About Me

My Photo
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.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Great pieces of advice

When I started the company, I had absolutely no idea on how to provide consulting services, let alone run a business. A lot of people gave us a lot of good advice, and I thought I would list out the more unconventional pieces of advice we received, and immensely benefited from:

  • Never lose goodwill (Dad): My Dad's always been a big proponent of goodwill. I usually am quick off the handle, but he's always stressed the importance of ensuring that any disagreements are handled such that at the end you can always shake hands and walk away without leaving a bad taste. I've tried to adopt this approach with clients, partners and employees, and it's turned out quite well. For instance, on one particular consulting assignment, things unfortunately got very heated up between us and the head of the department we were working with. But later that day, I went around and apologized, and he was more than willing to apologize as well. Today, we have a significant annual consulting contract with the same department.
  • Never let the other guy lose face: This advice has come from quite a few people. During any negotiation or discussion, make sure you don't let the other guy lose face. Even if you win the argument, make sure the other guy doesn't come across looking like a sore loser. No one likes to be pushed against the wall, and in any situation she/he must be allowed to save face.
  • Get a hang of the financial numbers (Dad): Dad's been a financial whiz, and my background has been in technology. But poring over balance sheets, income tax rules, and listening to my accountant discuss depreciation, has forced me to get pretty interested in the financial side of things. Now, I have monthly key parameter reports which give me important numbers such as salaries, fixed expenses, domestic and overseas revenues, cash withdrawn, bank account balances, Internet/mobile/phone/electricity expenses, etc. A general idea of the main rules of taxation and accounting is extremely important when making operational and strategic decisions.
  • Never sell yourself short (Sabeer Bhatia): Yup, that's the dude who sold Hotmail to Microsoft for a neat $400 million. I happened to meet him at one of the rare parties I was at, and went up to him and asked him if he had any advice given I had just started. And that's what he said. Initially, of course, when we didn't have too many options it's difficult to put a very high price on oneself. But we've always avoided going in for low-priced projects, and rejected a couple of pretty-tempting buyout offers along the way as well. In the consulting business, if one does not value one's own time and skills highly, then surely the clients can't be expected to do so.
  • Increase your expenses (Dad): This is the one where I violently disagree with my Dad. His is the pure consumerist approach. Spend now, increase your expenses, increase the pressure to earn more revenues. Mine is the more conservative response: "Dad, I need to see those reserves in my bank, to be able to sleep well at night!". To which, he will usually say, "You should have the confidence in your future earning abilities to not need 6 months' expenses lying idle in your account".
  • Trust your people (Ricardo Semler): The idea that a company can and should be run as a democracy comes from Ricardo Semler's ground-breaking book, "The Maverick". There are no policies, people set their own time to come and go, they are forced to take vacations, the pyramid is a circle, people set their own salaries, and other crazy stuff! As an entrepreneur, the toughest challenge is letting go - letting go of one's own responsibilities and allowing people to flower and learn from their mistakes.
  • Look for people with energy and maturity (Jack Welch): As a consulting company, our valuation comes from the people that work with us. To be able to hire the right talent and attitude among the multitude of applicants, is a skill I am still learning. But Welch, in his book Winning, specifies these two attributes - energy and maturity - as being very important to look out for in potential leaders. Maturity is specially important when the consultant finds himself in a spot of bother on a given project, and needs to handle a delicate situation or reassure a frazzled client.
Feel free to add advice you've received, which has worked for you. There's also a lot of really bad advice we received, and I'll probably post on that as well!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Google Adsense - show me the money!

Well, the entrepreneur within me could not resist the temptation to make money through the Google Adsense program on this blog. I asked some A-list blogger friends, and they related woeful tales of having a lot of hits, but not much in the way of Adsense revenues. As usual, I thought my case would be different, and soon enough I'd be making hundreds of dollars a day through Adsense. Unfortunately, those revenues are still only trickling in. But in the process, I've gathered an excellent list of links to help you along.

