Category Archives: entrepreneurship

This thread contains stories of and inspiration for entrepreneurs, as well as our own experiences with Markitty.

Being small can be an advantage: what are the five qualities of a small business you should take advantage of?

What are the most important marketing metrics experts say a small business should keep track of?

Read our interviews with these entrepreneurs: Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, Anita Campbell of Small Business TrendsGini Dietrich of Spin Sucksreputed online marketter Lisa Barone, and others.

Monday Marketing Mash-up: Managing a Business While Parenting

Mother and daughterI’m not a parent, but I’m in awe of those of you who manage a business and are parents of young children. So this week, here are some tips from other parents who’ve been there.

Sahil Parikh inspired this list with his Productivity Hacks of a Startup Dad: tips that can be useful to all of us, even those who aren’t parents.

I love that building a routine doesn’t work for him (since I keep trying and failing at establishing a routine myself) and that he doesn’t follow general or world news (another practice I’ve been following for a couple of years that makes me feel ignorant but less stressed out). I don’t use email notifications either, though  I don’t follow any of the rest of his tips (I do want to follow the first one though, but again, routines seem to be beyond me).

On Women’s Web, Monalisa Saxena writes about managing her business while she was pregnant: a nice set of tips that would probably work for any scheduled downtime, whether a long vacation or maternity leave.

Continue reading Monday Marketing Mash-up: Managing a Business While Parenting

Monday Marketing Mash-up: All About Pricing

Pricing’s something many of us struggle with, and is a really important part of marketing strategy. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about as we move closer to a paid plan for Markitty. So here are a few interesting posts that talk about how you should price your product.

Different kinds of greens in a market
Customers like options they can compare, even if they’re similar

Here’s why research or surveys usually don’t help you much:

Continue reading Monday Marketing Mash-up: All About Pricing

On Focus and Taking Our Own Advice

Let's focusWe’ve been feeling like imposters for the last few weeks. You see, whenever we talk to a small-business owner or startup founder, we advise them to focus. To go after one customer segment. To highlight one benefit. To talk in one voice across their marketing channels.

How can you “focus” on more than one thing at a time? How can you “highlight” 37 services? How can you, with the constraints of a small business, manage more than one brand and ensure that your audience doesn’t get confused by conflicting messages?

But we’ve been doing all of this ourselves. We’ve introduced ourselves as “marketing consultants, and we also have a product” or as “we’re building a product, and we also do consulting services.” We’ve been dividing our time between servicing clients and working on the product.

If your feet are on two boats, what happens when the boats gather speed?

Continue reading On Focus and Taking Our Own Advice

Online Marketing Workshops in Bangalore and Chennai

I’m doing two online marketing workshops with Women’s Web.

Want to get more out of your blog, or Facebook page? Wondering how to get your website visitors to buy? How to track marketing results and figure out what’s working for you (and what isn’t)? This workshop is for you.

This workshop will help you decide on the best online marketing channels for your business, how to use them effectively, and how to track performance and make decisions based on marketing data. This is meant to help you go beyond just scouting for Facebook likes or Twitter mentions, or more visitors to your website, and instead, focus on converting those visitors and interactions to actual results: whether in the form of sales, registrations, enquiries or any other result you are looking for.

Here are the dates:

These workshops are for women entrepreneurs, and I’m very excited to be meeting some of the members of Women’s Web’s smart, engaged community.

We’ll stay in each city for a few days to catch up with friends and contacts there, so if you are in either and want to meet up, leave a comment or send me an email at umnana@markitty.com.

Getting Featured on TechCrunch and Other Startup Achievements: Interview with the Founders of AppSurfer

AppSurfer is a cool application that lets you try out apps before you buy them. The startup that built AppSurfer, RainingClouds Technologies, is in Pune. They recently got covered on TechCrunch for the second time.

