Repeat Vs New Business

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During the initial stage of your business, you will concentrate only on revenue. Later this will move to profitability. But once you reach a stage of a steady stream of revenue with profitability you will start slicing and dicing the revenue. This is when you will first concentrate on the share of revenue from repeat business.

New business gives room to your growth acceleration. But repeat business gives the stability to your business.

Take, for example, if your total revenue is 10M and if you have a track record of having 4M as your repeat business from year after year then you should never reduce your yearly target as 6M new businesses. You should again keep 10M as the target for the year from New Business.

This will give a huge growth acceleration and out of my experience, I will say that you should concentrate to have your operational cost within the repeat business revenue and should use the revenue from new business in venturing out new ideas or expansion.

Apart from the revenue part, there are also other important key factors we can get from our repeat business.

1. Strategy

Repeat business is the best contributor to design the growth strategy of your company. You can get an in-depth vision on analyzing the data of the repeat business in terms of Technology, Customer Satisfaction, and common need of these customers so that even with a very small tweak you can do magically positive changes to your business.

2. Understanding about the work culture difference

This has proved to be the most important factor in any success or failure of the relationship.

It will take time for the customer to understand your work culture and the same way for  you to understand the work culture of the client. I have seen many business relationships fails during the trial project or after the first project itself.

It will take its own sweet time to understand both sides and particularly if it is offshoring then it will take much longer time than near-shoring. Once you both cross this chasm then it will save a lot of time in the execution of the project.

3. Best Practices

Even if you have a defined business practice for your company, because of the repeat customers and businesses it will be easy for you to adopt a different practice with different clients. This is initially not possible for new customers as it may sometimes hurt the relationship itself.

How can you increase your repeat business?

It is not an easy task or a quick task to be accomplished. To understand this you should understand as when you will call your business a successful one or not.

The best answer I can say is the quote of Ilya Lichtenstein  “it usually takes at least 5 years to build a company to exit or profitability. They’re built piece by piece, making one user or customer at a time, getting to the next milestone and waiting for the next major opportunity to reveal itself”

What is the right percentage to have repeat customer or revenue?

It is practically true that you have to run a business for 5 years to take a call whether it is a profitable one or not. Until then you have to struggle and put in your best possible efforts to accomplish the task of running it.

There is no exact percentage to be capped for this. But the industry norm is to be between 25-50%.

If we have to take a call at the end of 5 years then you should be getting between 5-10% of your revenue from repeat business or at least at the end of the third year your repeat revenue should be above 25%.

If you are able to cross 50% in the 5th years, then you are very well placed in the market for the next 3 -5 years minimum on profitability. If this task is achieved then your concentration should be focussed on New Business with 30% growth every year.

If the above is reached in a Small and Medium Business in the IT service Industry, then you will be at the employee head count of 150 in the 3-4th year, 250 at the 5-6th year and would have crossed 500 by the end of 7th year.

So concentrate on New Business for the first 2 years then Repeat Business till the 5th year and then onwards your business will accelerate exponentially as you have already started splitting the revenue between new and repeat businesses successfully.

Business Funding?

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Vision:

I have a wonderful concept for business.

Mission:

I am going for funding.

Above is the current common scenario we can see now. No need to think of your funding at the very initial stage as long as your business is unique in nature.

To build we need fund. But to run, the product should earn at the appropriate stage. If the product is not earning enough to have a smooth run, then I am sure the product is not “unique” or didn’t impress the market as your think.

Determine the purpose of raising money. If the purpose is to build the basic model of your product then you are making a mistake.

If you are not able to nail the absolute necessity for raising the money then you are again making the mistake.

You cannot go to market if you don’t have any uniqueness in your product. The market and the VCs would have seen much products of the same nature of yours and so it may neither impress the market to buy or the VCs to fund.

If you can afford then you should bootstrap and bring the first version of the product to the market. See the impression it is creating in the market and then draw the roadmap for expansion and go for funding.

Everything comes with a “price” and so is funding too. You have to determine the price you can afford to pay by getting the fund. Else your identity will be lost in front of your product.

Bootstrapping is considered the best depending upon the nature of the product you are going to build and the span it is going to take. If these are well within your limits then better to go bootstrapping.

If the supply is getting drained then work out the best way to go to market for funding. Don’t bring funding too early. Else it will absolutely get diluted early too.

Also, make sure that you are aware of the following when you are going to pitch to a potential VC.

