What do you tolerate?

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Crooked House

Picked up a spirit level yesterday from the hardware store. While I was heading to the centre (where things are getting setup), I imagined that quite a few of the posters and boards we had put up, will have to be re-done.

When it comes to workspaces, I believe the way you have things done around you, reflects in the work that folks in that environment produce. If you tolerate crooked images hanging on the wall, paint peeling off and other colours showing from underneath and such – well don’t be offended – or disappointed – if your designer thinks font sizes are random (and writes you a ransom note), or your developer has no sense of documenting or writing elegant code.

When I step into an environment, what I see around – the intricate details, shows what one is willing to tolerate and the standard that one sets for themselves and those around themselves – that’s what a workspace says.

This doesn’t mean swanky though. You can have a pure white walled office, with a table in the middle and work and it would say quite a bit about you vs a cluttered and badly designed workspace.

Perfection is what we strive for. As humanity – especially as entrepreneurs – what we are constantly pushing for is immortality; not for us, but that through our work we would be remembered for time to come. and that doesn’t happen with shoddy workmanship that you produce and leave for today, expires tomorrow and is forgotten right after. We don’t always achieve perfection (and that is to be understood), but if you set your standard and mark anything lower than that, well you get something far lower in value.

And yes the picture frames and the boards have been checked and they are perfectly balanced – couldn’t have gotten a shut eye without getting that clarified.

 
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Looking for an Apprentice

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I am looking to take onboard an apprentice for The Startup Centre. The qualifications should be that the person shouldn’t have taken a job elsewhere before – hence either a fresher, or even a drop out (don’t care much for degrees). Is responsible and committed (won’t run away after 2 days), is based in Chennai and wants to either become an entrepreneur or wants to understand what goes into the business of building startups. The term will be for six months – will give you enough space for you to grow, and blossom, as long as the candidate is committed to expend the self to learn a new trade and skillset.

If you are not used to doing something with an eye for detail, please pass on. If you are not used to following exact directions, please pass on (there will be time for your own ideas to be placed, but if given directions, would be expected to follow it to the tee). If you haven’t been responsible in your life for something – and you’d be expected to share on that, please pass on. Should be resourceful, good with communication skills and be a net positive energy source in any environment.

If you are one such person, let me know.

Note: This would be a paid apprenticeship.

 
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Am I still relevant?

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The truth about India is that things take longer than you anticipate – its true for most businesses, but unlike the 5-6 years it takes to mature a business in developed markets, it might take 7-10 years to do it in India. Which means two things: You are going to go through phases when you have to sit up and restructure and refinance your business and adjust your trajectory, and the second bit, ask yourself the question that is painful, but a must.

I am seeing a lot of people count time that went by – saying its been 3 years, and there isn’t much to show, and hence the business might not be the right thing to pursue. Truth is, its quite possible that the three years are foundational ground work that you would have to do anyways and you are three years ahead of anyone entering that space. The question then is, whether the premise – the painpoint and the opportunity that you started off with – still exists. ask yourself if you are still relevant? Ask that question often, and push forward everyday that you find yourself answering with a Yes.

 
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Pick Someone Your Size, or NOT

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One of my advice to startups, when it comes to partnerships, has been to avoid working with smaller companies or startups. Why? Because, startups don’t have the luxury of building a brand, they are focused on actionable metrics from day one (acquiring customers, getting revenue) – which is great for the startup, and is a endearing quality, but partnerships get strained very quickly. If you are partnering with a startup whose key metrics depends on you, you will be more or less changing your goals to make sure they succeed – the relationship gets far more skewed if a startup is sponsoring an effort.

Companies are like trees. Startups are like saplings. Startups do grow faster under the shadow of a bigger tree – and not when they have to fight for the same attention and resources as another their size. Managing all partnerships take time, so if you are going to invest in one, invest in one with a bigger and well known company, where they have the luxury of seeing past the present to the future – where they are focused on building a brand and experience, instead of sales, directly from the engagement with you.

This also means, you deliver something of exceptional value for a bigger company to notice and want to work with you. That, however, will only make you better.

 
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