“Entrepreneurs are those morons who are willing to work 80 hours a week for themselves to avoid working 40 hours a week for others.” — Lori Greiner
Being your own boss and having a flexibility in working hours is something that appeals most people to walk on the trending path of entrepreneurship. However, no matter how awesome it sounds, entrepreneurship is not for everyone.
While the pros of being an entrepreneur are having the freedom to follow your passion and build something helpful for yourself and others, the downs are stretched hours of stresses, handling tons of uncertainties and moreover sleepless nights.
In this post, going to discuss six keys which can define whether you are an entrepreneur or not.
The 6 keys of an Entrepreneur.
1. Are you a self-starter?
Being an entrepreneur means that you should take initiatives.
Entrepreneurs have a strong self-starting mindset and they treat their failures as just another learning. They apply unconventional tools and approaches to solving the existing challenges. Besides, entrepreneurs are curious people who are always open to new ideas.
2. Do you have a ‘Get it done’ attitude?
Are you ready to take no as an answer? If NO, then you might fulfill one of the most critical traits of an entrepreneur.
During your entrepreneurship journey, there will be times when you might see a dead-end ahead or don’t have any motivation to keep moving. However, Entrepreneurs are not the people who stop when they are tired. They stop when the work is done.
The entrepreneurs need to have this ‘Get it done’ attitude to driving their dreams, no matter what the circumstances.
3. Are you ready to adapt to change?
Entrepreneurs embrace the change and learn from it. Moreover, they don’t only accept the changes, they expect it.
They prepare for and react quickly to obstacles, setbacks and new pieces of information. Entrepreneurs are the ones who learn to weigh and access risk and make themselves comfortable with the changes.
“Finding Opportunity is a matter of believing it’s there.” — Barbara Corcoran
No matter how many people say that entrepreneurship is not about making money, the truth is that — Money matters. Everyone wants to make money and if you can’t convert an opportunity into the money making startup, then you are not an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs see and seek out opportunities. They are the one who sees ways to make things better for everyone and make a big fortune solving those problems.
5. Can you communicate?
“Success takes communication, collaboration and, sometimes, failure.” — Jessica Alba, The Honest Company
Communication is an essential key in your entrepreneurial journey.
Entrepreneurs are good at communicating. They share their ideas clearly and passionately.
6. Can you sell dreams?
Entrepreneurs are sellers. They are ones who sell products, ideas, companies and sometimes even themselves. The ability to sell dreams is the last key to become an entrepreneur.
Quick Note: You do not always need to sell your dreams to public only. If you are not comfortable selling to the public, sell it your co-founders first. And they can do the rest for you.
Although all the six points mentioned above are important, however, there is one more key which defines whether you an entrepreneur or not. And this is — Are you a hard worker?
Startups are not an overnight success and you need to work hard for many months and probably years. And if you are not ready to work hard, maybe the entrepreneurial journey is not right for you.
“I am a great believer in luck. And I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.” — Thomas Jefferson
The last point, entrepreneurs have fun. Although being visionary is good, you also need to enjoy the present.
That’s all for this post. By the way, how many keys did you get correctly? And below in the comment box and don’t worry- even if you didn’t match as much as you hoped to. You can always learn these skills with time and experience. After all, entrepreneurship is a journey. Cheers!!
“I’m really frustrated with my blog now. It’s been over two months since the launch, and the blog is still getting less than five visitors a day?”, Gaurav said to me annoyingly.
“Relax Gaurav. It takes time to build traffic. For my blog- Trade Brains, which is getting over 100k visitors per month right now, it was totally deserted for the first few months after launch. The combined total traffic for the first three months was less than a hundred page views.”, I replied patiently.
Gaurav has been trying to build his blog for quite some time. However, he does not seem to get satisfactory results.
“What did you do to increase your traffic after the first three months? I really need an expert to advise here?”, Gaurav asked.
“Haha. I’m not an expert. I just know a few things more than you by experience. And I didn’t do many changes. I continued writing awesome blog posts and increased the frequency of writing from two to three/four per week. By the end of six months, I’ve written over 50 articles on my blog… By the way, how many articles have you written so far?”, I asked Gaurav guessing the answer to be somewhere between 15–20.
“Four!”, Gaurav said with a slightly embarrassed tone.
“Are you kidding me, Gaurav? In two months, you have written just four articles. What have you been doing so far?”, I asked for a logical explanation for not building contents.
“I was busy designing the blog and improving the user experience. Mostly, I worked on the blog theme, plugins, graphics, widgets, etc. to make it look awesome. I also worked on the site speed to make the page load faster… All those work took a lot of time. And because of it, I wasn’t able to write as many articles as I originally planned.”, Gaurav sounded a little satisfied with his answer.
“Gaurav, it doesn’t matter how good your blog looks if no one is looking at it. The only thing that matters right now is your content!!”, I replied knowing that it’s going to take a lot of time of mine to explain this answer to Gaurav
When most people launch their blog, they tend to spend a lot of time improving the design and layouts. Believe me, been there- done that. However, after over four years of experience in blogging, I can confidently say that it’s a wrong approach. The only thing that matters for building a successful blog is your content, especially during the first few months.
All the other stuff can be taken care of once you have consistent traffic on your blog. However, spending too much time on themes, plugins, social media, etc. is a wrong approach. Build your content first, before diving into these kinds of stuff.
Content is the King
Tell me one thing? Why do you follow any blog?– Remember any of your favorite blogs and try to find the reason why you started following that blog?
The correct answer is ‘Content’.
