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.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Common errors in technical writing

Today I attended a session of the Mumbai chapter of the Society for Technical Communication . The first session was by Gurudutt Kamath, who is probably the most well-known figure in the tech writing community in India. My interest in attending the session arose cause someone I know was also speaking there, and also because a lot of the work that we do involves a significant amount of technical writing. So while, we may not be professional technical writers, consulting does require us to have excellent written communication skills.

Guru (as he is popularly known) was speaking on common errors in technical writing. I think many of these errors occur in daily business communication as well. He made it a pretty interactive session, so the other tech writers also piped in with the errors they have seen occur most often. Here's the list we came up with:

  1. Not identifying the purpose of the document. Each document should have a set of objectives and a context in which it is being developed. Is it a user manual, or a marketing collateral, or something else. This leads us to:
  2. Not identifying the right target audience. If you don't know whom you're writing for, you're quite likely to miss the mark in terms of getting your point across. You could come across writing increasingly dumbed-down documents, or your writing could be so filled with jargon that it would be impossible for the average reader to understand. Having identified the target audience, you need to be sure that the next error is taken care of:
  3. Not getting the right sample audience to review your document. The right reviewers can make a huge difference in the final quality of your writing. I have often had non-technical editors review some pretty technical articles, and miss out on stuff that a more technical reviewer would easily have helped improve upon. Some of the better journals have a peer review system, so you ensure that a wider sample audience reviews your writing. A lot of the times, we end up submitting stuff without review - which is almost sacrilege!
  4. Inconsistency. Whether it's your formatting styles or your use of numbering systems, or your choice of words (British English or American English or apna Indian English), you have to be consistent. This also applies to:
  5. Not selecting the right examples. Guru gave the example of an article, which was about choosing relevant examples, and was woven around Amercian baseball. Now the author might have written the original article for an American audience, but by the time it got syndicated, it was published in other regions, where most of the baseball metaphors fell completely flat.
  6. Common grammar and spelling mistakes. "It's" vs. "Its". Not pressing the F7 key. Enough said!
  7. Wrong references. In larger documents, references to sections or figures within the document can go wrong when the document changes. For a book, that I was recently co-authoring, I had to keep changing the references to snapshots and figures as I kept inserting more, requiring me to renumber the earlier ones, as well as change references to them. Apparently, the right way to do it is to add a reference field, and point it to the location within the Word document, so that when the referenced section changes, the reference changes with it.
  8. Cookie cutter nightmares. Ok, so we've all done this. Opened up a previous proposal or report, and simply pressed File Save As, and the old client name pops up in the most embarrassing places. We once failed to get a customer reference, because during the closing meeting they brought up the point that they had been put off because an old client name had cropped up in one of the documents we had submitted in the project. Based on the inputs from the other participants in the session, this happens to the best of them.
  9. Use of cliched graphics. Using the MS supplied clip art in Powerpoint presentations, not getting the graphics done professionally, and using irrelevant graphics. Of course, Powerpoint gaffes are a whole thesis subject by themselves.
  10. Punctuations errors. I am most guilty of these, especially with mis-placed commas. Just don't seem to get them in the right places! Other errors include inconsistent quotation marks, misplaces colons and semi-colons, the use of ;&amp instead of 'and', etc.
Guru recommended "The Elements of Style" as a good first book to get your technical writing in good shape. Others also recommended the "Microsoft Manual of Style" and the "Chicago Manual of Style". Guru also has a whole series of articles on common errors on this website.


Girish said...

I am a regular reader of yuor blog. Your writing has further boosted my interest in starting a one-person company.

Thanks for all those useful articles.

I am a consultant editor working with one of the top IT companies in India. I am planning to start a web-based content development and editing services first before quitting my job. Your blog has helped me a lot. Keep writing. May God bless you for a healthy and wealthy life. It's people like you our country wants.


Intrepid said...

Girish, thanks for all the kind words! :) Helps to ensure that I keep writing stuff along the same lines. Often one begins to question whether one is writing the right stuff or not. Your new venture sounds like it has an online business model. So do pay lots of attention to SEO. And ping me if you need any specific info. All the best!

Anonymous said...

The last link http://everydayentrepreneurs.blogspot.com/2006/10/tc.eserver.org/authors/Kamath,_Gurudutt_R

does not work

Lifewish said...

The link should be to http://tc.eserver.org/authors/Kamath,_Gurudutt_R

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Richard said...

Do you know anyone that has success in breaking into the Indian Technical Writting, Information Mapping, or Content Management business from the USA?

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Thanks for ur great tips for writing the technical writing.These fatal errors must be reduced so that we can get the best tech writing.

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