Friday, 21 April 2017

How to Get Successful at Almost Anything (Including Investing)

Everybody wants to get successful, yet so few succeed in this pursuit. The conventional way of thinking is to first define what success means to you. Whatever it means to you, you can’t get it till you persist. This sounds rather obvious, yet the underlying meaning is quite deep.

My observation suggests that many of us fail to achieve what we want to because we simply get bored or frustrated or hopeless. Many people don’t even start because they are intimidated at the outset.

Take investing for instance. Investing is not taught in school, so the onus falls on people to learn about it. The average adult is naturally a bad student and doesn’t want to learn about stuff. He/she looks for shortcuts and then takes bad decisions. Those who do start studying tend to lose interest after some time because nothing seems to be happening. At this point comes the barrage of data, research, expert views, opinions that point at the futility of what you are trying to attempt. Naturally, you lose track.

This is why persistence is so crucial. In the world, what is commonplace is mediocrity, not excellence. This means the information that readily comes to you is mediocre at best. Such information originates from those who themselves are average humans. Paying attention to it only makes you lose persistence. Time flies. You fail to succeed, but you also get to hear about those who have succeeded just because they kept going.

All you need to do to succeed at almost anything is don’t discard it. Losses, frustration, boredom, despair are a part of the journey. If you simply hang on, over time the way will manifest itself. That’s how you become the master. Mastery is nothing more than clinging onto the path irrespective of what happens.

Beware especially of statistics. They always suggest that you are more likely to fail than succeed. Getting mired in data is perhaps the easiest way to not succeed. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Idea No Entrepreneur Can Afford to Ignore

Experts have already started writing the obituary of Indian e-commerce companies like Flipkart and Snapdeal. They say that these companies have survived so far due to the access to venture capital. These companies don’t make profits and burn their capital at an alarming rate. They also tend to undercut competition by selling stuff at less than what it actually costs. This has led to the closure of many brick-and-mortar stores. 

The early signs of the demise of these companies are also visible. With diminishing valuations and increasing retrenchments, e-commerce companies are in news for all bad reasons. Yet these companies, in my view, won’t just survive; they are also going to become even more crucial with time.

How? Because these companies are all about the new way of doing business. I remember the times when I had to go to multiple stores to find the book I wanted. Let alone having the book, most shopkeepers had no idea of it. Then I came across Flipkart, which had started off lately and sold books. I also came across Infibeam, Rediff books and Bookadda. Soon, getting a book wasn’t so painful. E-commerce solved my problem. Now if it led to the closure of bookstores, I don’t find anything bad in it because bookstores weren’t fulfilling consumer needs. They had become complacent and stopped evolving. They eventually met their destiny.

It’s not about just books. E-commerce has changed our lives meaningfully, and many of us can’t imagine a life without it. That’s the true power of any business idea—how deeply ingrained it can get in consumers’ lives. Look at what Ola and Uber are doing to transport. I have recently figured out that travelling by Ola could actually be cheaper than public transport—and more comfortable also. So why not? The lesson for the entrepreneur is not to underestimate e-commerce. By all means, every entrepreneur should embrace it.

It’s true that the e-commerce industry is going through certain hiccups. But that’s normal. Any new idea limps before it takes off. With time, as e-commerce matures, it will make everyone’s lives much better, easier, more comfortable and convenient, including the lives of those who are currently writing its obituary.