On Blog Writing & Creating A Business Model
Obviously, I quite enjoyed it. It is quite obvious from the frequency of my posts. I started writing this blog back in September 2005, but then wiped everything off and started again with a clean slate in January 2006. It was one of the new year agendas I had that year. I had an initial burst of 20 posts that January, amid a very busy time. Slowly, the charm of New Year agenda started dying down, and I had 8 posts in February, though that can be excused because I was travelling most of the time. However, I came back to London end of that month and had only 1 post between the 1st and 19th March. Then, my mother, most suddenly, passed away. My life surely changed at that instant, and everything took a backseat. I had only three posts in April, most of it was about my mother. I almost started a new life in May that year, and started posting again. Without talking about what happened when, I finished 2006 with a total of 66 published posts, or 37 posts written in the 9 months starting April.
But then, I lost the interest in blogging and almost let it go dead. 2007 was a busy year for me, when I changed my job and started off Direct English. My blogging came to a minimal, with only 31 published posts that year. Another new year resolution in 2008 - to write the blog regularly - and a relatively slow month of February 2008, when I spent almost a week sitting in the lovely bay-facing Hyatt in Manila, allowed me to clock in a total of 129 posts. That was more than what I did in the past two years. This is when the conversation really started off, and by the second half of the year, I had regular visitors and feed readers. I started getting regular feedback, mostly scolding for my somewhat middle-of-the-road liberalism, which inspired me to debate issues in public and even write about my private thoughts about work, travel and life. Someone told me that it was apparent how confused I am if one reads my blog sequentially. He was absolutely write as I chose to write this blog straight from the heart, and though I took utmost care never to name anyone in person and divulge any not-for-public details on the blog, I did write about my feelings and ideas quite candidly.
However, I think I have now become a blog addict. This is my 86th blog post this year, and we are on the 106th day of the year. I shall go past 129 posts, what I did in the full year of 2008, in a few days time. The conversation, indeed, has intensified and I almost answer at least one email every day regarding a blog post. I can see that I had about 4200 visitors since 31st July, not a huge count on the web but for a blog with no special interests and focus, which is almost my personal rambling, that's quite a lot. I noticed that this whole blog writing thing is self-sustaining, if I write, I get more people to read it and if I get more people, I feel like writing more. It has almost become an obsession, so much so that I forced myself to break the habit last couple of days to find some time for reading. This break also allowed me to think a bit, and realized that by forcing myself to write everyday, I sometimes write badly. Quantity over quality, this has become, and I am behaving like an over-eager schoolboy jumping in with a wrong answer every time a question is asked.
Apart from reading, of course, I was busy planning what I do after August. After settling down on the idea of doing an MBA, I obviously wanted to set up something that I can do in the spare time, which earns me some money. I can always work in Sainsbury while I am studying, but I am attracted to the proposition of starting something new. The MBA and starting a business have two things in common: I always wanted to do these, but did not dare as this means staying without a salary for at least 12 months. Now that I have made up my mind for the first, I am thinking that this is a great opportunity - an window of 12 months - when I have anyway decided to go without a salary, when I can, and should, start a business.
I have a number of ideas on table at this time. I have ruled out the ones which are outside my area of interest, and now focused on a few, which neither conflicts with what I do today and yet corresponds to my interest areas. One such proposition is to build a Learning outsourcing offering for Indian companies, with specific sector focus, and my associates and I are currently exploring business models and funding opportunities for this business.
One of the issues I faced while negotiating with Indian money men on the funding issue is that their understanding of the 'business model' is quite different from mine. My understanding of a business model, derived from Chesbrough's Open Business Models , is that a business model creates value and then captures a portion of the value. Interacting with financiers, I realized most of them are focused on the second part of the equation - capturing value. In fact, this is fine with me as long as they see that as their own objective - capturing value - but do not confuse this with the 'business model'. However, I have so far been disappointed.
Interestingly, I now see a number of entrepreneurial ventures in India, not so much in Kolkata, but in the new innovation towns like Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Cochin, Coimbatore, and the big ones like Bangalore and Mumbai, and I do think that the enterprise culture is fast spreading. In a collectivist, high Power distance society like India, entrepreneurialism has a long way to go. But, hopefully, in the middle of this recession and hardship, a new beginning is being made.