WHAT TO PURSUE?

I have so many new ideas for my business. How do I figure which ones are the best to pursue?

We always struggle is find of this very basic question. Which is the most profitable business?

Most business owners want their business to grow, and often growth includes consideration of new products or services. Sometimes, though, brainstorming new possibilities interferes with maintaining the core business by distracting the owner from focusing on the issues confronting them. To allow room for new ideas without distraction, it helps to have a system for handling them.
Being an entrepreneur is attractive for many reasons. Some people think about opening a business all their life but never get around to actually doing it.

Then there are people who open one or more businesses, hustle their way through whatever gets thrown their way, and make it with a little bit of luck and lots of ambition.

Then there are the people in between which is where most people are at. You have a million business ideas or maybe just this one nagging idea gaps that just doesn’t seem to go away. The question is where do you start? How do you know whether a business idea is worth pursuing? Entrepreneurship is a gamble. And with the chips stacked against you, it’s difficult to know whether an idea has possibilities.

It’s not just about finding a good idea; its finding an idea worth pursuing.
But, finding that idea, and building a company with that idea in mind, is always a struggle. It almost has to be that way.
For those of us who have a variety of business ideas and want to narrow it down, here are five ways to find out whether your business idea is a yay or a nay.

In lieu of this, try examining the idea using the following five questions:
1. What does this idea have to do with my business mission?
2. Does this idea replace an existing outdated product or service?
3. Will implementing this idea use excess capacity?
4. Who are the customers for the new product or service?
5. What is the value to customers they can’t get anywhere else?

New ideas are best implemented only if they improve business performance in some way such as increasing profits, using excess capacity, or improving customer service for existing customers. Include these in the next update of the company business plan. New ideas build businesses if they are strategically a good fit. Any system that helps analyze ideas will benefit the business owner, so find the strategy that works best for your business.

A PERSPECTIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Leaders take responsibility. We know the futility of blaming others, however much we indulge in doing so.

We can’t change the past. We can, however, act in the present.

A leadership and business perspective can help a lot in climate change, and I don’t mean by promoting technical innovation.

Responsibility is a hot topic in climate change debates. Who is to blame for climate change? Who has the duty to do something about it? These questions are particularly relevant in discussions about climate change mitigation that is, about who should reduce their carbon emissions and by how much.

Because these arguments are entwined with the attribution of praise or blame for action or lack thereof, they can be framed as a question about moral responsibility. Climate change poses a deep moral challenge because it concerns a problem caused by those who consume most but whose consequences will be mostly felt by those who are most deprived. The question here is whether responsibility should be adjudicated on the merits of an action or on its consequences.

The attribution of moral responsibility to an action has most often been discussed in relation to individuals because it requires not only finding an agent, but also establishing the agent’s intention, capacity, freedom and knowledge to do such action. Indeed, much research on climate change has approached the problem of responsibility for emissions abatement from the point of view of individual responsibility. This can be seen, for example, in studies that examine the basis for establishing personal carbon budgets or in those that seek to explain why individuals do not perceive climate change as a moral imperative to change their actions. However, a strictly analytical take based upon individual responsibility ideas may lead to the conclusion that, since climate change is “a problem of many hands” (many people share in the actions leading to it), “nobody is (in some sense) responsible for climate change”.

Overall, we can attribute varying degrees of responsibility to different parties but the sense of collective responsibility remains. The problem of collective responsibility for climate change is not confined to the sphere of government, as it pertains to both the material economy and the broader society whose values underpin existing production and consumption patterns. However, this collective responsibility cannot simply be distributed among all individuals because there are great differences in terms of access and use of carbon sinks and capacity to act (not only between countries, but also within countries).

CONQUER BUSINESS LIKE WONDER WOMAN

Far from masking the devastation of war, Wonder Woman plunges its heroine, Diana Prince, into a World War I war zone. When she finds herself on the battlefield in No Man’s Land, Diana is ready to jump in and fight. Her battlefield guide, Steve Trevor, fearing for her safety and losing sight of their mission to find Ares, tells her that they are not there to save lives. Her response: “You’re right. But it’s what I am going to do.”