I was inspired by this guy, who's quit his day-job and earns a living only from Adsense revenues. Pretty cool, eh? Check out some of his postings on the topic - here, here and here.

Here are some good Google write-ups on the topics - the Woot case study, and the Adsense Help Center, and most importantly Google's helpful optimization tips.

Some helpful hints I've picked up - but not necessarily applied - are:
1. Ads should be unobtrusive. Colors and fonts should match and blend in with the rest of your site
2. Have Adsense banners for each individual post. That way RSS feeds will also link to the ads
3. Use multiple channels in your Adsense configuration so that you can track which format and position works best for you
4. Use image and text ad combinations, instead of just text ads
5. Use the link units option as well. This I found pretty cool. It simply lists out subjects for Google ads. When a visitor clicks on the link, it opens up a page of Google ads on related topics. You get paid only when an ad on that page is clicked. It is less obtrusive than the regular banners.
6. Use horizontal formats rather than vertical formats
7. Position ads near content that is rich and near navigational aids, which are likely to attract users (this is a no-brainer)
8. Play around with Google's Submit a URL and Sitemap features.
9. Try to shoot up your blog's search engine rankings. This of course involves standard search engine optimization techniques.
10. Click on the ads on my blog. Umm...actually, I couldn't come up with a 10th tip!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Software startups blog

Here's a nice blog for software startups - Onstartups, by Dharmesh Shah. I like this post on Usability vs. Buyability. Especially, because for our own software we've been guilty of violating almost all the points he lists out there:
1. Transparent Pricing: Our pricing is not available on the website. I think we can rectify this almost immediately. The reason we didn't put it up there was so that we would at least know the people who were interested in it, when they sent us pricing enquiries. But I think it is time we changed this.
2. Immediacy: We require the request to be sent to us via email, and then we email the code back. It would be really cool to have the software activate immediately.
3. Minimal and 4. Payment methods: We don't really make it easy for customers to pay us. Heck our site doesn't even interface directly with a payment gateway.

Sadly, since most of our revenues come from the consulting services, the product has been treated as an orphan child. I wish someone would come along and buy out the whole thing lock, stock and barrel!

For the love of the game!


This post is triggered by Rob's post on how Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAMM) actually can be an inspiration for would-be entrepreneurs. I know it was a huge inspiration for me, and also happens to be one of my favorite books. (Please don't ask me what it is about!) There are some really great lessons in there, which are very well-presented in Rob's post. In fact, a number of my postings end up looking like the Chautauquas - or traveling tales - that Pirsig mentions.

I think at the end of the day, the singlemost important characteristic of any entrepreneur is the sheer love of the game. You got to absolutely love the whole entrepreneurial saga. Not just the specific business you are in, but the whole bloody thing in it's entirety. The ups and the downs, the beauty and the crap, the excitement and the boredom, and everything else that comes along with it.

Even now, once we've reached a certain level of success, there are days when you just feel the dumps. Not too far ago, we had one of those weeks where everything simply went wrong - absolutely wrong! And to get through that, you got to believe that it's a game, and you got to play it like that. The good part is that many of the rules are under your control. You're not a small cog in the larger corporate wheels, driven by their rules. Here, you can play the game the way you want to play - at least most of the time. It's tougher when you're struggling, but you have to believe that this is one game you're just going to win at.

There's also the other related aspect of philosophy. It's really not about the money. You've got to be driven by a deeper underlying philosophy, because that's what'll keep you going through the tough times.

So here's the balance - while you look at the whole thing as a game, you also got to play it with as much sincerity, seriousness, and diligence as you possibly can.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What idea?


Often I come across people and situations where budding entrepreneurs are looking out for that grand big idea that will propel them into instant millions and fame. I like to back ideas that are already proven, and strongly recommend that if you're really looking at starting your own venture you don't really need to create something radically new or unique.

