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Top 7 mistakes that young investors make

Top 7 mistakes that young investors make

13th June 2017 | Decision Tree Consulting

Did you know that if you begin investing in your 20s, in the first few years of starting a job, you could grow your savings exponentially over the next few years?Even if you’re 30, and you start saving about Rs 2000 per month, you would be left with Rs38.4 lakh once you retire at 60.

If you haven’t begun investing yet, it’s never too late to get started. Before you take the plunge, here are 7 mistakes to avoid.

1. Procrastination

Don’t delay until tomorrow, what you can do today.For example, at 25, if you start a systematic investment plan (SIP) of Rs 5,000 in an equity fund that gives 12% returns, in 30 years, you will earn Rs 1.77 crore. If you wait till 28 to start investing, the amount accumulated will be less by Rs 56 lakh. The longer the delay, the smaller is the corpus. An online SIP calculator will help you work out your returns.

2. Investing without a plan

Are you guilty of investing money just to meet those last-minute tax saving deadlines given by your company? Ad-hoc investing happens when you have to rely on advice from others. This does you more harm than good because the investment is in line with their financial objectives and not yours. Don’t block your money in unproductive investments. Take time out and make an investment plan with your financial goals in mind.

3. Not doing enough research

If you’re looking to invest, the options are aplenty-saving in a bank account, buying common stock, real estate, mutual funds, and short-term deposits. Just make sure you don’t invest in businesses you don t understand. Set some time aside every day to learn about investing. Your knowledge will increase and you’ll also end up enjoying it!

4. Falling for Ponzi schemes

Remember the Saradha scam, where 1.74 million people lost more than Rs 20,000 crore? These are investment schemes, which promise to give you high returns in a short time. They pay returns to existing investors out of money collected from new investors rather than from profits. Before you consider putting your life savings into these schemes, stop and think about what you’re doing. Remember, a way too good offer only exists in fairytales.

5. Failing to Diversify

While professional investors may be able to make a lot of money by investing in a few, focused areas, young investors should diversify. When you invest in only one set of securities offering the same returns and subject to the same regulations, your chances of loss also increases if one of these securities tank. Experts suggest not allocating more than 5 to 10% to any one investment.

6. Not willing to take risks

Don’t play it safe and invest in low-yielding fixed income instruments like FDs, NSCs, bonds, etc. As a young investor, you must take advantage of more aggressive asset classes, because you have fewer expenses, no one financially dependent on you and you won t need that money anytime soon.

7. Lack of Patience

A gradual yet steady investment approach will always work for you in your quest to wealth creation. While professionals can make educated guesses, no one can the future. Keep your expectations realistic with regard to the length, time and growth that each stock will encounter.

Saving for retirement should not be the only reason for you to plan your investments. Inflation cuts an average 3.87% of your money’s value every year. Investing is the best way to grow your money fast enough to beat inflation. If you start young, you have the advantage of time, the ability to withstand risk and opportunities to increase future income. 

Why wait? Start investing today!

5 Things Failure Can Teach You About Success

5 Things Failure Can Teach You About Success

26th May 2017 | Decision Tree Consulting

There is no shame in failing. In fact, failure is one of the greatest teachers, is something every successful person would tell you. And this holds true even in the startup world – entrepreneurs often face disappointment and failure at several stages of their journey, however, only those who are patient and intelligent enough to learn and move on, without repeating the mistakes, create history in terms of businesses we all look up to.

In fact, a pivot, one of the most popular buzzwords in the startup world currently, simply means a setback or an experience that changes the face or direction of your business completely. A very positive way to harness failure for growth, indeed.

Today, we share 5 things failure can teach you about success:

Personal growth – Failure can help you rediscover your strengths and find your real self. When you fail, you understand the importance of success, and realise the value of your family and friends who swear by you during thick and thin.

Professional Growth – This may sound impractical to some, but failure can lead to professional growth if leveraged in the right sense. Failures not only provide you with the opportunity to objectively analyze what went wrong but also present the opportunity for the entire team to come together and brainstorm new strategies for success.

Positivity – Rising from a failure is one of the biggest lessons in positivity. Failure teaches you to control your thoughts and tame your mind. We all know how our thoughts turn into reality shaping our lives. So staying positive in times of tribulation and focusing on the success you deserve could be the key to transforming any setback into victory.

Financial Management – Several young companies fall into a cycle of debt, especially because the focus in early stages is usually placed on numbers and not on sustainable business models. A failure can provide an entrepreneur with the financial insight that is important for the ultimate success of any business.

Light follows Dark – Many a great person stumbled before they took the flight to success. And therein lies the most important lesson for everyone – success follows failure, only if one perseveres. Instead of giving up, if you could practically analyze the situation, accept your mistakes and re-strategize, there is no doubt you will reach your destination sooner or later, richer with experience and hindsight.

There is no shame in failing and starting over again. Einstein and Steve Jobs felt proud in sharing their failures that shaped their success. So take heart and don’t let anything break you down on your entrepreneurial journey; a failure is but a stepping-stone in your journey.

