Money Management: Catch’em Young

4.Money Management-Catch’em Young

Managing personal finance is a new challenge the current generation has to contend with. People from earlier generations were largely free from this worry.

They had it easy, for the simple reason that their parents never gave them any money. Parents took care of every need, but there was strictly no room – and no money – for extravagance. A lucky few got pocket money and they were treated like royalty by the rest of the crowd.

Times have a-changed – and how. Kids today get a handsome monthly allowance, with a few even flaunting credit cards. And there are a million ways to spend your money now. Malls and mobile phones have made it easier to spend money faster than one can earn it.

With power, comes great responsibility. Parents having granted that power to their youngsters, constantly worry about how they are utilizing the money.

Well, here’s a typical teenager’s spending pattern (Source: Business Insider)

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As can be seen from the chart, a number of things can go wrong here, with overspending being the greatest peril. So how do you, as a parent, instill respect for money in teenagers?  If modern technology is responsible for raising household expenses, it can also provide solutions to make teenagers responsible and careful spenders of money.

Let us look at some of the money management tools which are basically a by-product of digital disruption.

Digital disruption refers to changes enabled by digital technologies that occur at a pace and magnitude that disrupt established ways of value creation, social interactions, doing business and more generally our thinking. (Source: bbr[backed by research])

The first one is a money management app called Bankaroo, available across all major platforms and which boasts of thousands of members all over the world. What started as a young girl’s virtual bank home project in the US, now helps children learn how to manage their savings.

The app teaches children to be smart with their money, tracks of how they spend it, and also helps them to set personal goals to acquire a coveted item (mobile phone, shoes or any other item). But, there is a catch here – the app encourages the children to buy them by saving money.

Closer home, we have Slonkit, whose tagline reads ‘Reinventing the way the youngsters save and spend money,’ It is a physical prepaid card, powered by VISA and DCB bank. The card is free and the mobile app is available on android and iOS. Let us look at the features.

  • Parents can transfer funds instantly to the card using any bank’s credit or debit card using the app and they get customised alerts on all transactions.
  • The users themselves receive updates as well as useful tips on money management.
  • This account is not connected to the bank accounts of the parents.
  • Another useful feature is the ‘Go Dutch’ option which comes in handy when it is time to split a bill evenly with one’s friends.
  • Blocking a Slonkit card is easy as clicking on a link on their site, in case the card is lost or stolen.

What is of interest from our point of view is, however, the fact that archaic traditional banking system is unable to cater to the new and empowered customers. The digital disruption has spawned a fintech ecosystem which is worth US$ 50 billion and counting.

That also means a bunch of fine young minds with an entrepreneurial bent of mind have one more area to use their skills and make a name for themselves.

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e-commerce Landscape: Customer Engagement is Key

3.e-commerce Landscape-Customer Engagement is Key

The beginnings of e-commerce revolution were humble, the journey so far has been perilous, and the future looks uncertain. To take on the old established business houses with a virtual presence required vision, perseverance, and guts. Flipkart are the pioneers in the Indian ecommerce space.

It takes years to break even, let alone generate a profit in this space and Flipkart has not had it easy. But more than generating profits, what they have managed to do is priceless. They have inspired a generation of Indians into unleashing their entrepreneurial skills. Most of the start-up ventures in India are no doubt inspired by this e-commerce bellwether.

Once Flipkart showed what is possible, it was just a matter of time before other players – homegrown and the international ones like amazon – jumped into the fray. Flipkart had shown the way, they did all the hard work, they braved the initial turbulence, and they managed to make their way into the hearts of the conservative Indian consumer, the most fickle, but also savvy of consumers. Being first off-the-block is not without its advantages, Flipkart has found out.

India’s retail market is estimated at $470 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow to $675 Bn by 2016 and $850 Bn by 2020, – estimated CAGR of 10%. According to Forrester, the e-commerce market in India is set to grow the fastest within the Asia-Pacific Region at a CAGR of over 57% between 2012–16. (Source: Wikipedia)

Let’s look at who is ruling the ecommerce space in India:

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Being the pioneer is one thing, but sustaining the movement is quite another.

The e-commerce market size is considerable, and future growth prospects are exciting. But the competition is just hotting up. Amazon’s entry in the Indian market was crucial in that, it reaffirmed the potential of the the future of India as an ecommerce marketplace. It also made the local players up their game to match the deals and service offered by the mighty amazon.

Customer is obviously king now and is rather amused by the wooing from companies.

But how do the companies themselves stand apart from the crowd?

Find newer and innovative ways to engage with the customer. The new mantra is not about just building brand loyalties, but getting the customer to be your brand ambassador. Glossy product brochures and innovative copywriting have their place, but only when used in conjunction with the endorsement from a brand’s most loyal customers.

The human angle scores over everything else. People are more likely to go by what family members and friends are saying about a product or a service.

Marketing is no longer about selling products to customer A or B and hoping that they will remember your product when time comes for them to buy again or recommend to a friend.

Companies can do this at their own peril. What they need to do is to engage with the customers by giving them a voice and a platform to tell their story, voice their opinion and rewarding them for their loyalty from time to time. Give your customers a recognisable identity.

What steps are the companies taking to ensure a good customer-seller relationship?

Company blogs are slowly evolving into the customer-facing interface of the company. A good blog should talk primarily about the customers and their stories, useful content they can download and share with others, and occasionally talk about the company and its products.

Flipkart’s ‘Flipkart Stories,’  Snapdeal’s ‘Snapdeal Diaries,’ and Amazon India’s blog are doing just that. Each of this blogs has sizeable followers in the social media.

