About Me

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Mumbai, India
I run an IT Security consulting firm based out of India. We started off from scratch in 2001 when I was 21, and have offices in Mumbai, Bahrain, and UAE. The idea behind the blog is to share the stories of how we run the business, the deals we make, the deals that break, the heartburn, and the sheer joy.

The Ultimate Startup Guide

The Ultimate Startup Guide is an e-book that provides answers to all your questions related to starting and growing a business in India. Everything you wanted to know about entrepreneurship in India from ideation to registration to marketing to hiring. The book contains a large number of practical examples, anecdotes, interviews, and motivational material to help you get started, and to grow rapidly in a booming Indian economy. If you've got the idea, this book will help you through with the execution and realize your dreams. Here are some of the key questions you will find answered in this book:
  • When starting a business, what are the legal issues involved?
  • What form of incorporation is better suited to which type of business?
  • What tax issues are involved?
  • How do I start a business and what are the pitfalls?
  • How do I market my business in the absence of significant funding?
  • How do I get funded?
  • What are the basic accounting concepts I should be aware of?
  • What is a business plan and how should I build one?
The brief table of contents of the book is as follows:
  1. Getting started
  2. Ideation
  3. Forms of Enterprises
  4. Funding
  5. Basic Accounting and Taxation
  6. Import and Export Licensing
  7. Trademark and Patenting
  8. Rules for NRIs and Foreigners
  9. Building a Business Plan
  10. Marketing on a Shoestring
  11. Website and Branding
  12. Women Entrepreneurs
  13. Templates
To order the Ultimate Startup Guide - email me at kkmookhey@gmail.com.

Details of the book are:
Title: The Ultimate Startup Guide
Author: Kanwal Mookhey
Pages: 150
Additional: Companion CD contains numerous templates for building your business plan, calculating cashflow, preparing profit and loss, and balance sheets, preparing invoices, your resume and profile, marketing material, websites, contracts, and many other useful and motivational material.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

10 ways to get business when bootstrapping

Some of these headlines are beginning to read like the advertising gimmicks from fly-by-night online operators. But when you're bootstrapping your business, and don't have much in the way of funding. And possibly no sales or marketing staff, here're some ideas on how you could get leads. Caveat: this would work best probably only for consulting companies, but then again, it just might work for anyone. Here goes:

  1. Subscribe and post to mailing lists: In our line of work, there are a number of mailing lists. Some of these have subscriptions of over 1 million members (Bugtraq). When people send in queries, and if you have sensible answers to give, it helps to put your name out there. If I read someone's reply to a query, which I find useful, I will often check up on that person's website, and see if there is any business potential. Similarly, if you post answers and put your contact information in your signature, it helps to put your name out there.
  2. Write articles: Often, when we don't have business in a particular segment of our work, say SAP Security, we'll go ahead and write up on it. If an online or offline journal publishes the article, that's great. If not, we put it up on our website, and sooner or later the search engines will pick it up and send inquiries your way.
  3. Speak at conferences - big or small: Within your area of business, there would be a number of professional societies. These would normally meet weekly or monthly, and quite often they invite guest speakers. If you take membership of these societies and take an active role, you're very likely to get noticed. They are also often short of good speakers, so if you can play it to your strength then you would again be able to put your name out there.
  4. Write a blog (not an anonymous one!): If you post good stuff on your blog, especially directly related to your area of expertise, business is quite likely to come your way. Of course, anonymously blogging like here doesn't help much in the way of getting business, but then again that was not really my objective :)
  5. Call up the bigger fish: In any line of work, there are bound to be the big guys who would be more than willing to send business your way, especially if you specialize in a niche area. For us, initially our area of expertise was (and hopefully still is) penetration testing. The big consulting firms were more interested in large audit projects, and were more than willing to offload the smaller ones to us.
  6. Call up existing clients: Asking for referrals is one of the best ways to get business. In fact, why just clients. You could call up everyone you know - vendors, suppliers, friends, ex-employers, etc. It doesn't hurt, and most of our large deals have landed up in the most unexpected fashion.
  7. Get your website listed: Build a cool-looking website and get it listed in a number of online directories which may be specific to business in your area. Both Yahoo! and Google have directories and you could try and get it listed there. There are also online Yellow Pages-style sites and you could try getting listed there
  8. Drop flyers in your office complex: This might be a slightly desperate measure, but what the heck. Get one-page flyers printed and post them around your office complex or in buildings next to the one you work in.
  9. Put up hoardings if possible: Where we work, the law of the land allows us to put up a hoarding outside our office. And thankfully for us our location is right on one of the busiest roads in town. So everyday thousands of people see the hoarding. Not that we've gotten a lot of direct business from it, but every now and then we meet someone who's seen it and it helps create recall value.
  10. Do work gratis: This is probably the last resort, but if a large client is willing to give you a letter of appreciation or recommendation for some free work, then you might as well do it. When starting out, we did a few free assignments, but this must be avoided to the extent possible.

2 comments:

Naomi from IttyBiz said...

I hope I didn't end up leaving this comment twice - I suck at Blogger.

While I'm normally pretty anti-work-for-free, it worked for me in one way. We said that in the first month, we would not charge. We went to as many people outside of our network as we could and offered them free work. We built a fairly decent portfolio, got some references, and started charging on day one of month two. It won't work for every kind of business, and you really have to put limits on it, but it can definitely work.

I like what you said about "desperate measure, but what the heck?" What-the-heck marketing has, without question, the highest ROI. When you find yourself saying, "it can't hurt" you'll often do much better than you thought.

Kanwal K Mookhey said...

@Naomy: You're right about free services, it is often a way to get good client names signed up. But at least in our case, clients who sign up for free are unwilling to act as references. The middle ground we use is to charge for the main service, and then give away an additional service or product or feature for free.