5 simple starters to instant Infographics

In our mastermind group mentored by Arfeen Khan, we recently discussed about Infographics. It is such a unique way to sharing and educating other. Here are my 5 simple starters.

Restaurant Business Infographic (1)

I) Download them from Canva. 

Free Infographics @ Click here. You can go ahead and edit those too.

Disclaimer: Few of them will have priced images, you can download the infographic first to make sure it is free and downloadable. Also there is Free tag on each template on your left had side panel. As shown below.

Canva.png 

II) Do it yourself using power point. Yes! (Under 1 hour and 15 template)

Steps given in details here (with a video tutorial) @ How to Make an Infographic in Under an Hour

Hub.png

You can download the templates here @ https://www.hubspot.com/infographic-templates 

III) Use a free online tool. 

One of them is https://www.easel.ly/ a little more work but you can customized it further. They have a free account.

Introduction Video 

IV) 19 Warning Signs Your Infographic Stinks

This team have mastered the skill of using infographics @ 19 Warning Signs Your Infographic Stinks

death-and-taxes-popularity

V) Get it done

If you are looking for professional to do it. It can be done via website like Fiverr @ https://www.fiverr.com/categories/graphics-design/infographics?source=category_tree or Upwork @ https://www.upwork.com/ab/profiles/search/?q=infographics

Hope this was helpful.

7 lessons learned by playing games

In Arfeen Khan‘s business mastermind workshop, we played few team games. The objective was to learn and keep the energy up.

7lessons

Here are my top 7 metaphor that you can apply to your business:

  1. Strategy Rocks!: Every game needs to be played by strategy. There is always of easy way to play it. The idea is to take leverage of the abundance resources. To name a few from game point of view it was Brain, Gravity, Hacks and Listening skills.    
  2. Artificial Scarcity: Time pressure was the default rule for all games. Since you are in a competition and there is also a timer you feel the pressure. In reality the team which did not take that pressure often win.
  3. Unstoppable Energy: There are times when the energy of the team helps the participants to win. So support for your team becomes a vital key. We have seen winning momentum of teams continuously winning consecutive games.
  4. Team Strength: The way the team understood each other’s strengths and weakness, the better the results were. Even if it means coup the team’s strategy in order to make the team win.
  5. Star Performance:  When the strategy and skills match, play like a star performer. You win the game before the game begins. Once you are winner in your mind you play it like a champ.
  6. Ultimate Leader: You got to have a leader with right credentials to empower the team. Each game needed a different mind-set to lead and control actions. The key here is to adapt to the situation and make dramatic changes.
  7. Killer Execution: Even if you have all of the above qualities in place. If you are unable to execute it with conviction. It will not bring any outcome. This becomes one of the last but important steps to see the result in your favor.

Have a awesome business year ahead!

You have a tech business idea, What do you do for next 3 months?

The short answer is Product Market Fit.

download

The long answer, A young person recently contacted me. A working professional with a business idea. Aspiring to be an entrepreneur. I am not quite sure  why he asked me for guidance. However it was my privilege to share the knowledge I had.

Disclaimer: I did not guided him, I share what my mentors told and what I believed in.

I had a 40 minute Skype call. Discussing the idea and the questions. I gave my best possible answers and the suggestions that I thought was relevant.

Suggested Actions Plan

  1. Meet all potential client and share your idea.
  2. See if any one is interested in buying it from you.
  3. Don’t think of building the product first.
  4. Instead meet as many clients and sell your idea.
  5. Create a SaaS model and provide it on licensing fee.
  6. Discover if you have a business in your idea.
  7. Read Lean Startup book.
  8. Go to meetups and start building relationship with like minded people.

Question asked to me.

Should I build the complete product first?

No.

What is a business model?

One I know is Business Model Canvas

What technology stack to use?

Don’t worry about it now, use what you know

Don’t I need product to talk to clients?

You need MVP or Mockups to talk to clients. 

How do I compete with the big players in my space?

You don’t. You solve your clients problem. You find the niche area where you can add value.

Bonus

Asked him to go through How to Build a Startup by Udacity 

If you want to discuss any business challenges in details contact me LinkedIn. We can have a peer-to-peer talk.

 

 

SaaS – Pricing Tactics That Can Turbocharge Your Business

Pricing is one of the most important financial levers that companies have at their disposal to influence the financial success of their business. However, it is not an easy task.

