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Sunday, January 31

Recommendations

Why is it that while as a customer anyone can recommend or not recommend my company to others but as a company/provider, I cannot recommend or not recommend a customer to other companies?

Think about it! A registry of PITA customers who are not only going to waste your time, but also going to blame you for it!

Over 1.5 years of Pothi.com, I have interacted with so many wonderful people both as customers, as people who believe in us and people who have been constructively critical. Without them we may not have even lasted so long - they supported us and told us that we were useful when our output was very raw and crude. They pointed fingers and poked holes which helped us improve. It is for all those nice people that I feel this strong urge to single out the jerks and show them for what they are.

We love our customers and see them as our partners. We plan our activities with them, take their suggestions quite seriously and want to succeed with them. Right now I am trying hard to not let these one off nut cases push us off track!

Needed to get this out of my system. World is just so unfair sometimes.

Friday, January 8

Entrepreneur or Escapist?

Recently MVP guys started this meme on Twitter which asks #whyamientrepreneur? I am sure every entrepreneur at one time or the other has asked him/herself this question. Some ask it even before they start, while others ask it when they are considering quitting. Either way the answers which come out are quite eye opening - a wide range of reasons bring people to startups. Somebody wanted to create jobs, somebody just wanted to break free from artificial restrictions imposed by the system. Others wanted to be their own boss. All of these are very inspiring reasons and I am sure they have been given with complete honesty. But here is my question to all of the entrepreneurs - Are you an entrepreneur because you are an escapist?

Before I explain what I mean, let me explain what I do not mean. Those who came to do a startup because they wanted to break out of the system or didn't fit in are not escapist by my definition. Neither are those who wanted to "escape" the corporate culture and belong to a smaller team. All those are good kinds of "escapism".

The bad kind of escapism is the one because of which your customer service sucks. Or because of which you haven't followed up on that lead that opened up couple of weeks ago. Or the one because of which your product is never ready to ship. Since you are your own boss in a startup and there are always more on your plate than you can handle, it is easy to keep picking up things you feel comfortable with, things which look like fun and in summary, things which are easy for you (they may look hard to others). If you are a techie, you can always keep working on the next feature believing/hoping that after this your product will be market ready. The truth is - it is not the product, it is you who is not market ready. Or if you are a salesman, you can keep selling your product while relying on outsourced developers and not understanding one bit what goes into it. Since nobody is going to grab your neck for it, it is easy to just let go of that one bad instance of customer service and not call back, not follow up on it. Nobody likes to talk to angry customers. It is easy to escape when nobody is holding you responsible for it.

Entrepreneurship is not about starting your own company, it is about the attitude with which we approach the world, our daily life. Are we pushing ourselves everyday? Are we stepping out of our comfort zones? What new have we learned in past 1 month? Honest answers to these questions may not give you a successful startup but might make you a better entrepreneur.