Top 5 free tools for startups

Top 5 free tools for startups

16th May 2017 | Decision Tree Consulting
So we all have heard and tried our hands at 100$ startups, but free is better, right? Imagine not having to worry about paying a penny for your dreams to push off. Imagine if there were ladders that would take you higher and help you grow and prosper. Absolutely free!! We bring to you five free tools for your start-up that are worth it. 1. START UP STASH - A know-it-all dictionary of resources and tools to help you build your startup. Make the most of this tool, right from picking up ideas to deployment of resources to legal and CRM help. This tool was named one of the 100 best tools for startups by Forbes Magazine in 2015. 2. DUE- This versatile free tool is a killer. It helps keep track of billing and productivity. Apart from that, it offers invoicing templates for domestic and international clients, recurring invoices, automated payment reminders and acknowledgments, reports, client and project database, digital wallet, domestic and global credit card processing and more. Get inspired and get your work streamlined. There is a free signup option, too! So, what’s keeping you from conquering your dreams? 3. THE NAME APP – A free name generator created by Chrisitian Perez, for budding entrepreneurs. It is not always easy finding names for your startup when you have so many ideas running through your mind. But help is at hand with this free tool. Search for domains and social profiles with THE NAME APP. It is easy, free and helpful when you are trying to come up with a strong social presence. Free download available from Apple iTunes. 4. SHAKE– Everyone is bound to fall into the legal trap of doing things correctly. And if you aren’t aware of fancy law terms and jargons, simply log on to Shake, to shake-off all your legal worries. You can use it for creating, signing and sending legally binding agreements in seconds. It s convenient and simple to use. 5. PABLO BY BUFFER- Increase your social media engagement by designing images for your social media posts for free. PABLO BY BUFFER is super quick and easy to use. Say your message with style with over 25,000 templates to choose from. For the images and texts that you searched for, from within Pablo, there would be no copyright or licensing problem. Still a better idea would be to read in-depth text on licensing policy at www.pablo.com. With these exciting free tools, the web is yours to exploit - just remember to keep it ethical and fun. There is no better time than today to launch your startup. Use the above mentioned free tools, and, of course, your imagination to build a promising startup. As they say, every idea can realize wealth if implemented well. Use these free tools to amass yours!
WHY IS CONTENT MARKETING IMPORTANT FOR STARTUPS

WHY IS CONTENT MARKETING IMPORTANT FOR STARTUPS

27th April 2017 | Decision Tree Consulting
In this era of entrepreneurship, where every day a new startup enters the world giving hope to many unknown faces to hit the jackpot and become nothing less than midnight millionaires, it’s worth noting the transition from the 90’s to 2000’s. Of course, the major credit goes to the ‘internet’. Known to all are the basic essentials for any startup in today’s world which are very simple and minimalistic - a laptop and the internet. Most of the startups in this E-wonder era require content marketing not just as an awareness/survival tool but as one of the most important marketing instrument. Let’s take a look at what Content Marketing is - Content Marketing as described in a Forbes article is “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” In a layperson’s language, it means instead of pitching your products/services, all you have to do is provide truly relevant, useful, rich and valuable content to prospective clients and customers to attract them, driving profitable customer action. Content Marketing refers to online content such blogs, white papers, press releases, social media posts, newsletters, opt-in email marketing campaigns, videos, and images which are used to connect and engage with one’s target audience. WHAT MAKES CONTENT MARKETING SO IMPORTANT? 1. It is affordable. 2. It is an effective form of marketing that targets both primary and secondary target audience. 3. It develops the ‘voice’ of your brand. 4. It generates sales with just keeping the audience engaged. 5. It makes your brand generate ‘value’ and ‘relevance’, unlike any other information online. HOW TO CREATE A CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY? 1. Define your aim & know your goals. 2. Define your target audience. 3. In case of an established audience, revisit the parameters by conducting market research before starting with the content strategy. 4. Establish a content management system for your ease. 5. Brainstorm content ideas and use the important tools such as Buzzsumo, Content Forest, etc. 6. Define what sort of content you want to create. There are a variety of options to generate content. Here are some of the popular ones used by marketers - 1. BLOG POSTS - Easiest to start is a company’s blog wherein you majorly try to cross-promote other content. Using SEO increases the value/ranking of your content. 2. EBOOKS - In the form of a narrative structure with great visual design, eBooks help in educating your audience. 3. WHITEPAPERS & REPORTS - Similar to eBooks, these are less graphically designed and are mostly used to partner with other organizations. 4. INFOGRAPHICS - This is a mix of both - info and graphics. You need an amazing graphics person for this. 5. VIDEOS - A timeless option. All you require is high-quality video content to expose your brand to a wider range of audience. Content Marketing is an effective tool and should be used as a part of your marketing strategy. Quality content is all you need for any form of marketing such as for Social Media Marketing - you need great content to post, for SEO, PR, PPC, etc. content has to be consistent and marvellous to anchor the audience’s brain to your business. From leads to sales, content marketing is one such strategy that will help your brand connect and engage with your audience at every stage of the buying cycle.
​Everything you need to know about affiliate marketing

​Everything you need to know about affiliate marketing

2nd April 2017 | Decision Tree

Everything you need to know about affiliate marketing

Also called Performance-based marketing, affiliate marketing simply involves a merchant offering to pay a commission to a person, group or organization for generating sales leads. In the digital landscape, this would mean digital publishers (blogs or websites) that host the advertisers’ content. 

Before we start, let us tell you what is affiliate marketing in very simple terms. Affiliate marketing refers to the process where you refer a product to someone online and are paid only when the person buys that product. Thus, marketers are paid only if visitors get converted to customers, and not before.

In a typical digital marketing sense, affiliate marketing involves the following players and process:

Key players involved in affiliate marketing

Merchant: Merchant is the seller of a product or service and is sometimes referred as brand or marketer, too.