Firstly, pricing affects multiple stakeholders, both inside and outside the company. Experimenting with pricing is therefore not a task that should be taken lightly. Secondly, finding the right price is notoriously hard. Customer preferences are hard to gauge ex-ante, and internally, it can be difficult to foresee the effects of pricing changes on the financial performance of a company. And finally, of course, pricing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In any competitive market, pricing changes can often lead to retaliatory actions which end up canceling out the intended effect of the pricing adjustment.

With this in mind, techniques and methods for getting around these challenges are extremely useful.

In my experience, having co-founded a developer tools startup that uses a SaaS model, I have come to appreciate the SaaS business model as being, amongst other things, very pricing-friendly. The intrinsic characteristics of SaaS and its delivery mechanism have important ramifications related to pricing which, in turn, can be extremely useful in the financial management of your company.

In this article, I explore in more detail what these are and how they can benefit your business from a financial analysis and management standpoint.

What is SaaS?

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed by a third party and delivered to clients through the internet. Compared to locally hosted software models, SaaS clients do not have to install the software, update it, maintain it and integrate it. The vast majority of technical aspects are “taken care of” by the SaaS provider so that the client can start using the SaaS product with little effort.

The ramifications and benefits of SaaS versus other types of services are displayed graphically in chart 1 below. As you can see, with traditional on-premises software, the client has to manage most of the activities related to setting up and running the software. At the opposite end of the spectrum, SaaS takes care of all of this on the software provider’s side. There are shades in between; for instance, Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service.

The pros and cons of SaaS are fairly straightforward. On the one hand, SaaS is much easier to set up and run. It doesn’t require local servers, storage, management, etc. On the other hand, it doesn’t allow the same level of customizability that on-premises software can provide.

The change from locally hosted software to SaaS has been happening for some time, and is part of a more general shift in the IT industry to cloud-based applications. According to FTI Consulting, 69% of businesses today use at least one cloud-based application.

The shift to SaaS from on-premise services can be seen nicely when one looks at Adobe, one of the industry’s most well-known players. As can be seen in chart 2, courtesy of Tom Tunguz, Adobe’s non-SaaS product revenue peaked in 2011 at $3.4 billion and halved to $1.6 billion in just three years. Such a drop in revenue would normally have huge ramifications, but Adobe has also been offering a suite of SaaS products, which have increased in revenue five-fold, from $0.45 billion in 2011 to $2.1 billion in 2014. Adobe’s changing product mix is indicative of the overall industry’s shift away from locally hosted software towards cloud-based software provision, such as SaaS.

All indications are that this trend is likely to continue. Gartner estimates that SaaS application software was a $144 billion market in 2016 and that, by 2020, businesses will be shifting to cloud-based software to the tune of $216 billion a year.

If you find this interesting read the rest part of the article click here

Don’t write off 4 million Indian IT professional yet!

In recent days especially Brexit and US presidential elections, Indian IT Services company have lost handful of projects. There has been series of articles written about the layoffs happening in India. There were questions on skills of Indian IT professional. I cannot argue on the data which is out there. It is very difficult for one who have lost job. Empty-Cubicle-Organization-e1465810429118

My argument is you cannot downplay following skills of 4 million individuals:

  1. You are educated mostly with a higher degrees.
  2. You are well versed with use of computer & mostly you know technology.
  3. You have worked with at least one international team, so you know other culture.
  4. You have an internet connection. (That’s why you are reading this post 😉 )
  5. You have worked with team on projects that runs for years.

This list can go to multiple digits. I will leave it your skills and imaginations.

Certainly there could be slow down of India IT for the standard it have seen in past 2 decades. However we have matured as an Industry and to get work will not be easy without specific advance skills.

Following are my 2 possible solutions or you can say my point of view:

  1. Application Technology: Any application related technology primarily does three things:  Saves Information, Apply Condition, Loops Action. The super nerdy out there, might think this is misleading. My point is the core is something similar. It is similar for most of the application technology. So if You have to spend 6 months to learn a new technology and get 44% job hike. Isn’t it worth it? So do it RIGHT NOW, while you still have the job rather than waiting for you to be sacked. So learning new skills is important because you are in the era where a person changes at-least 5 roles/industry in a life time.
  2. Self Employment: I am running my business so I am pro enterprise, having said that it is not for every one. Let me break it down for you in a different way, You must have had got a chance to work with someone whom you liked to work. I myself have been in the industry for 10 years before I started my business. You text few of your friends/mentors/juniors (this applies If you are currently out of job or check how your employers policies) and you start brainstorming on some ideas. Plan it out and try a MVP. Start small and see if you can connect with something. You can see today making a mobile friendly web app and hosting in Amazon cloud is inexpensive. If you don’t have money sell your phone and borrow your friends old phone. You should be fine for an year.  Create a light weight product throw it out to early adopter and see if it sticks.                                                                                                                                               Try – Test – Rinse – Repeat                                                              If you have any doubts and questions you know your friend Google is always there to help. Think global you can sell a web based product/service to any one in this world. It has been never so easy to reach any person in the world in the history of the mankind.