The actual reason why you started following that blog is that you loved their content and you wanted to read more. (Think this similar to following any facebook, youtube or Instagram profiles- which you also follow because you love their content). In other words, you were mesmerized by their posts which appealed you so much that you decided to stick with that blog.
When it comes to blogging, content is always the king.
If your content is fantastic, people will follow your blog- no matter how much crappy your blog design looks. Although there will be a few percentages of the audience (<5%), who might not stay on your blog longer because it doesn’t look cool. However, for the rest of the audience, it doesn’t matter to them as long as the content is terrific. (Moreover, it’s logical to focus on the 95% audience first by building great contents).
In other words, your content is the reason why the audience visited your blog in the first place. They landed to get the answer or information via your blogs. And if this primary criterion is getting fulfilled, they will stay longer at your blog. Else, no matter how good your blog looks, if their basic requirement is not met- people will bounce back.
Suppose that you heard about a new blog referred by one of your friends. You landed on the blog but found only two articles. That too written infrequently (two pieces in last four months) with average quality of contents.
What would be your reaction? Would be stick to the blog or switch to the hundreds of other online websites/platforms available to read awesome contents and get entertained?
Most probably, your answer would be to switch.
The right way to give people a reason to follow your blog is by creating excellent contents. Nobody will follow your blog if the blog post section is deserted. Maybe a few of your family/friends, just for your sake. However, the other’s just don’t care.
There are only two essential steps required to build your blog- the right way:
1. Post amazing contents
Write super helpful and entertaining articles which people enjoy reading. This will give them a valid reason to stick to your blog. The more the number of useful contents, the higher the chances of getting and retaining a loyal audience.
2. Show consistency
By showing consistency, like posting 2–3 blogs per week, you can increase the number of returning visitors as they might be interested to read what you posted recently.
Moreover, even for the first time visitors, consistency shows that the blog is active and they can expect good posts in the future. On the other hand, an inconsistent blog doesn’t appeal to most people.
It’s true that writing contents consistently may sound a lot of hard work ( and a little boring) to you right now. However, you can’t ignore the heart of blogging. Building awesome content is the single most essential part of your blogging journey.
Final tip, as a rule of thumb, write at least thirty articles in the first three months before you actually start expecting audiences to your blog. Once this benchmark is crossed, you can start working on marketing, promotion or the design of your blog.
Quit Excuses! Here’s Why You Need To Start A Side Project Today.
Last week, I was having dinner with one of my high school buddy, Sourav, who is currently working in a big IT firm. He is definitely living a lavish life and earning a handsome salary.
However, when I asked him how’s life (just a casual question with no intention for knowing the answer), he sounded a little depressed. Sourav said that although his salary is fantastic, he doesn’t find his work very challenging. Nevertheless, he has no intention to leave the job as he’s comfortable working less than an hour in a day and getting paid for a position of nine hours. In short, Sourav finds his job boring, but he is not in the mood to leave it.
After understanding his situation, I suggested Sourav that why doesn’t he start a side project on anything that he is passionate about. This will keep him engaged, and he might get new experiences and learnings.
Now, I don’t know how much seriously Sourav took my suggestion. However, I believe that there are a number of people people who are in similar situations. If you look around, you can easily find many people who
— do not find their job challenging and are bored with their regular jobs.
— have ‘ZERO’ opportunity to build something good or add value to the life of people from their existing jobs
— want to learn some new skills and experience.
— Or just have a decent idea but can’t afford to leave the job…
For all those people, starting a side project can be an excellent step. In this post, we are going to discuss why these people need to start a side project today and how it can change their life significantly.
Even many of the famous products of Google like Adsense, google maps, Gmail, etc- also started as a side project by the Google employees (Google encourages their employees a lot to work on the side projects).
That’s why, if you are also one of those who is planning to build a big empire in the future, it’s better to first start it as side a project before quitting your job. This will give you an opportunity to build a foundation before you dive in completely.
Nonetheless, even if you are not much interested to build a big startup, still there are a number of key benefits of starting a side project. Here are few of the crucial ones:
1. It can accelerate your learnings
Working on a side project can help you learn new skills faster.
For example, if you are planning to learn coding, why not better to take a side project related to it. (I remember that I build my first website startup, at the age of 19, just to test out the new web development skills that I learned that time.)
You can learn new skills better by doing it practically instead just learning from the books. Besides, building a side project also exposes you to new technologies and keep you updated with the latest trends.
2. Correct Use of Your Time
Most people say that they do not have much time left after their 9 to 5 job for working on their side projects. However, here is an infographic showing you still have around 30 hours per week left after performing all the essential activities (it doesn’t even include weekends as holidays).
When you are not working on any side project, these 30 hours are generally spent watching tv series on Netflix, going to the mall or simply falling asleep on the couch in the front of your TV.
However, once you have started working on a side project, you can use this time efficiently to build something that you love or that can add value to the life of the people.
3. Experimenting and unleashing your creativity
One of the biggest benefits of working on the side project is that it gives you an opportunity to test new things and unleash your creativity.
Here you are not afraid to fail or get scolded by your boss for doing things differently. You can reflect all your inventiveness on your side project.
4. It boosts your mental health
Your side project allows you to escape from your routine work and helps in increasing your productivity.
Besides, working on your side project also gives you a chance to meet new people and have a healthy conversation regarding your thoughts and ideas. Overall, this is an excellent option to boost your mental health.
Now that you have understood the importance of starting a side project, the next big question is how to start?
You might have few ideas of starting a side project building Softwares, Apps, Websites, blogs, Youtube channels, Publications, Podcasts etc. However, how to begin?