As she mastered one skill, her aunt and trainer, Antiope, would add on new challenges to build endurance, strength and character. Each new challenge and repetition helped strengthen Wonder Woman’s muscle memory, which enabled her to focus on strategic decisions.

In turn, this strategy allowed her to get everyone on her team engaged with the same goals by transforming their strengths and desires into a team of change agent disruptors who work for the common good.

But, did you also know that Wonder Woman is also an inspiration for entrepreneurs as well?

Wield the power of empathy.

Diana can detect others’ emotions — in other words, she has the power of empathy. That further explains why she’s such an important member of the Justice League.

Empathy is perhaps the most important skill that entrepreneurs can possess. By walking in someone else’s shoes you’re better suited to understand and solve their pain points. That is what entrepreneurship is all about — making the world a better place?

Be fearless in battle, even when the odds are against you.

Diana has fearlessly battled monsters, gods and even allies, including Superman. Even when it appears that it’s against all odds, Diana willingly faces these foes for the greater good of humanity. However, Diana never goes into battle without a plan. She’s an excellent strategist and doesn’t just start smashing everything around her (like the Hulk).

The odds are always stacked against entrepreneurs — particularly women entrepreneurs — so always test the market and validate your ideas before going into battle.

Cultivate a practice of discipline and iteration.

While technology has leveled the playing field of marketing, social media has also created a noisy marketplace where large-scale campaigns can fall short of expectations and cause internal turmoil inside the walls of an organization.

Be a warrior for truth, peace and equality.

Wonder Woman’s goals are to promote truth, peace and equality – despite being an Amazonian warrior. This dichotomy is what makes her character so appealing and a great leader and teammate. It’s also why her most well-known weapon is the Lasso of Truth that forces people to tell the truth, even when it’s difficult to hear.

Truth, honesty and integrity also make entrepreneurs heroic. It’s what makes them exceptional leaders. It’s what rallies employees, investors, stakeholders, and customers around them. It’s how they make the right business decisions. It’s what separates them from questionable and shady competitors.

The importance of mentorship – and paying it forward.

Diana sought a mentor before becoming Wonder Woman because she needed a guide to train her to become a warrior. One of Diana’s mentors was her aunt, Antiope. In the comics, Diana returned the favor by mentoring a number of portages like Wonder Girl and allies like Etta Candy and Paula von Gunther.

Entrepreneurs should also seek someone to train and guide them in order to help them hone their skills. Mentors can also share their mistakes and existing business knowledge. However, entrepreneurs pay it forward someday by also taking an emerging entrepreneur under their wings.

Be a warrior for truth, peace and equality.

Wonder Woman’s goals are to promote truth, peace and equality – despite being an Amazonian warrior. This dichotomy is what makes her character so appealing and a great leader and teammate. It’s also why her most well-known weapon is the Lasso of Truth that forces people to tell the truth, even when it’s difficult to hear.

Truth, honesty and integrity also make entrepreneurs heroic. It’s what makes them exceptional leaders. It’s what rallies employees, investors, stakeholders, and customers around them. It’s how they make the right business decisions. It’s what separates them from questionable and shady competitors.

 

IS CLIMATE CHANGE TO BLAME FOR HARVEY AND IRMA?

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have reignited discussions about link between global warming and extreme weather, with climate scientists now saying they can show the connections between the two phenomena better than ever before.

“A warmer ocean makes a warmer atmosphere, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture,” says Gabriel Vecchi, a professor of geosciences at Princeton University who studies extreme weather events. “So, all other things equal, the same storm in a warmer planet would give you more rainfall.”

In a warming world the vapour capacity of the atmosphere increases, and more extreme rainfall, like Texas is witnessing right now, is to be expected as a result. This leads many to conclude that climate change exacerbated the impacts of hurricane Harvey.