For instance, in his book Good to Great, James Collins talks about identifying your sweet spot. The work which is a confluence of the following:
1. Something you love doing
2. Something you're genetically programmed to do
3. Something for which a market exists

I completely agree with #1 and #3, but disagree with #2. I don't think we're genetically programmed for anything specific atleast as far as entrepreneurship is concerned. And I would rather believe that if you do set your mind to it, you can generally accomplish it. For instance, my current profile requires me to interact extensively with people. Five years back, I would've been labelled an introvert and at most parties I'd be the wallflower. I still don't network aggressively, but it is an almost 180 degree turn for me in terms of my interactions with people.

Coming back to the point of waiting for a unique idea. I have seen a lot of people come up with lots of original ideas. But more than likely, the original idea isn't really unique. For instance, we recently thought it would be damn cool to productise one of our consulting offerings. As excited as we were, a search on Google revealed half a dozen other firms already doing the same. Which is not to say we're not going to go ahead with the idea. But it just goes to show that original ideas are rarely unique. The other thing about unique ideas is that if there really are no other players in the market for that idea, then possibly the market itself does not exist. Which means, you now have the humungous task of actually creating a market.

So the point now is what kind of an idea do you begin your business with. Here are some pointers to help you along:
1. Is it something you absolutely love doing? The task you plan to venture on, is it something you would do every day, weekends, even if you didn't get paid for it. Do you thoroughly enjoy doing this core task. Your entire business will be built around the fact that you, and the people you hire must love what they do. Otherwise, you simply won't be able to bring the energy and the passion to the field.
2. Is it something others are already successful at? Look around you. There are hundreds of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs working hard at their ideas. There are lots of businesses that are already very successful. Can you adopt a 'follow-the-leader' attitude and do it successfully enough to get to at least #2 or #3. For instance, I was inspired by a US-based consulting firm, which was highly successful in the same field. And I thought, if those guys can do it, so can we.
3. Is it something you know you can improve? Observe carefully at the establishments you frequent. What is it that they could be doing better? Are their customer service reps unfriendly? Are they not located in your specific part of the city, and people have to end up traveling a long distance to avail of their services (think restaurants)? Are they not catering to a specific market segment? They could be focused on large enterprises for customers, leaving you with the SME's to target. Are there specific technologies that they are not covering? If you can determine a specific differentiator, which your competitors would find difficult to replicate easily, then go after an already-successful idea, and you'll up your chances of success.
4. Is it something that you loved during one of your trips, and sorely lament it not being there where you live? For instance, a nice Italian restaurant! Or a service provider who provided an excellent service during your travels, but no one of that type exists back home.
5. Oh I wish, we had this! Have you faced situations, where you've thought: I wish there was someone who would do X for me. Or I wish there were a software that did X,Y and Z.

And, don't jump at your first idea. Dwell on it, let it play back and forth before you make the plunge. I know I toyed with half a dozen ideas before starting my current venture.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Multi-level marketing or network marketing


Before I even begin - let me unequivocally state my stand on multi-level marketing - don't do it! Yes it works for some people, and yes it just might work for you as well. But at the end of the day, the effort and skills required to make it work might just as well be put into an enterprise of your own, and I can guarantee you'll do many many times better.

Here's a brief intro of what these are. Essentially, they're pyramid type schemes, where someone convinces you to join in, and buy goods through him/her - also known as your uplink. And you then need to convince others to join into your group, and they become your downlinks and so forth.

