everybody has an online presence for their brand. Web developers and App developers are hence, almost every entrepreneurs “go-to” person. The investment is null if knowledge is not counted as one if you already have a good system to back up your codes.

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” – John Wooden

5. Event Planning

Starting up with an event management company requires a dedicated human resource with a knack of marketing and networking skills. You could start your office at your home before you earn enough to expand it.

Event planning has become a need in almost every household to offices for it gives people the liberty to enjoy their event without thinking much of it. Event planning is hence a rescue measure nobody forgets to take!

6. Professional Photography

With Facebook and Instagram taking a toll on people, the demand for enriching and captivating pictures has hit people enormously.

People tend to pay chunks of money for video shoots and detailed photography to capture their big days. As a professional photographer, you are in demand for great projects!

7. Interior Designing

A dream home is always designed as per the customer’s choice. And today, almost every house purchased includes the customer getting its interior designed well for their convenience. Interior designers with a decent outreach in the market are a business of their own! The only requirement is to understand the needs and use your own creativity to earn out of it.

8. Food truck

Food at an affordable rate, and one that pleases your taste buds never goes out of fashion. A cafe or a restaurant is out of budget for most people, but renting a food truck along with a good cook is not only trendy but also a cheap investment.

Food trucks have been in the market for quite some time now and are a great spot for food lovers. A food truck also has an advantage of mobility and hence, is a great business idea that can attract crowds.

9. Tutoring

Are you good with understanding psychology and teaching methods? Then this is an exclusive business plan for anybody willing to invest the time. There is a need for quality learning methods and a greater understanding of subjects whether it is a school course, music, or an art. There is almost no investment in teaching except for the time spent. And hence, this is the most cost-effective business.

“Don’t think about your errors or failures; otherwise, you’ll never do a thing.” – Bill Murray

10. Travel agency

A home based travel agency would cost very little since it has to be tied up with a host agency. The time is such that most of the people are at least planning a tour once in a year on average. The cost of setting up a travel agency is less but the commission earned is really worth more than the investment. It is one such happy-go-lucky businesses out in the market!

Every business has its own share of failures and successes. There are a lot of myths associated with starting a new business that you will come across but you should be careful to ditch them. You will understand it only when you give it a try. Try something new, and you’ll never know where it might go.

Which one of these 10 startup ideas resonates most with you and why? Let us know your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Startups

Working With A Bad Boss Is The Real Soul-Crushing Dream Killer

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Bad bosses are ruining great companies all over the world. The problem is not the people it’s the bosses that they work for.

You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had one of these bad bosses.

  • They micromanage
  • They promise the world and deliver nothing
  • They overload you and know you’re going to fail
  • They never listen
  • They’re always too busy (busy doing meetings aka socializing)
  • They never back you in performance conversations
  • They get angry at you when you’re doing your best

I could go on for hours.

BAD BOSSES SUCK and are destroying otherwise great companies.


My bad boss

I’m lucky. I’ve only had one bad boss.

This boss would complain to everyone about how bad the company was. He told everyone he wanted to leave except me. I asked him several times and he lied to me. His only trick to motivate me was to remind me that bonus time was right around the corner.

Somehow that bonus was supposed to make up for the fact we hated going to work and it was soul-crushing.

Everything this boss taught me was wrong.

Stab your colleagues in the back on their way out. Bag other bosses and then pretend you didn’t. Never support your team’s personal goals outside of work.

For around six months, while this bad bosses reign of terror lasted, no one wanted to come to work. The best part about work was going home. Even better was long weekends and any excuse not to have to talk with him.

The company had a good name and quality products but the culture had spiraled out of control. This bad boss had become one of many.Conversations at work became nothing more than weekly meetings where everyone would go through what they did and have KPI conversations. It was demoralizing.

I tried to tell him that I discovered a major client was leaving. He ignored it and told me I was wrong. I gave him clear evidence. He still denied it — until the client finally left.


Titles, salaries and bonuses are not enough

Who gives a damn about all of that.

These things feel good for about a day and then they become nothing more than trivial pursuits that don’t mean anything at the end of the day.

Titles, salaries and bonuses are like dog treats used to lure dogs into obeying orders. Is it really acceptable to treat humans in this way and reward them like incentivized dogs that should do as they’re told and roll over?

I’ve had some good bonuses in my career. The best year was when I made no bonus and got the girl I’d always dreamed about.

I’ve had some awesome job titles in my career. The best title was the one of leader which was given to me by the internet after I spent years inspiring people through personal development and entrepreneurship. The titles you appreciate are the ones that don’t describe a department or area of a business.

I’ve had some awesome salaries too. The difference between five figures and six figures is hardly noticeable. I didn’t suddenly go from homeless to driving a Ferrari. In fact, when I had less, I appreciated it so much more. Saving up to buy an iPad felt like a huge achievement.

There are too many bad bosses waffling on about KPI’s and incentives and not enough trying to show their people how to find meaning in their life and do work they love. That’s the work of a good boss”


How do you escape a bad boss?

