My Proficorn Way (Part 30)

Just Get Started

There is a famous quote by Jim Collins: “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

This is a very valid point and can apply to a lot of what we do. At the same time, taken to its logical extreme, it can also paralyse us. “I will not publish my blog post because it is merely good and not great. I will not launch the website because it is not perfect. I will not go public with my ideas because they are still half-baked.” This is the type of thinking that can cause more harm than good. At times, great can be the enemy of good. As with every good quote, context matters.

For a startup, it is important to get the product out there. Of course, it cannot be bad, but at the same time, one cannot wait for it to be great. When I launched IndiaWorld in March 1995, it was good. I had a certain pricing for a year’s subscription. I had many sections. I had a decent design. I had also delayed the launch a few weeks – working to make it better every day. One fine day, I decided – enough is enough. And just like that, I launched it.

In the next 3 weeks, I made many changes. I changed pricing twice, I tweaked the design. I changed which sections were free and which were available as part of the subscription. I improvised on the fly based on feedback I got. Unless I had launched, I would never have got the inputs – I was just playing mental games trying to figure out what the perfect (great) product should be.

I have done this many times. Once things are good enough, get started. I did this with my blog in April. I had waited many years to re-start. And then one day, I just started. I told myself, “I am writing for myself. If I keep thinking about what others want, I will never get started. Instead, if I think of my writing as being to help me clarify my own mental models, there is no reason for me to delay.” As I write on different topics, ideas become better. And then I can write more – a second series and a third.

The same is true of the Velvet Rope Marketing ideas. These have evolved over the past few months. I was very hesitant to do the first CMO presentation – I wanted the ideas to be perfect. And then, I said – let’s start, and we will improve as we go along. Because the feedback from others was more important than achieving perfection with my own thinking. And the presentation now is in its fifth revision and much better – but it would not have been had I not started.

So, if you have an idea or a new venture, just get started. Work on improving it. Don’t wait for the perfect idea – because there never will be one. The end goal is to achieve greatness, but the path starts with being merely good, and then working one step at a time to becoming better. When you look back a few months or a year later, you will see a huge body of work – which would never have happened had you not made the decision to begin the journey, however imperfect that start may be.

Will be continued soon.

My Proficorn Way (Part 29)

Delta Dollar Decision Rule

One of the big mistakes we make when buying products or services is to compare absolute prices. Look, that product is $100 and this is $130. There is no way one can pay $130. All things being equal, of course, one cannot pay $130 for the same product. The way to look at it is what are the extras you get for the $30 difference. But this idea of the “delta” is lost out in decision-making.

I explained this to my son a few years ago when we were on vacation. I had booked a room for our vacation where the daily tariff was $250. Of course, there were other hotels where I could get a room for $150-175. I told my son that considering the costs of the overall trip, the additional $1000 spend for the two weeks was a small increase – a small delta. But the additional spend brought a lot of convenience – a bigger room, free breakfast, a more convenient location, and so on. By itself, $1000 was a large sum, but when taken on the base of the spend on the vacation, it was perhaps less than a 20% delta.

These decisions happen a lot in life. We look at products and baulk at their price. We may be prepared to pay Rs 40,000 for a laptop, but suddenly step back when asked to pay Rs 55,000 for much better. The sticker shock of Rs 55,000 hits us. But if we just look at the delta of Rs 15,000 and think about the benefits, then perhaps we will make a better decision.

That is why I think we all need a “delta dollar decision rule.” Set a threshold below which one will not waste thinking time – the answer should be a Yes. For me, that threshold is $100 (Rs 7,500). This simplifies decisions like buying a book, booking a better seat on a flight, going to a better restaurant for a business meeting – the answer is always Yes. The same applies in business also – the decision threshold can be higher. Always look at the benefits and the delta, rather than the absolute.

I recently made a decision to subscribe to a $500 online course on decision-making. By itself, it’s a lot of money. Most people would baulk at doing it. But then as I thought about it, the delta spend on myself is a small fraction versus the benefits that I can derive. From the series of lessons, even if there are a few good ideas I can get, the investment would have been worth it. That is why I do not hesitate attending conferences, buying books, and subscribing to online publications. A year later, one will not even notice these expenditures. Of course, every small spend adds up – but there are some categories where the delta needs to be seen on the large spend base, rather than as an integer by itself.

So: think about your delta dollar decision threshold – and start applying it to build a better you, which will lead to a better business.

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 30)

My Proficorn Way (Part 28)

Imitate First, Innovate Later

When I was running IndiaWorld, I did my best to copy the good ideas out there. It gets things going faster. I was sitting in India. I had a small team. I did not have the luxury to experiment. So, when I wanted to launch a search engine for India, I started by looking at what Yahoo was then (a directory of websites) and replicated that for India. I then added keyword search in crawled pages similar to what Excite and Altavista offered. That became Khoj. During those days, I would always look for good features and sites that I could replicate for India.