I have spent quite some time studying and reading up on this, and here are some of the best reasons not to get into this:
1. It's not something you can do part-time. All that is bs. This is something that will require a lot more effort and persistence than you can every imagine.
2. It's not something that lets you control your time. Sorry, simply not happening. Most people start of thinking they can hold onto their day jobs while they do this. But that doesn't work. The only successful people in MLM are those who do it full-time and then some.
3. These are pyramid schemes. Outlawed in most states in the US, companies such as Amway are now pushing into China and India where laws pertaining to pyramid schemes are vague.
4. You cannot keep earning if you stop working. They often tell you that you can continue to earn through your downlinks. But that's simply not true. As soon as you stop showing the plan around, your income drops.
5. The money really comes through the tapes and the training material. There are some excellent resources out there that do the math. There is simply no way for you to make money selling FMCG goods. The real moolah comes from the tapes and other training material.
6. It's not fulfilling. It really isn't. It's simply depressing to keep selling the same fake story to your friends, family, and others, when you know it's all hollow.
7. You will lose friends. Every time you try to con someone into attending an MLM seminar or listen to tapes or buy the kit, and they drop out of the program, they're going to dislike you from that time onwards. In fact, eventually most of your friends circle will consist solely of people who're in the program.

Resources:
1. Merchants of Deception - free e-book. Excellent insider's point of view.
2. Amway - the Untold Story - very informative
3. MLM Survivor - website with a number of good resources
4. Dateline show on Quixtar

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Negotiation - I

At some level, I think all of life is nothing but a series of negotiations. In the straightforward sense, we negotiate to win new projects or for partnerships or with employees for salaries. At another level we negotiate the time we spend between work, family and ourselves. But this post is not about the philosophy of negotiation, rather about key pointers to a successful negotiation. I do not claim to be the best negotiator out there, but I constantly try to learn from every won or lost deal.
1. Ask. This is the most important one, and the one thing most people forget to do. They simply forget to ask the price they really, really want. It's really as simple as that. If you don't ask, you won't ever get. Also, you usually want to ask for more than you expect to be happy with. The other side of this is to also ask all sorts of questions to the other party. I never hestitate to ask a client questions like which other companies have quoted for the project, and where in the list does the client rank us, and how we are placed on the pricing scale, and what their budget and time constraints are, and almost anything else other than the actual competitors' proposals!
2. Gasp. For any price offered to you, gasp! Act as if you're really not happy with it, and in most cases you actually won't be happy with that price. So express that emotion, and tell the other side, that their offer is simply unacceptable.
3. Counter-offer. Never be at the negotiating table with only one thing to be discussed and finalized. Always go with multiple options, and multiple things to be negotiated. Usually, most negotiations end up being about money, but always try and keep many things on the table, such as payment terms, future business, referrals, etc.
4. Be ready to walk away. This is the toughest. And is usually almost impossible. But ideally, you always want to go into a negotiation ready to walk away from it. The other thing is that you shouldn't really walk want to away from the deal. The successful negotiation is one where both parties get what they want, without one side waking up the next morning and thinking, oh shoot, we got screwed. So, while you should be ready to walk away, your goal should always be to arrive at the best possible solution that works best for both sides.
5. Nibble. Often once a negotiation has been settled, it's always worth your while to try and nibble for that bit more. To ask for a minor concession every now and then. Not the best way to win respect, but it's worth your while to walk to the door, turn around, and say, hey I was just thinking, what if we also...
6. Smile. Sooner or later, any serious negotiation will get tense. The atmosphere will darken up, and people will begin to get grumpy and grouchy. The best means to break the tension is to smile. Especially, if you follow that up with a call for a break, that often helps to break the deadlock. Meeting the same people at the neighbourhood coffee shop often changes the eventual result of the discussions.
7. Be discreet. For me, this is the hardest part of any negotiation. By nature, I am a very upfront and straightforward guy. Although, this is usually a positive thing, during negotiations blurting out all your thoughts and facts is foolhardy, and I often stand guilty of doing that. Holding back on critical information is the key to getting through to a succesful negotiation.
8. Shut up! This is even more important than just being discreet. This I am usually good at. Often during negotiations, when there is no headway being made, both parties will clam up. At this stage, you should never ever break the silence. This should usually be done by the other party or a mediator. Usually, the one to speak first is probably going to end up making concessions.
9. Do your homework. Remember information is indeed power. Get onto paper all the facts that help push your side of the story. Get as much information as you can about the other side. This is usually tough, but it does help to know. Assume that the other person is indeed not giving you the full version of the story, but do not accuse him/her outright of lying.
10. Control your emotions. Do not get too emotional during a negotiation, unless that's a ploy you intend to use. Remember Vito Corleone's "It's business, not personal". However, I recollect once storming out of a negotiation, and forgetting my jacket in the process, and coming back to retrieve it 5 minutes later. During that time, the other side felt a bit sorry that they had upset us so much, and offered another few thousand dollars on their last price.