Advertiser: Advertiser essentially plans and implements branding efforts. There can be two scenarios; one, where the marketer is the advertiser and interacts directly with the affiliate network to drive the marketing campaign; and second, where a merchant appoints an advertiser to perform the aforementioned activities.

Network: Network refers to a pool of publishers where advertisers can place their content.

Publisher: A publisher can be a website or blog or forum or any online content platform frequently visited by users. These individual publishers host the advertisers’ content (advertisement) and hence are the actual billboards for users.

Users: The last and the most important piece of the puzzle, users are regular people who visit numerous websites and buy products and services online.

How affiliate marketing works?

Although affiliate marketing models keep evolving to include additional intermediaries and complexity levels, any affiliate marketing campaign works on the following basic principle:

§ A merchant or advertiser tasks an affiliate network to run a promotional campaign

§ Merchant / advertiser shares the creative (say, an image of a product with a link) with the affiliate network

§ The network hosts this ad on various publishers’ pages

§ User discovers merchant’s ad on a publisher’s page

§ User clicks at the link and is taken to the merchant’s page

§ Depending on the agreement, the merchant may pay the network for the referral or sales lead or only after registering the sale.

What are the various affiliate compensation models?

The terms of payment between the network and advertiser / merchant may differ in every case; however, the following methods of charging are practiced across the globe:

·   PPS (Pay per Sale): Almost 80% of merchants prefer this revenue sharing mode of compensation to affiliate networks as the liability to pay arises only after clocking sales.

·   CPA (Cost Per Action): Second to PPS, almost 19% of merchants prefer to pay affiliates for only after a specified action is performed on the publishers’ page; this could be a click on a link, filling up of a form or clicking the ‘Buy’ button. CPA is also called PPA (Pay Per Acquisition) or CPC (Cost Per Conversion).

·   CPC (Cost Per Click): Although very popular during the sunrise days of ecommerce, CPC has lost prominence over the years owing to the method’s susceptibility to various scams and frauds. Having said that, CPC is still a preferred mode of compensation in display advertising (image, text and video or audio clips) and inorganic search campaigns. And with the rise in social media oriented marketing (read Facebook and Twitter), CPC and CPI (Cost Per Impression) are gaining prominence again.

·   CPI (Cost Per Impression): In this method, merchant / advertiser pays for each time their ad is displayed to a user. CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) is a version of CPI where the affiliate charges a fixed amount for every 1,000 views of the ad. The word ‘M’ in the acronym denotes the Latin ‘mille’ for thousand.

 

With increased internet penetration around the world, affiliate marketing is the way forward for all digital marketers. Equipped with a better understanding of affiliate marketing, you may now articulate a winning digital marketing strategy and take the first step towards ensuring a global reach for your brand.

Getting the max out of your email marketing campaign

Getting the max out of your email marketing campaign

10th February 2017 | Decision Tree Consulting

Do you know that emails are up to 40% more effective than Facebook and Twitter (combined) in increasing customer acquisition for your business?

With hundreds of emails bombarding potential consumers each day, sharing information about your brand and product via email is still your best bet to stay in touch with consumers. But, in the milieu of hundreds of emails, how do you ensure that your email-marketing campaign does not fall flat?

Well, as always, there are certain principles that marketers, from experience, have developed to ensure your subscribers actually open and read the emails sent by you.

Email marketing is more powerful than ever before. Here are some cues to get you started.

Personalized subject lines – Personalization is the buzzword for 2017. A large number of marketing professionals confirm that personalization increases consumer engagement.

A 2015 report revealed that personalized emails could improve click-through rates and conversions by 10% or more.

Yes, to tempt a reader into opening your email from the hundreds she has received, it is important to personalize your emails in creative ways, such as addressing the reader with her name in the subject line, to increase the opening rates.

A creative and personalized subject line is your best bet – Brainstorm and craft a short catchy title, up to 50 characters long, that will stand out in the recipient’s mailbox.

The format – No one wants to read a boring pile of text. Make an effort to keep your emails clean, concise and ‘good looking, to prevent the subscribers from getting bored. It may be a good idea to invest in a professional email template or get one especially designed for your brand.

The call to action – The main aim of your email marketing campaign is to ‘click-through’ users to your website – which can be achieved by using a strong and clear call to action. Deviate from the boring and use some creative lines to compel the users to click on your website link. Asking a question in your call to action or offering freebies, such as free e-books and coupons, are good reasons for users to click on the link provided by you.

The unsubscribe option - Before embarking on your email campaign, it is important to understand that only some people, and not all, will be interested in receiving your emails. Instead of buying an email database from outside, build your own organic subscriber list by asking people to subscribe on your website through blogs and social media. Including a subscribe button in your website is as important as including an ‘unsubscribe’ button in your emails. Some people will want to opt-out, ensure they are free to do so.

Mobile friendly – Over 50% of all the emails received are opened on mobile devices.

Do you look good on the mobile?

Before launching your email campaign, check whether your email looks good across platforms and devices, to ensure better user experience.

 

Once you have included all the above points in your email campaign, you are all set to tap into the power of email marketing – except, never ever forget the golden rule of ‘No Spam’. Spamming means sending out emails to persons who have not opted to receive them. Being marked as spam by a large number of users will not only restrict your access to several mailboxes, but also make your brand look bad.

