WORKING MORE HOURS WILL NOT LEAD YOU TO THE ROAD TO SUCCESS

handsome hipster modern man working home using laptop

All too often, you can easily discern a soon-to-fail entrepreneur by the weary and exhausted look in their eyes. Despite covariance in the rate of startup collapses with overworked CEOs, the dilemma persists. Some are fanatical when it comes to boasting about working 60 to 80 hours a week. Their logic of building ’sweat equity’ blinds them to the sacrifices they make, for instance, their marriage, their health, their families and their social responsibilities.  What they perceive as a successful lifestyle is, in fact, a massive failure.

Let’s talk about personal fatigue

man stressed out

We humans are not designed to work for 80 hours per week, at least not in the long term. Numerous studies have shown that humans function efficiently for approximately ten hours a day and that’s only if you sleep well, eat healthy and exercise regularly. Attempting to operate for more than ten hours will have diminishing returns because it keeps you from being at your peak even for those ten functional hours.

We humans need a solid eight of hours of undisturbed sleep to rejuvenate. That leaves 16 waking hours in a day. The majority of that time is spent in physical maintenance like eating, bathing, walking and other everyday activities. Then you have t take out time from those 16 hours for family interaction and other duties and events as well as our commute time. At the end, you only have ten hours in a day to do any real work.

The only way you can do more is by either working for seven days a week or you forgo doing those things that are called life. Working for seven days a week only gets you a maximum of 20 extra hours of productivity and that’s not much. Skipping all your normal duties and activities will make you end up with no family, ignored by the community and possibly with deteriorating health.

Why entrepreneurs work too hard and push themselves too much

It’s a known fact that impatience is a universal trait of entrepreneurs. They have a vision and want to achieve it overnight. Entrepreneurs also tend to be perfectionists and pay too close an attention to the minutest of details. Between wanting the work done now and done right, they usually chose to do all of the work themselves.

But life doesn’t work that way, you don’t scale that far. Entrepreneurs start on the road to overworking themselves because they make these common mistakes:

  • They don’t prioritize- entrepreneurs have to understand that not everything is equally important. Prioritize the work and give precedence to what needs attention at first.
  • They don’t delegate- fear of others not performing their tasks the way it should be done usually causes entrepreneurs to micromanage and add other burdens to their already growing workload.
  • They don’t deal with tough things first- dread of big problems and distasteful work keeps entrepreneurs from launching important initiatives.
  • They obsess over insignificant details- entrepreneurs focus too much over the unimportant details and ignore the bigger issues that need attention.

Don’t put yourselves through undue pressure. You don’t need to be your own slave driver. 

The only people who can help overworked entrepreneurs are themselves. Only they can undo the damage. Knowing that a person’s best performance diminishes after ten hours, what entrepreneurs can aim is for working 50 hours or less each week. After all it’s preferable to work well than work hard. If entrepreneurs work efficiently for ten hours, then it beats working poorly for 20 hours.  Remember to:

  • Work smarter- it may sound cliché, but entrepreneurs have to be smart about every move they make. One excellent, well thought out decision makes everything great and one single bad decision requires a lot of hard work to undo it.
  • Redesign responsibilities- if entrepreneurs feel like they can’t keep up, then they need to redesign responsibilities accordingly because it’s possible that some work that others are supposed to be doing is landing on their desks.
  • Learn to let go- if entrepreneurs hire capable and efficient people, communicate with them their vision and the business missions, then entrepreneurs have no need to micromanage.  Entrepreneurs can let these employees do great things for them.
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How behavioural styles affect business

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It is always common that every individual around us have different attitudes and ways of doing things. Their way of thinking, networking and interacting with people might change. During a networking session, meeting or a gathering, it is important for the Marketers to understand different behavioural styles of people in order to effectively network.

Philosophers invented a model called DiSC in order to develop better understanding of behaviours. In fact, now DiSC is a universal language that has been documented and validated in over 25 countries around the world.

When I was in USA for the BNI Conference, Dawn Lyons conducted a very interactive session regarding this with various group activities.  I found it very useful and thought of sharing it with my readers.

