Posts tagged "Concept"

5 Tests of Commitment Levels

“There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either in or out. There’s no such thing as a life in-between.” Pat Riley

The quote above epitomizes the true essence of commitment . There are no middle roads, if you cannot commit to certain goals or tasks, you are better off saying no. Over the last week we have talked about five levels through which levels of commitment can be tested. The list below summarizes all five levels and can be a quick reference list before making a commitment .

1. Core Values: The first level for any commitment is the need to check it for direct alignment with your core values. These are a set of values inherent and embedded into individual systems. They are the result of life experiences, culture, environment and spiritual belief systems. If we make commitments which deviate  from these core values, it will result in a disconnect, making it difficult to achieve set goals. To read more about core values and commitment please click here.

2. Goals: All of us have certain goals and targets we  want to achieve in life. These goals need to be based on core values. When we commit to a certain SMART goal, it is vital to think it through meticulously. It is only once you go into details that a commitment level is required and you can then gauge if it is something you aspire to. If the commitment is in line with core values and is something you want to work towards, you are ready for the next level. To read more about goals and commitment please click here.

3. Time: Committing to a goal requires an appropriate demarcation of time. Committing to a goal without the necessary allocation of time will result in half hearted attempts which are not productive. This is not recommended and one needs to be careful about being able to take out enough time to achieve particular tasks. Once time is allocated to a particular commitment we are ready for the next level. To read more about time and commitment please click here.

4. Support: Once we have committed to a certain goal, we need to ensure continuous support to it through the good and bad. One will most definitely encounter setbacks, this may lead to doubts about your level of commitment to the goal. Therefore, breaking commitment into manageable components is recommended, this will allow you to focus with greater accuracy as also support critical functions more appropriately. If you are committed to supporting your commitments you are ready for the last level. To read more about supporting your level of commitments please click here.

5. Improving: The last stage involves testing efforts to constantly improve on the level of commitments made. It is essential to continue to develop and enhance the processes we use to reach certain goals. This creates momentum and helps maintain levels of enthusiasm. It also provides motivation to acheive excellence in whatever you commit to doing. To read more about improving levels of commitment please click here.

These five levels provide a framework to test how committed you really are in achieving a set of goals. They force you to look deeper into situations to ensure that you are truly committed. Making a commitment is a serious matter and one which should not be taken lightly, specially in a startup venture where the team needs to pull its weight together to achieve goals. Individuals who do not honor what they commit to, cause hurdles that need to be dealt with immediately, so as to ensure that high levels of enthusiasm and motivation are maintained in the team.

The next time you need to make commitment, remember to test yourself for how committed you really are!

Improving Commitment Levels

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” Eddie Robinson

Once a stage is reached where we actively support and work towards commitments, the next and final stage is improving the processes. This stage involves the commitment to continuously strive for excellence in all we commit to. We have to continue to find ways through which to improve on the processes currently in place. This will make the journey not only more exciting but also keep it from reaching a mundane and stagnant state .

The danger of a current set of processes stagnating is directly proportional to levels of complacency. This results in dramatic decrease in levels of motivation and drive to push harder. For example, with my current blog I am reaching a stage where I feel the need for change in layout design and functionalities.  I have hence begun working on these aspects to bring in a change. This continuous commitment to improve what we are working on not only makes our work more interesting but keeps the momentum levels high and ensures optimal levels of work.

The same logic applies to working on new startup ventures. There is a need to identify segments which are not working to potential and to ensure that improvements are put into place to rectify trouble spots. Without inculcating a culture which promotes continuous improvements to processes, naturally results in rigid organizational approaches where change becomes a challenge. This ultimately results in organizations being unable to realize their true potential. 

Hence every organization committed to achieving goals and growing its business, needs to inculcate improvement of current processes as a cornerstone of their strategy. This will provide them the ability to not only honor their commitment, but also enhance the capability to reach their true potential and unleash the power of their teams. 


