Thursday, February 21, 2013

Make your Articles WORK

Here is a post that talks in a very elementary way about the importance of Article Writing and how to make it work for the overall Online Digital Marketing objective of any company.
You may be a good lawyer, anti-ageing therapist, trichologist, patent & trademark specialist, home designer, auto bodyshop expert, home designer, baking and cooking master, child education expert or a chemical manufacturing company but there are many like you out there in the cyber world. How do you get yourself visible in the flock?
How to make your Articles INFORMATIVE and EFFECTIVE.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Time for an MBA Renaissance

This article has been published in Indian Management, a magazine of AIMA.
The article talks about the issues affecting management education and the probable solutions.
This has been co-written by Dr. Renuka Garg, my guide and Head of the Department of Management Education in Veer Narmad South Gujarat University Surat and myself.
I learnt something new about the use of 'a' and 'an' while discussing with the Editor about the title.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Writing Effective Business Blogs - Connecting with Customers

"It is beyond doubt that Blogs are extremely useful for businesses. The advantage is anyone can write and upload them easily, making it available to readers without pushing or thrusting them. Once posted people can find and read them on their own.
But there are millions of blogs and posts generated each day.
How will your blog standout and rank high in the search engines for more people to see?
How will you generate fresh content regularly?
How will you ensure that readers like your blog and share it with others?"
Read the 5Es of Business Blogging.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How do we make Newsletters effective for Marketing? SME Focus

How do we make Newsletters effective for Marketing?
Laswell’s Communication Model is ideal to understand how customers PERCEIVE marketing communication. It consists of 5 Ws out of which Who is giving the message to Whom is quite evident.

Here is a blog post on how to increase customer penetration, acquisition and retention through effective use of newsletters. The blog post gives good tips for small and medium businesses. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Role of Email Marketing in Driving Website Traffic and Conversion

Here is an interesting blog post on Email Marketing and its significance in driving website traffic and conversion

"Email marketing is (NOT) dead contend Jason Falls and D. J. Waldow, who have co-written Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing, The: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win. Indeed, today email marketing is the MOST cost effective and SUCCESSFUL means to engage customers and market products, services, brands or a company. It can effortlessly reach a wider audience in a personalized manner allowing the recipient to store and forward the email if they wish. With strong email copywriting strength, marketers can accomplish greater customer engagement and enable higher sales and revenue." 


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Online Reputation Management

Enablingbiz's Blog talks about a growing concern for businesses - Online Reputation Management

"Why should you be concerned about your company and brand’s online reputation
 One simple reason…Today customers are enlightened and voice their opinion – openly online."

Read the post to see why you really need to be concerned and take action

SIDBI's Promoting Entrepreneurship and Stimulating Growth

Originally published in SME WORLD Feb 2013

SIDBI's Promoting Entrepreneurship and Stimulating Growth

This age of information and its vast potential for improving communication, information and effectiveness never ceases to amaze me. Every day around us we see numerous examples of its far reaching implication. Recently, a friend was planning to start his own micro-scale venture. He asked me where he can look for relevant information to understand how to go about it. We generally talked about prerequisites like company name, accounting system, employment issues, obtaining relevant licenses and gathering finance for the setting up the business. Soon we realized that our discussion is going on in an endless loop.

We felt that there must be many such new and upcoming entrepreneurs out there going through similar quest for authentic information. What we require is a genuine source of proper structured information through an open channel.

It is then I recalled that we, at SME WORLD, had covered the launch of Small Industries Development Bank of India's (SIDBI) ingenious initiative – a website for budding entrepreneurs –

Let us look at what the site has to offer to various segments of entrepreneurs.

Image describing Steps to Entrepreneurship What does smallB offer Entrepreneurs?

smallB proclaims that it has content applicable for new, upcoming and existing entrepreneurs. There are specific information broadly in the area of Business Plans, Funding Sources, details of Policies and Regulations, Environmental compliance, Energy saving, Business Management and Exports.

New Entrepreneur

The focus of information is appropriate for each segment owing to their unique challenges. A new entrepreneur lacks considerable fundamental information starting from how to incorporate the business, understanding the long-term pros and cons of proprietorship, partnership, LLP or private limited company. The site provides a fairly reasonable checklist for startups.

Image describing startup stages of growth Budding and Existing Entrepreneur

A budding entrepreneur as well as an existing one on the other hand lacks time for gathering latest updated information to take their company to the next level. There are lots of changes continuously happening around us in the external business environment. New policies and schemes are floated periodically but it is practically impossible to keep abreast with them while concentrating on day to day operations and running of the business. This is where informative sites like smallB come in handy.

Budding and Existing Entrepreneurs need the following information:

The site has dedicated page for downloading important forms which is quite useful.

The forum is one of the most interactive aspects of this site. It is an ideal platform for entrepreneurs, experts and companies to share knowledge and experience thus enhancing the learning process for others.

Leo Buscaglia said “The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.”

Ironing the Kinks

The site though is quite informative and resource rich but there are areas for possible improvement. Going through the site in detail, the contents seem more useful for new entrepreneurs who have very little knowledge (except about their core business idea). It is at times too generic and bookish. Quite a bit of the information is based on ideal situation which is not really the case in our business environment.

Few sections of this site need to be expanded.

The site should try to create more awareness for people keen on pursuing entrepreneurship. It sounds very good that we want to be our own boss, we want to work on our own terms and create something worthwhile but it is not a cake walk. With great opportunity come greater responsibilities. It is vital to discuss the trials and travails of an entrepreneur focusing not just on the rosy and shiny parts.