We chatted with three of the Co-founders: Aniket Awati (CEO or Happy Co-Founder), Ratnadeep Deshmane (Geeky Co-Founder), and Amit Yadav (Business Co-Founder). Check out the videos below. (The audio isn’t good, I’m afraid, but I’ve added annotations that should help.)

How to Get Featured on TechCrunch

Continue reading Getting Featured on TechCrunch and Other Startup Achievements: Interview with the Founders of AppSurfer

Marketing Reading for the Weekend: Productivity and Procrastination

Stop procrastinating, get productiveAre you ready to start your weekend? Are you taking a long weekend with Gudi Padwa or Bihu or whatever it is you celebrate? (We are, though the holiday is a coincidence — we had planned for a three-day weekend weeks ago, and had been drooling when we thought of it.)

Anyway. While you’re relaxing over the weekend, or as you get back to work on Monday, read these articles on productivity and procrastination, so that you can have a super-charged week. (Or year, if you remember the advice long enough.)

Etienne Garbugli puts together time management tips in this presentation. I especially love these:

Work is the best way to get working. Start with short tasks to get the ball rolling.

Switching between clients/projects is unproductive.

Always know the one thing you really need to get done during the day.

Continue reading Marketing Reading for the Weekend: Productivity and Procrastination

Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Advice for Startups

Woman jumping in airThis weekend’s links are all about starting startups and working in startups.

If you’re just starting out, Daniel Tenner has advice for you. It’s awesome advice — even if you don’t agree or decide to ignore it anyway, read it.

Leo Widrich offers ten myths about startups. I found #1 particularly eye-opening: but it makes sense that deadlines don’t work “when you’re trying to do something innovative and new; when you don’t have a manual to refer to on how to perform your tasks.”

Rob Heaton tells you to check that you’re wearing trousers first, that is, try simple solutions firstThis paragraph is key:

It’s a pleasant delusion to believe that all our problems require hard solutions. This way we feel interesting, get to do challenging things and become more attractive to members of our preferred sex. If you’re constantly feeling tired it’s tempting to become concerned about your iron levels, consider painting your ceiling a relaxing shade of ochre and look into buying a new pillow that fits your personality better. But you probably just need to go to bed a bit earlier. Perhaps on some level of consciousness we find it hard to believe that anything simple could possibly make a dent in our problems, which as we already know are of course really difficult and can only be solved by a super-genius such as ourselves. But there will always be simple things you are doing badly that you should look at first, especially in a startup where you deliberately ignore 90% of things so that you can do the other 10% really, really right.

Joel Gascoigne’s thoughts on building a minimum viable product (MVP) also made me sit up and think, especially as that’s in line with what we’re trying to do with Markitty.

Speaking of Markitty, if you haven’t yet read Nilesh’s account of our journey so far, do it now.

The Markitty Story: in the Hustler’s Words

Unmana wrote about how we decided to get started with Markitty: here is my account of the product development so far.

Gathering courage

I had done a bit of coding more than 10 years back, but since then my exposure to the technical side was limited to managing software projects, data analysis, and occasional experiments with SQL or Excel macros. Building a SaaS product of our own was a task I had never imagined taking up.

Outsource or build in-house

We didn’t have a lot of money to hire a great outsourcing vendor or to hire a senior technical lead. We did try looking for someone who could be a technical co-founder but that was not going to be easy.

Unmana and I had both worked in geographically distributed teams for a long time and understood the communication overheads and leakages that need to be dealt with in such a setup. So we were very clear from the beginning that we wanted to have a local team and dedicated developers who can work closely with us. Apart from the cost, culture was the biggest driver behind this decision.

Continue reading The Markitty Story: in the Hustler’s Words

Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Get Involved with Your Community

I have been thinking about community a lot lately. Nilesh wrote on YourStory.in about marketing lessons from our Office Hours for the Pune startup community.

Contribute to the community you want to be part of. There are many ways of adding value – you don’t have to be in the organizing committee to do that. Reach out to the people who are running things and they would be more than happy to get a helping hand.

