Walk the Dragon- Our 6th session with Swami ji

I would like to start with an apology that I missed the write up of the 5th session. I had a planned leave from it but not desired leave (family needs).
I watched it’s video recording and it was really comprehensive, please request for it from the course organisers.

In this 6th session today Swami ji set out to discuss how to write a business plan (BP). His wisdom and statements are full of conviction. “Never starting a business with debt, it cripples the business” he said.

Swami ji offered two broad categories of BP:
i.               With a blue print
ii.              Without a blue print

Prospective investors do like a blue print. There are 8 key elements of writing a BP and he explained each one of these in today’s session. Once these 8 questions are answered, one would hope that a BP is written!

1st- What is it that you want to do, implying what is your “vision” he asked?
Is it a new concept?
If not, is it an improved version of an old idea?
In that case it would possibly be successful only if it is at least 10 times better than the old one. Furthermore, the chances of success enhance if your vision is about a “must Have” rather than “nice to have” product or service.
Swami ji emphasised that the “vision” must be crisp and clear for any BP to be successful.

2nd- Why do you want to do it? It’s about your “mission and passion”.
Mission meaning; what will you accomplish by doing it?
Swami ji explained that “passion” is a must, as you cannot accomplish your mission without your passion.
He further elaborated that passion is NEVER about making money- it is always about gaining freedom! The freedom could be the ability to spend freely, having choices in life, investing one’s time and energy to a cause etc.

3rd- Who are you doing it for? It is about the target market or customer segmentation. “One should not try to be everything to everyone”, said Swami ji! What he meant by this was that have a vision for a certain market. Expounding further, it would be a cohort of customers to whom,  your vision & product would appeal. You need to focus on them alone and not get distracted!

4th- Who else is doing it? This was simple to understand as who are your competitors?

5th- Why should you do it instead of anyone else? Swami ji explained that one should have an in-depth understanding of your competitive advantage/s. On the contrary, be mindful and “matter-of-fact” about your vision! For example; if it is a product of some sort, you should be aware of it’s strengths and flaws- one must be pragmatic about it.

6th- Who will be doing it with you? In essence who would be on your team? Swami ji detailed this point with his own experience! He revealed that in his understanding weak entrepreneurs will select weak team members and the outcome would never be a strong sustainable business. Therefore, choose your team carefully!

7th- What do you need to do, to get it done?
This question necessitated the understanding of the sort of moneys/ investment you are looking for? Moreover, where would it be spent? He further explained by stating that most VC’s (venture capitalists) are looking to invest in to a “grand story”. This “grand story” vision may not necessarily need a huge investment but your behaviour pattern must emulate your vision, passion, mission and all facts around your story crisply! Again he reiterated the importance of not to lie if you are not in possession of some facts. If you do not have certain information, just simply state so instead of fibbing!

8th- What will you give back? This was to offer information on what would be the return of one’s investment.

We were shown an interview clip of a investor (Kevin O’Leary). He was asked a question. The question was how does he choose, who to invest in as a person or a seed business?

Kevin said it’s his “distilled experience” that transpires into an intuition when he sees or interviews opportunists seeking his investment!

I can relate to it in my field, as 20+ years of working in the NHS when I see new people- that gut feeling is the “guiding force”.

It always steers most conversations into a meaningful outcomes. By “meaningful” I mean:
–      whether it’s calming irate patients,
–      re-establishing communication with colleagues or
–      positively influencing varied behaviour pattern of trainees, staff etc.

In some cases the “meaningful” conversation is saying no to joint projects or opportunities without upsetting people.

However, on that account I have been persistently trying to gain a “positive conversation” with a team of colleagues since last 14 years. I think it has happened with all the team members “but one”! It has cost me; countless lost opportunities, wasted time and energy. But I am still trying!

Thus, my aim to take upon this course was to learn & refresh skills to have this “positive conversation”. I am sure most of us are doing it for a reason or reasons.

I leave it to our Swami now, have done my all- every ounce of my energy, targeted + generalised effort, everything! I should stop digression.

After that Swami ji discussed the following:

a)     when meeting a team of VCs only write a BP with one A4 sheet. It must be clean, crisp, concise, succinct and well communicated! The rest of the talking would have to be done at presentation.

b)    he revealed that in his days the opportunities were many in the Silicon valley. But the time to communicate them to potential investors/ VCs “effectively” was always in “minutes”. Always be ready to detail your vision in minutes. Do not fumble or ramble on!

c)     if you have thought, breathed, lived every minute of your life with your vision it will flow through as Kevin’s “distilled experience”.

d)    he said, “you will ask the right questions, offer the correct answers and strike at the “well timed” opportunities! Your passion will be your driving force. It will take you all the way through every slog to that “defining moment”.

After the above, Swami ji discussed something extremely relevant. It was the “knowing” that any business is not easy. It is extended periods of extreme pain!

We need no explanations to follow our Swami. Certainly not a financial one!
Well for the record- he offered a personal example, that in his entrepreneurial days he earnt 50k/ day, amounting to 1 million/ month. However, he gave it all up for his “passion for writing”. The advance to write a book is meagre 1 lakh rupees and not much to be made after the book sales from royalties.

He does it because he is passionate about it- he feels he makes a difference to this world by writing.

Well he certainly makes a huge difference to all our lives- he is the living example of anything next to God for me/ us!

Pranams at Swami ji’s feet.