10734186_10154805451010497_1315823072294186447_n“Room Full of Referrals” Trainig by US Referral Marketing Expert Dawn Lyons

Generally, in any networking room, you will get four types of people: Go-getters, Promoters, Nurturers and Examiners. Understanding the behaviour of these four types of behavioural patterns is vital for marketers to network and understand anyone in the room for better communication with adaptive style.

So, who is a Go-getter?

A go-getter is a busy and innovative individual who would be equivalent to the “D” in DiSC. These individuals are generally very driven, result-focused, quick paced and even often impatient. Simply put, these are people who have a “get it done right now!” attitude. They are strong believers in pragmatism and are never hesitant to bend a few rules. They are the type of people who understand that it is a lot easier to ask for forgiveness rather than having to beg for permission. They are also so incredibly focused that people may take them to appear detached. They are so ambitious about their ideas and goals that they forget to take the time to enjoy other things.

Go-getters attend networking events in order to gain new business prospects and rub shoulder with the successful people in the event.

Who is a Promoter?

Promoters are people who are energetic supporters. They urge and use persuasive means to popularize or sell something. Promoters are comparable to the “i” in DiSC. They are very friendly and positive people who have the happy-go-lucky attitude. Known to be fun lovers, promoters love to be on the go and always look for enjoyable ways of doing things. At the same time, they are the type of people who tend to avoid confrontations and would prefer to casually mingle with clients over a meal rather than working on a serious proposal in the office quarters.

Promoters are also often dreamy individuals who have a plethora of ideas in their head and always manage to get others excited about their ideas. They would even be bold enough to take risks and generally stay away from researching information or doing their homework before making decisions. Instead, they rely solely on their instincts.

Promoters attend networking functions to meet new people, have a great chat with friends and make sure that they are noticed in the event. In short, they love to hang out.

Who are Nurturers?

Nurturers are the kind, helpful, caring and incredibly patient people who graciously gives gentle care to a person in order to assist in their growth or development. They are equivalent to the “S” in DiSC. Nurturers are wonderful listeners who like things to be slower paced than go-getters and promoters. They like dealing with things in their own way and in their own time and do not like being rushed or pushed into anything. Rather, they are grateful for quality time with people and their comfortable temperament makes it easier for others to approach them. Due to their relaxed nature, they have the gift of developing strong networks with others. As dependable and supportive individuals, nurturers are amazing team players. They tend to stay away from risks and would rather tolerate a difficult environment than having to put themselves through a change.

Nurturers attend networking events to connect with others they are already acquainted with and also meet down-to-earth people. Their focus in attending these events is to strengthen and deepen their interactions and relationships.

Who are Examiners?

Equivalent to the “C” in DiSC, examiners are people who carefully analyze and inspect other people in detail and further test their skills and aptitude by asking questions. Examiners are highly efficient and methodical individuals who are driven by their tasks. They are very focused on finding information and acquiring knowledge and they love to check off things in their extensive “to do” list. Due to the fact that examiners love information, they take a lot of consideration and time ahead of making any decision. You could call them perfectionists.

Examiners are very good communicators due to their extensive knowledge on a variety of topics. They are careful about expressing their emotions and are rather guarded people who can sometimes be rather uncomfortable around individuals who are lively and expressive, such as promoters. Examiners will always see the complex side of things and their natural intelligence and cleverness gives them their own unique style of wacky humor.

Examiners attend networking events solely to promote and market their business and as soon as they achieve their goal, they will leave the events as promptly as they can.

In conclusion, once you start to have a clearer understanding of these four behavioral patterns, it will naturally become far easier for you to identity what category any individual falls under, thereby allowing you to adapt to their style and making them feel good and comfortable.

BNI Sri Lanka launches its third chapter

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BNI successfully launches its 3rd chapter in Sri Lanka and opens up many prospects for aspiring entrepreneurs

BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world and the BNI Sri Lanka launched its third chapter in Sri Lanka on the 3rd of June at OZO Colombo. This is the third successful Sri Lankan chapter that represents BNI worldwide from various industry fields.