Find things you can do well – we knew that we would not be able to help much with organizing community events and we like more focused conversations than open ended gatherings. Office hours gave us that opportunity and filled an important gap.

Online Marketing Workshop with Pune OpenCoffee Club
Nilesh talking to participants at our online marketing workshop with members of Pune OpenCoffee Club

Continue reading Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Get Involved with Your Community

Making Marketing Easier: the Markitty Dream

Pomegranate spilling seedsOn a broad level, marketing is mostly common sense. You figure out who are the best people to buy what you’re selling, try to catch their attention, and persuade them to buy from you. It’s when you get to the details that it becomes tricky.

Okay, so I created a Twitter account. What should I do next? Should I post photos on Facebook or links to articles I like? Why aren’t visitors to my site buying?

Continue reading Making Marketing Easier: the Markitty Dream

Marketing Objectives and Measurement Workshop on March 23 in Pune

This is the second of a three-part workshop with Pune Open Coffee Club. The first session was for business-owners to define their marketing strategy, the second will be about setting objectives and measuring performance, and the third will be about reviewing performance and using that to change what you’re doing.

We have a few slots open for the second session, so if you want to come, apply here. Participants who haven’t attended either the first or the second session will not be invited to the third. You won’t get much out of just the third workshop without the context of at least one of the other two.

Marketing Measurement Workshop Session

Continue reading Marketing Objectives and Measurement Workshop on March 23 in Pune

5 Reasons I Like Buffer (the Company)

Buffer is one of my favorite tools, but it’s not just the application itself I like, it’s the company. So well, let me count the ways.

Simple App That Focuses on One Benefit

I love how simple and easy Buffer is to use (in fact, I liked the earlier interface even better, because it was more simple). I’ve tried a few social media scheduling tools, but this is the only one I stuck with.

Tweets scheduled on Buffer

One click on the text box, type in or paste your tweet, and you’re done.

Continue reading 5 Reasons I Like Buffer (the Company)

Things to Consider Before Outsourcing

Are you considering outsourcing your product development or marketing or HR? I wrote this piece for YourStory.in about things you should consider before outsourcing your product development. But most of these points also apply when you are looking for a marketing partner or a web design company.

But unlike other functions, in outsourcing product development, the cost of a wrong decision is much higher. Correcting your marketing messaging or website design down the line is not that difficult: but your cost and pain will be much higher if product development goes wrong. And since it is difficult to recognize problems until it is very late, when it comes to choosing a product development outsourcing partner, getting it right the first time is your best bet.

Outsourcing is an obvious option to consider when you have an idea for a software application but don’t have the technical expertise to implement it yourself. You bring in the domain expertise and take care of the business side, and outsource the technical aspects to experts in that field. But this is easier said than done, and there have been many stories of product development outsourcing gone wrong. So what do you do?

You will find this useful if you are considering outsourcing as an option, or are an outsourcing vendor yourself. Read the full post here, and do share your feedback in the comments.

Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Assorted How-to Advice

Assorted colorful donutsThis week’s round-up includes detailed tips on various things: contact forms, search ads, customer advocates, and productivity.

The best way to market is to encourage your customers to do it for you. Also check out my similar, old post with tips on how to do this.

Neil Patel puts together research about contact forms into a super helpful infographic. The most interesting things to me, are:

  1. Fewer fields get you more conversions.
  2. Dropdowns reduce conversions.
  3. Don’t ask for phone numbers!
  4. Use relevant text in the button.

What does Google AdWords’ Enhanced Campaigns mean for you?

I liked Joel Gascoigne’s post about how working with a partner makes you more productive. I’ve found that I’m much more productive when Nilesh is in the same room, partly because I am ashamed to be goofing off when someone is around, and partly because I can get quick answers to questions or get responses when I think aloud and it makes me move forward immediately instead of tabling the issue and starting on something else. Do you prefer working with a partner or colleague to working alone?

To see more of what we’re reading and sharing, follow us on Twitter!