“Having a bad boss isn’t your fault. Staying with one is” — Nora Denzel

Take responsibility. Do something about your bad boss. Change departments or change companies. Whatever you do don’t give your boss the thumbs up by sticking around. Instead, give them the quiet middle finger and get your ass out of there as quickly as you can.

It’s your responsibility to vote with your career and show them who’s not your boss.

Respect yourself too. Escaping your bad boss is less about them and more about you. If you respect yourself, you’ll escape. It’s not prison. You can use platforms like LinkedIn to find another career. There’s lots of nice people out there that will help you escape your bad boss if you’ll just have the courage to ask them.


Nothing will kill your dreams quicker than a bad boss.

A bad boss can affect you more than you realize. They make you feel sick, they make you lack energy and they don’t support you thus killing your goals and dreams.

You need a good boss that’s willing to let you do projects, do good work, and meet people that are aligned with your dreams. Not working towards your goals each day at work kills your motivation. Keeping a bad boss happy is soul-crushing.

You need positivity, advice, coaching, and the right people to achieve your personal goals. A bad boss is never going to listen to any of that because they are all about themselves and their KPI’s.

Stick KPI’s where the sun don’t shine. No person has ever been or ever will be genuinely motivated by that three letter acronym ‘KPI’ that you bolster on about until we all want to fall asleep”


What does a good boss look like?

Really simple everybody:

  1. They respect you first and you respect them back.
  2. They trust people to do the job and support you to do so
  3. They don’t give you the answer they help you find it for yourself
  4. They have emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion oozing out of them
  5. They appreciate the work you do and the challenges you face
  6. They’ll never ask you to do something they’re not prepared to do themselves (i.e., managers that don’t talk to clients)
  7. They help you to grow by giving you challenges aligned to your own goals

I’ve had many good bosses that follow this format. One such boss got me to attend Toastmasters which not only helped my public speaking but built my confidence.

This same good boss also allowed me to work one day in social media. He’s the reason I now work a four day week, so I can continue that tradition of working one day entirely on social media.


A message for the bad bosses of the world.

You can’t hide any longer.

People are catching on to the fact they can choose any company they want to work for.

“LinkedIn now provides us with endless opportunities to get the hell away from you and meet good bosses”

As freedom in the working world spreads, bad bosses are going to be ignored and therefore be forced into hiding and made extinct like the dinosaurs. Bad bosses, we’re coming for you!

We’re going to silence you through leaving your ass behind.
We’re going to encourage others to do the same.
We’re going to choose ourselves first.

There’s no excuse to be a bad boss….ever.

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Startups

4 Simple Ways to Transform Your Startup Into a Success

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Who said for a startup to become a success it must struggle for years? If planned and executed smartly, any startup can sail on the ship of success without any hurdles.

There are many myths associated with startups like ‘It has to be small because it is a startup,’ or ‘You just need an idea and the rest will follow,’ or even, ‘Investing in marketing or advertising for a startup is a waste”. Just because a startup is something new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for people too.

There are thousands of others with your same idea already out there in the market. Hence, for your startup to climb the ladder of success as soon as you roll the dice, you better get the right figures i.e you better do what you need to do in the right manner and proportion. Confused? Let us make it more clear to you.

One of the most often quoted statistics is that 50% of all startups fail to survive even five years. And the reasons for their downfalls are so silly that later they repent only if they had taken care of it at the beginning itself, the startup could have survived. A post-mortem of 287 Startups was carried out by CBInsights among which, the common reasons of startup failure that emerged out were:

  • Lack of focus, motivation, commitment and passion
  • The eagerness of scaling too fast
  • Floating with pride and spending a lot
  • Ignoring good pieces of advice and falling into the wrong company
  • Lack of general and domain-specific business knowledge: finance, operations, and marketing and experience
  • Investing blunders and running out of cash
  • Improper budgeting
  • No getting market exposure
  • Poor product/service
  • No business plan/strategy
  • No/Poor marketing
  • Focusing only on profit and not on customers

For a startup to succeed, money and ideas are not enough, it needs a lot of input from your side as well to grow and survive, like your passion, commitment, willingness to adjust, patience and persistence, observation, relationship with all and basic knowledge and skill. But above all, professionalism is the most important factor. Starting small and new is nothing to be taken lightly. How you interact with your investors, clients or customers, matters, after all, they are the one who will make or break your startup.

Here are the 4 simple ways that will reflect your professionalism as well as turn your startup into a success:

1. Two heads are better than one

Go get a co-founder. Studies show that a startup with two founders significantly increases the odds of success. How? Because two balanced and fully invested partners can keep the startup going on their shoulders equally well. A co-founder means you will have someone to rely on, share the load, chip in during critical times, handle responsibilities, motivate each other and so on. In the end, so what you will have to share the fruit of success, at least your startup will have a balanced support which will prevent it from drowning in the future.