Here are a few basic tips which can help you to get started with your side project.
1. Start Small
When you starring your side project, it is vital that you start small. Maybe you have an idea to add hundreds of features on your app that you are planning to build. But its crucial you restrict it to only the most essentials one. This can help to avoid a lot of complications while developing your product.
In short, be minimalist.
It’s not necessary to build a titanic for your first side project. It’s okay if you build a small ship which can hold four passengers. Moreover, you can always expand your side project and make it bigger once you get more severe with your project.
2. Know what you want
Have you ever heard the story of Alice in Wonderland? It’s a story about a young girl that ends up in a strange world called Wonderland. One of the moments that’s most telling is where she encounters a fork in the road. Here, she meets the Cheshire Cat, and the following conversation takes place:
Alice: “Which road do I take?”, Cheshire Cat: “Where do you want to go?” A: “I don’t know” CC: “Then it doesn’t matter.”
The bottom line is: it doesn’t matter what you do if you have no idea where you want it to lead you.
When starting a side project, know what you want from it. If you wish to work on it as a hobby/non-profit project, or you want to earn some extra cash, or you want to replace this project as your full-time work in the future.
You do not need to know everything at the start. However, having a rough idea of what you want is essential when starting your side project.
3. Take no pressure
Finally, you are starting this side project as a love for your product.
You do not want to make it another work by taking the unnecessary stress. Use this side project to learn, grow and to challenge yourself.
Working on side project will give you an opportunity to merge the ‘things that you enjoy to do’ and ‘skills that you want to build’.
Few of the best benefits of starting a side project is that it doesn’t involve any risk, you can afford to fail, and there are no deadlines to complete the work. Moreover, the greatest satisfaction is that you are merely working on this side project only because you love to work on your product, not because you have to.
Final advise, move you lazy a** from the couch and start working on your side project now. Happy Hustling!!
“Dude, I almost had a tiny heart-attack yesterday.”, Gaurav said to me while playing with his iPhone.
“What happened, man?”, I swiftly asked him.
“I was in Cafe Coffee Day with my girlfriend yesterday and we were having a great time. Then, we had to go to this theatre to watch a movie. We booked a cab and after riding for around 5 minutes I realized that I don’t have my phone with me. I remembered keeping my phone on the table before going to the bathroom at CCD, but I couldn’t remember whether I took it back or not.”, Gaurav said to me.
“Damn! What happened next?”, I felt curious.
“I asked the cab driver to turn around the cab and go back to the CCD. And that’s when my Shruti became really angry. She said I always do stuff like this and I’m never careful. Can you believe that girl?”, Vaibhav asked me rolling his eyes.
I wanted to reply that ‘Yes, I believed her’. When I and Gaurav were in college, he did forget his phone at least ten times in different classrooms. And then, he used to force me to go into the classroom with him to get back the phone. Gaurav was always careless with his phone, laptop, and other stuff.
“No! Anyways, go ahead, what happened next. Did you find your phone?”, I wanted to reach the end faster.
“Okay. I asked the cab-driver to turn the cab but Shruti disagreed. She persisted to the driver to continue moving towards the theater as we were getting late for the movie. I didn’t understand what was wrong with Shruti. After all, it was my iPhone. I saved money for over 3 months to buy that phone and she knew how much I liked my it…”, Gaurav continued.
“You do love iPhone and you are a die-hard Steve Jobs fan. Everyone knows that.”, I said to him with a wicked smile.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Everyone knows how much I love apple products. And it was my beloved iPhone which was missing. How could Shruti not care about it?… And then I realized what was going on. Shruti must have picked my phone before we left CCD. And that’s why she didn’t care about my questions and asked the driver to go on.”, Gaurav answered. He sounded like he was Sherlock Homes and he has just solved the biggest mystery in the world.
“Damn that girl. She really rocks.”, I applauded.
“Shut up, Kritesh. I almost got a heart-attack for around 2 minutes in that cab. And Shruti’s joke wasn’t that funny.”, Gaurav sounded a little scotched.
“Actually, it was kinda funny. And I think you deserved to learn that lesson.”, I answered thinking what worst could have happened if Shruti has not picked his phone.
“Yes, I know. Anyways, I always try to be more careful with my stuff, especially my iPhone. But its just something that I can’t help. I do careless things like this all the time, unknowingly.”, Gaurav sounded a little worried. But, then I realized that it was Gaurav and he never worries for more than two minutes for anything. So, he’ll be fine.
“Tell me one thing, Gaurav. If you know that you are not so good at handling stuff — Why don’t you buy a cheaper phone? You won’t regret losing or mishandling them? Why did you pay Rs 106k to buy your iPhone X?”, I asked Gaurav a question whose answer I might already know.
“Haha. There’s no way in hell I’m going to buy any sh***y phone. I always go with the best.”, he bragged.
“Oh, come’on. iPhones are not the best. You know that there are many other phones on the market with better configuration than that of iPhone, Right?”, I tried to reason him.
“Yeah, maybe there are. But, I don’t trust any other phone. I believe in the brand of Apple. Maybe the price is a little high, but the satisfaction that I get after using Apple products are worth it”, he answered with a big pride.
“Okay Champ, I got it! Brand matters more to you than products… Now, give me your iPhone so that I can play that new game which you downloaded last week. I bet I’ll break your high score within ten minutes.”, I challenged Gaurav and demanded his phone.
“You can try, dude. But I’m confident that you’ll not be able to complete even first three levels…”, Gaurav guffawed at his remark.
