IS YOUR BUSINESS ALIGNED ? LESSONS I LEARNT ON MY ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY.

When I started on my entrepreneurial journey I wanted to pick up any kind of clients , the focus was growing the business.

Over time I realised that this was sapping my energy and the clients either left or I had to let them go.

This was a waste of my time and energy. And here are a few lessons I picked up.

1. Scarcity Vs Abundance. It is the scarcity thinking that got me to pick up any and every client that came my way . What if there was no business was the biggest worry.

I soon realised this did not help. I would end up picking wrong clients or work .

This is also true for a job , picking up any job to pay the bills soon backfires as you hate working everyday.

Focusing on Abundance helps . There is truly enough in the world for your need. You need to trust the process of the universe.

This needs patience but it works. Define the kind of clients you want to work with it will save you a lot of wasted time and energy.

2. Greed finally hurts . You accumulate more , you get on a treadmill that never stops.

Focusing on having more drives you to pick up more work not necessarily what you love to do.

If you wish to live life on your own terms focus on what is truly important, cut the crap , de clutter life , drop the extras.

When you drop greed for more in life the pressure to go after any client or job also drops away.

3. Don’t look at others . This is one of the biggest problems, we constantly look at others and compare.

When your neighbour has a bigger car it becomes a problem. So we keep accumulating things so we can show off . We want to look better.

We chase business to compete and it makes us feel good . We always feel that the spotlight is on us while the reality is no one is bothered .

Everyone is focused on their life story not yours. So stop looking at others . Follow your path , it is different.

4. Cut the debt . A very practical advice , if you have debt you have to pay the bills . To pay the bills you will pick up anything that comes your way.

You get caged and stuck to a rat race as bills need to be paid. The bigger house and car is not worth it if it puts handcuffs to your dreams.

Cut your debt if you wish to live an intentional life and choose your work.

I went to zero debt before I began my entrepreneurial journey.

5. Listen to your heart . If it does not feel ok your heart will tell you . You will feel it in your body.

If you feel the dread of waking up , going to work or dealing with a client know that something is missing .

Check for alignment . You have to feel the joy of creating. If you find a client is always picky and is running you down , does not respect you , it is not worth it.

Not being aligned to your calling hurts you in ways more than one ways . Don’t postpone, get out , drop such a client or job , it’s going to be detrimental to inner peace .

6. Don’t pick up clients who don’t have money to pay . I have had such clients who want the work to be done but don’t have the capacity to pay .

They would promise to pay once their business picks up. I would pick them up anyways hoping when they when they do well they would pay .

This was a mistake they would soon drop out or drain me without any joy or value for what I put in as effort.

Bless such clients, to go on their someone they can afford. Don’t compromise it never works.

If the clients you work with don’t see value , it’s not worth it to hold on , bless them and let them go immediately. Either way they will go, it’s better you let them go.

If you don’t value yourself, no one else will.

7. Don’t pick up any business that does not align with your values even if it pays well . When your heart is not there in what you are giving out in the world , don’t do it.

There is karma and it will come back to bite you some day. Any business that is not aligned to your values where you feel people are getting cheated or the vulnerable are exploited, stay way.

Ask the question ‘why’ do you wish to become an entrepreneur and what is the ‘value’ you are adding to the world.

Find those clients that align with your ‘why’ and drop the rest . Trust the universe to take care . Focus on adding ‘value’ with your unique ‘gifts’.

Alignment brings joy to life there is no other way to live.

WHEN CONSUMERS BECOME ACTIVIST

Research has shown that majority of consumers will boycott a brand because its position on a social or political issue , and it is no longer ok for brands to sit on the side-lines when it comes to issues their customers care about.

Brand safety and polarisation

Brand safety has become a huge concern for advertisers in recent years, as social media has become a hotbed of polarization and misinformation, especially in chaotic moments.

In India after a backlash on social media, which saw #BoycottTanishq trending on Twitter. The ad for Tanishq’s new collection called Ekatvam – which means ‘oneness’ had to be pulled down.

In the US after the Capitol Hill riots advertisers paused media spends.

Brand managers need to think ahead of the impact of every communication and at times they will be forced to take positions.

Post COVID changes in marketing and communication

Consumers look upto brands for being more conscious and compassionate. We recently saw how a founder of the large vaccine manufacturer in India was trolled for the pricing strategy communication.

Making profits at the cause of human lives is not seen in good light . Exploiting an opportunity in crisis is not ok and there would be a consumer backlash on the brand.

Organisations that treat their employees with care in testing times are valued by consumers and also employees.

Climate change and impact on Brands

Pre-pandemic , the world was in the middle of a shift from conspicuous consumption to conscious consumption . The pandemic has only accelerated this ark . Organic food market has grown and this trend will grow as people focus on their health and well-being. Vegan lifestyle is another trend that seeks compassion towards animals and is also seen as a health trend with many celebrities adopting this compassionate lifestyle.