It is very appropriate to highlight that this is the kind of event we expect to see more of in a warming world. However, to apply this argument directly and attribute (and quantify) the impacts from Harvey itself to human-induced climate change, neglects that climate change is not just about warming.

In a changing climate, two effects come together: not only does the atmosphere warm up (thermodynamic effect) but the atmospheric circulation, which determine where, when, and how weather systems develop, can change as well (dynamic effect).

Dynamical factors and thermodynamic aspects of climate change can interact in complex ways and there are many examples where the circulation is as important as the thermodynamics.

Hence, while it is very likely that climate changes played a role in the intensity of the rainfall, it is far from straightforward in practice to quantify this role. As such, determining the role of climate change in increasing or decreasing the present and future likelihood of a rain storm like Harvey presents a challenge.

WHAT MAKES YOU SUCCESSFUL?

Have you ever wondered why or how people like Jeff Bezos or Indu Jain became what they have become? And when you do, what comes to mind as possible reasons? Mostly I hear people saying things like Luck, Hard Work, Focus, and/or Dedication. Hmm, it makes sense but really is that all? Let’s look at them one by one.

Luck: This is the favorite one! Whenever we look at successful people, we call them ‘lucky!’ But what is luck? Is it just a chance, a good fortune? If yes, then how do people get repeated successes? If I were to say that luck is important too, then I would define luck as a confluence of perseverance, prospects and preference. Opportunities present themselves every day to every person. Do they not? But only a person, who recognizes them and seizes them without delay, gets to convert these opportunities to their preferred outcomes. And we very comfortably tag them ‘lucky’. However, a close look reveals that only those people who persevere to look for prospective opportunities to exploit become lucky. Hey, but this is no rocket science! Still why most of the ordinary folks are not able to do so? Why?

Hard work: “…No, No, it’s not luck, its Hard work or rather Smart work…” This is the answer of most people who don’t believe in luck. Malcolm Gladwell argues in his book, Outliers, that if someone spends 10,000 hours towards any activity, then he can become a world-class expert in it. Or in other words, 10,000 hours of hard work is required to be extremely successful. And I am sure he is correct. No success is achieved without hard work or sweat. Even the child prodigies became world-class experts in their fields, only after working at it for a long time. Mozart had his most famous compilations much late in his career. Sachin Tendulkar was at his best only when he was 24-year-old, although he had started showed brilliance at a young age of 16. I am yet to find a single successful person who hasn’t done his share of handwork. But, why is putting 10,000 hours so difficult? It is only 5 years of work! Still, why do most of ordinary people give up sooner? Why?

Focus

When I asked my dad what one skill is the most important when it comes to achieving success, my dad told me, “Your ability to focus,” when I pressed him on his answer he says, “Focus allows you to drown out the noise, it allows you to say no to things that are not going to aid you on your path to success, it’s the one skill that is applicable to any goal, and the skill necessary to acquire any other skill.”

Focus has allowed me to open for Comedians who regularly appear on Comedy Central within my first year of taking up standup.

Focus has allowed me to put thirty pounds of muscle over the last six years and win my weight class at powerlifting tournaments.

So definitely believe that focus is a key to success.

Courage

Most people will never live up to their potential because they do not have the courage to take the risks necessary.

Most people will not live the life they want, not because they don’t work hard enough, but because they do not have the courage to risks temporary failure.

Being courageous is like taking steroids for your life. You will see massive growth very quickly, but the more you use the greater risks.

Discipline

Where focus is your ability to say no. Discipline is your ability to action, whether you feel like it or not. Discipline understands that your emotions are not meant to help you. It is the ability to see through your own BS and do what you know you should do whether you feel like it or not.