According to Wikipedia, a brand can be defined as:
“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising.”
Sounds a little boring, right? That’s why I’m not a big fan of Wikipedia when I’m searching similar topics –which are not fact-based.
Anyways, the definition of a brand is relative and it varies from person to person and company to company. Here are a few common definitions of a brand presented by a few well-known personalities —
“A Brand is not a logo, identity or product. A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization.” — Marty Neumeier, Branding expert
“An Idea of an image of a specific product or services that consumers connect with by identifying the name, logo, slogan or design of the company who owns the idea or the image.” — Josh Wagga, Branding Expert.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” — Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com
A Brand is an emotional and psychological relationship with your customers.
This is the thing in your business that causes a customer to drive 15 km from the city to buy from you.
Further, you can consider a brand as a person. If you like that person, you will stick around with him/her. Similarly, if you like a brand, you’ll remain associated with it for a very long time.
What are the Key ingredients of a brand?
“Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealised, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust.” -Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
Although every little detail matters while branding, however few of the key elements of branding worth mentioning are a brand compass, name & tagline, identity, core value, meaning, and brand culture.
Anyways, what matters the most while defining a brand is the values, vision, and personality of the brand.
Few examples of the most powerful brands in the world.
“Your brand is not what you say it is; It’s what they say it is”
In the late 1880s, Coca-cola started packaging and leveling its drinks to differentiate itself from the generic competitors. When it started, Coca-cola was just another carbonated sugar drink. But today, no one can compare Coca-cola with the road-side soda shops. Maybe both the products are similar, but the difference is in the power of branding.
Similarly, if you’ve been to the McDonalds, you must know that it is also just another burger selling company. Moreover, you can find dozens of other shops in your locality with even better and cheaper burgers. Still, they won’t ever be able to compete with Macdonald.
Few other well-recognized companies in the world which are enjoying the power of branding are Amazon, Toyota, British Airways, Dunkin donuts, VISA, FedEx etc.
Moreover, if you want to know the world’s most valuable brands, here is a list by FORBES:
The simplest answer to this question is that with big brands, people want to associate with the company easily, willing to pay more for the products/services and argue less.
Branding is important because the customers have a lot of options these days. They have an option for everything at least 10x times. The Power of branding helps the company to win a price war, survive worst economic crisis or recession, or simply grow its profits — no matter how much the competitions.
It is a way for the company to stand out in the crowd, increase values to their offers, attract and connect with the ideal customers. A company with a big brand enjoys the recognition, trust, greater financial values, increased marketing effectiveness, and inspired employees.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” — Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors
When the existing businesses were busy looking for faster horses to fulfill the people’s increasing transportation demand, Henry Ford tried a different approach. When he finally succeeded with his automobile cars, Ford T-Series completely disrupted the whole horse riding business. And this is called the disruptive innovation.
Disruptive innovation is not a new concept and it has been in our ecology for a very long time. Few of the common examples of disruptive innovations are when democracy replaced monarchy, Internet replaced the traditional money making model to online make money options and Emails replaced posts & telegrams.
Two Kinds of Innovation:
In the book ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ (Originally published in 1997), the author Clayton Christensen, who is a Harvard Professor, described that there are two kinds of innovation in the business world- Sustainable Innovation and Disruptive innovation.
This book created a profound impact on how innovators think about innovation and technology. In his book- he also discussed why big firms fail under conditions of the technological change. However, in order to understand that, let’s first discuss what is sustainable and disruptive innovation.
1. Sustainable Innovation
Sustainable innovation is an incremental innovation process to improve the operations on a predictable time frame. This kind of innovation typically follows the ways the company was incorporated into the business.
Sustainable innovators only focus on the demands of the mainstream customers. If the customers want better products, they’ll keep evolving the products.
2. Disruptive Innovation
Disruptive innovations are the new innovations whose applications can significantly affect a market or industry functions. They create a new market and value systems which eventually disrupts the existing market, displacing market-leading firms, products etc.
Nevertheless, a disruption is never welcomed initially. Here are the few traits of the disruptive innovations:
# These kinds of innovation have a high risk of failure compared to the incremental sustainable innovations.
# They initially offers a lower performance compared to what the mainstream market has historically demanded.
# However, once developed, they achieve faster penetration and builds a higher degree of impact on the established markets.
# Other performance attributes (smaller, faster, simpler, portable etc) — that is not valued by the current customers — make it prosper in a new value network.
# As the innovations improve along the traditional performance parameters, they eventually displace the former technology.
Why do big companies fail?
“Companies are misguided when they continuously listen to their current customers.”
The problem with the big companies is that their business environment does not allow them to pursue disruptive innovation when they first arise because they are not-profitable initially.
Most big firms are not comfortable with disruptive innovations as these innovations do not satisfy their current customers. They only focus on the demands of the mainstream customers. If the customer wants better products, they’ll keep evolving the products.
Moreover, these kinds of in-house disruptive innovation can burn huge resources away from the sustaining innovation — which is required to compete against the current competitions. Therefore, these companies are ‘held captive’ by their most profitable customers, restricting them from pursuing disruptions.
Let’s understand this with the help of an example.
There was a time when disk drive was a billion dollar industry.
The disks were continuously evolving its storage and performance as per the demand of the people. They managed a sustainable transition from one generation of the disk drive to another (14-inch hard disk drive → 8-inch floppy disk drive → 5.25-inch floppy disk drive → 3.5-inch floppy disk drive) so that people can get better disk drives.
However, these disk drives were never able to completely satisfy the demands at any particular time as the customers always demanded better storage capacity.