Supporting Commitment

“When you get right down to the root of the meaning of the word succeed, you find that it simply means to follow through.” F W Nichol

It is only once we have our commitments chalked out and demarcated time to ensure they are completed, that the actual process begins. At the beginning it can be intimidating to figure out how to begin this journey. At this point it is essential that you focus on encapsulating the commitment into manageable components and identify which parts are the most critical. This is vitally important if you are part of a team which has joint commitment to reach certain targets or goals. If you are leading this team, you need to identify the important components and then lead by example.

When you start working on these critical components you will gradually begin to see movement towards desired goals. Progress in the correct direction, provides a great boost to overall productivity of a team and motivates moving forward. This level of momentum helps achieve fantastic results. For example, when I started this blog on the 1st of January 08 I made a commitment with myself to write daily for the entire year regarding entrepreneurship and life. At the beginning I was working on getting my footing correct and identifying the direction I wanted this blog to take. I settled into a weekly routine and readership has been increasing. This increase has provided me the encouragement to continue writing and give it my best.

Along the way you will most definitely face a fair share of trouble and doubts. There will be times when you will not get the results you expect and will question yourself on moving forward. At other times you will experience great hardship in the form of losing a big deal, a vital team member or negative feedback. All of these will test your commitment and  the strenght to keep moving forward. If you have made a commitment, it becomes your responsibility to stand up and defend what you are wanting to achieve.

This applies to all kinds of commitments, business, career or relationships. If you are not committed in supporting it through the good and the bad, keeping your level of commitment constant will become an increasingly difficult challenge. When you make a commitment, ensure that you will be there to support and defend it no matter the hurdles on the way.

 You are now ready to move to the last level.

Time and Commitment

“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.” Anonymous

After you have identified core values, set goals, made a commitment to them; the next step involves starting the journey to acheive your target. Time and commitment go hand in hand. Commitments made without proper allocation of time, result in half hearted attempts which lead nowhere. When you make a commitment, be it for a business, towards a job or even a relationship, choosing the middle road results in very little progress. I am a firm believer in committing only when I know I will be able to allocate time and give it 100% commitment. 

Being a young entrepreneur this is something I have had hands on experience with. We are in a constant state of flux on this path, bouncing from one direction to the next. Harnessing this raw energy is a difficult process. I am involved in multiple business ventures at the present, however each of them have been allocated time according to my personal commitments to the venture. This has brought about an efficient use of my time and has allowed me to compartmentalize my day, week, month and year. Through this system I am able to give dedicated time to all the ventures I am involved with at the moment.

This is one word of advice I have for anyone thinking about setting off on the entrepreneurial path…discipline. This is not the easiest of paths, there are no clear boundaries and it is not sign posted to help you along the way. At times it seems you can be as free as a bird, at others you fight to catch your breath. Discipline is a vital virtue to move effectively along this path, disciplining time commitments, in my opinion, is of the essence, absolutely critical. If you want to seriously commence this venture make sure you are 100% committed by demarcating the time you allocate to the venture diligently. 

Once you have allocated time to your commitments ,you are ready to move to the next level.

Commitment and Goals

“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.” Earl Nightangle

I have memories of making many ambitious new year’s eve resolutions, every year, only to find myself coming up short at the end of the year, wondering what went wrong. A couple of years ago while still in college, I was out with friends over new year’s eve, once again the topic of new year’s resolutions came up, this time I also resolved to take this exercise seriously. I thought through the goals I had made in the past and found a couple of recurring patterns which included unrealistic timelines, instant fixes and a misalignment with who I really was. These unrealistic resolutions are often a result of lack of experience and naivety of age. I felt strongly however that this was definitely something that needed more working on.

Goals need to be in alignment with the core values that define you. Therefore, to set goals that go against these principles will surely create a disconnect between mind and body. This in turn inhibits the ability to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves. Setting goals after having identified your true core values must result in a stronger cohesion with your subconscious. The discovery of these values is a natural and ongoing process; we are constantly learning more about ourselves and this learning experience equips us to set inner and aligned goals in a better manner. 