Regional Director Brigadier J P A Jayawardane, Assistant Director Major General Nimal Krishnaratne , Ambassador Anjana Gunathilake and Ambassador Sanjeev Pushparajah were present for the launch. The BNI Sri Lanka Achievers Chapters leadership team is headed by Mr. Amuthan Nadarajan, the president, Mrs.Anandhi Vythilingam as vice president and Mr. Sunimal Opatha as secretary/ treasurer..

As the world’s largest business networking, referrals and word-of-mouth marketing organization, BNI has more than 200,000 members in over 7,500 chapters worldwide. Spread over 64 countries, the extensive BNI network offers plenty of opportunities for members to collaborate and share contacts, ideas and business referrals. This makes it the ideal networking space for entrepreneurs who rely on referral marketing to expand their business horizons.

With a solid global presence, BNI offers numerous business opportunities where members can take their business to the next level by using structured, dependable and professional word-of-word referrals. A successful business relies heavily on word-of-mouth advertising and BNI has consistently generated larges amounts of referrals and members have successfully augmented their business through this platform. Speaking about the BNI network, Ambassador Anjana Gunathilak said “The mission of BNI is to assist members to augment their business and develop long-term relationships with qualified business professionals that will substantially expand your business”.

With the launch of the third chapter, members gained access to an online portal where all BNI members worldwide are connected. Through this, members can find suppliers, business partners and showcase their business to members from all over the world. Speaking about how the launch of this new chapter can help aspiring entrepreneurs, Mr. Amuthan Nadarajan said, “Referrals are an important part of any business and through BNI Sri Lanka Achievers Chapter, members can expand their professional network, develop key networking skills, grow their business and create important business relationships”.

The launch of this new chapter opened up many arenas for entrepreneurs to explore and witness how business networking and referral marketing can help grow any business.

Shinagawa Beach Hotel – One of the Best Hotels in Sri Lanka

With the pressurized life style it becomes unavoidable to travel somewhere remote to get some good rest and happiness. Though I run my own business with no enough time for entertainment, time to time I try my level best to travel to explore new places in Sri Lanka.

Hence I have decided to add something about my trips in my blog in addition to the usual marketing, entrepreneurship and management related blog posts. I have named this interesting column as “My Travel Diary”.

Officially this will be the first post about my latest trip to down-south. People who are planning to go on Trips in Sri Lanka generally choose down-south as their preferred destination. The place I visited is a  hotel in Balapitiya located in the frequent down-south route passing Ahungalla.

It was a memorable trip of mine and my wife’s with plenty of heartwarming experiences. This property is called Shinagawa Beach Resort that belongs to Asia Leisure PLC. Already I have visited this hotel during January 2014 for a spend the day with some of my friends.  But this time I was there on a full board basis. If I want to express my stay at Shinagawa in one word I would say “Amazing”.

My Deluxe room was splendidly spacious with a comfy king sized bed with an attached ultramodern washroom. The usual star class hotel facilities such as LED TV, complimentary WiFi, private balcony, pool, restaurant, minibar, room service etc. were there. But the unusual thing about the hotel is the peace of mind it gives to the guests. This property is an ocean front hotel that gives a breathtaking panoramic view of Indian Ocean.

I would like to list down few things that gave me some great experience at Shinagawa:

  1. I have been to several hotels, but not seen a courtesy levels of staff this high. Starting from the front office staff to room cleaners I didn’t expect a higher level of empathy level. I had a chance to chat with the front Office Manager, Executive Chef, Stewards etc. and they were so passionate about what they do.
  2. Not like other hotels, at Shinagawa you experience healthy set menu. As the hotel is mainly visited by European guests, they organise set menus (most of the time a seven course meal) than buffets. I was discussing with the Executive Chef Mahesh, who was going here and there to receive some appreciations from the local and foreign guests. He said that himself and the Food and Beverage Manager decide the daily menu based on the type of guests accommodated. A simple one word that expresses about the food served would be “Awesome”. It is 100% guaranteed that you will have a very delicious menu that is completely different from the conventional buffet lunch or dinner or breakfast.
Chief Executive Chef - Mahesh
Chief Executive Chef – Mahesh
Part of Breakfast Menu
Plate of Fruits, Home-made Jams, Kekiri Fresh Juice – Part of Breakfast Menu
Freshly Baked Buns and Breads
Freshly Baked Buns and Breads
Fresh Mixed Fruit Juice
Fresh Mixed Fruit Juice

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A Part of Lunch
A Part of Lunch
Yummy Orange Mose
Yummy Orange Mousse

3. The surrounding of the hotel is also enjoyable, we were spending more time in the beach as well as in the naturally made pool with the beach that in the room.