Now, when the new generation of drives (CDs and USB flash drives) first arrived, they offered the worst performance in terms of what the customers demanded. However, with time, they improved their performance and offered a huge storage capacity to the people which the traditional disk drives (floppy disks) were never able to fulfill.
What went wrong here? Although the companies were continuously innovating to improve their product. But most of them went bankrupt continuously listening to their customers and giving them what they demanded.
The new generation of drive emerged in a new value of the network. Eventually, their products became ‘good enough’ in terms of performance and storage capacity and later displaced the former generation.
“Christensen argues in his book that a business must look at whether their innovation satisfies a firm’s current customer base or not?”
Few best examples of the Disruptive innovations:
Most of the disruptive innovations are not gladly welcomed by the market when they first present themselves.
For example, when the transistor radio was first launched in the market, they offered poor sound quality compared to the big analog traditional radios.
However, the fact that they were portable and consumed less battery, opened the door for the new value market. It became popular among the college students and working people who needed a portable device to listen to music at work or at the beach. And as the sound quality improved, it eventually displaced the traditional big furniture radios.
Here are the few examples of recent disruptors:
(Disruptive Innovation → Market disrupted by innovation)
Potential disruptive innovations that may transform the world
There’s always someone somewhere working to disrupt the current market system.
Few of the ongoing potential disruptive innovations that may transform the world tomorrow are Robotics, Autonomous vehicles, Internet of things, Artificial intelligence, Space Colonization, 3D Printing, High-speed travels, Blockchain technology, Advanced virtual reality, Cryptocurrency etc.
Disruptive innovation is a process where a smaller company with fewer resources are able to successfully challenge the big businesses. Most of these big companies ‘FAIL’ when they do not react to this new market disruptions.
Nevertheless, ‘NOT’ all disruptions are dangerous for the big firms. Some disruptive innovations succeed. Some don’t!!
Search vs Social Content Marketing -Which One to Prefer?
When I launched my first blog in 2014, over 85% of my traffic came from Facebook. I didn’t have good knowledge of keyword research or search engine optimization at that time. Therefore, I just focused on creating viral social contents.
I used to share click-bait contents on the facebook groups with over 50k members. At that time, the organic reach of Facebook posts was very high, especially while posting in facebook groups. Our (I and my team) exact steps were to first join dozens of active facebook groups with a large number of members, write contents with catch headlines (& images) and share them in the relevant groups. And this simple trick helped us to generate over 10k page views per day on my blog.
In fact, one of my clickbaity post named – “How Game of Thrones might end? (10 Best Fan Theories)” generated over 30k page views in a week. It took us only two hours to build that post. We literally copied ten popular fan theories from Reddit and created a long blog post. And then we shared that post in around 8–10 Game of Thrones facebook group (the average number of members in each group was about 15-20k). And boom, our blog was flooded with traffic.
During that time, Facebook was an excellent source to get free organic traffic. However, next year Facebook changed its algorithm and since then the organic reach of the Facebook posts has been continuously declining. Now if you want to reach a similar big audience on Facebook, the only alternative left is paid advertisement using facebook ads.
Later that year, I started learning keyword research and search engine optimization. And it seemed a little tight to write search-friendly contents compared to social contents. Here, you have to research different factors like what content people are searching, how much volume of people are searching for that keyword and how to write a fantastic article that can outperform existing articles for the targeted keyword and get ranked on the first page of google. Anyways, search content is definitely not as easy as creating social contents. But with time and practice, I became competent in writing search-based contents.
Today, I am comfortable with writing both search and social friendly contents. However, I need to mention that they both are not the same. The audience for your search and social contents will be different.
But, before we dive deeper into this topic, let’s first understand the critical traits of search and social contents.
Search vs Social Content Marketing
There are two ways to attract the audience. Either they find you, or you find them. And this is the fundamental difference between search and social content.
For search content, people look for your contents on search engines like Google, Bing, Duckduckgo etc. for their problems. And whenever your content is relevant to the question, google shows your content in the search result.
On the other hand, for the social contents, people are ‘NOT’ actually looking for your contents. However, if they find it interesting, they might check out your content. In other words,
“When audience wants to find you…” — Search content “When you want to find the audience…” — Social content
And obviously, the approach to be followed for the search contents and social contents are different. For search content, the valuable posts work best as these are the contents that people are searching for. On the other hand, for the social contents, virality is critical.
Here are a few key traits of search contents.
These contents are the symbol of Trust and Quality as Google (or other major search engines) are referring to them when you’re searching for any query.
Blog posts, Guides, How to’s, etc. kind of long-form content which solves or answers the query of audience works best as search contents.
These contents live for a very long time. If you have written an outstanding content, and it gets ranked on google, it will continue sending traffic to your content for a long time (until a better content replaces your post on google ranking in future).
The main aim of search contents is to inform, convince, answer or solve the problems of the audience.
Search contents require a few strategies to get ranked on search engines like keyword research, search engine optimization, building inbound backlinks, etc.
Here are a few key traits of the social contents.
The audience is not specifically seeking for the contents posted on platforms like FB/Twitter/Instagram etc. However, if they find it interesting and compelling, they will engage with it.
Emotional, humorous and inspiring posts work best for the social contents. (In recent days- live videos are also performing well and reaching more audience on Facebook or Instagram Live).
The life of social contents is short. Probably between half to one hour. A regular tweet shared by you may get fade away within next 30 mins (unless it gets viral or gets multiple shares by your followers).
The aim of these social contents is either entertain or to trigger emotion to convince the audience to take the call to action.