This, coupled with interesting hashtags, is capable of creating enough buzz about a new product on twitter and facebook and other Social Networking sites.

All this is done at no extra cost to the company. The goodwill generated by constant and meaningful interaction and engagement with customers is setting in motion a positive campaign in the social media, started by the loyal customers themselves.

Buyers are going to listen to fellow buyers when making a decision to buy.

And happy and satisfied customers are only going to give positive feedback, which is priceless.

 

 

 

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Leadership and Initiatives Skills for Future

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This week, we are going to try and come up with a definition of leadership and examine if it is time-dependent. We will also talk about if being innovative in one’s approach dramatically increases one’s chances of survival in the future?

In the armed forces, a general who wears his battle scars as proudly as his gallantry medals is respected much more by rank and file than one who has not been a part of a combat and is disconnected from the fighting men on the ground.

The most derogatory term in the armed forces is, being considered an ‘Armchair General.’

The greatest compliment a fighting man can aspire for is, being referred to as ‘he’s one of us’ by men who do the actual fighting.

At this point, he’s earned the respect of his men. They have made up their minds that a mission led by this man deserves to be a success.

They would now be willing to give it all for the cause, even negating any minor shortcomings the plan might suffer from, by going that extra mile for their leader.

A true leader has been identified and his leadership qualities have been acknowledged.

In the words of John Quincy Adams, former President of the United States of America, ‘A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.’

But times have a-changed from the time of the 6th American President, who correctly identified the sterling qualities men and women aspiring to be great leaders should possess.

Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, says ‘Innovation distinguishes leader from followers.’

He also acknowledges that “Sometimes when you innovate you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

A great piece of counsel from one of the icons of the modern world. It is common to make mistakes, but learn quickly and move on. But, don’t stop innovating.

His parting advice is, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick, but don’t lose faith.”

Steve Jobs epitomizes all the right qualities necessary to be successful – in the present times and in the future. Get inspired by Steve Job’s inspirational quotes

So, how does one go about acquiring leadership and innovation skills for a successful future?

There are only 7 musical notes (OK, there’s the 8th note – Octave) and there are an equal number of basic human emotions.

Yet, the possibilities are endless – the right use of musical notes or human emotions could fetch you a Grammy or an Oscar.

Are innovation and invention related?

They could be. But it is also true that re-inventing a wheel is just a waste of time and resources.

Innovation does not necessarily mean inventing new things.

Innovation is about being creative in ways nobody has thought of, and in ways better than others before you have.

Steve Jobs did not invent mobile phones – he just came up with iPhone.

Orkut existed long before facebook – but even Google’s might could not save it!

A reasonable explanation to the question raised at the beginning would be, the definition of  leadership skills does not change by much, regardless of the times we live in.

But, it would be fair to say that, leadership qualities need to be re-vitalized with the help of periodic doses of innovation and thinking to safeguard ourselves against dramatic future trends that might catch us napping otherwise!

Before we conclude, here are 14 Smart Business Ideas for 2016

 

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How Young Minds and Start-ups are Revolutionizing Industries and Thought Process

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First up, a quick question.

Are young innovative minds changing the world of business and enterprise  through innovation, with start-up ventures stealing a march over the established businesses through freshness of their thinking process?

Any change in its wake brings about a certain amount of disorder; it dares to question commonly held beliefs. At best of times, change is unspeakably violent, unapologetically brutal and unquestionably unsettling.

But when the dust has eventually settled down, a new world order will have emerged based on fresh ideas and novel concepts, but one that totally disregards the old ways.

Change is sanctioned by Nature – just watch a pair of young nomadic male lions, often brothers, taking over a pride on the African veldt.

The young upstarts are fearless and bold in their approach. After a few false starts, they manage to vanquish and drive away the older male, eliminate the cubs and take over the pride.

The lionesses, after a brief mourning period, usually fall in line. Talk about creating opportunities.

Back in the corporate world, why are younger firms considered more innovative as compared to the older and more established ones?

The lion analogy comes in handy here. The older lion, and the younger challengers may well represent, the older firms and the start-ups respectively.

The lionesses and the cubs represent the employees. While lionesses are able to contribute to the new order by being making themselves useful around the pride, the cubs are expendable.

Older firms may have more money and resources, but they are steadily ceding ground to the younger but more innovative firms, with some notable exceptions like Nike and Coca Cola. (Find a list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies)

According to Steve Blank, co-author of The Startup Owner’s Manual, and father of the ‘lean startup’ movement, there are three main reasons for lack of innovation in established companies.

  • Older firms are committed to existing business models. That is, keep the show running profitably and to the satisfaction of customers.
    “In contrast,” Steve says, “in a start-up, innovation is not just about implementing a creative idea, but rather the search for a way to turn some aspect of that idea into something that customers are willing to pay for.”
  • A business plan does not necessarily lead to finding a viable business model. It needs repeated experimentation, more and more interaction with potential customers, constant innovation and course correction.
    Steve says that tolerance for risk-taking of older firms is very low. They also usually adopt a predictable way of generating revenue from their new ventures. This approach is inherently risky, with an increased possibility of failure.
  • Finally, Steve opines that the people who are selected to helm new ventures should be those who abhor conventional ways of doing things, are not enamoured of rules, are capable of risk-taking and can pick themselves up after a failure.
  • Older firms instead go for managers who are competent, but lack the risk-taking abilities and who are weary of unconventional ways of doing things.

So, on the strength of points discussed here, younger companies with fresher and more innovative ideas, a higher tolerance for failure and a penchant for unconventional thinking and action, would appear to be at an advantage over the established firms in matters of innovation and thinking.

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