3 Simple Steps to Promote Your Startup on Facebook

3 Simple Steps to Promote Your Startup on Facebook

28th January 2017 | Decision Tree Consulting

Facebook promotions form the significant size of the entire social media marketing platform. Unsurprisingly, most businesses, large and small, swear by Facebook’s promotional tools when it comes to promoting their brand or product or service to the right audience at really affordable cost.

With over 38% of the total online users in the world on Facebook (1.70+ billion to be precise), no business can dare to miss the Facebook platform for promoting its offerings or forwarding its brand.

Seemingly difficult, promoting your business on Facebook is just like ‘1, 2, 3...’ literally!

1.    Create a Facebook Page for Your Brand

 

Creating a Facebook page for your business is easy. You can simply login to your own Facebook personal profile and choose ‘Create Page’.


 

Selecting the type of page you want to create, you can proceed to fill in more details to successfully create your business page. Once you add relevant content and profile pictures on the page, don’t forget to invite your friends to like your page. Remember, your business page cannot have friends. It can only have ‘likes’. It is worthwhile to garner as many likes for the page as possible  because the people who liked your page will become your audience, and everything shared by you on your page will surface in their timelines.

 

2.    Choose what to promote

 

Of course you know that you need to promote your brand, products or services. Facebook allows you a unique opportunity to promote either of the following through its platform:

 

     Promote a post

     Promote your Facebook page

     Promote your website

 

You may choose to promote all three at different stages of your online marketing strategy. When you promote a post (picture of a product, flyer or an e-vite) your audience will see and may also ‘like’ your post. It is ideal to promote posts that have a link to ‘Buy’ the product or ‘Join’ an event.

 

When you choose to promote your Facebook page, the cover picture of your Facebook page reaches the audience, who may choose to visit the page and even like it. In the initial stages of marketing through Facebook, it is better to promote your page. This will win a large audience for you (they are essentially people who subscribed to your page); and when users from this audience react to your posts, their own network will receive the notification, which will mean much more exposure to your posts and brand.

 

Facebook also gives you an amazing opportunity to promote your website. If you have a dynamic website with an integrated payment gateway then you can even start selling through a simple Facebook promotion campaign!

 

Tip: Facebook not only allows you to promote your post or page or website across the globe at nominal cost, it also allows you to filter your target market. Choose a target market that is most likely to be interested in your products / services.

 

3.    Manage Your Ad Campaigns With Cutting-Edge Analytics & Insights

 

Facebook offers a highly useful campaign management dashboard that displays the reach against the budget spent. Also, you can see the performance of your ad with respect to the demographics it reached. Based on the various insights and analytics, you can fine tune your target audience, polish your content, and even select the best time to launch an ad campaign.

Promoting your business on Facebook is swift, affordable, and also impactful. So make that killer ad campaign (use www.pixabay.com and www.unsplash.com to get free high-resolution pictures), get a thousand likes and take your business to the far corners of the world with Facebook’s promotional tools! 

5 Steps to Tackle Hiring Woes for Startups

5 Steps to Tackle Hiring Woes for Startups

13th January 2017 | Decision Tree Consulting

While incubation centres provide the necessary infrastructure and mentorship support to startups, and angel investors and crowd funding aid them with much precious capital to grow the scale of business, albeit at a later stage, building a great team remains the toughest task for any young startup.

There are many challenges faced by startups with respect to hiring the right talent; from inviting resumes and generating interest in the (mostly unknown) startup to meeting high salary expectations of bright, experienced talent; staffing the right person for the right job is an uphill task for many entrepreneurs.

Having said that, great businesses are always built on the shoulders of great teams (think Apple, Facebook, Virgin); there is no way you can circumvent the process of building a high-calibre team and still set new milestones in business.

So, instead of stalling your startup’s progress, read the following tips to effectively tackle each of the steps involved in hiring awesome people:

Note: Before seeking resumes for a post, make sure that your online presence is strong. Have a nice website in place (you can make a free one on wordpress.com), create informative and engaging profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook.

1. Inviting Resumes

As easy as it may sound, winning attention of prospective employees is not that easy. The traditional (and also the fastest) way of inviting resumes is through job portals. Sadly, on this very first step, many young startups and entrepreneurs throw in the towel; reason, sky-high cost of posting a job on popular job portals.  

But don’t lose hope; while the big players charge astronomical fees, there are few upcoming hiring portals such as careesma.in that allow you to post and manage job postings for free!

2. Scanning & Shortlisting Candidates

It is crucial what you look in an ideal candidate. While a resume tells you about the professional and educational background of an incumbent, it also speaks volumes about the candidate’s personality. A resume that is completely error free, to-the-point, and well structured, often belongs to a well-organized, alert, and meticulous person.

Don’t hesitate to call these candidates. Try to learn about them, know their story, and ask what they want out of the job, if selected. With no promises attached, this interaction would give you great insights on people behind the resume, and is even great for setting the expectation of the candidates.

3. Conducting Job Interviews

Meeting the shortlisted candidates is an important step in the process of hiring. This is the time when you, as an employer, and the candidate, form opinions about each other.

Many hiring experts stress that the first interview should happen at the workplace (if your office is in the same city), opposed to inviting candidates in a hotel or a coffee shop. The workplace, its accessibility and environment forms a major decision factor for a candidate, besides, of course, the remuneration.

Keep yourself free for the day of the interview, set in a little early and go through the probable questions to ask the candidate. Take some time to frame answers for probable questions a candidate may ask about you and your organization. Be prepared to share your vision and growth plan with the candidate. Take it no less seriously than meeting investors.

