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Showing posts from May, 2006

Entrepreneurship Notes: 3 Issues in Customer Service

Why do so many companies offer such bad customer service, when everyone knows better?

If you think of it, it is really amazing how bad things can be. I have worked with companies which preach the value of customer service all the time, but fail to deliver only too often. And, as a consumer, I am appalled by what I keep getting everyday – not from the start-ups but also from big companies – big enough to maintain customer support departments.

As an entrepreneur, one must know a solution. No one wants to offer bad customer service. So, how most companies end up offering such miserable services? I have heard people say that customers are at fault – they don’t read contracts, for example – but that is as dumb a statement as you can get. The real culprit here is that Marketing Director who devised such a ‘clever’ contract in the first place, so clever that the customers don’t read it.

Bad customer service usually catches up with the provider. We have seen big companies being shunned by custom…

Entrepreneurship Notes: 2 What's Wrong With Business Plans?

Did you know that 94.5% of all failed businesses globally lose the plot at the business planning stage?

Well, I did not know – I invented this statement. There is neither such statistics available, nor is such a survey possible. However, I got away asking this question to many business owners and executives. Some nodded in agreement, some argued [‘I thought it would be more’], some made a note in their writing pad and some said they saw this before – in a study, but they don’t exactly remember which one.

This is what is precisely wrong with Business Plans. Having lived through the experience [see why I failed in Netprotraining.com], I know the longer you live in this make-believe world of ‘Business Planning’, the more likely you are to lose the business.

So, what should the entrepreneur do? Go ahead without a business plan? Will the bank managers or investors be impressed?

Not at all - A business plan is an extremely necessary component of the business, and will always remain so. However,…

Entrepreneurship Notes : 1 My Mistakes with Netprotraining.com

Now that my plans to get into a business soon have all but evaporated, I could manage to catch up with my reading on the subject of entrepreneurship. Whatever is its practical implication in my life, it is indeed stimulating. Surely, I was thoroughly entertained by Bobby and Sahar Hashemi’s Anyone Can Do It – their story of building Coffee Republic, or for that matter, by the engrossing piece on Sabeer Bhatia’s journey in The Nudist In The Late Shift. The good thing about these is that they are not empire-building stories, they don’t come with the super-human aura of Bill Gates, or the flamboyance of a Richard Branson [I also read Losing My Virginity in last few weeks], or the almost surreal presence of Steve Jobs. The Hashemis or Sabeer Bhatia come across as people like us, a bundle of aspirations, limitations, ‘lucky breaks’ and failures, and makes the subject of entrepreneurship a human story.

This also launched me into thinking about my brief flirtation with an entrepreneurship – m…

Poll Results in West Bengal

I saw a lot of messages on other message boards yesterday on why LF won this 7th term. The reasoning is widely varied - ranging from rigging [somewhat mute this time] to indoctrination of people of West Bengal.

I do think these armchair experts are in denial, they can not quite figure out why the LF can not be dislodged in WB. I never voted my local LF candidate, but was always of the opinion that rigging alone can not produce such a consistent majority over such a long period of time. As far as the 'indoctrination' theory is concerned, I take offence as this undermines the intelligence of the electorate, and has an 'anti-democratic' slant at the very least.

I would believe that the LF keeps winning because they are the best available alternative. They have delivered a consistent and stable administration, and have contributed in making lives better for a lot of people. They have also won two big strategic wars - first, when they were losing way in the midst of various c…

Google Trends

Have you checked out Google Trends yet?

This is the new service from Google, which allows you to see overall trends in usage of search terms, for regions, cities, languages – over a period of time.

Google Search, being what it is, an entry point to the world for most people online, is a powerful indicator of social trends. Meant for marketers, who can optimize their marketing campaigns [especially in terms of search engine marketing] – but this is a service which throws open an enormous possibility of social research. And, also, such things are also entertaining.

You can access the service at http://www.google.com/trends

Here are certain things that I learnt:

Searched on ‘Training’ and it seems most searches originate from Delhi, India.. trainers in Delhi, you seem to be a lucky lot.

‘University’ – 7 of top 10 places go to US cities, and the other three to India, Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. Are you surprised?

‘Tower Bridge’ – I wanted to see how accurate this is, and 9 of top 10 places are in…

Life Beyond BPO

I must be wrong – I have been discouraging an old friend of mine to get into BPO business. I told him that in Fast Company’s list ‘5 jobs that won’t exist in 2010’, the jobs of Indian Call Centre worker ranks third. But, then, I saw him getting disappointed, and I backed off.

To be honest, I ended up encouraging him in the end, connecting him on Ryze and leading him to the Outsourcing forum, in case he manages to get a lead. But, yes, deep down my heart, I was not convinced that BPO is a good start-up opportunity anymore, if it ever was.

I am not exactly sounding sane, and I am conscious of that. But, I have my reasons, and I must try to make my point in the assumed privacy of my blog. So, here goes – my laundry list of reasons why someone planning to launch a business now should start thinking beyond BPO.

Reason 1: It isn’t easy

Providing Call Centre Support or Accounting etc isn’t easy. Remember, when you take on your US or UK clients’ order, it comes with a Service Level commitment wh…

Failed States Index 2006

For all the optimism about India’s economic progress, one must keep watching its back – the region seems to be entering an unstable, violent phase, next only to Central Africa in terms of its regional stability.

Why do I sound so grim? Look at the Fund For Peace Failed State Index for 2006 and you will discover almost all of India’s neighbours in Top 25 Failed States in the world. Pakistan at 9, Afghanistan at 10, Myanmar at 18, Bangladesh at 19, Nepal at 20 and Sri Lanka at 25 – do not paint a rosy picture of the region at all.

India itself is at 93, somewhat cosy, but slightly worse than Libya in some of parameters [OK – oil money, I agree!]. Bhutan at 39 also does not look too good – especially when citizens’ quality of life is the professed aim of the state over economic growth.

Does this index say much? Depending on where you stand politically, you may or may not attach great value to such studies. Fact, however, remains that the region IS indeed unstable. To get anywhere near Indi…

Five Myths About Entrepreneurship : Conversations with My Brother

My brother is teaching a course on Entrepreneurship these days. I must clarify – this is not an MBA, but a subject taught in High Schools, perhaps as a part of another, broader subject.

I found this to be a brilliant idea – implanting minds at a rather early age about a career option, and also encouraging creative thinking in an indirect way. I did sit up and listen, and immediately engaged in a conversation on what is being taught, and how people respond to it.

I must admit I was rather disappointed with the curriculum. While the idea of teaching about entrepreneurship is bold and creative, the curricula seems to have been written by people who never had the slightest intention to be an entrepreneur, or to put it differently, wished their own child become one.

Two minutes into the discussion, I found myself rather exasperatedly explaining to my brother what I think are the wrong ideas being taught. And, after two hours – he suggested that I write this down, and he would add my perspecti…

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