Ultimate Success: Knowingly and unknowingly we often do things that are in line with our inner drive, along with other things as well. The important thing to note is that successful people choses to do only those things that are in line with their inner drive, and ordinary people end up doing random things. And quite often, ordinary people end up spending their lives driven by external forces or drives which are not in line with inner drive, and live a stressful and unhappy life.

If you want to be successful, identify your inner drive, and make the relevant trade-offs. When your inner drive becomes the enabler, then the combination of hard work, focus, and luck becomes possible and success and happiness is achieved.

IS INDIA DROWNING IN GARBAGE?

The old saying out of sight, out of mind definitely does not apply when it comes to getting rid of personal waste.

Garbage, though unseen, can have real impacts on the environment when it is not properly disposed of. Burying rubbish as a means of disposal is one the oldest and most common forms of waste management, but unfortunately, the impact that landfill sites have on the environment are huge.

The environmental problems caused by landfills are numerous. There are no arguments over the assertion that there are many things that contribute to the environmental problem of landfills. The negative effects are most commonly placed into two distinct categories: atmospheric effects and hydrological effects. While these effects are both of equal importance, the specific factors that drive them are important to understand on an individual basis.

The mixture of chemicals like bleach and ammonia in landfills can produce toxic gases and odor that can significantly impact the quality of air in the vicinity of the landfill. Hydrogen sulphide produced in landfills smells similar to rotten eggs.

Travelling from central Delhi towards Ghazipur in the city’s east, the first warning that you get of the approaching landfill is the sight of circling birds of prey. The mound of waste itself becomes visible much before one is assaulted by its stench. Smoke rises steadily from the pile, as the decomposing waste generates highly combustible methane gas. Three of the four stinking waste mountains (landfills) are long overdue for closure and there are no fresh landfills available to take in the current daily discard of 9,000 tonnes. By 2020, the Capital needs an additional area of 28 sqkm, more than the entire spread of Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone, to dump 15,000 tonnes of garbage daily.

Aside from the various types of gases that can be created by these landfills, dust and other forms of non-chemical contaminants can make their way into the atmosphere. This contributes further to the air quality issue which plagues modern landfills.

When it comes to waste management in India, little is the way it’s meant to be. Mumbai literally raised a stink recently when a fire broke out at the Deonar landfill, severely compromising air quality in the city. The national capital too is fast becoming one huge garbage dump with civic body sanitation workers on a strike to protest against non-payment of salaries.

Delhi has miserably failed to manage its waste load. Only 15 per cent of R1,350 crore that the three corporations spend on waste management and sanitation is spent on actual disposal. The rest goes into collection and transportation.

The authorities must ensure segregation and promote composting and recycling. They must quantify waste generation for setting effective reduction targets. But don’t wait for the authorities to do everything. From segregation, recycling to composting — you can make a difference. And, yes, consume and waste less. Now is the time.

EVERY PROBLEM IS A LEADERSHIP PROBLEM

With as many problems as we all face in our work and life, it seems as if there is never enough time to solve each one without dealing with some adversity along the way. Problems keep mounting so fast that we find ourselves taking short-cuts to temporarily alleviate the tension points – so we can move onto the next problem. In the process, we fail to solve the core of each problem we are dealt; thus we continuously get caught in the trap of a never-ending cycle that makes it difficult to find any real resolutions.

Pick any leadership challenge; it comes down to problem solving issue. Nothing more and nothing less. Issues always revolve around talent, competition, operation, execution, strategy, etc. Of course these are small problems which a leader can easily solve right? Surprisingly, No.

Most often the problem arises when they try to work on the wrong problem ta wrong time with wrong reasons. This happens due to lack of perception and lack of understanding.

If you ever say “No one can do this as good as I can”, this is a leadership problem itself as well as a false belief.

No one is immune to leadership failure. A leader might fail to recognize the opportunity with various people on the team and in the company. Failures can caused frustration and turmoil, hurt some and confused others. Was the leader solely responsible? Of course not. Did the team members involved bear some responsibility? Of course they did.

