During my school days, we used to have a time-table for full day. When to study, when to play, what time to go to sleep, exercises etc. and it was a wonderful way to keep us organized and pack in more in the 24 hours. Later, we went to college and got a bit spoilt by the freedom! That was followed by a job, where every day was in a learning or fire-fighting mode! It was at IIM Indore, which I joined to do my MBA after leaving my first job, I rediscovered the importance of ‘to do list’, and that is helping me in my entrepreneurial journey at Nurture Talent Academy till date!
1. Make a list of people to call up/ follow up with
Every day is an experience for an entrepreneur specially the start ups. There will be thousands of people to talk to including your customers, suppliers, government agencies, investors and advisers. Start the day with a list of important calls that you have to make for that day which may be a telephone call (for low priority or non-urgent) to personal meetings where it matters the most. Try to postpone/remove people who are nice to talk to but mean nothing to your business or add no value.
2. Send a sales proposal to a prospective customer
A start up journey is like bicycling you fall down if you stop peddling. And that peddle is called sales. I personally try to send at least 1 sales proposal (by email, post, etc.) to my prospective customers everyday irrespective of volume of business expected or possibility of getting business. You can be lucky if your competitor is not doing this daily who knows you could be the only person approaching the customer!
3. Follow up for any pending payments
If sales is what drives a venture, it is cash that keeps it alive and any pending payments at an early stage of a company are like cancer keep following up for your payments diligently. This is more important than making business plans and approaching investors.
4. Speak to your employees
I have always realized that the role of an entrepreneur is to find people smarter than herself, and motivate them to achieve their goals. One of the most important aspects of this is to constantly communicate with your employees, sometimes talking about their professional issues, and other times about general or personal ones. Make it a point to talk to your people daily. I learned this during my stint at Asian Paints, when through daily team-building, dialogues and discussions, we could take up our performance 200% in 1 month.
5. Analyze your performance against your target metrics
As an entrepreneur, we need to balance thinking with action. If we keep running, then no matter how fast we are, if we do not analyze which direction we are headed to, we will not go anywhere. I have seen a very highly successful entrepreneur, who raised his 3rd round of venture capital funding recently, measuring and analyzing his company performance almost on a daily basis. The key metrics could be product development (number of modules ready, lines of code written etc.), page visits to websites, revenue, expenses, customer inquiries etc.
6. Check your bank account
I do not know how many start ups do this, but I get some internal motivation by checking my company accounts daily it can as well de-motivate you if you are not acting upon how to get the cash in or control the cash out!
7. Remain updated with Google Alerts
In current scenario, there is no time to read newspaper, listen to radio or watch TV but it is always important to stay updated with what is happening around the world as well as in your business domain. Google alerts is a good way to stay updated, as it gives a summary of news/blogs etc. on your relevant keyword and sends you a mail on the same.
8. Give some time to family/friends
Being an entrepreneur is a rewarding though stressful situation. It is always good to give some time to your family and friends, so that you are refreshed for another day at work. Have a nice time, go out for dinner, watch a movie, or just talk about your lives. You would want someone to share your success with! These are the people who will be the happiest when you come live on TV someday to collect the ‘Highly successful Entrepreneur’ award!
9. Introspect, but do not procrastinate
For 5-10 minutes daily, spend some time thinking about yourself where did you start, where are you now, where do you want to be, think big! If you introspect, and start thinking that you have grown, that’s the first step towards growth. I have found people being happy with their current status, and never introspected about why they started as an entrepreneur.
10. Make a ‘To do list’
This is obvious: You cannot do things unless you write them down. Personally, I use my mobile’s task app or memo pad to keep track of things. And then I keep ticking or deleting the task as it is completed.
I am sure that there are lots more to the list, depending on your stage and priorities, and I will be happy to listen and learn from your experiences. I am sure there will be lot of distractions to your work, and some of them very valid that you will have to immediately address, but a disciplined approach will help you take out time for that too.
|About the Author
Amit Grover is an IIT Delhi and IIM Indore alumnus, an individual with a passion for entrepreneurship. He is the founder of Nurture Talent Academy (www.nurturetalent.com), which has conducted 35 programs, across 10 cities, attended by 550 startups. It conducts programs for budding entrepreneurs on areas like finance, business plan, marketing and setting up a company. He is also a member of Mumbai Angels, a group of early stage investors and has led over 25 deals in last 4 years.