* Understand the complete weakness of your product along with its uniqueness.

* Don’t bloat your projected revenue to an unrealistic number

* Understand your big competitors and compare yourself with them in all form and shape rather than hiding them or extrapolating yourself.

* Don’t approach every known VCs. This will dilute your business identity.

* As how the VCs evaluate the businesses to be funded the same way you should do a thorough evaluation of the VC firms too.

* Make sure that you are not pausing or using too many fillers during your prime pitching.

* Don’t do the routine presentation. Do it in a very innovative way. Your pitch and the presentation should impress the VCs at the very first instance. Else even if you go to them for many levels of discussion you will not succeed.

* The bio of your team should get sold first before your product gets. So bring in the right people with you. Else it will become the worst reason for your failure.

Two types of people who are bane of the core team!!!

IT-Boon-Bane

One good idea out of 1000s will give birth to startup. It is the fiduciary responsibility of any Founder to evaluate all the 1000s and chose the best.

Never start a business if you don’t have some knowledge about the new business you are starting. After choosing the right idea out of the 1000s, spending enough time in gathering sufficient knowledge and history about that concept should be the first stage before doing market research about the new idea or concept.

After spending all these and investing the first chunk of money, we will make our concept take off and start showing the growth.

Here is where we will form our core team to take the business further. Each member of the core team should not only work as an employee but should also consider themselves as the founding member of the company/team.

If we are able to get a core team of this virtue, I bet, there won’t be a stage of closing down the business.

This applies and plays a vital role not only in Founding any company but also on starting a new business unit on an ongoing company.

There will be differences of opinion among these core team members on concept wise along with work nature too. The duty of the person who balances these and run the show are called as “leaders”.

Two types of people

In spite of being a leader, there will be two types of people who will become the real bane of the core team by playing a spoiling game.

They are:

1. People who believe, responsibilities are to be given rather than taken, and

2. People who believe they should be the key member on all initiatives.

Both of them are the real bane of the core team. They not only spoil their roles but also spoil the morale and binding of the entire core team. Both of them will knowingly or unknowingly inject negative thoughts into the mind of everyone around them.

How to identify them?

It is one of the tough jobs of any leader of a team or a company to identify these people. Becuase they would have already deep rooted their thoughts into the team and if any action taken against them for any genuine reason, will be seen as they are vindicated. 

1. Both of these characters would have been the outstanding performers but started showing slowdown now.

2. They would have the best knowledge of their respective roles but started playing silent spectator role in recent days

3. They would have been the most flexible during the starting days but become very rigid now

4. The first one would have started to whine out with the current responsibilities and will not show any interest in taking any new responsibilities.

5. The second one would not have completed the earlier given role but would assume he is smart enough and started expecting to be made as the key player of all new initiatives.

How to eradicate them?

Even after many personal discussion, their ego would not allow them to accept the reality and change. We will tolerate them for months just because they were the most wonderful people we had earlier.

But the need of the hour would not be allowing us to give more room to tolerate them. So rather than tolerating them, it is better to let them go so that at least we can maintain the friendship with them.

With the new company and new environment, they will automatically revert to their original capability and flexibility.

So it is good for both the company and the individuals to shake hands and “call it a day”.

Secret of Hiring a Sales Guy

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Sales are the Face and Marketing are the head of any organization. It is very true and if we don’t understand the difference then we will end up hiring a wrong person for the right job.

Sales Vs Marketing

To get into that we should know the difference between Sales and Marketing. Whenever I get a chance to interview sales guys I ask this question to them for sure.

Most of them will fail to explain. Some will explain in a very professional way. I will then ask them to summarize the same in a single line. I have seen 99% fail to explain it.

Maybe I am expecting them to tell what I wish to hear could be the reason. The answer I always wish to hear is “Sales is an art and Marketing is a science”

This is the reason we have Discipline as Marketing even in Business Administration courses and there is no specific degree for Sales. You can treat marketing to any person. But you can only train and bring the naturally having sales capabilities from a sales guy. If you force sales to a person who doesn’t have the flair for sales then he will surely fail.

Who should I hire?

International Cold Calling sales team is something which is there only for the last 13 years maximum and in that too very few companies has that capability in house for more than 5 years. Remaining all companies are having the conventional face to face meeting with the sales guys selling or inside sales team fixing the meeting and seniors go and do the real sales face to face.