Information should be enriched and made more significant for existing entrepreneurs aiming to expand their business. What are the legal and statutory provisions, pitfalls to be avoided and avenues that can be explored need more detailed insight.

Handling government agencies and officials like factory inspector, labor inspector, tax audits etc. are real world cases that need attention. What are the best practices that enterprises should follow to handle these agencies and remain compliant? What are the rights and obligation as an enterprise? What are the rights and authorities of these bodies who visit our factories and shops? The site can develop a compendium of instances that enterprises encounter and how to avoid them. Enterprises in India are bound by numerous laws and it is practically impossible for each entrepreneur to understand each of them. Thus, a good checklist or case list will help entrepreneurs to remain aware and make informed decisions.

Book Review. Is our existence threatened? Are we ready to change?

Published in TISA Feb 2013 Issue

John Kotter, Holger Rathgeber.
OUR ICEBERG IS MELTING. Changing and succeeding under any conditions.
Pan MacMillan India Pvt. Ltd. London, 2006. pp. 147, Rs. 248 (Flipkart)

This is an amazing book by Harvard’s John Kotter written in association with Holger Rathgeber who is a modern global manager. Though written in 2006, the book’s content and message is extremely relevant today for individuals and companies existing in these turbulent times.
The appeal of the book lies in its message delivery in the form of a fable. The book talks about the devastating and life threatening challenges faced by a colony of emperor penguins in Antartica and how they overcome them and continue to flourish by altering their culture.
As you read the book, you will be able to identify with the penguin characters. You will realize that many such individuals exist in your company (including yourself) who can determine the direction of your company with their sheer efforts – good or bad. The book will persuade you to sit back and think where you are going, what you are doing, whether you are missing out on potential opportunities or overlooking threats to your existence. How are you gearing up to tackle your issues? The prescriptive nature of the book will let you create your own change management plan and enjoy the fruits.
The authors intelligently use the fable and penguins to explain Kotter’s Eight Step Process for Successful Change that was first introduced in his path-breaking book Leading Change.
The eight step process talked about in the book starts from a sense of urgency created by a young penguin Fred who discovers that the very existence of their iceberg is at stake (which is melting and leave the penguins looking at a bleak future) and when disaster strikes they will be at a disadvantage and ill-equipped to face it. He approached the most “open” person in the council of leaders to share his findings.
Once this leader Alice is convinced that Fred has a strong case, she gathers support from other leaders and creates a core team to find a lasting solution. Penguins with complementing skill-sets like communication, data analysis and pattern formation, negotiator are brought into the team. 
This core team sees an opportunity while observing a seagull and decides on altering their very culture of how they live to tackle the issue of survival. They share this vision of change and how they are going to achieve it with their fellow colony members. As predicted, there are skeptics amongst the penguins who constantly question the validity of data or seriousness of the issue.
The book finely brings out the fears and motivation possessed by individuals, the nuances of group behavior and need for strong communication, the stress that is caused by the need to change and how to overcome the resistance of people and create a brand new culture.
The turning point of the book is when one of the penguin’s Buddy gives a heart rendering speech to the colony members and tells them “This iceberg is not who we are. It is only where we now live. We will find other places to live that are safer. WE WILL PREVAIL.
As the guiding team sees positive response, they start disseminating proactive information and posters to keep reinforcing the knowledge to the fellow penguins lest their memory becomes dim. This communication is essential for buy-in as the authors suggest. But resistance continues though slowly dwindling.
When the team faces the challenge to look for scouts to identify newer icebergs, they understand the need to empower others to act in whatever capacity they can to bring about the larger change. A little penguin Sally Ann plays a dramatic role here. This shows that when survival is at stake everyone should be pulled in to do their bit for the greater cause.
But with the best of the vision and strategy or team nothing sways support like small verifiable wins which assures people that the vision is real and achievable; parts of which have been achieved. It creates hope and motivates more people to join the mission.
The initial success is little hard to come by but once that happens, there should be a steady push to keep on achieving and doing better. Complacency is the greatest obstacle to all things good. The penguins which have now started living a nomadic life slowly gets used to it and starts enjoying it. This is the birth of a newer sustainable culture given the circumstances.
The actual book is only 125 pages of lucid text and lot of illustrations. An average reader will be able to read the book completely in one hour. However, once you read it, it will hook you on with its message and set alight your thinking process. It will not be surprising if you go back to the book many more times.
Owing to its generic message about the need to change and how to go about it; the book is appealing for a cross section of readers comprising of various age group (18 – 60 years) and gender engaged in diverse occupation and roles from business owners, company CEOs, middle managers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, shopkeepers and politicians to housewives and upcoming entrepreneurs.
Everyday there is an innovation which might make our products obsolete or a new policy that threatens our cash flow, liquidity, investments. In a business, such surprises can spring from any quarter. The more prepared we are to face these changes the greater chances of our succeeding under any condition.
This book is worth investing a short time to read and see what remarkable value it has to offer. Go ahead, read it and share it with your employees, colleagues, friends and family. This book offers something for everyone.

Problems of the Indian Manufacturing Sector - At a glance

This was published in Economic Times some time back.

It is an interesting cause and effect diagram that explains the problems faced by the Manufacturing Sector.

The diagram has been created by Booz and Company.

Yesterday, Gujarat CM Shri. Narendra Modi in his speech delivered at The Shri Ram Memorial Oration at SRCC, University of Delhi talked about importance of the Manufacturing Sector in India.

There is a serious need for states to TRULY streamline the setting up and operation of manufacturing units especially Small and Medium ones to become competitive. Our economy cannot simply bank on services sector.