September 08, 2014

Why it maybe a good idea to (slightly) undercompensate your best people

If increasing pay doesn't work to motivate and retain your best people, what will? Try paying them less advises Atul Jain, CEO of US-based analytics firm Teoco. Extracts from the Business Line article by Teoco country head Srinivas Bhogle:
The gratitude that you think you’ve earned after giving a hike or a bonus fizzles out very quickly. Within a matter of weeks the employee begins to take his ‘new’ compensation or incentive for granted.

...instead of slightly over-compensating our employees, we slightly under-compensate them. If this sounds crazy, hear how Teoco’s CEO Atul Jain explains why it might work. He says, “Assume that I’m the CEO, and let’s see it from my perspective. I see the under-compensated employee as offering me more value. I’m therefore always a little more cognisant of his concerns and requirements; and my sense of fair play forces me to offer him the more challenging or lucrative projects. So he usually ends up getting much better projects and learning the harder part of the business. This experience, over time, makes him progressively more worthy and valuable. It’s just the opposite with someone who is over-compensated. I know that he’s giving me relatively less value, and, if I’m required to cut down my numbers on some project, his is likely to be the first head on the chopping block.

...Last year, some of our smartest youngsters went away when bigger companies enticed them with bigger compensation and bigger promises; but a year later some of them are desperately keen to return – because they find that they were either on the bench, or forced to handle the legacy support of a big-paying customer with no new learning opportunity on the anvil. They eventually figured out that in the first half, or first third, of their career a bigger opportunity and exposure is far more important than more money.  

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

August 03, 2014

No 3rd "Flamemail" Rule

NEN's Srikrishna has provides a simple rule to nip flame wars conducted over email in the bud (emphasis mine):
Most back-and-forth email stinkers or flame wars are preventable and many times seem downright silly or petty. Yet they seem to pop up all over the place with near-despairing regularity. Flame wars, particularly between colleagues, is a huge emotional sink, sapping productivity and motivation. This is even truer when the parties involved are in the same office. It is to overcome these that we’ve formulated a simple rule – yep 1 single rule to prevent email flame wars.

The No 3rd email rule Simply put this rule states, if one person has sent an email (#1) and a second person has responded (#2) and it’s clear that they are not agreeing, or not happy – there should be no 3rd email sent. Instead the two parties should talk in person (sometimes this only requires swivelling in one’s chair) or pick up the phone, if not in the same office.
Think about it – most email flaming starts due to one of two reasons:

public questioning, accusation or challenge (real or perceived) by usually the sender
outright misunderstanding by one party (usually the reader)

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

August 02, 2014

Startup Hiring on a "Attitude vs Effectiveness" Matrix View

From the wow post by Srikrishna of NEN

...Quadrant 4 – Don’t have the right attitude but are effective This is the hardest group to deal with. The obnoxious sales person my friend had to deal with, the supercilious technologist or rude finance guy we met all fall into this quadrant. Two things make it difficult to effect change with these folks -
- they are deemed successful and have been rewarded in the past, despite their interpersonal shortcomings.

- they are often positions deemed critical, that make change not just unpalatable but downright scary. “What’ll happen to my sales, if this guy leaves?” or “Will I find another trusthworthy finance guy?”
...Organizations suffer the most, because most of us don’t know how best to handle Quadrant 4 folks. The first step is to recognize not only the existence of these four quadrants but that people can move within the quadrants. 

...I’ve found talking about the four quadrants and even mutually agreeing with your team members where they see themselves and where their peers or you see them helps immensely. This way when it is time to have the hard conversation, you both have a framework and vocabulary that can help keep the conversation professional.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

May 13, 2014

The Highly Effective "Dear CEO, Please connect me to the appropriate person" Cold Email

Extract from a Mixergy Masterclass titled "How to use cold emails to make sales – with Bryan Kreuzberger" (emphasis mine):

..how do you find the decision maker and get them to hear you out?

Use the Waterfall Technique 

Go directly to the top.

When Bryan wanted to pitch Best Buy, he wrote separate emails to the director of marketing, the VP of marketing, the CMO, and the CEO. “I know the CEO of Best Buy isn’t the right person for me to talk to,” says Bryan. “But I can put together an email that is crafted from [their] perspective. They’ll just delegate it. And now [the person the CEO delegates to] has to take my meeting.”

Bryan says this technique uses the company’s hierarchy to your advantage. The request is coming down from the CEO to the manager, much like water flows down a waterfall. And if the CEO asks an employee to do something, they have to do it. In the case of Best Buy, the VP of marketing emailed Bryan back, asking him to present to six executives, who he says he never could’ve found on his own.  

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

May 05, 2014

"Customers speak the truth through their wallets"

From a Mixergy Masterclass with Mike Michalowicz on how to specialize, fire bad customers and systematize your B2B business.
“If you have more than four or five competitors, [your offering is] way too broad,” says Mike. “You can be a heart surgeon or you can be a general practitioner.

...Let your customers decide on your specialty . “I believe people speak the truth through their wallets,” says Mike. “What I care about is the ones who spend and buy from you repeatedly, the ones that generate the most revenue and pay the quickest and show you through their actions that they truly value you.” Once you’ve identified those customers, get inside their heads. “You need to understand their market as best as you can, perhaps even better than they understand their own industry, and then cater to it.”  

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

April 27, 2014

To the Employee: 8 Things Your Boss Wants To Tell You

Extracts from a
blog post by AnnMaria of The Julia Group (emphasis mine).
1. Show up when you are supposed to show up. ...The point is that if I say I will be in Fort Totten, North Dakota at 10 a.m. on April 10th, if you come into the office at that time, you should find me there. Reliable competence is worth more than unreliable brilliance. I can make promises to a customer based on reliable competence and know that those promises will be kept. ...
4. Don’t just do the bare minimum! Most jobs offer a great opportunity for people to LEARN and unlike college, they actually pay you to do it. What a deal! At The Julia Group, you can learn how to do everything from complex statistical calculations to use the video editing software. Specifics may vary from one job to the next, but the more you learn, the more valuable you are to us and the better it is for your future. Don’t just do only what you are specifically asked and then sit on your hands. Suggest something! Ask questions! Explore! There are a ton of resources for learning about your job – an internal wiki, the internet, books. There is no excuse for anyone ever to be just sitting around doing nothing.

...8... there is a point beyond which it is not worth the pain in the ass of putting up with you.

If you take all of these 8 points to heart and mend your ways, before you know it, you will be the boss and God will prove he has a sense of humor by giving you employees exactly like you were.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

April 23, 2014

Financials 101 for Startups - Revenue Growth Vs Profitability

Came across this old post by US-based venture capitalist Mark Suster on the topic via a recent guest post by Amit Sharma in NextBigWhat. Uses comparative examples to help understand Gross Margin / Net Revenues, Price/Revenue Growth, Cash Flow vs P&L Profitability, etc. Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.