Once you have thought of a goal which you would like to achieve, it helps if they are SMART goals. They need to be clearly defined with specifics and timelines. Only when goals are structured around achievement benchmarks will we be able to see the path that needs to be taken. Without this we will lose our bearings, not knowing which direction to take, often giving up on many pursuits.

The next step is to clearly define your goals.

Lastly you need to make a commitment to your goal and yourself that this is something you are going to achieve. There needs to be a comprehensive roadmap to get and most importantly you should know why you are taking this route and what you hope to learn along the way. There will be many times where you will be given the option to abandon what you started so enthusiastically. Those will be the times where your actual commitment levels will be tested. In startup ventures get ready to face a lot of such situations, when sales are slow, doubts are high and alternative paths are available. You need to ask yourself at those moments how committed are you to achieving your goals? 

Setting a goal is a serious commitment, please ensure the next time you make one it is done with the right intentions and reasons. You are now ready for the next level.


Commitment to Core Values

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Roy Disney

Before making any type of commitment the underlying premise must be built on a set of shared core values. Core values are a set of values which are embedded into each individual’s system. They are the result of life experiences, culture, environment and our spiritual belief system. These values are close to our hearts and if we move away from them on critical tangents we experience levels of disconnect that make continuing on that path challenging. An individual’s core value system thus provides a guiding light for those paths which are in congruence with them. 

A lot of individuals however fail to discover and connect with their core value system . When a disconnect reveals itself subconsciously, those emotions are put aside and overlooked and they move forward. When this process is repeated several times, it numbs us and soon core values get suppressed. At this level, making the slightest of commitment without this key ingredient is difficult. Success on tiered levels may then remain an elusive concept. 

It is therefore paramount that we make a commitment to identify our core values and to document them in a journal or diary. When I first did this exercise it was a liberating experience which took time. However getting in touch with your true self helps make life much simpler. Once we have an identifiable list of core values we need to make a commitment to ourself to remain committed to promoting them in every aspect of our life. They must become the anchor to keep you rooted in what you believe. Once you have consciously committed to your core values, you are ready to move onto the next level. 


Are you committed?

“If but one person believes in you, your flow of mind can move you toward incredible achievement … If that one person is you, you can evolve into realms that others would ‘swear’…were ‘impossible’!” Peter C. Siegel

Every successful organization is formed on the basis of a few select principles which provide it with the solid foundation needed for growth. A defining principle is one’s critical and inherent level of commitment to achieving particular goals. Without this key ingredient, mediocre success may be experienced but this will not bring the same level of excitement that truly great success does. It is a wonder, I think, that such an important factor is not given the level of attention it needs? What is it that makes one individual give 100% commitment on a team while the rest never seem to operate at that level? 

I am going to explore this topic in further detail this week and talk about factors which determine our levels of commitment to the projects we undertake. I feel strongly, that commitment is a key differentiating factor between those who succeed, and those who do not. It is one of those abstract concepts which are difficult to quantify and grasp. However, when we set off on a path we believe will lead to greatness, we have to constantly pay attention to the signs and believe wholeheartedly that we will make it to our final destination.

In my experience of talking to my mentors, running multiple businesses or coaching startups, commitment is the main and overriding  success factor that is mentioned.  Commitment is the underlying tone prevalent in everything those whose life is defined by it think, say and do. Just saying that you are committed to a business, a relationship or even a diet regime is the easy part; incorporating what you preach into your daily life takes courage, passion and commitment. If you are embarking on a new journey in life, make sure you are ask yourself whether you are truly committed to taking it to the end. Once you have taken that first step there should not be any looking back.