Remember, unlike a big corporate, your startup doesn’t pronounce job security for the candidates; hence, they would like to know the potential of the idea and even your marketing strategy!

4. The Money Talk

Remuneration is the big grey elephant in the room that you need to address (if you have not already mentioned in the job post).

Of course, being a startup (and most probably, bootstrapped) you would never be able to match the salary of true deserving candidates who is already doing well in her job.

Show the proof of your startup’s success so far; share the long-term vision and the candidate’s place in the core team. Emphasise on the point that in your startup, she would have more freedom and much authority in contrast to her highly competitive job in the big corporate with several bands of hierarchy.

Be inventive. Work out a basic salary and income sharing proposition for efforts in securing and retaining clients. Moreover, introduce elements in the job that are far superior than money; for example ownership in tasks, giving due credit, and above all, creating a great fun work culture.

5. Be Ready to Hire & Fire

Although it sounds brash and unsavoury, hiring and firing is an inevitable rule to follow until your startup is manned by highly productive, honest, and professional people.

Hiring is not a one-time process. You would need to keep hiring talent at every stage of the business. Whether your business grows or team members leave or you sign pink slips for underperforming employees, you would need to hire new people on a continual basis.

So, pay special attention while drafting that offer letter; make ample provisions to gauge and evaluate performances and reserve the right to confirm an employee only after a sufficient period of performance monitoring.

While you follow the above tips on hiring a great team (and we wish you the best for that), we would also suggest that you meet as many people as possible, trust that instinct and don’t shy away from hiring talent (or atleast making an offer) you spotted in the coffee shop or in a conference!

 

Afterall, you can spot talent almost anywhere...

5 Steps to Start Selling: A Startup’s Journey from Idea to Income

5 Steps to Start Selling: A Startup’s Journey from Idea to Income

7th January 2017 | Decision Tree Consulting

A mindful of idea is great . . . only if it leads to pockets full of cash.

It is true, even if you are a social entrepreneur; the element of value has to figure in any startup’s equation. Transforming of efforts, resources or ideas into valuable offerings is a call every business must answer. Startups are no different in this regard.

We all know that a startup’s journey from being a revolutionary idea to an entity registering incremental revenue is littered with obstacles. More often than not, many startups fail to float owing to their inability to sell their products / services in the market. In fact, there are businesses that close shop without making even single sales!

As incredulous as it may sound, it is a harsh truth that every startup faces. Selling the first unit of product or instance of service (sales to family / friends being discounted) is the toughest challenge startups face.

Many entrepreneurs concur that making the first customer is very important for any startup as it gives them immense motivation in continuing their efforts. Moreover, the very first set of customers gives the startups valuable feedback, giving promoters an opportunity to fine tune their offerings.

We bring to you 5 simple steps that will help you immensely in clocking the elusive first purchase order. (Young startups and would-be entrepreneurs must pay heed.)

1. Define an apt offering & identify the right market segment

Of course, you have this one figured it out.

Let’s do it once again. Even before thinking of approaching prospective customers, be 100% sure that your product is well-defined and rightly priced, offering a high value proposition with respect to competing products / services. Next, make a list of people who could be your customers. Narrow this list to include only those who would certainly be interested in your offer. Finally, work towards reaching out to prospective customers who want a product / service like yours NOW!

2. Get a web presence

Having a website is not about being fashionable. It is a need. While you take your offerings to various markets and across several forums, let your digital shop be open 24X7 to dispense information about your business and its offerings. Contrary to popular belief, it costs nothing to put up a neat, static, multi-page website (visit www.wordpress.com).

However, it always pays to get a professional website in place, get custom domain, and not just tell the world about your brand, but also sell through your website.

3. Optimize Social Media

While many label social media as a useless addiction, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are taking small businesses to far reaches of the world – at paltry sums!

Social media platforms are your cool sales reps running through various countries and continents, taking your brand, products and services where your real target audience resides. Social media giant Facebook not only allows you to make business pages linked to your profile (for free!), it also lets you promote your website, Facebook page or post (with images / information about your offerings) to a supremely targeted market at unbelievably low costs.

4. Reconnect with old contacts

While young startups work hard to build a market from scratch, many potential buyers  sit cosily in their contact list, completely oblivious to your new venture. Book a day or two, craft a personal message / email and reach out to your phone / email contact list. Do not forget to share links to your portfolio, website / social media page and add a call to action.

Wait, your exercise is not yet over.

Follow up with these contacts after sometime, but do not try to sell them your products yet; take their views and feedback – make them feel a part of your venture. This way they will propel your brand by sharing and liking your posts, spreading good word about your product, and someone from this list might even turn up to be your very first customer!

5. Better your offering

While you immerse yourself in pursuing the abovementioned ways to earn your first customer, try to better your offering vis-à-vis the competition. In the initial days, do not shy away from dishing out some samples or extend a service for free. These revenue-less exercises may cost you a bit, but in return can give you free press, an opportunity to build new contacts, and above all, feedback and insights to better your offering.

 

In the end, never forget that if your product or service has true value (it alleviates a pain, adds value to other people’s lives or simply entertains people) it will always have a corresponding market. Use the above 5 steps to connect with your market, today!

10 Startup Jargons You Must Be Acquainted With

10 Startup Jargons You Must Be Acquainted With

23rd December 2016 | Decision Tree Consulting

Just began your entrepreneurial journey and already baffled by startup jargons swooshing past your ears?