When you break it down, problem solving is a competency. It’s a skill to be developed like any other. But the one aspect that makes problem solving more complex than other leadership skills is that the best solutions are rarely created in a vacuum, and rarely do they come from the leader themselves.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS INFLUENCING INDIA’S FARMER SUICIDES

Financial distress, lack of timely help and crop failure has often been blamed for the spiraling numbers in farm suicides in India. Now, a US study has added climate change as another significant factor that is driving the disaster northwards.

Climate change may have contributed to the suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers and farm workers over the past three decades, according to new research that examines the toll rising temperatures are already taking on vulnerable societies.

It’s a widespread and intensely personal issue, one that has been difficult to tease out the root source. Debt, mental health, lack of social services, weather vagaries and even media coverage have all been put forward as part of the problem. Now, recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that climate change could also be playing a role.

Just a degree rise in temperatures above 20 degrees during the crucial crop growing season (June-September) could push up the number of suicides by 70. In the last 30 years, a total of 59,000 farmer suicides in India have been attributed to the direct cause of rising temperatures by the study published by the University of California, Berkeley researchers.

The striking correlation between the rising temperatures — dropping yields — suicides established by the researchers in the 13 States studied (1956-2000) is both disturbing and could be critical in formulating preventive strategies in future. Maharashtra (especially Vidarbha region), Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu clearly demonstrate that when temperatures rise, crop yields drop and higher numbers of suicides are reported.

Because of climate change, India is only going to get hotter. Starting in 2014, each subsequent year has shattered the previous year’s record as the hottest ever. Scientific consensus predicts average global temperatures to rise as much as 3°C by 2050. Carleton says that interventions have been either wholly absent or woefully insufficient over the period of time her study covers, and without an increase in measures like subsidized crop insurance, worker retraining, or low-cost loans available to farmers to keep them afloat when harvests suffer, India is looking down the barrel of more frequent hardship and, sadly, more lives lost to self-harm.

The authors say the relationship between economic shocks and suicide is controversial and, in India, the effect of income-damaging climate variation on suicide rates is unknown. Though, the Centre has announced a $1.3 billion climate-based, crop insurance scheme motivated as suicide prevention policy, evidence to support such an intervention is still lacking. Previous studies of income variability affecting suicide are mostly anecdotal or qualitative and do not attempt to identify and synthesize quantitative relationships between climates, crops and suicides, they claimed.

Farm loan write-offs by Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh recently and even by the UPA government have been resorted to as means to alleviate the problems, help farmers distress and in a way gain political mileage. Even subsidies on inputs like fertilizers and easy loans have not halted the growing demands from farmers for more soft loans and better minimum support price for the crop.

With Indian agriculture continuing to be dependent on timely rains, landholdings being small and farmers struggling for finances, the challenge to face the consequences of the growing impact of climate change is indeed daunting. Forecasts predict a temperature rise of at least 3 more degrees by 2050.

This implies urgent and increased measures to improve rural farmer’s credit, crop insurance cover and preventive strategies both at policy and ground level to avoid disastrous consequences in the long-term.

ORGANIC VISIBILITY

An online presence for your online business goes far beyond setting up a website that contains the name of your company and contact details. It involves creating a virtual point of business where people can find useful information on your website and interact with you through social media networks.

In the digital age, it is absolutely essential for your business to have an online presence. Whether it’s a website, an e-commerce platform, a social media page or a combination of all three, getting your company online will reap major benefits. Even if your company does not conduct business online, customers and potential customers are expecting to see you online. If they don’t see you there, you could be losing out on the opportunity to increase your customer base and get the word out about your business.

Here are just a few of the many reasons why your business needs to establish its online presence:

  1. Make it Easier for Potential Customers Come to You

Today, if someone wants more information about a company, they’re most likely to do their research online. Whether they’re specifically looking for your company, or they just want to find any company that offers the products or services that your company offers, having an online presence will give you a competitive edge. Potential customers will not put a lot of effort into finding you, and they should not have to. A simple Google search should provide them with all the information they seek.