Source #3: Angels

I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community. I want something not just to invest in. I want something to believe in. Anita Roddick

Angel investors consist mostly of high net individuals. They have domain expertise in some specific area and are very well connected. Once a company decides that it wants to take itself to the next level, angel investors are usually a good first step. At this point, the advice I give startups is , find an angel investor who has domain expertise in their particular industry or field. They become an excellent reference point for you to get connected, gain exposure and set yourself up for a much larger round of funding. To begin the search for an appropriate angel investor you should;

  • Prepare a formal business plan with an attractive executive summary.
  • Get your elevator pitch and presentation fine tuned.
  • Preferable to have a working prototype or demo of your product/service.

Angel investors usually fill the void for investments ranging from $100k – $1m. Assessing your companies valuation (This process will be talked about in a couple of weeks) is an essential step before pitching to them. This will help you to gauge how much equity you will have to give up to raise the amount of capital you require. Armed with this information you are ready to begin your search. If possible get a referral from someone who may have contact with an angel group or the angel him/herself. This will increase the likely hood of getting an appointment. Without a referral, search for prominent angel groups in your city or country. Such as BANSEA in the SEA region.

Angel investors provide startups with flexibility which is not available in venture backed companies. Angel investors provide you with the ability to sell or buy your stock from them during the initial stages. This gives cash strapped founders the ability to benefit along the way. This flexibility also brings with it some unique challenges. Angels can be a lot more intrusive than venture capitalists. Some take advantage of cash strapped founders by increasing their shareholding at the expense of the founders and may even take an active role in the company which may lead to undermining the founders authority. Some ways you can guard against this scenario’s is to have a lawyer draft out a comprehensive agreement. In this way you can ensure that your rights remain guarded and you will not be caught off guard by the angels contract agreement terms. Making sure both parties understand the agreement fully before entering into this partnership is vital.

This is the stage in a startup venture when your dreams begin to take shape. When an angel shows interest don’t reach the conclusion that it is a done deal. Continue to market yourself, this will raise your companies exposure level. With a greater level of exposure you will have considerable leverage to ensure that you get the better end of the deal. Rushing this stage is never a good idea, you are selecting a partner who is essential in your journey to an IPO or acquisition stage. Keep your eyes and ears peeled and once you get that “right” feeling just go with it.

Source #2: DIY

“The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Todays source will talk about a common scenario which comes up when you have your NABC proposition in hand but unfortunately don’t have the funds to get your product off the ground and have been unable to secure funding from friends and family. At this point many begin to lose heart. They begin to doubt themselves and their belief in their idea gets shaky. An entrepreneur who has complete belief in his concepts and ideas will not lose hope at this point in time. We have several options still available to us which include angel investment, venture capital or even getting some leverage from your bank. The advice I give to individuals in this space is to get some funds together yourself or with your team mates the old fashioned way with a plan with specific goals.

In todays day and age angel investors are becoming more sophisticated and a proof of concept or prototype has becoming a necessity. Plans look great on paper and if you are an A-grade presenter you may make it through at the angel investment level. However, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to make it through without a prototype or proof of concept. The other day a friend called me asking for advice on an online stock photo website he wanted to launch. He had a lot of new twists to the conventional business model and he was essentially looking for some seed capital to convert this concept into a reality. Being a professional photographer with a good team I told him that they should raise money themselves and get a prototype of what they want to do together. This would make it easier for them to approach angel and VC investors.

Here is when things get a little blurry. Say you have skills in flash based development. You set up a home-based consultancy to promote your services with the goal to raise $10k to create your prototype. Things start to go reasonably well and you find yourself making relatively decent money without having to work at a full time job. You need to keep things in focus now, consulting work is highly customized and cannot be scaled. A lot of angels and VC’s would not be very interested in funding a project which does not have a viable exit strategy. Stay focused on creating a standardized product which can be used by millions of individuals rather than custom work developed for a specific individual. Falling into this trap is relatively common. Staying focused on the bigger picture is a vital key.

Once the prototype is developed get back out there and get some serious investment into your project to get it kick started. When you use this sourcing method to raise funding for your project remember to stay focused on the bigger picture. If you are developing a stock photo website ask your clients whether they buy photo’s online and if they don’t, how much they would want to pay for them. If you are a software programmer continue to take on projects which help you in developing modules for the larger project. Use this as a platform to get traction on the idea and to help you refine it along the way. Just remember to work with a specific goal , do not get sidetracked and lose sight of the ultimate objective .