Startup lingo is full of slangs, unclear phrases, and seemingly complex jargons. Startup experts and mentors can hurl these at an unsuspecting entrepreneur leaving him wondering about the true crux of a discussion or advice.

Necessary or not, useful or annoying, startup jargons are here to stay and the best an entrepreneur can do is to understand their true meaning.

We bring to you a list of 10 startup jargons and their actual meaning to help you decide how, when, and where to use them; or simply drop them out of your vocabulary:

  1. Business Accelerator – Another name for business incubator. Incubation centres help baby startups find their feet by providing early support in terms of office space, phone and internet connectivity, as well as mentorship support in product development and marketing stages. These incubation services ‘accelerate’ the business growth and hence the alternate name.
  1. Deck – A deck is a crisp and comprehensive document that explains your business or entails your business plan in short and clear terms. So, an 8 – 10 slide PowerPoint presentation listing the superiority of your products / services is a ‘sales deck’. And an executive summary of your business plan with all the requisite numbers will be your ‘pitch deck’.
  1. B2B / B2C – Frequently used terms, B2B and B2C are abbreviations for ‘Business-to-Business’ and ‘Business-to-Customer’. A B2B organization sells its products and services to other businesses, while a B2C sells its offerings directly to the masses.
  1. Bootstrapping – You must have heard this term numerous times and often wondered what it meant. Essentially, a ‘bootstrapped’ startup is a self funded startup. So, bootstrapping is running a startup with private funds of the promoter(s).
  1. Seed Capital – Seed capital is the first stage of funding; required to setup the business. Seed funding is required to transform an idea to actual tangible business. Since investors are wary of untested business ideas, most startups bootstrap to get the seed funding.
  1. Pivot – The word ‘pivot’ indicates a point facilitating the change of direction. In the startup parlance, a pivot indicates change in focus of the business (from its original). So, when an organization changes its market segment, or uses its capabilities / technology for a completely new purpose, it is said to have experienced a pivot.
  1. Burn Rate – While the term can indicate anything and looks vague, in startup environment it explains the rate at which a startup is spending its funds. Often, startups fall in the trap of blowing lot of funds in a bid to grow faster and have to wind up the startup. Evidently, keeping the burn rate low and opting to grow sustainably is the right way for the startups.
  1. Scalable – The word is of immense interest for investors and bankers. They want to know if your business is scalable or not. What they are actually interested in knowing is whether your business model has scope to increase production / service incidents, grow the customer base, and enhance revenues. Investors and lenders are happy to consider business ideas that can be replicated at a larger platform and earn higher revenues.
  1. Growth Hacking – An intelligent term, sadly over-abused and used as a cliché by many, Growth Hacking means attaining quick, scalable growth by adopting inexpensive marketing techniques. Aggressive social media promotion is a part of growth hacking strategy.
  1. Traction – From a startup standpoint, traction refers to the true adoption of your product / service by the customers. It is generally described in terms of number of units sold / customers serviced or revenue generated in a given point in time.

Now equipped with some of the most commonly used startup jargons, we believe you are in a better position to dive into any startup conversation, like a pro!

 

 

5 Traps Every Entrepreneur Should Avoid

5 Traps Every Entrepreneur Should Avoid

15th December 2016 | Decision Tree Consulting

The initial days of every startup are full of excitement and emotion. Entrepreneurs tread through many stages and processes to launch, establish, and gradually grow their startup venture.

In present times, when startup and entrepreneurship are the buzz words, a plethora of information, opinions, and stories related to the startup ecosystem and its participants streams in from all corners - making entrepreneurs susceptible to many false notions regarding the right way to steer their startups.

While your Google searches would not discern between a piece of genuine advice and a trending lie; we bring to you 5 snares you must watch out for during the initial days of your entrepreneurial journey.

 

Lack of a Business Plan

 

No matter how ingenious your idea is, without a solid business plan it would be a Ferrari without any gas in the middle of a wasteland!

 

A concrete business plan is like a blueprint for your startup’s success. It helps you define sellable products / services, set the right pricing, and precisely define the target customer base. Moreover, a good business plan will help you chalk out your growth plans and help you scale up your venture. Also, it can’t be more obvious that no investor or VC firm will even consider a startup without a good business plan.

 

Run a ‘One Man Show’

 

Planning to be the Jack of all Tricks? Well, abandon the idea instantly and hire an able team. Most entrepreneurs fall in the trap of trying to run each and every aspect of their startup, only to fail a potential business idea. As the head of the business, you must take the steering wheel and focus on the road ahead, while the team takes care of their specialized roles. Remember, you can scale up your operations, build a stronger brand, and move ahead of competition only with the help of a team.

 

Develop a Peerless Product

 

Everyone around you will say that building an innovative solution or product is the key to success, and all your focus should be invested in doing so. True, but your offering is innovative and peerless only till the time it hits the market. In today’s hi-tech and fiercely competitive world, you cannot afford to enjoy the fruits of an invention for a long time. Someone will catch up soon, and chances are, working on your vision and technique, may even launch a far superior offering in very less time! From Facebook to Twitter, and Snapdeal to Flipkart, we have seen that the key to be on top is to continuously hone your offerings to meet the fast evolving preferences of your customers, and surpass your competition.

 

All Work and no Play

 

The quintessential 24X7 work culture attributed to startups is rather a dangerous fad for the entrepreneurs. Businesses are run by people. And people, being social animals, need to let their hair down every now and then, and socialize. The biggest support for entrepreneurs doesn’t come from customers, vendors, or investors. It comes from friends and family; people who love you and stand by you through thick and thin. Reciprocating this selfless devotion from your loved ones by spending quality time with them will help you tackle business challenges with ease.