In conclusion I would like to end this with just saying don’t play a role of a victim. You have see the down fall of year 2000, 2008 and there will be one coming soon as per the experts out there. I don’t know. However I know there will be ups and downs in Indian IT and now is the time to change course and bring the different flair to it and make it more Independent

All the Best!

Back in College after 10 years

College always creates a nostalgic feeling. You think about college and all the good memories comes. College plays an important role in your career. Principal and teachers are the guiding force to jump start your life. We cannot thank enough to them. Couple of years back I visited college in one of the college’s reunion “Nostalgic”. I felt like I should connect back to college, I was not sure how could I do that. After an year I had an idea of guiding student with their final year projects. The idea was simple, I had a decade of industry knowledge. I can put the current software development practice and experience to student’s project development. I along with my business partner decided we should go with it. We both discuss on what all should we include in and shortlisted few things that should be there. One of the top thing was complexity of the project. We thought of making the project complex and unique, thus they will have a good learning experience.

We thought of talking to the Head of Department in Information Technology. We had an hour long discussion on how to go about the idea. The methods we will follow and the Head of Department was very curious and helpful to us.  We took the appointment of our principal and she gave us the green flag to go ahead. We immediately thought of having the projects started. We had an introduction meeting with all the students who were participating. We asked them if they have any project in there mind and some did had. Once the project was allocated we had some online systems in place and some follow up emails. We thought we were all set, But it was a totally different experience. My respect to all my teachers went up because I had to keep a lot of patience. However we had long project sessions conducted over the weekends with the help of teachers and lab staff. It was tiring long days for me, my business partner and my colleague. We had to keep answering questions all day long and keep solving the problems. However we stick to the plan and followed the rules we had set at the start of the year. The year long project came to an end and every one had competed the project. We are waiting for the results now.

It was a great experience for us. We thoroughly enjoyed being in college for those many weekends we had. There was up and downs and we felt as if we are re appearing for the exams. While helping the students I thought if we all can just help the students. Make use of the technology available. Even if you are not in the country conducting a talk via online video conferencing. There can at least an idea pool of things that can be done in college and you get a chance to be back in college. I always enjoyed to be in college and hope to see few of you reading this in the campus.

I would like to end this story by words that meant a lot to me. It was during one such meeting with Principal Madam, She said

This is all we want from alumni.

I really thought that moment college never expected any thing from me and it will never expect. After all things college had given me, it is just asking few hours in few days of my time to help many students. It in returns gives me the feeling of belonging.

 

A developer’s day in life

I have meet and worked with few developers. I have always found it common theme that they are always better at there task and programming however struggle with time management, project management and client understanding. Everyone is not in this category, its a mix and a match. Let me list out few example of true stories you may be able to relate.

Stories of developer struggles:

  1. Important and urgent emails are not replied for 2 days, especially when the email is from Exec/Director who is asking for some status directly to the developer (When its a flat structure).
  2. The Client has requested for apples and he gets apples tasting like oranges. Most common reason miss understanding of requirement
  3. The projects completes on time but gets over budget, due to number of hours spend by developers.
  4. Or the worst of them all not communicating back to the team when the task is done and there are half a dozen people who are eagerly waiting for it.
  5. so on…

Before even going further and giving my 2 cents blanket advice to budding developers. Here is the principles on which it has been derived. As a developer you much be aware why principles and patterns works out best and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel again. This is a 4 quadrant principle from the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.

four-quadrants

As such the above image is self explanatory short detail about this is given here

Quadrant 1 is what you must be doing already, because your boss or client is keeping a watch on it. Quadrant 2, honestly if you are struggling as programmer or developer. You don’t bother its not on your books at all or only occasional thought. However remember this is most important quadrant for your career. The time we are saving will be invested in here.

Lets talk about Quadrant 3, mostly likely this will be your major time consuming activity. Some ones else priority, meeting that you need not attend, overthinking and over-designing a simple programming problem, creating generic frameworks in tight deadline and so on.