Keywords or SEO is not much important for viral contents. Here, the headlines and pictures should be catchy.
Should you focus on Search content or social content?
If it were the year 2008–10, I would have suggested search content. At that time, it was very easy to get ranked on google using simple keyword stuffing tricks. On the other hand, if it were the year 2010–2014, I would have suggested focussing more on social contents, especially facebook — as at that time its organic reach was way high.
However currently, there is a tug of war between search and social contents. Many websites are getting tons of traffic from Google. On the other hand, there are different sets of websites who have built their whole empire on the social platforms by creating a massive following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Nonetheless, according to a recent referral traffic report from Shareaholic — 2017 was the first time since 2014 when traffic from search dominated over the traffic from social platforms. Here is the summary of the report —
For the first time since 2014, Shareaholic says search outpaced social in the percentage of overall traffic it delivered in 2017. According to the analytic platform’s data, search drove 34.8 percent of site visits in 2017 compared to social networks which accounted for 25.6 percent of referral traffic. (Read more here)
The above study highlights that the search content got more traffic over social contents in the year 2017. So, if you are ignoring search contents or SEO for the last few years, then it may be the time to enter the arena.
Can the same content fit for both search and social?
No matter what the scenario, it would be safe to conclude that the audience & their behavior for search and social content are different. You can optimize your contents a little to fulfill both purposes. However, great social contents rarely fit into the category of great search contents (and vice versa).
For example, think of the Kiki Challenge. Many #KikiChallenge videos by different Youtubers or Instagramers got viral on the social platform. However, after a month when the trend is over, those videos might rarely be getting any traffic from the google search.
Similarly, many videos of ‘cute cats’ gets viral on facebook every day. However, the chances that people are actually searching for that specific cat on google is very low.
In short, if you are making a video of cute cats, it may be viral on social media. But the chances of getting consistent organic traffic from that content is tiny. Overall, a great social content might not be a great search content.
Both search and social contents are an effective way to get the audience, and it is challenging to conclude which one is better.
However, if you are confused which content is best for you, then the first step would be to audit your website. Figure out which contents are performing better for your website/blog.
For example, if your social contents are doing great, you can create similar contents to boost your traffic. On the other hand, if you are getting more traffic from Google, you may wanna keep building valuable contents and continue working on keyword optimization and SEO to improve it further.
Final advise, do not ignore any of them totally. Focus on both search and social content. As the wise old people used to say- ‘Do not put all your eggs in the same basket”.
“Dude, I’ve come up with an excellent startup idea.”, Kapil said to me excitedly.
“What is it, this time?” I replied with a little smile.
“Kritesh, I was doing this e-course on Coursera. It is an online platform which hosts courses offered by renowned universities in the world. I’m planning to build something similar for India, where people can enroll and attend different courses online. What do you think?”, Kapil asked me impatiently.
In the last three months, Kapil has come up to me with at least ten different startup ideas. He has been working as a full-time consultant in a fortune 500 company for past two years and now he is desperate to start something of his own.
“I think it’s a good model. But have you checked whether there are any existing startups in India which are working on the same concept and leading the industry.”, I asked Kapil.
“There are few startups which are working on the similar model. And there are a few international platforms like Udemy which provides a similar online course hosting platform. But none of them is too popular in India.”, Kapil answered while rolling his eyes.
“Hey, wait. I just remembered… Have you heard of Byju’s? They provide a similar eLearning platform for online courses like UPSC, CAT, GMAT, etc.… And yeah, there’s one more popular portal- Khan Academy”, I replied.
“Yes, I have heard of them. They are in the education sector for the past many years… But this model is really profitable, Kritesh. India is a growing nation with not so many quality education options available for the students. People are ready to spend a lot of money for their kid’s education. If we are able to build a better product, we will definitely be able to get a lot of users on our platform.”, Kapil said. By ‘we’, he meant himself and one of his colleague who is also looking for starting his own startup with Kapil.
I could also notice a thrill in his eyes. However, I had already seen the same thrill when he was explaining his last ten ideas.
“I’m not sure, Kapil. I mean, there are already many startups which are doing the same thing. And you are not even innovating enough. Just a little modification in the existing model will not be enough to get people’s attention.”, I replied empathetically.
“But this business model is very profitable.”, Kapil seemed to be stuck at this point.
“Maybe it is. And maybe you will even be able to get decent traction. However, I’m not sure about your vision. Here you have to decide whether you want to become a small fish in a big pound or you want to become a big fish in a small pound… Even if you are able to get 5–10% share of this industry, still you won’t be able to grow much as there are already many big fishes in this industry.”, I tried to explain my thoughts.
“What you want to say, Kritesh? Is the business model not good enough?”, finally, Kapil asked the question which I was trying to avoid.
Out of the past ten ideas that Kapil approached me, I only showed interest in three (which he anyhow dropped because they didn’t seem little unrealistic to him later). And that’s why I didn’t want to give any more disheartening answer.
“I don’t know, Kapil. I’m not an expert in this and I’m also learning like you. All I wanna say is that there are already many copycats in the Indian startup economy… If you wanna do it, go for it. I won’t discourage you. After all, it is your idea and you must have researched a lot about it before approaching me. However, I believe that if you want to build a successful startup, then you need to innovate more…”, I concluded my answer.
In a study by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics published at “Entrepreneurial India,”, it is highlighted that 90% of Indian startups may fail within the first five years. And the most common reason for the failure of the Indian startups is the lack of innovation.