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4. Sea view of the hotel is simply amazing. The balconies of the hotel are facing the sea. All the times staying in the balcony while the soft sea breeze embraces you give a refreshing feeling.

A Golden Evening at Shinagawa

A Golden Evening at Shinagawa

4. A naturally made pool along the sea gives an enjoyment for better sea bathing even though the sea is rough.

5. Collecting corals is one of the best entertainers that I enjoyed there.

If you feel you need more information about this hotel please do call me on 94 71 303 2422 🙂

 

 

Web Development and Design in Sri Lanka

Factors to consider when developing a website in Sri Lanka

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A few years back a website for business was a ‘nice-to-have’ in Sri Lanka. But, things have started to change slowly but surely as there has been a lot of activity online with the easier access to internet and the government’s support towards the ICTA initiatives. However, it must be said that most Sri Lankan websites are still at a basic level of functionality and lack that user-friendliness that you expect from them. With the entrance of new players in the market we see some innovative and creative ideas popping-up, but, the rate of adoption has been slow.

In today’s modern world a website is a must to have for any business (even vegetable sales are done through a website, check anything.lk’s vegetable delivery service for proof). A website is not just another add-on, it represents the brand and there have been businesses that have excelled due to the creativity put forward through their online presence.

It is true that taste differs from person to person, and the same can apply to their preference of a website layout / design. But, there are several universal principles that stand-out in a successful website and these drive your ROI as well. As a starter we compiled a list of factors designers and website owners should consider when developing a website in Sri Lanka. It came up to a total of 10 factors (we may have missed a few, ao please do keep your comments coming so that everyone can benefit). Not satisfying these factors may lead to your website not performing as expected.

1.Distinguish your viewers

Visitors to a website like a website and make repeat visits to that specific website as really like it. For example, Google News and Yahoo are spending a lot of money on creating add-ons and features to customize their sites based on the user profile. Similarly knowing the people who will visit your website, i.e. knowing your target segment is the first factor to consider. Therefore, you should know the answer for these two questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What do they want?

2.Purpose of your site

Next factor to consider is to know why you want the website. What are you going to use it for? Is the website just a tool to inform people? Or is it going to be used to drive sales? Or is it going to act as a lead generation tool? Or is it just going to be an entity to give an online presence? Based on your usage of the website the design will need to be changed (especially the technicalities and functionalities). We firmly believe that the more you are clearer about the usage the more effective the website will be.

3. Check-out what your competitor’s are doing

There is no rule that says that you can’t spy on your competition. So go ahead check what your competitors have done with their websites. This gives you an idea of what to do and what not to do. Based on this plan your design and keep in mind you have to be the best in all aspects to make it to the top.

4. Usability

In other words is it easy for the user to navigate through the website? A layout that is easy to navigate through will give the content in your website more exposure. Search engines on their part respect and give priority to websites that are easy to navigate. This is especially because the search engine crawlers find it easy to crawl a well navigated website. Therefore, before the design is finalized it is very important that the navigation steps are finalized. And as a small test before launch it is advisable to run a few simple checks/tests by asking a small sample of your target segment/demographic to run through your website and to provide feedback.

5. Images and Colours

Sri Lankan websites are quite famous for tons and tons of text with just an odd picture in the page. But, it is boring, this is not an educational book, you should add pictures that are relevant wherever you can incorporate them, and these pictures should be related to your business. Please do keep in mind that an image speaks more than a text, therefore, it is only in the best interest of your business that you include the pictures of your products, service offering, service centres, so that the customers can get an idea about your offerings easily. When selecting the colours, there is no right or wrong, but choose colours that are soothing to the viewer’s eyes and are related to your brand.