Resources:
1. Secrets to power negotiating, Roger Dawson. This is one of the best books on negotiating that I have read.
2. Bargaining for Advantage, G. Richard Shell.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Escape from Cubicle Nation

I chanced upon this really cool blog Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Sims, after reading a post on Guy Kawasaki's blog.

Her "Open letter to CXO's" is exceptional, wonderful, and very insightful. I have been guilty of not doing a number of items on her list. On the other hand, we've done at least some of those. The only excuse I have had is the fact that being the founder of the company, I have ended up spending more time on project execution than on actually running the company, and managing the teams. In our short-sighted objective of meeting next quarter's revenue targets, we've lost sight of the more long-sighted goal of grooming a leader to take over from me. Nevertheless, every new hire I make is done with the thought whether he/she can eventually take over from me. Sadly, that has not yet happened at least for operations out of our home base. We've got a brilliant chap to run the Middle East show for us.

Last week, I happened to be back home for a 5 day short trip, and realised how important it is for me to now stop executing consulting projects, and take a step back. To spend more time looking at what I need to do to build a great team back home, and to grow the business. One key decision we took was that my profile would now no longer be part of any proposals we send out. Instead, we would take the risk of losing the projects or use external consultant profiles if the need arose. That's the only way to extricate myself out of this.

But coming back to Pam's post. I love her points about really looking into people's eyes and learning who they are, and what drives them, and where is it that they want to go. And also about teaching them how to create wealth. In fact, my constant refrain within my firm is usually that what I've done, anyone can do. But I think now is the time when I really get down to brass tacks and show them how to actually do it. Another fantastic point is to ensure goodwill is maintained when someone decides to leave the company. With the exception of a couple of people, we are on great terms with our alumni, and that itself has resulted in significant revenues. The other thing we do is not to watch the clock. We don't bring up the time/leave rulebook unless the case is severe. We've tried to create a results-oriented culture, but this again needs constant attention and mentoring - something I have not been able to do very well so far.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Top 10 reasons to become an entrepreneur

I know I am getting a bit into Guy Kawasaki mode, but I've been wanting to write on this for quite some time. The problem being that I don't have any statistics or articles that would aid in building a universally acceptable top 10 list. So the best thing would be to list out the top 10 reasons that drove me to do this:
1. I've always wanted to do this: For some strange reason, ever since I was a kid I have always wanted to build my own business. The question for me always was "when" and not "if". Somehow, other than a brief dalliance with the idea of becoming a fighter pilot, I've never really floundered on what I want to do for a living. It's always been business.
2. For a higher purpose: It's not just about the money. It's also about listening to a different piper's tune. It's about wanting to do something very different from the mainstream. I have grandiose dreams of being able to inspire a lot of other would-be entrepreneurs out there to take the leap of faith and begin their own ventures. Directly or indirectly I have always wanted to promote entrepreneurship within India, because that's what pumps up the economy - the pursuit of the creation of wealth. It creates opportunities for financial empowerment of all sectors of society, and it helps create a shared goal and shared vision of what a country should strive to achieve.
3. Because it's very creative: The process of staring a business, building and nurturing it is very creative. It requires constant ideation, and forces you to keep the creative juices flowing. More so, when things are going good and there is a tendency to rest on one's laurels.
4. For the sheer challenge of it: When I was in college I could have chosen the standard path of graduation, post-graduation, decently-paid job in the US or elsewhere, and so forth. I knew I could do that. But this was a much, much bigger challenge
5. For the creation of wealth: Oh yes! There's no denying the fact that the creation of wealth is one of the primary goals of any enterprise, and most entrepreneurs dream of material wealth and possessions - well at least I have my eyes on a new Hayabusa. But there's more to it than just money. Creation of wealth is not just cash in the bank or assets, but also good will, reputation, camaraderie, experience, and most importantly intellectual capital.
6. For the independence: The independence to do what I wanted to do, and to do it in a way where my principles and values would not be compromised. Where my potential would not be capped by the potential of a boss.
7. Because I am crazy: That hardly needs much explanation, but a certain amount of eccentricity is almost essential to a successful business.
8. Because it's cool: Yup, running your own business is definitely cooler than slogging it out in the corporate machinery. Which is not to say that it doesn't have it's ups and downs, and an entirely different set of problems and stressful situations.
9. Because there's nothing else I'd rather be doing: I absolutely love what I do. I wake up every morning - ok, most mornings - looking forward to going to work, anticipating what good news my Inbox might bring in today. Of all the things I could be doing with my time, working at my business is #1.
10. Because I'm inspired: Whether it is Akio Morita, or Warren Buffet, or Richard Branson, self-made capitalists have always been a tremendous inspiration.