 

Ignore Incubation Support

 

All mighty businesses were once vulnerable startups. It is essential for businesses to reach out and seek as much help as possible during their initial days. Thankfully, the incubation support is increasingly being made available across the country. Incubation centres not just provide the much needed infrastructural support (office space, seamless internet connectivity and power), but also provide valuable mentorship support. Add to this the handholding in planning and executing marketing efforts, as well as phenomenal exposure and free press through various networking events.

 

While we list these top 5 tips, entrepreneurs should decide the best course of action for their startup. Tune in to your true instincts, weigh the pros and cons, and stick to the vision of the business before taking crucial decisions.

How to Think Differently to be a Successful Entrepreneur

How to Think Differently to be a Successful Entrepreneur

2nd December 2016 | Decision Tree Consulting

Being an entrepreneur means starting on an uncharted journey, which definitely requires a mindset that is open to challenges and tackling them in a creative way.

Successful entrepreneurs are not people who do things differently, but those who think differently, right from the start. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that they succeeded not by copying someone, but by embracing their uniqueness. Of course, it is important to have role models, but don`t follow those who have already made their mark. To be a part of that league, you need to think differently and carve a niche for yourself and your brand…conventional wisdom will not take you there alone, but an unconventional mindset would.

 

Here are some ways to start thinking differently, now!

 

Be disciplined – Being an entrepreneur is not about taking a vacation, but the freedom of doing what you want and how you want. Discipline is most important when you start on an entrepreneurial journey. Being disciplined should be ingrained and not require any extra effort – it is easy to lose focus and let things slip out when there is no one to answer to. However, to be successful, you need routine, patience and discipline in your daily life to achieve targets you have set down for yourself.

Accept Failure – Failure is not the end, but only a beginning. Everytime you fail, you learn a new lesson that prevents you from committing the mistake again. Challenges, failures and obstacles are common parts of an entrepreneurial journey – the key lies in your attitude. Embrace challenges and accept failure, but don`t give up… because trial leads to perfection.

Work-Life balance – Entrepreneurship is a mindset, it is a lifestyle, which means, it becomes a part of you and you end up carrying your business everywhere with you. Accept this change and stop making excuses. There will be late night calls to take and meetings to attend, sometimes at the cost of personal obligations, sometimes not. But don`t make this a habit; strive to create a balance because a happy mind always thinks well!

Communicate – As an entrepreneur, you must develop good communication skills. It is easy to be caught in our own line of thought and grow rigid. However, in order to build a successful business, one must be open to ideas and communicate with others, including employees and clients, to continually challenge one`s own perspective and learn new things.

Time over Money – Time is money, but money can`t buy you time. Successful entrepreneurs value their time over everything else. This means staying away from meetings, events and opportunities that mean nothing for your business. There is no harm in socializing but when you are building an empire, every second is worth a lot.

 

Anyone can be an entrepreneur. But what defines successful entrepreneurs from the rest is their ability to think out-of-the-box. Everyone is not born with an entrepreneurial mindset, but with patience and discipline, anyone can develop the right mindset and thought pattern, that is prerequisite to success.

Setting the right startup culture

Setting the right startup culture

25th November 2016 | Decision Tree Consulting

Developing the right culture is instrumental to a right start, be it in your personal life or professional. Setting the right work culture in a workplace ensures ethical work standards that everyone agrees on. In fact, starting early in your company’s life cycle is essential because cultivating the work culture you idolize with a small team of people is easier than starting when the team is already old and thriving. By that time, the old employees fall into set patterns and the same may be propagated to new team members.

If you have just established the company of your dreams, now is the right time to establish the work culture you have always envisioned.

Here are some tips to help you:

Start early – Starting early is most important to starting right. With the founding team, it is easier to establish the work culture and ethos you desire due to more chances of one-on-one interaction with the team. However, with a bigger team, this may be a challenge. Having your founding team aligned with your vision will ensure that the right message is passed across to future hirees.

Know what you stand for – While the ultimate aim of every business is to be operationally profitable, the values of a business go deeper than that. How much do you value your customers, is it quality that you strive to deliver or quantity or turn around time is your defining factor? Or a mix of all three (that’s ideal)? Think about the real purpose of your company and convey this to your team, right at the outset, to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Hire the right people – It is important to set your company’s vision and mission statement before starting the hiring process. It is crucial that the interviewees are acquainted with the company’s ethos and purpose, and their views be heard on it. Undoubtedly, there cannot be a compromise on the quality of hirees, but knowing whether they are aligned (or agree) with the company’s culture or not can make a lot of difference in terms of teamwork and floor productivity in the future.

Apart from taking care of the above points, entrepreneurs must train their team members to take ownership of their work. As the business grows, you will not be able to handle everything alone. What you need are good leaders to efficiently train and manage your team in line with your ideals and goals. Setting the correct work culture early on can ensure this. Further, don’t forget to review the work culture at your workplace every now and then.

 

 

 

 

How to build a brand even from the startup stage

How to build a brand even from the startup stage

18th November 2016 | Decision Tree Consulting

Having a business is not good enough. A business must transform into a brand to be truly successful. However, a brand can never be build overnight. It is a continuous process that must start as soon as the business is set up. In fact, establishing a business and creating a brand must go hand in hand for a successful business model.