Real life example: Your business distributes seafood, meats, fine wines and other spirits. A potential customer is having an impromptu family get-together and needs a few bottles of Wine and some shrimp.  She uses her smartphone to search for “wine and seafood near me”. Your company’s website is listed in the search results. After browsing your website, she’s satisfied that you can provide her with what she needs. You’ve just earned another customer!

  1. Make it Easier to Build Relationships with Customers and Potential Customers

Social media is all about building relationships. This is true for both individuals and businesses. Social media gives your brand a voice – it makes your company more “human” and relatable. Customers and potential customers can interact with your brand on a more personal level. It also gives you the opportunity to truly get to know your customers. If everyone is on social media except you, you are missing out on an invaluable opportunity to connect and communicate with your target audience. Social media is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to get persons interested in your company and to form real relationships with real people.

3. Effective Marketing

Online presence makes it easier for you to market your business and sell your products. A properly designed and informative website with well written content enables customers to make informed purchasing choices. The web provides a marketing platform that gives you a cost effective way to reach a wider audience than conventional marketing techniques.

4. Accessibility

It is essential for both small and large businesses to maximize on the benefits of having a strong web presence. Aspects such as dynamic search algorithms and social networks are influential in the process of making it easier for customers to locate different businesses online. A business that does not have an online business is regarded as non-existent in the modern and competitive business environment.

Customers get information through search engines and the internet is an unrivaled source of data. You have the option of hiring professionals who can help you establish an online presence based on their knowledge of factors ranging from latest algorithms to search engine codes. Marketing your business online constitutes your website, SEO and strategic use of social media.

DOES OVER-POPULATION IMPACT GLOBAL WARMING?

According to the United Nations Population Fund, human population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion people during the course of the 20th century. (Think about it: It took all of time for population to reach 1.6 billion; then it shot to 6.1 billion over just 100 years.) During that time emissions of CO2, the leading greenhouse gas, grew 12-fold. And with worldwide population expected to surpass nine billion over the next 50 years, environmentalists and others are worried about the ability of the planet to withstand the added load of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and wreaking havoc on ecosystems down below.

In 1970, when worldwide greenhouse gas emissions had just begun to transgress the sustainable capacity of the atmosphere, the world population was about 3.7 billion; today it’s about 6.1 billion — an increase of 86 percent.

In that same period, worldwide emissions from fossil fuels rose from about 14 billion tons to an estimated 29 billion tons — an increase of 107 percent.

Population growth is not the direct cause of global warming, burning fossil fuels is.

Where some of the confusion comes from is that CO2 emissions are reasonably well correlated to population.

It’s not a one-to-one relationship, but there is a solid relationship. For a couple of centuries, more people meant a great deal more CO2 which more closely tracked gross domestic product on a one-to-one ratio. As countries became richer, that was reflected in their GDP and also in their reduction in fertility. More GDP equals flattening population but still increasing CO2 emissions.

“Population, global warming and consumption patterns are inextricably linked in their collective global environmental impact,” reports the Global Population and Environment Program at the non-profit Sierra Club. “As developing countries’ contribution to global emissions grows, population size and growth rates will become significant factors in magnifying the impacts of global warming.”

According to the Worldwatch Institute, a nonprofit environmental think tank, the overriding challenges facing our global civilization are to curtail climate change and slow population growth. “Success on these two fronts would make other challenges, such as reversing the deforestation of Earth, stabilizing water tables, and protecting plant and animal diversity, much more manageable,” reports the group. “If we cannot stabilize climate and we cannot stabilize population, there is not an ecosystem on Earth that we can save.”

Many population experts believe the answer lies in improving the health of women and children in developing nations. By reducing poverty and infant mortality, increasing women’s and girls’ access to basic human rights (health care, education, economic opportunity), educating women about birth control options and ensuring access to voluntary family planning services, women will choose to limit family size.