Feel free to add your own reasons to the list...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization refers to the steps adopted in order to ensure that your site ranks well up high on the search engine results. This is one of the most effective ways of growing your business. Over the years, we've earned so much revenue through enquiries that come from people who have landed up on our website after searching for various keywords related to our business.

Now, I do not claim to be an expert at search engine optimization, and I do not want to talk about all the possible ways adopted by various companies to manipulate search engine results, as these can result in the site being blacklisted. This happened in the famous case of the website of BMW Germany, where Google felt it's acceptable terms and conditions of usage were being violated, and consequently reduced the site's page rank to zero.

So here are some quick tips to get you started, and hopefully none of these fall foul of Google's rules, or else my AdSense revenues will go away completely - not that they exist in any case!

1. Identify your keywords: These are the search terms you think your prospective clients may be searching for. For instance, for a company offering online gifts or flowers to be delivered in India, some of the terms that its prospective customers might use would be "deliver flowers India", "deliver gifts online India", or even specific cities, such as "deliver flowers Delhi".
2. Put them in the title: Although, some people claim that it is the "meta" tags in the tags of your web page that search engines pick up, I have found putting these words in the Title tags to be most effective
3. Increase your page rank: Google has the world-famous page-ranking mechanism, whereby a number of factors are used to decide the relevance of your page to the search terms being entered. One of the most effective ways to do this is to have other pages with high page ranks link to you. While, most of you might have received link-exchange emails, I don't think these work. What has worked for us is usually publishing good content - such as articles, interviews, tools, etc. - on sites that are linked to our area of work, and that are very highly ranked by Google. So you first have to identify these websites - which could be online publications related to your business, or online newspaper or magazine websites, etc. Then you have to figure out how to get links onto their webpages that point back to your website. We've usually done this by writing articles. In fact, in our company everyone is very strongly encouraged to write relevant articles, for various reasons among which is the fact that it increases our search engine ratings.
4. Get good content: This is a no-brainer. Your website definitely needs to have really good content - now just blatant advertisements, but stuff that clients might actually find useful. For those articles, that online magazines might not accept, we usually upload them to our website under a title called "Innovation". This section contains tools, articles, and other assorted stuff that search engine spides crawl, index, and serve up when people search for subject-specific content.
5. Use your common sense: Don't get drawn into link exchange programs, or try to do things that violate search engine terms or manipulate how they work. Follow the straight path, and it might take a few months, but as your website starts climbing up the results page, the business will follow suit quickly!

Here are some other cool links to help you along in the search engine ratings:
1. SEO tips From Microsoft!
2. SEO Chat Search Engine Optimization Help
3. Nice introduction to SEO
4. Search Engine Journal - everyday stuff on SEO and search engines