The Content Marketing Pro: Interview with Ann Handley of Marketing Profs

Ann Handley, Marketing ProfsAnn Handley is the Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs, one of the most popular sites for marketing advice (and responsible for some of my marketing education!). She has been cited in Forbes as the most influential woman in Social Media and recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the top 20 women bloggers. She is also the co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules.

Ann talks to us about marketing and content. My questions and comments are in bold.

Tell us about how you got involved with Marketing Profs.

Continue reading The Content Marketing Pro: Interview with Ann Handley of Marketing Profs

Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Sales and SEO

Little girl with make-up and rollers
This is about how fake I feel if I try to sell

Vijay Anand, the founder of the Startup Center and a well-known name in the Indian startup space, answers the question, “What will it take to build 1.000 Startups in a year?”

Tech columnist Farhad Manjoo writes about Facebook’s Graph Search (which Nilesh wrote about here).

You’ll immediately notice Facebook search’s amazing user interface and flexibility. You’ll also spot one glaring problem: The search results aren’t that good.

After just a few queries, I started asking the engine for more and more complicated things, just to see if it could keep up… It didn’t have any trouble.

I can’t wait to try it myself, though apparently Facebook is rolling it out “very slowly.”

Are you making these 9 mistakes on LinkedIn?

Continue reading Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Sales and SEO

Career Blogger: Interview with Alison Green, Blogger of Ask A Manager

Alison Green, blogger at Ask A ManagerAlison Green is the blogger at Ask A Manager, a popular site that answers questions related to work and careers. I have read Alison’s blog for a couple of years now, and am amazed not only at how she manages to be insightful day in and day out for so many people who write in with questions, but also at how she has nurtured her community — read any of the comments sections to see how much helpful advice commenters usually offer on the blog.

Alison doesn’t have a background in HR — as one comment on her blog from an employee she had managed attested, she is just an exceptionally good manager who is sharing her perspective to help others navigate tricky issues of politics and performance at work.

She talks to us about how her part-time blog turned into her full-time career! Read on.

Continue reading Career Blogger: Interview with Alison Green, Blogger of Ask A Manager

Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Graphics, Profits, Culture

This week’s round-up is a mish-mash of different topics, which explains the wacky title.

Assorted vegetables -- or topics!
Profitability, graphics, culture, marketing — I’m measuring you out some of each

Not a graphic designer? HubSpot has this great guide on creating graphics with PowerPoint. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try some of those!

Neil Patel shares these 7 lessons he learned from launching 5 products. If you’re a product startup, read this.

This is an old post, but read it anyway: Mashable lays out 10 Facebook marketing mistakes to avoid.

I’m so excited Lisa Barone is blogging again. Check out her advice on the 5 actions you should take for a profitable 2013.

Rand Fishkin explains what company culture really is, as opposed to what the term is commonly supposed to mean. Every startup founder should learn the difference.

Marketing for Tech Products: Interview with Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz

Rand FishkinRand Fishkin is the CEO and Co-founder of SEOmoz, one of the most well-known and respected internet marketing companies. He’s been in Businessweek’s 30 under 30, and has got tons of press coverage for himself and SEOmoz.

He talked to us about community-building, products vs. services, and more! Read on.

SEOmoz got started after you joined your mom’s (Gillian Muessig, Co-founder of SEOmoz) marketing business… How did you decide to focus on SEO?

Continue reading Marketing for Tech Products: Interview with Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz

Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Holiday Edition

Have you been lulled by heavy meals and year-end cheer? So have we. Let’s keep it light this week, shall we? No complicated guides and rules to remember in this round-up: just some food for thought as you lie back in your chair and digest that big meal.

MarketingProfs tells us about three things businesses can learn from non-profit organizations.

How do you get more replies to your emails?

Here are five ways you can build deeper relationships with your customers.

And here are 6 things really productive people do.

Take a guilt-free break! Yes, really.

Okay now, that’s enough reading. Go start your weekend!