Flt.Lt. Sridhar ChakravarthiStart up mentor and speaker

26+ years of work experience in Defense, Manufacturing, IT, KPMG, education, hospitality, sports and a few Start ups. Have been mentoring start ups since 2007. Into my fourth startup now. I am also mentoring 10 start ups including one in Uganda. I love cycling and am planning a 500km ride next month.

Recent Answers

They may be essentially looking at your client base. Digital marketing contracts are usually long term. They need a business development guy as they are not able to advertise and grow using the new age tools and tech. Look at the synergies and the levels of independence. Will you have only the delivery responsibility or marketing/ sales as well? Are they talking about digi mktg division with you as a head? What will happen if you are not able to generate any revenue?

Catch 22? Not at all...You need to project your weakness ( according to you) as a strength. Be open and bold about your online business. It is work experience and not a career break! You take that experience to the companies who are in the same line of business and you are very exciting for them.

Please dont waste your time with recruiters. They have fixated ideas and mandates and can rarely identify or appreciate real talent.

You need to get rid off your baggage you are carrying in your head. Your non-profit work would never become a business as your target customers cant afford to pay. Keep it that way and continue doing good karma.

Join relevant LinkedIn groups based on your business and connect with like minded people. Target businesses in the same domain and directly contact them seeking appointments with hiring managers. Go as an entrepreneur and explore synergies.

There is no shame in saying that your business did not work. But analyze why. If you feel that it is only because you did not promote it actively, then please go ahead and promote the hell out of it. Being an entrepreneur is the best work experience any employer can get as you would know the entire business cycle.

You never know, your promotion, done in the right way may actually create more jobs!

Please read The New Strategic Selling by Miller & Heiman.
The best way to get user buy in is to let them use it for free.
One more problem you need to solve is to build use cases and case studies for different types of industries and organizations and then sell those stories, rather than your services.

Please don't make the same mistake made by every other SEO / Web developer. As a small company ( your target customer) why should I have a web site? Don't laugh! What extra benefits I will get from my own website which I cant get from a free face book page or LinkedIn page?
Which is easier medium to reach , attract and retain my target customers?
Stop selling tasks or services. Start selling results. Go for a revenue share from the improved sales and have a 3 to 5 yr contract, with a provision to revise the share annually.
Don't go for volume driven discount. In fact pick up very small % in the beginning and increase the revenue share year on year based on the increased sales. This removes the entry barriers and gives you better returns in long term.
The challenge is that you cant offer the services to competing businesses. That becomes your unique selling proposition. You can actually ask the business to pitch to you so that you can better understand the revenue potential and work as a partner rather than a vendor.

Great...if you are feeling lonely and self doubt, you have already hit the bottom..there is only one way to go now. up and above. This is where you need to start tweaking your business and revenue models. May be the customers are telling you things you are not listening. Take a deep breath and start doing small things. Conserve cash and don't do large campaigns. Test the changed model in captive small customer groups till it works. God willing and you properly listening to your market, things will happen soon. The best people to keep you company are your customers, when feeling lonely.

The biggest challenge is not finding money but finding viable livelihood options for the poor. I suggest you study Prof. Yunus work. First work with the poor and let them come up with local opportunities for generating income. Take a few viable cases and fund them. Once these ventures are viable, you have a proven business plan for the investors. Why investors? You may even go through the regular banking system. Your margin will be what you charge extra above the lending rates. VC funding will put extra pressure on you to charge very high rates and it can be regulated by the govt, as it has happened in India. Such high rates also defeat the core purpose of your business. All the best.

I hope you have heard about www.meetup.com This site has completely segmented the market across the world. Go find your target market and start promoting in that meetup group. Most of these groups actually meet frequently. Best way to connect and network

I am happy that you have not started off developing something without really talking to your customers. Technology by itself does not mean much. First you need to decide the domain. Do you want to solve the problems of old people, patients, school kids, moms, unemployed youth, unemployed seniors, grocery store owners, car owners, car mechanics ...figure that out. This usually should come from one of your hobbies, some thing you do regularly or an area of your passion. It could be water cycling, for all I care.
Now look at the way people are doing stuff or trying to get some things done in the chosen area. The problem happens only when someone wants to do something. Either he is not able to or it is very difficult,or it can be improved.
It becomes a big problem based on the seriousness of the tasks to be done and the number of people who are trying to do this task. Everyone in the world seem to be trying to form groups and stay connected with them easily, for free. That is why Whatsapp is a great success.

Hope this clarifies. Nothing comes out of technology in isolation. First connect with a selected group of people and see what they are struggling with. Then see if you can provide a solution , using technology.

All the very best.

Suggest them some tools like Value Proposition Canvas. That way you are offering solid advise. If they still need help, they have to pay. Never get to be reseller. Most of the IT guys never bother to understand their target customers and build a solution around their assumptions. So really cant help many of them.

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