Take for example the Mistay Founder Pranav Prabhakar who believes that, “Multiple founders with complementary skills bring in wider perspective to the team. While taking key decisions and at high-pressure situations, it’s always preferable to have someone who can provide support and an alternative perspective,” and hence has Sandeep Jaiswal as the co-founder of Mistay.

According to Sandeep, ‘A co-founder makes it easy to navigate through tough times. A partner with complimenting skill-sets and different style of thinking is important to help avoid mistakes one would otherwise make, he stressed. So having a co-founder is like an extra support for your startup.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder

2. Get a website/app or both

If you are thinking an investment into web/app is a big waste of money, then hello, it’s 2018 and today from kids to oldies, everyone is constantly browsing either on a desktop/laptop or on mobile. Your potential customers, clients and investors are out there on all platforms and to make them learn about your startup, you must have a website or app of yours ready.

If you are still worried about the budget, for starters, host your site on WordPress which is the most popular CMS of the planet. Its versatility and possibilities are endless which you can take benefit of or go for professional pre-made website templates that easily available at affordable prices.

3. Let people know

Branding and marketing both are lifelines for a business and just because you are a startup doesn’t mean you can survive without them. Branding means establishing a professional presence in both online and offline medium. Make your company logo, colour and other identities visible everywhere as much as possible. Give your clients pens, diaries or other stationary items with your company logo, this will remind them of your great service.

Also, spend rightly on marketing even if you are running a single campaign, make it an effective one that creates an impact on the people. Don’t forget to check whether the market is right for your product/service. Marketing at the right time only will prove beneficial. For eg., marketing your summer clothes brand during winter is useless.

4. Deliver what you promised

Sticking with your word creates your professional image and even a slight slip in it will bring down your startup empire. Nothing is more irritating than a business failing to deliver what it promised. Don’t brag about anything it will only lose your potential customers, stain your reputation and in a worse scenario, get you in legal troubles. First, deliver what you told them you can gradually add and inform them if you wish to serve more. Until and unless, as a startup, don’t try to go overboard and create a mess of everything.

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Turning an idea from concept to production is no cakewalk. The eagerness to establish into a giant is understandable, but, why take unnecessary big risks and crash in the end? Better study the market first, define what new you are giving, plan at its best, execute smartly and enjoy the rewards.

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Don’t Let The New Person Have Lunch By Themselves.

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I joined a new company two weeks ago. I’ve been the new person at work many times before — I know what it feels like. A new workplace is scary, overwhelming and challenging.

What I’m about to share with you makes me incredibly emotional and it’s very close to my heart.

During the week I saw someone else, who was also new, having lunch by themselves.

They walked through the big grey door by themselves, took one look over at all the tables, and then headed towards a table in the corner away from everybody. My heart sunk.

I knew what he was going through and it wasn’t easy. Right as he walked through the door, I was in the middle of a conversation.

Mid-sentence, I said:
“Excuse me for just a second. I’ll be right back.”

People sitting on my table looked at me funny. They knew I was odd and did weird stuff. They were trying to figure out what I was about to do in their own minds.

I’ve always been told that leadership is not about being the boss but setting the right example

I walked over to the other side of the lunchroom. I said:

“Would you like to come over and have lunch with us?”

I wanted him to feel part of the team. The first couple of weeks in any career are make or break — I should know given my recent exit from finance after seven years.


I know what it’s like to be the new person.

I was the new person in insurance.
Then I was the new person in business banking.
Then I was the new person in eCommerce.

Each time I was the new person I felt scared, incredibly fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and self-conscious. Not much has changed really. I still feel like that which is why I’m obsessed with being part of the solution.

The solution is this:

“Don’t let the new person have lunch by themselves.”

Taking the time to make people feel included and like they matter makes a difference. You could be the difference between a new person staying and having an epic time at work, or giving up in the first few months.


The difference is even bigger than you think.

What do I mean? If being the new person doesn’t go well, it can lead to many issues that you may not have realized. The new person could become lonely; the new person could underachieve and be fired; the new person could struggle to make friends.

These issues could lead to a failed career or not being able to pay bills or even mental illness.

As a worst case scenario, these issues could even lead to suicide. The difference of helping that one person to have lunch with the team could be far greater than you realize.


Inclusion is how we cure loneliness.

Loneliness is why we have social media, dating apps and cafes.

No one wants to be that person having lunch by themselves because they feel like they’re not enough or can’t fit in.

The cure to loneliness is inclusion”

You can be the difference by encouraging inclusion.

Be the leader and set the example of inclusion.

Embrace differences in culture, gender, sexual orientation and race.

Stopping someone from having lunch by themselves will teach you far more about life that you might think. Bottom line is this: we’re all the answer. Be inclusive.


One sentence can change everything.

That one sentence “Hey would you like to join us for lunch?” means more than you think. You were the new person once. I was the new person too.

That one sentence can change someone’s perspective.

It’s not about lunch buddies; it’s about leading with heart and being a good human being.

It’s what you must do. Next time you see someone having lunch by themselves, invite them over. If they are too shy to come over, sit down with them and have lunch together.

It’s the simple hacks like this that will change your reality.

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