6 Steps to turn ideas into realities

Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.Thomas Edison

Eureka! I haven’t heard someone say that in a long time but I know for a fact, whenever a reasonable idea enters my mind eureka is being echoed through my entire subconscious. Its that spark of hope that you may just have stumbled upon the next big thing. Without the spark we usually run out of gas, like when we reach a critical point whilst developing an idea. The steps which follow have provided me with the hope and inspiration to carry on when things get tough. I hope that they will do the same for you.

1. Passion, Passion, Passion!: If you don’t have this before venturing into the unknown then I would advise on staying put for a while. The journey you are embarking on is a long and difficult one, but highly rewarding. Having the motivation to get up after you fall countless times is essential. In my experience that only comes with this absolute burning passion to succeed, to prove the naysayers wrong, to prove to yourself that you have what it takes to win and most importantly a passion for life. As cliched as that last sentence may sound please make sure you have this quality in you before taking your idea any further. To read more please click here.

2. Find the people who care about your idea: Ask yourself the question “Would anyone care about what we are wanting to do?”. From experience this initial market research for your idea is the key , the reality check for the space you are wanting to venture in. A simple test would be to google your idea. You will be amazed as to how many people may be building or have built complete businesses around your concept. This will provide you with key information on how to move forward and in what way you could fulfill this need in the market place with your concept. To read more please click here.

3. The ABC of business begins with an N: The N represents the customer and/or market need. After your preliminary research, you will now reach a critical stage in which you will have to put down a lot of your ideas and research in writing. The NABC approach provides a framework for doing that in an extremely effective manner. It has become my default evaluation model. Once we identify the need we can move on to A where we talk about how we will approach the market. After which we reach B where we will document all the benefits vs costs for our idea. Lastly C will involve listing down competition and evaluating how best to add greater value as compared to our competitors. You will now have your value proposition. To read more please click here.

4. Focus…have you got it?: This is where a lot of first-timers stumble. For you to be successful you have to pinpoint the one area that you will commit to do better in than anyone else. Say for example at InnovoGS we operate in the human resources industry where services provided can be as diverse as doing simple data entry for payroll processing to restructuring the entire organization structure through consulting. We focus in the recruitment department and use psychometric tests to help organizations make more informed staffing and developmental decisions. We have focused solely on building our competencies in this one aspect for the last 15 months. Once we reach a certain level of competency in this department we have plans to move laterally to outsourcing functions related to recruitment. For us to offer virtually every human resource related consultancy service would dilute our initial focus and we would not have made the progress we have. Making sure you stay focused in the early stages of your venture is essential. To read more please click here.

5. Innovation Champions: Every venture needs at least one individual who has this awesome passion for the idea. He/she is the sort of person who infuses everyone with a contagious sense of euphoria and enthusiasm when they speak about their venture. They help team mates through the bad times and are having the most fun at the celebration party when they win their first contract. An idea without this champion would be lost and fall off the wayside when things become tough. If you are serious about the idea you are working on make sure there is at least one champion. To read more please click here.

6. Venture Alignment: In two words this is basically aligning your “core values” with your venture. When there is a disconnect between what you truly believe in and what you are actually doing there can’t be any sustainable long term success. You need to make sure you partner with people who share your core values, get idea champions to make sure everyone is on the same page and to continuously keep checking your value systems. From a long run perspective this is what it is all about. The best of ideas have amazing short term success but if there are vital building blocks missing from the foundation the structure isn’t going to last. To read more please click here.

I cant believe 3 weeks have already gone by. I want to thank all my loyal readers for yet another fantastic week. Thank you for all your emails and comments. I am accepting topics which you would like covered in the next following weeks for the blog. Please leave a comment on this blog and I will get back to you on whether I will be writing on the topic and by when. Best of luck!