And your most common friend, Quadrant 4. Checking social media feeds again and again and again. Long coffee breaks and charts, playing games on your smart phone. Checking stock price every minute, Checking on news of countries you don’t belong. Have you ever thought of switching your phone for an hour and working on a programming task. Think about it.

Now that you have got a glimpse about possible struggle and resolving principles. Lets plan a day for you. Its cannot be repeated each day however it will work like a framework to bring yourself in track. Reminder I am not Nostradamus and I don’t have a crystal ball. Use your common sense!

The framework for your EPIC day:

  1. Your day starts at 5 minutes on previous night before you sleep. You know what are the big deadlines of your project. You pick 1 big task for a day, which will take around 90 to 120 minutes to finish. You also pick 2 small task which takes 30 minutes each. So you know your must complete task for the following day.
  2. Good morning! You don’t start with your day with your emails (No-Email). You pick your first task and complete it on the basis which you decided on the previous night. If you are scared of not checking your email first thing in the morning then come 2 hours early then your regular time. So to begin with you check your email as you used to check on your normal day.
  3. Once your big task is done you will already feel more accomplished for your day and you will find you are in control.
  4. You move on to your next 2 task once the first task is complete and the only other activity you can do to bend this rule is quadrant 1 task which is like Server crashed, Application down or fire in the building.
  5. Till you complete all 3 task for the day you will not take up any quadrant 3 task. If some one ask for help or your boss interrupts. Ask politely if you can do that post lunch, since you are middle of a billable task and in a zone. Most sane bosses will understand.
  6. Once you are done will all 3 task hope fully by your first half. Check your email before you take a lunch break. Reply to all the emails which will take less than 2 minutes. There are few example listed here. This tip form the book “Getting Things Done the art of stress free productivity” by David Allen
  7. So you had your lunch and you completed your BIG 3. Already feeling like ready to go home. Note: You have not spent an single minute on Quadrant 4 activity also being able to not do it for rest of your day. Being professional and giving your employer a bang for the buck.
  8. Now is the time for finishing your Quadrant 3 activity. Ideally in a time slot of 60 minutes each. Don’t take more than 2 task mentioning you are already working on some things else. which is already in your plate. Again use common sense in case of crisis and any quadrant one task.
  9. You need to take 10 mins of your planning this will help you if you are on course with your 3 months deliverable, your monthly deliverable, weekly deliverable and all your communications and dependencies.
  10. Planning: So I would recommend you to split it like 1st and 15th of the month check your Monthly deliverable. However 1st of every 3rd month check your 3 months deliverable. Every Friday check your weekly deliverable. Rest of the days check your daily goals. If you have time left check all the gaps of your communications. Like of you are waiting for some decisions or task. send a reminder. If you have completed a task send a notification. This time should be only for planning what to do. So the actual sending of email will be coming next. This time slot is only for brain work. Make good decisions here or I like to say thinking time.
  11. Now you again go back to your email to reply to all the long emails that you will have to read and reply and planned communication you did in previous step. Remember on a good non crisis day you would have spent only 10 minutes of your time on email before you reach at this 3rd email checking event. You keep a slot of 20 minutes to reply all Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 email. The main is quadrant 2 email especially relationship building with your clients and boss.
  12. For those you cannot reply answer them back you will reply them by tomorrow end of the day. Then you pick them up same time tomorrow in your 30 minute slot.
  13. The most fun time slot of your day begins, You will divide it into 2 slot, the First named as AutoBot and the second as MyWisdom each one about 45 minutes.
  14. AutoBot: This will be a time where you will add automation to your developer life. You will think of ways which you will do your task faster. Few example: Increase your programming speed by adding auto complete code snippet or some command script to automate your build, unit test and dev-deployment process. We are just following Do not repeat principles in our process. The out come of this time should be towards your long term goals, Should be able to used by your organization or your future team.
  15. MyWisdom: You should spend this 45 minutes for learning some thing new. Ideally by practicing it in a code base or setting up the tool in your computer. If possible avoid consuming articles or video during this time but actually getting hands dirty and making mistakes while learning new stuff. Asking important questions which you don’r know and then learning new things.
  16. If you count till now you will add up to 7 hours. the remaining 1 hour will be taken up by a 30 min status meeting, stand-up or some other meetings. The remaining 30 minutes will be taken up by context switching. Also quadrant 1 task can come up any time.
  17. Happy programming!

 

1 ) Scenarios for common anti patterns

2 ) Puzzle to choose which is right and wrong when you have to choose between two task