Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Focus: The great entrepreneur virtue
As readers of my blog might know, I recently started a website called www.homestaysDOS.com which quickly took off and became India's largest Holiday Home rental website. The sudden growth has taken me by surprise and as I'm building the business, I'm simultaneously building deeper relationships with mentors / advisors. Had a meeting with one of them today - I'll refrain from naming him as we've not officially announced our advisors but he's one of the founders of arguably India's most successful and loved travel company and someone whose inputs and advice I have grown to respect.
I'll set some context to our discussion: I'm grappling with the fact that Holiday Homes are owned by only a small minority in India. This is slowly changing with quite a few people having bought second homes in the past few years and over the next 5 years, a significant number of Indian families will get possession of their Holiday Homes. This is a big thing for us as it will significantly expand the number of Holiday Homes available to list on our website while also ensuring they are in clusters and so easier to manage as opposed to the stand alone farm houses and villas that presently populate our website. We have a series of challenges to navigate between when an upper Middle Class family decides to buy a second home to when they can list their property on our website and we can start displaying the same to travelers who can then book the same and go and vacation in them. It's tough being patient and esp given my character, I felt we as a company should ensure we do something and encourage or participate in the scaling of some of these challenges so that we could take control of our destiny (or hasten the arrival of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow).
Mr. Mentor gave me some good advice which I felt I must share (with some summarizing and some of my own narration thrown in):
1. Figure out what would be core to your business when the business is in steady state. Only focus on that aspect even now and ensure that the 'business works' - this means transactions are happening, the customers are happy, the suppliers are happy and you can measure, monetize and analyze things easily.
2. Focus on the existing low hanging fruit and the existing market no matter how tiny it is. You will be surprised as to how large even the existing market is. Focus on dominating the same.
3. Ensure you are building a community with the existing users and existing stakeholders while the market grows - when you are the de facto leader, the new stakeholders who come in will also gravitate towards you.
4. Doing things to get to the mirage at the end of the road does not change the facts - there is no mirage. It's an optical illusion.
5. Studiously choose product and stakeholders that will position you in the light you want to be positioned and though of. Avoid products that will cause any friction or a bad experience for any set of stakeholders.
6. Be patient. You cannot grow a market faster than it will grow.
7. Position yourself as the leader. Ensure you are respected for your views, insight and business practices by all stakeholders.
I am happy to have been able to attract some of the advisors we have and will continue to share some advice for the benefit of the larger universe. Please feel free to comment and give me your own advice!!
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