An established brand goes places through referrals and word of mouth. However, when you are starting out, there are no customers and no referrals, so how do you go about creating a brand that will pull customers along with minimal marketing spend at your end?

The answer is simple – start early. Here are few ideas that will help you build up your brand, right from the start:

Communicate the right things

A brand is not run of the mill, it is unique. In order to create a brand, you must differentiate yourself, which means you cannot say what everyone else is saying. You must communicate to potential customers why they should choose you over competition – whether it is features, pricing or ease of use, the audience needs to know what differentiates you from the rest.

… to the right people

Of course, the message will be worthless if communicated to the wrong people. For example, if you want to create a brand in packaged food, your target audience is the working community that is hard pressed for time for cooking. In the stead, if you decide to tell home makers how good your packaged food is, you are wasting your time as they would rather use fresh produce than packaged food because cooking is a regular affair for them.

… on the right forum

Again, you cannot find the right audience on the wrong platform. Do you want to reach out to professionals on LinkedIn or the creative heads on Etsy? Think where your target audience is more likely to hang out virtually. Advertising on every social platform is not a brilliant idea.

… not just online

Social media is your best friend, but that does not mean you can ignore traditional offline marketing. Approach newspapers and magazines to share your story for a wider reach and focus on the problems you aim to solve through your products and what sets you apart from the crowd.

Leverage good content – Creating a brand is not about selling products, it is about creating a user base that is loyal and swears by your brand. How do you achieve this? Simply by creating content that is genuinely helpful for users; the aim of the content should not be to increase sales, but to reach out to the audience and help them understand how you want to improve their lives through your ideas and products.

Customer is king – Every business owner would agree with this one. So treat your customers right and never ignore any feedback, positive or negative, to ensure heightened customer experience. Handle negative comments and criticism gracefully, stay polite on social media and be transparent with your users to create a brand that your customers will love!

 

 

 

How India is turning in to a Startup Hotspot

How India is turning in to a Startup Hotspot

10th November 2016 | Decision Tree Consulting

India has truly evolved into a hotbed for startups. With $9 billion invested in Indian startups in the year 2015 and the launch of the ‘Startup India’ programme by the government, India, home to many great brains and ideas, is becoming increasingly conducive to turning these ideas to successful businesses through incubation support, government initiatives, mentorship programmes and heightened interest from foreign investors.

The Indian startup ecosystem charted a quick upward trajectory and created several unicorns in the form of Flipkart, Quickr, Ola and Zomato in the past few years. The year 2016, popularly believed to be low on investor activity, actually saw an increase in the number of investments even though the ticket size got smaller. This, again, is not a sign that things are fizzling down, but the sign of a maturing ecosystem – investors are focusing more on numbers and startups on creating operationally viable value chains. Apart from IT, a lot of diversity has taken hold in the sector which can be inferred from the success of Byju’s learning app, one of the pioneers in edutech, and upcoming healthcare portals such as Murgency.

The pressure on entrepreneurs in rising; India, a hotbed of startups is now looking for definitive success. It is clear that every e-commerce venture will not be successful and every tech startup will not receive hordes of funding. The focus is now on ideas that really solve problems, unit economies and user retention tactics.

In order to facilitate this process, the country does lend a helping hand to its entrepreneurs in terms of ease of operation, incubation, acceleration and mentorship support, tax cuts and other such measures. Moving on from existing hotbeds of Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Ahmedabad are coming up as the new seats for fostering the entrepreneurship spirit. To substantiate in figures, Indian startups raised $14.2 billion in the first quarter of 2016 itself led by mobile tech, food, healthcare, e-retail, and the latest, education sector.

 

 

 

Incubation? What`s That?

Incubation? What`s That?

7th November 2016 | Decision Tree Consulting

Incubation? What`s That?

 

You must have heard of startups being incubated... sounds odd, doesn`t it? Not unlike the little egg incubated by the hen to produce a healthy chicken, startups are incubated in business incubation centres where they get support to develop their business before hatching into the market.

 

So, what is a business incubation centre?

 

Usually a non profit organization, business incubation centres provide support to startup companies in terms of office space, infrastructure, mentorship and sometimes, even funding.

 

All business incubators do not admit all companies – a startup that wishes to be incubated must apply to the incubation centre with a viable business plan. Every incubator has a different criterion, and only startups with a workable business plan are usually admitted.

 

Incubation can be defined as a process of nurturing young startups by providing them infrastructural, management and networking support through incubation centres.

 

Here`s how incubation support can help a startup:

 

Guidance and mentorship – While an idea is the backbone of establishing a startup, guidance and expert management is the key to sustaining it; it is important to leverage knowledge of experts in the industry to avoid pitfalls and develop an effective growth strategy. However, while startups receive guidance from their investors, finding dedicated business mentors can be tough in India. At an incubation centre, startups can benefit from the knowledge and expertise of industry experts through mentorship support provided by the incubation centre.

 

Networking – Apart from putting a startup in touch with potential investors, startups incubated in the same location often develop close relations, which can come in handy – both financially and otherwise. Apart from providing each other encouragement, startup heads can discuss business strategies and build on best practices and even plan to collaborate or market jointly in the future.

 

Costs of operation – Being incubated can save a startup significant amount of money in running costs. Startups incubated by the same centre can share rental expenses, Internet expenses and utilize a common secretary to bring down costs. Incubator approved startups also have a better chance of securing funding, as incubation centres can recommend these startups to VCs and investors. An incubation centre can also provide mentorship and help startups develop an effective pitch to present to potential investors.