Brands that pollute our environment and promote conspicuous consumption that is detrimental to our planet will not be appreciated by consumers. Climate change impacts are being witnessed across the world and this is now an Urgent topic for consumers.

Foods that are seen as unhealthy are being challenged in various ways by consumers. We see the rise of films that expose such brands and unhealthy fast food industry and their impact on our health on OTT platforms and on YouTube.

Shift to Purpose Driven Brands

Health- focused is only part of the Conscious Consumer . Consumers have been trending towards purpose driven and ethical brands. The trend towards sustainable, ethical and purpose driven will only continue.

CSR and Marketing will come together

Corporate Social Responsibility and Marketing will no longer be two different teams with different mandates . Social responsibility will be part of marketing stories of brands. Brands are expected to go beyond just being profit making entities they are valued based on the commitment to the communities they work in .

The Tata companies in India are respected for always keeping people beyond profits and nation building before the organisation. These are iconic brands that have built Trust over the years.

Exploiting vulnerabilities

Brands that exploit a vulnerable segment for profit will have to face the music from consumers as was experienced by an edutech brand that exploited parents from poor sections of the community with expensive courses through sales and marketing miscommunication.

On top of that it was getting accounts blocked of voices of dissent across social platforms. To the extent that the brand filed a defamation case against someone who exposed its malpractices.

The brand was heavily trolled and finally had to withdraw its case. Only profit and valuation will not help when consumers become activist .

To build a long term and sustainable brand ethical practices are essential.

Today every consumer is a potential activist with his / her own broadcast channel . Brands will need to wake up to a new more conscious world.

WE ARE AT WAR

“we are at war” , I heard a young doctor share her story.

She is a frontline doctor at battle in a COVID ward.

Nothing prepared her for this.

She has been suddenly thrust into a nightmare.

She feels deep guilt of not being able to save a life only because there is no oxygen

Or she has to turn someone away who is dying because there is no bed.

“We are doctors, we take an oath to save lives” she says , crying.

She feels responsible for the deaths around her.

Her hands tremble when she has to take spot decisions on medicines , she does not know if it’s the right call.

She is angry that in such a situation there are people who are black marketing on medicines and oxygen.

She is afraid when she goes home for her two small daughters , afraid that she may carry back COVID.

Yet she cannot sit home , lives have to be saved.

It hurts her that family members shout at them when they are unable to do anything to help.

She is angry that those who know nothing about what is happening in the frontline are the ones taking decisions.

“How can they ?” she says.

She does not want her daughters to follow her profession.

Doctors are overwhelmed fighting this battle for us .

Can you call up a doctor you know who is fighting this war for us and express gratitude?

IMMUNITY + SPIRITUALITY

This I think will be the most important keywords for life going ahead .

Because 2020 taught is life is uncertain. Not that we did not know this earlier but now the message had hit us as ‘Urgent’.

When the pandemic swept the world we were face to face with our vulnerability. The world could be locked down by a tiny virus.

In India I am seeing terrifying moments unfold , we did pretty ok with the first wave , we felt as Indians we were special. Until the second deadly wave of COVID 19 hit us.

Hospitals are overwhelmed, medical infrastructure cracked , people are dying because of lack of oxygen and even money cannot get you the hospital bed you need.

Vaccines will come but it now seems certain that so will the waves , each different from the other.

So while vaccines do their work we as individuals to survive , to live , we will need to turn to twin things that are in our hands , take care of mind and body.

Spirituality and faith are strong antidotes to uncertainty, not religion but spirituality. As we see waves of lockdowns and opening up , living Iman uncertain future more and more will turn to spirituality.

While doing all the prudent things like taking vaccines and following COVID appropriate behaviour there will be greater focus on preventive health and building immunity.

Exercise, Diet , Yoga , Meditation will be the keywords to build self immunity. This is an area beyond the regular medical approach to treat symptoms.

Marketing will see the two most important words Immunity and Spirituality and businesses around these flourish in the times ahead.

1% , 1 Person

Statistics have a way of deceiving you , they are only numbers.

Behind the numbers is a hidden story. Every day for past many days we see upwards of 3500 people dying in India.

The real numbers maybe higher, no one knows.

We get numb to the numbers , it’s just statistics.

The numbers flash daily on our television screens . The question being asked “have we peaked?”.

It’s a debate with two sides , it’s news.

Unless that number includes one of us , one of our own , near and dear one.

Behind that number is one family that is shattered forever.

One loving father who the children will never see again .

One mother who meant everything to her children and they could not even give her a decent funeral.

One grandmother who died gasping for air in the ICU , alone , afraid , amongst the machines that beeped all around .

Not even a hand to hold , to comfort, in the final journey.

One spouse who has lost their life partner while yet holding hands in the car , helpless , not being able to get that one breath of air.

One son , one daughter who was the world for their parents.

Behind that number is a friend who we spent time with every day sharing our fears of an uncertain future.

Behind the numbers are dreams of many families that are shattered.

The world will move on, we will finally get beyond this .