6.Design should be appealing

As mentioned earlier the site should look beautiful and engaging, but, the key is to confirm whether the target audience finds it interesting and appealing. For example, if you website target audience are people in their 40s, you cannot rely on the designers who are in their 20s, you should ask for feedback from the target audience.

7. Accessibility

Gone are the days where websites were designed to work only on Internet Explorer. These days people use a number of browsers, and devices to access the internet. Therefore, accessibility should not be a problem at all. Your site needs to be usable on any of the platforms that people are likely to access it from. At the same time a simple device (non-smart phone) may not display all the features in the website but, it should still display the important contents (we call this “graceful degradation”).

8. Website content

Visitors to your website come with the fundamental aim of viewing your content. Therefore, having a generic description will be the last thing they want. The content in the website plays a vital role in the conversion of prospects and also greatly influences the search engine rankings.

9. Encourage people to come back

No website is designed with the aim of having people visit it only once. People visit numerous websites a day, and you must hit the right chord in order to make them visit your site regularly. Examples of Sri Lankan websites that have done well in garnering people’s interest through repeat visits are; yamu.lk, ikman.lk, dailymirror.lk. Regularly update the website with latest contents so that the visitor finds something new every time he/she comes in.

10. Make us of the analytics

Internet is full of great tools to track visitors to your website and what they do. This is gold for the website owner, because this gives the owners feedback on what they have done right, and what they have to improve on.

These ten factors are what we find critical for the success of Sri Lankan website. It is always best to get your website right the first time and taking these factors into consideration will definitely help you with it.

Article Courtesy – karthik Balachandran

Business Network International (BNI): Growing via Referrals

In this post I am going to discuss the importance of Referral Marketing and Networking for a successful growth and expansion of businesses. In the Sri Lankan context, the country has started to upgrade its socio-economic affairs within the country limits as well as outside of its geographical boundaries. This will soon impose stagnation in almost all industries where the competition will be high while the profit making abilities and widening the revenue channels may become difficult. In such situations the businesses should be ready to proactively face the maturity stage. In such circumstances, my personal view is that the Marketing sphere should differ from the status quo. The dynamic features of marketing such as Offline Advertising, Online Marketing, Branding, Loyalty Marketing etc. should be combined with Referral Marketing and Networking.

It has become apparent that a business, being a sole entity, cannot survive anymore in this fiercely competitive business world. For example unlike ever before, most of the value chains have started to shrink and the entities have started to invest more in backward and forward integration while making mutually benefiting agreements with the value chain members. Hence the phenomena of marketing via referrals and networking will be the dominant feature of the forthcoming business era. Though this is a global trend which has not yet thoroughly dominated the Sri Lankan context, this will soon be the trend in Sri Lanka as well. Hence Sri Lankan Entrepreneurs should be ready to welcome such a transformation.

Recently I came to know about one of the world’s largest referrals and networking organizations, Business Network International (BNI). I got to know about this organization through my Business Partner who resides in California, USA. As I have stated initially, I strongly believed that referrals and networking can render immense benefits to businesses in Sri Lanka, especially small scale ones and start-ups. Hence I was interested to know more about it and soon experienced the worthiness of such an organization in the contemporary world. This encouraged me to become a member of its Sri Lankan wing too. Resultantly I am writing this post by connecting the importance of referrals, word-of-mouth and networks and the experiences I collected to this point as a member of BNI, Sri Lanka.    

Word-of-mouth is arguably one of the most effective forms of Marketing, and has an especially significant effect in the B2B market. While referrals are not guaranteed sales, clients who have been directed towards your business through mutual intermediaries are much more likely to become loyal customers. However, in order to conduct proper referral marketing, a company must first establish a network of business contacts. This can be especially hard for new business owners and young entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka who are yet to forge healthy, lasting business relationships, which is where a business networking platform like BNI comes in.