So if a company wants to set up the new sales team, they will eventually look into those companies which are specialised in selling through cold calling and hire.

Typical Interview with those sales guys

Interviewer: Hi, How are you?

Sales guy: I am good.

I: Can you explain about yourself

SG: I am so and so, working with so and so company and have closed nearly 500K out of two deals in this year both F2000 clients

I: (in his mind voice) WOW

I: Where you able to reach your target?

S: Yes, even I got adjudged as the best sales guy for reaching my target last year.

I: What are your salary expectations and notice period?

Typically it will go and they will hire that guy.

End of the sixth month this guy would be the worst performing guy and either we would have fired him or he would have left the organisation.

I have seen this in many companies out of my experience.

What could be the reason for the best performer of the earlier company not able to perform here?

The reason is us. Yes, it is us!!!

He said he closed 500K with two F2000 clients. We typically took that as “he closed” . The real scenario could not be the same.

He would have reached the right person with his cold calling skills and the brand of his earlier company would have taken the remaining steps to get that 500K deal.

Here, we have seen 500K, F2000, One year target, etc and failed to see the real fact that he was not the reason for any of the above and he was reaching the right person through his cold calling skills and only his company was able to do the remaining.

Conclusion

He is not just the nonperformer we are also the partial reason for the total failure. We have overrated his capabilities with whatever he bloated and told during the interview and failed to judge his capabilities.

So whenever you are interviewing from a most successful company into your sales team try to evaluate his personal capabilities rather than what the company was able to achieve with his cold calling.

Typically, if you are a company size of fewer than 150 employees, then avoid hiring sales guys from company size of more than 200 employees.

 

Is there a real slow down in Startup Funding?

The answer could be a yes when compared to 2014 and 2015. Where it was about 7.1 Billion USD and now we are not even sure of reaching half of it.

According to Traxcn data, Indian tech startups have raised nearly 959 million dollars in the last quarter of 2015 which is less than a third of the 3.2 billion raised in the earlier quarter. But it is again just half of what they have raised during the Q4 of 2014 which is 1.9 billion.

WSJ

Does that mean the Funding has dried totally?

No, the amount of startups aroused in the last two years is huge and most of these startups got really well funded in 2014 and 2015.

But the real problem started here. Apart from the very well known Startups many of them are not able to get the next level of funding. Especially sectors like Food and Real Estate which got the real hit. The companies which are failed to get the next level of funding are predominantly from these segments.

There are huge competitions in these segments and so the factor that determines the uniqueness of these companies are missing.

Real Scenario

The real scenario is that the investors are becoming more concern on large funding and if they really see some traction on any such startups then their expectation of stakes are really high when compared to 2014 and 2015. This is clearly showing that the investors are aiming for quicker profitability.

On the other hand, the Startups are on the other path. Since they have understood the market very well, their main aim is to get funded as much as possible at the quickest  and exit as quick as possible too.

To be frank, you can very well see that there is not much long term aim or goal for most of these small startups.

Cleanup

This is nothing but a real froth which would not continue forever. There needs to be a cleansing  required and which has already started. There will be a vanishing stage of most of the “one another startup” following which the funding will once again come to the normal track.

Did the froth affect the genuine Investors? No, funding for the deserved startup is still going on as normal.

Need of investors

Investing is the prime of any investor. But the investing firm also needs to get sailed in this slowdown. End of the day, the balance sheet of these investment firms are going to impact their existence too. They want to show a good balance sheet than their rivals for their existence too.

Plan B – Course Correction

As I always say, the best practise of any firm or industry is to have a Plan B. That is the course correction. This is exactly what is happening in Indian Tech Start-Up Funding Industry.

Indian Tech startups got heavily funded in the last 2 to 2.5 years and many of them are not able to cross the Series A funding. This is the major reason for the funding industry to have a slow down and take the course correction.

So there is no need to worry as the funding industry is completely dried. It didn’t and it will not too. This is just a cleansing happening. Moreover, the so-called funding industry has nothing to do other than to fund again rather than keeping their money parked at one place. They are not meant to park money. They are there for the purpose of rotating the money and growing it as much as possible.

Conclusion

The amount of money got funded and the number of startups got funded in the last 2 or 3 years are phenomenally high and either they should get funded to the next level or shut down. This has already started and that is what is seen as slow down. The sooner this cleansing happens the earlier the funding will get to its original speed.