Maybe less than 1% would have lost their lives in this storm .

The statistics on television screens would be forgotten.

The news would have moved , it always does.

But for that family that lost the only earning member it would be a life of struggle and grief.

For that less than 1% of the population life would have changed for ever even if it was just 1 person lost.

For those who lost even 1 person the next morning will not be the same .

There would be a gap , a hole in the heart that will not get filled , ever.

Yes everything passes and this too shall pass.

Those that are gone would become a part of the statistics.

But beyond the numbers would be many stories, stories of real people .

For us our life will move on from one lockdown to maybe the next.

From one wave to maybe the next.

From one news story to the next.

But some stories would not move they would end.

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS HAVE POLARISED/ UNITED OUR WORLD

While in the midst of a worsening pandemic in India I am seeing the worst side and the best side of social media.

In our school alumni group I found there is very strong polarisation for and against political points of views.

This is true globally we saw the same recently in the US . We see different flavours of the same across the world.

The problem gets bad when positions are so strongly held that each is not able to see the other side of the story that the situation reaches a breaking point in long relationships.

And it gets worse with manufactured truth to fit ones world view . The fallout is violence as we saw at the Capitol Hill , it could sow distrust in communities and groups with opposing view points.

Every hour the trends on Twitter change based on the two view points , further adding to bitterness and division.

The hate created is so deep that it has forced platforms to ban certain handles from using their platforms for good.

Is social media responsible for dividing our world?

I remember a time in our early childhood when there was no social media there was lesser polarisation , friendships were not so bitter.

Then again I have not seen any better example of how social media is being used in the worst time during the current pandemic where ordinary people are seeking help and are getting helped by strangers .

Twitter , WhatsApp, Facebook have become a way to reach out and ask for help real time , people who need oxygen or a bed in a hospital or medicines turn to social media.

And they get helped by complete strangers !

Few celebrities have leveraged their social presence to amplify the message of those in need.

Many are using social media to raise funds for oxygen cylinders and concentrator. So many lives have been saved because of social media.

Social media is a double edged sword on the one hand it can divide us as a society on the other hand it can unite the world for good.

Unfortunately politics plays a role , fake news can be easily spread to divide for motives. Those on the edge can be converted with constant visual content.

Interestingly platform algorithms show you more of what you want to see . That is how AI and ML gets smarter. The ultimate objective is to hook you to the platform , to get you spend more time on the platform.

How can we stop hate being spread through social media platforms ? Is there a way out ?

Has social media become a Frankenstein monster that is now difficult to control?

There are no easy answers , there are powerful vested interests.

I would yet say there is enough good about social media which is why it needs to exist . It brings people together, it connects people and hearts .

It is the one thing that has kept us sane in prolonged periods of lockdown.

It is for us the users of social media to keep the balance on the side of good , on the side of humanity and guard against hate and spread love and compassion.

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED

We were all hopeful that vaccines would help us end the pandemic. Till we saw what happened in India.

The second wave has been devastating, people have died gasping for air.

Hospitals are full, the medical infrastructure has collapsed.

The subconscious impact of not being able to get a hospital bed and oxygen despite of having money and connections is going to remain.

What we also know that there will be mutations that will bypass the existing vaccines. So the third wave is inevitable.

No one is confident of how long would this last the earlier hope that this will soon fade away seems distant.

Most doctors and scientists now say that the pandemic is here with us for a long haul . How long no one knows . At least till large population of the world is vaccinated.

Unless we get lucky and the virus just vanished away on its own.

How will this change us ? How will this change the way we live ? Do business?

Health is going to be a focus area for all, one needs to be healthy to survive was never more true than now.

Vaccines can protect us till a point as seen there would be mutations and waves.

Staying healthy is urgent, building self immunity is urgent .

The stress of working from home being confined in regular periods being uncertain about health and the future would increase stress.

Depression and anxiety are bound to go up.

This is what I see ;

1. There would be a focus by individuals on preventive healthcare.

2. Tele medicine would be a way to connect with doctors and most people would be comfortable.

3. Wellness would be in high demand as individuals will seek support for mind and body health.

4. Immunity is going to be a key word.

5. As WFH takes root homes would be equipped with gyms.

There would be a COVID fatigue as countries open up people would indulge , travel , party.

As waves come they would be followed by lockdowns and again people would sit at home.

Flexi working would be the way.

Humans are social animals they seek social company , people are going to need people to talk to , be with , express their inner feelings.

World will come together or will drift away as borders get protected from waves of virus.

Third world and poor countries and communities will be impacted the most.

All these changes will impact every business and profession and person on our planet.

Some businesses will die some will reinvent.

Marketing will change , will become less sales and more humane , more caring and less greed, more focused on the inside than external world.

Spiritually and faith will find place in an uncertain world it will get strengthened.

We are at crossroads like never before, it can bring out the best and the worst from us as humanity.

I hope we choose to reflect on our priorities , what truly matters and heal the world.