Chapter members hold regular meetings in order to foster stronger business relationships with each other. At these meetings, each member is given a chance to describe their business and the services they offer to the others, and what kind of referrals they are looking for. When a member comes across a potential client looking for a service provided by one of the other members, they recommend the member to the individual and provide them with a referral slip at the next meeting for them to follow up on. This is how the business network uses word of mouth marketing for the mutual benefit of members. These meetings are also useful to culture professional networking skills, and will aid members in making long-term business relationships.

BNI has recently established chapters in Sri Lanka, and is currently looking for new members. This provides valuable networking opportunities for new entrepreneurs and established professionals alike; bringing together high level decision makers that can contribute towards each other’s success. The current roster of members includes recognized businessmen from the fields of Digital Marketing, Media, Hospitality, Textiles and Education, among others, and is looking to expand through the addition of new members. This is assured to facilitate the growth of the local business network by putting several professionals in regular contact with each other.

As its name suggests, BNI is an international network, and has over 150,000 registered members in several countries around the world. This network is accessible to all BNI members through BNI Connect, and is an invaluable resource for business owners looking to upscale their operations globally. I strongly recommend all business professionals, both new and established, from all fields to take advantage of this opportunity and join this growing network.

For more information on how to get involved and expand your network of referrals, contact me on 071 303 2422.

START IT UP! – A GUIDANCE WORKSHOP FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS

Start-Up

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”-Steve Jobs

Sri Lanka is soon becoming accustomed to the business environment changes, changing business ideas/concepts, and to all the new business models. The rapid introduction of new restaurants and the now famous food on truck concept, a number of small entrepreneurs queuing up at the Good Market stall every Thursday are prime examples of the undying entrepreneur spirit among the Sri Lankan youngsters.

Unfortunately start-up businesses have a very high failure rate in Sri Lanka with almost 33% of the businesses shutting-down within their first two years. Several reasons have been identified for these failures and they are; not identifying the correct market opportunity, not being able to market the first sale, poor financial management, poor marketing techniques, and low morale of the entrepreneur. With these in light Epitom Consulting has organized a specially designed entrepreneurship workshop targeting young budding entrepreneur enthusiasts.

Epitom Consulting is the brain child of a group of young marketing professionals, whose ambition it was to become successful entrepreneurs. The company has grown in strides and is now a highly sought after Consultancy Company and a corporate training company catering to big corporates and SMEs in Sri Lanka, and overseas. Having built a successful business themselves, the team is eager to share their success story and help young budding enthusiasts to achieve the same. Epitom continuously supports such young entrepreneurs to start new businesses in Sri Lanka and identify business opportunities through its Marketing Consultancy and Training services.

This Entrepreneurs Workshop covers the basic elements of starting a company, drawing upon the strengths in entrepreneurship and in building knowledge networks to offer the young entrepreneurs. Conceptualized, designed, and offered by Epitom Consulting, the workshops provide practical real-world advice and insights on launching a business, as well as networking opportunities, for those who attend.

Our speakers, Samantha Karandagoda (Director – WIZMA Global Education)and Ragulan Tharmakulasingam (Managing Director, Epitom Consulting and Epitom Trinergy), address the most important—and most challenging—aspects facing start-ups in this country. Getting these aspects correct will pave the way to a successful business venture, and can define the difference between success and failure, which involves a mixture of both art and science.The workshop includes insights about the significance of people and the team, how an idea should be approached and developed, how to size a market, and several basics about start-up execution, go-to-market and financial management.They will share their insights on the challenges and issues the entrepreneurs will face in their early days and how best to tackle these, based on their own experiences running two successful business ventures which they started from scratch.

The workshop is scheduled to be held on Saturday, 28th of September 2013, 9.00am–1.00pm, and will take place in No.3, St. Kildas lane, Colombo – 03. The sessions consist of interactive visual presentations, and discussions.

For individuals, young entrepreneurs and innovators who have a business idea and are waiting for the correct time or have questions and doubts of how to make the dream a reality, this is the ideal platform to help you. Join us to get the much needed PUSH to START IT UP!

For further information, contact: 071 303 2422 / 011 437 4280 / workshop@epitom.org