Here is the exact context from the report:
“Seventy-seven percent of venture capitalists report that many Indian startups lack pioneering innovation based on new technologies or unique business models. Rather, they are prone to emulate already successful ideas from elsewhere.
While such mimicry can create value by fine-tuning already successful concepts to local markets, generally it precludes sustainable expansion beyond India’s borders and keeps barriers to competition — from home or abroad — low.
Consequently, despite the country’s large market size and robust startup activity, Indian startups comprise only 4 percent of globally recognized unicorns (startup businesses valued at USD 1 billion or more).” [Source: Entrepreneurial India]
The report reflects that 77% of venture capitalists surveyed believe that Indian startups lack new technologies or unique business models.
But we Indians are innovative, aren’t we? Let’s find it by studying the recipe for the past successful startups in India.
Recipe for Past Successful startups in India
The recipe to build a successful startup in India in the past was pretty simple. It’s a five-step process:
Look for a big hyped market.
Copy the model from the established companies in the United States.
Raise funding and take angels & VCs on board.
Scale the business in Indian territory.
Keep in mind the exit strategy.
This recipe has been successfully used by multiple Indian startups. For example, we have Ola for Uber, Flipkart for Amazon, Gaana for Spotify, OYO Rooms for Airbnb etc.
Anyways, please note that this recipe is only viable for copying those startups which are not specifically targeting Indian audience. For the popular startups like Google, Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, there are no copycats in India. After all, how the founders can copy and scale the idea which is already dominating the Indian market?
Problem with the old recipe.
The biggest problem with the old recipe is that it was good only in the older time. In the past, there was a need for these products since we lived in a world of scarcity.
However, with the rise of the Internet and technology, now there are no boundaries for the global startups. Many of these startups like Uber & Amazon have already captured a big market in the Indian market and many more like Spotify or Airbnb are almost on the door.
Moreover, another problem is that- there are not many big models left to copy-cats now. Today we live in a world where we have too much of everything. From online payment to booking a flight, we have an option for everything at least 10x times.
Therefore, the only alternative available to build a successful startup now is by innovating. However, this is something where most Indian startup founders are lagging.
According to the Global Innovation Index list (GII) 2018, India ranks 57th in the world, which is 40 places behind China. (Source: Global Innovation Index). And this may be the reason why China (which is also famous for copycat startups) has built its own mega-startups for even the popular ones like Baidu for Google and Alibaba for Amazon.
What’s the solution?
The biggest reason why Indian startups fail and no one is waiting for their startup is that they are not innovating enough. Just making a little change or slightly improving features for the existing models is not enough to attract customers.
These days, everyone is building a fintech model with slightly improved payment system or a little easier peer-to-peer lending app. But we already have 10x apps solving the same concern.
When Steve Jobs was presenting his iTunes Music store to the people, they all had tons of suggestions on how to improve the store. The people kept raising their hand saying, “Does it do [x]?”, “Do you plan to add [y]?”
Finally, this is what he replied:
“Wait wait — put your hands down. Listen: I know you have a thousand ideas for all the cool features iTunes could have. So do we. But we don’t want a thousand features. That would be ugly. Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying NO to all but the most crucial features.” -Steve Jobs
And this is where most of the Indian Startups are missing out. All are busy building little features. But no one is innovating enough to build the crucial one.
If you want to start a successful startup, you need to innovate things. Simply ignore the little tweaks or improvements that are not a must-have. Until and unless you are innovating enough, and building a clear, noticeable and magical product, no one gives a f**k about your startup.
Instead of trying to build a startup, build a revolution. Apple was a revolution. Microsoft was a revolution. Amazon was a revolution. People already have too much of everything and too much of choice. Why should they care if you bring a ‘Just Another little-modified’ product?
Overall, stop modifying and start innovating!! Build a revolution!
The Era of “Personal Branding” – Are You Ready for it?
“Look at all those YouTubers, Kritesh. I’m really jealous of them when I watch their luxurious lifestyle. All they do is to drive their fancy cars, make a fancy video and put it on their fancy youtube channel. And they are getting millions of views for that fancy crap and earn thousands of fancy dollars daily.”, Vaibhav said to me annoyingly.
“Yeah, I’m also a little jealous of their lifestyle. BUT THEY HAVE EARNED IT. Unlike us, they’ve followed their dream and I’m sure that they definitely had sacrificed a lot of things to reach the point where they are now.”, I replied to Vaibhav.
“What do you mean by THEY HAVE EARNED IT? I can make even better videos and put them on Youtube…”, Vaibhav answered swiftly.
“Then why don’t you, Vaibhav?”, I asked smoothly.
“You know why I can’t” he replied with little distress.
Vaibhav has been working at an IT company for the last two years. He generally enjoys his work. However, for the last three months — things have changed a little for him. He is working with a new US- based client. Because of the time difference, he has to work in the night shift. He goes to work at around 11 AM and never returns home before 2 AM. And this change in office timings has added a lot of complications in Vaibhav’s life.
“That’s not what I meant to say. It’s not that you or I can’t do it. I was saying that they have earned it because they have built a very powerful personal brand. The channel which you are watching has over 560k subscribers. It takes a lot of time and efforts to build such a huge brand. And no matter what he does now, his loyal subscribers will be always there for him.”, I tried to chill Vaibhav.
“You’re right. He has earned it. Building a youtube channel with over 560k subscribers is not a joke. I don’t have even 500 friends on my facebook profile.”, Vaibhav said with a little smile.
“Yeah, that’s right. And this is because you are a d**k who doesn’t even accepts the friend request of his parents.”, I replied with a big laughter.
Personal branding is not a new thing. This is how actors, celebrities or sportsperson are able to make a huge fortune even when after they get retired or when they are not working in their same profession.
Moreover, branding no longer just related to the companies. Due to the boom of social media and the internet, anyone can build a huge personal branding these days. Look at your facebook, twitter or Instagram profile. Those can also be considered as a small personal branding.
“We are all brands!!”
However, a few people have built a powerful personal branding around them which helped them to reap a lot of perks. Now, before we dive into the personal brand, let’s first understand what actually is a “BRAND”.
“A Brand is not a LOGO. It is a PROMISE!”
In simple words, when you have a brand, it is a promise that you make and are known for keeping it to the person who you are asking or trying to influence. This promise can be anything like your amazing products, services, values, quality, excellence, innovation etc.
When this promise revolves around an individual, then it is called personal branding. Few well-known examples of personal brands in the world are Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Tracy, Michelle Obama, Robert Branson, Tim Ferris etc. Further, few examples of personal branding in India are Bhuvan Bam fromBB ki vines, Shirley Setia, Sandeep Maheshwari, Dr. Vivek Bindra etc.
“Personal brands allow individuals to differentiate themselves by consistently articulating and leveraging their unique value proposition.”
In the recent times, a lot more people have started exploring this option as a career choice. You might already have heard about the famous YouTubers or Instagram celebrities with millions of subscribers/followers. Even people who do not have such a huge following in millions, still are able to build a big enough personal branding to live a chilled life.
Besides, having a good personal branding is really important these days. There are many people who have a very high potential but are unsuccessful because of the way they are perceived by other people. When personal branding done wrong, it can severely affect the career or livelihood of the person. On the other hand, if you have a powerful personal brand, people will pay more for your services and argue less.
6 Steps to build a powerful brand:
“ Your job is to do your job really well. Continually think every day how you can be better than you were yesterday.” -Brin Tracy
Building a powerful personal brand is not an easy task. It requires a lot of efforts for long consistent years. However, when done right, personal branding can exponentially grow your career. Here are six actionable things that you can do to build a powerful personal brand:
1. Specialize in a niche
If you want to stand out, the first thing that you need is a specialization. This specialization can be in any field of your interest like cooking, swimming, entertaining, martial arts, blogging, photography etc. But you have to choose at least one area where you can become better than 90% of the rest of the world. You cannot do all things for everyone.
And for this specialization, you might need to invest in yourself first. Maybe you can do some courses, read books, attend seminars, conferences etc. Nonetheless, you need to specialize in a niche of your interest around which you want to build your personal brand.
2. Start Thinking Yourself As A Brand
“A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of a consumer.”
If you want to build a powerful personal brand, you need to start thinking of yourself as a brand. You are not an average individual anymore, which no notices or cares. You need to think from the prospects of your followers or the audience whom you are trying to influence.
A brand is a promise. And you need to define this promise to your followers. You need to focus on how you wish your brand to be perceived by people or what pops-up in the people’s head when they think of you. And when you are a clear vision of the perceived brand image that you want to reflect, start working on it daily.
3. Build a Followership
A good point regarding building a followership is that it is not very difficult these days. If you were born 25 years ago, maybe the only way to build a followership among a huge audience was by getting interviewed in a newspaper or appearing on the television.
However, these days it’s really simple. For example, by just setting a simple blog, you can reach out to a huge worldwide audience without any restriction of location, age or culture. Moreover, blogs/websites are not the only options available these days. Many people don’t even have a blog, but their entire personal branding is based on the free social media platforms like Youtube channel or Facebook page. Instagram is also a very alternative these days to get followers and build a personal brand.
My advice, find a social media on which you are comfortable and start working on your personal brand today. For example, if you good in writing, start a blog; If you like making videos, start a youtube channel; good in audio/music, start a podcast; like taking photographs, join Instagram etc.
Quick Note: When you are building your personal brand, it’s really important to audit your online presence first. A simple google search for yourself by a potential follower may build or destroy your brand. And that why you need to customize your online presence. Run a simple google audit regarding your name and find out what it displays. If it doesn’t display anything, then it means that you are yet to build a brand. On the other hand, if there are already few powerful existing brands or personalities on your name, then you might need to think of an alternative to differentiate your self.
4. Add value to your followers
A brand always begins with your values. What do you stand for?
“I help small business to improve their online presence…” “I help people by helping them to boost their confidence to reach their true potential…”
You need to add value to the people’s lives in order to build your brand. The people will remember you and look up to you if you are solving any of their problems or adding value to their life.
Else, an alternative is to entertain them. Either add value or entertain. There are the only two methods to engage with your audience. The best scenario is when you are adding value and also entertaining your audience at the same time.
While building a personal brand, networking is the key. Until and unless you network with other brands, it’s really difficult to grow faster and reach a bigger audience.
When you are just starting your personal branding, always start networking with the 3C’s -College, Colleague, and Company. These people are easy to reach out and connect. Further, leverage your existing networks and participate in conferences, meetups etc to build new networks.
6. Be consistent
The seventh and final point to build your personal branding is by being consistent.People care more about how consistent you are rather than how good you are. Consistency builds a trust among the people. If you show up at their door every day, they will remember you.
Therefore, be consistent and work every day.
Having a big brand helps people to get paid more for their product and services with fewer arguments or justifications. However, it will take time and efforts to build your personal brand, but it is totally worth it. After all, personal branding may be the only thing that no one else can take away from you.
Finally, here are the five simple rules of building a personal brand- “Be Diligent, be consistent, be relevant, be interesting and be yourself’.