For a startup, it is difficult to do A/B testing and run multiple experiments. The Internet is itself the laboratory. So, pick up good ideas that are working elsewhere and get started. Over time, to thrive, one has to innovate. But innovation itself is not a precondition to get started. This applies to product features also. Too often, a lot of time is spent coming up with ‘innovative’ ideas – at the cost of time. In the early stages, speed trumps everything else. The innovation journey has a high cost – in time and money.

The problem is that we are all taught from early days that copying is a bad idea. That is the right approach in education. But in the real-world, that means starting from scratch rather than building on the body of work that already exists. That simply takes too long and is very risky. Some will innovate – good for them. But that path has more failures than success stories. Let others run the evolutionary race for ideas and features. As a proficorn entrepreneur, you should simply choose from the best out there.

Imitation will not help you win the race – it is merely a ticket to play the game. After that, innovation needs to kick in – either in the product, pricing or business model. The sequencing is important. Starting off with innovation needs time and a large R&D budget which is not practical at the early stages of a venture. A good way to start therefore is to clone first to become competitive, and then work on the incremental innovations.

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 29)

My Proficorn Way (Part 27)

Avoid Equal Co-founders

One lesson I have learnt through the years is that a new venture must avoid having equal co-founders. The emphasis is on the word “equal.” Whenever there is more than one founder, the temptation is to ensure that everyone is treated equally – and thus equity and powers should be also divided equally. I used to think the same way in my early days as an entrepreneur. What I realised over time is that this doesn’t work well in reality. The solution is to have one person who is the dominant leader and the final arbiter in decisions.

Businesses are not about democracy. There has to be one person in charge – the leader. That leader can have multiple deputies, but the buck stops with the leader. What is true for countries also applies to companies. In the absence of a single leader, decision-making becomes slow in the search for consensus and accountability disappears. No single person can be held to account. That is why countries have “Prime Minister” and “President”, not co-Prime Ministers and co-Presidents. And that is why companies must have a single CEO at the top.

For startups, agility is important. In the early days of a venture, there are many uncertainties to be grappled with. Each decision is about reducing the risk of failure. Every day survived brings one a step closer to success. As an entrepreneur one is flying blind in the early days. Decisions need to be made quickly, and course corrections need to be applied frequently. During this process, it becomes very difficult to sit and debate every decision in a group. All that will do is to get the team to the lowest common denominator in decision-making and that too after delays.

In my early days as an entrepreneur, I had many 50:50 ventures. All failed. The search for equality resulted in failure. Too much time was spent debating pros and cons, and us getting each other to see the other person’s point of view. I would have been served better had one of us taken charge and moved ahead. Ever since, I have eschewed equal partnerships at the founding level. One can be liberal in granting equity, but at the end of the day, there must always be a single person in-charge to make the key decisions.

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 28)

My Proficorn Way (Part 26)

Optimising Costs

As a proficorn, one always has to look at controlling costs. The question always is how far to take the focus on costs. I remember what my uncle, who runs a hospital in Pune, once told me many years ago. He said, “Accept that there will 2-3% chori (theft) in the business. Factor that into your costs. Don’t try and focus on that. If you keep trying to find the chor (thief), you will put so many control points in the business that it will become unmanageable.”

In most businesses, theft is perhaps too strong a word. I like to think of it as costs that are wrong but difficult to identify. It could be as simple as vouchers filled by sales people for meetings that did not happen. It could be some items bought at prices higher than they should have been. There are many ways such costs happen. The key point my uncle was trying to make is that accept that there will be a small percentage of such spends and get on with life. In the effort to control each and every spend, the entrepreneur will be so bogged down that the bigger focus and perspective will be lost. Keeping a tab on costs is very critical, but one cannot make it an obsession.

I have always been cautious on big bets – especially when it comes to marketing spends. The focus needs to be more on the product. In IndiaWorld, I put a press release and an ad when we launched – and that was it. My belief was that if the product (in this case, the content service) was good, word-of-mouth will help us grow. Ads could get someone in for the first time, but after that it was the product that had to bring them back the second and third time. I was confident of our product. And that worked out well – sites like Samachar, Khoj, Khel and Bawarchi grew because of the strong word-of-mouth marketing by happy visitors.

Even as one tracks revenues and cashflows, an entrepreneur needs to keep a check on the costs – up to a point. Don’t try and optimise every cost. Else the functioning of the business will be paralysed. Eventually, most costs can be justified if there is strong business growth. Until then, trust – and verify.

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 27)

Digital Politics

Published in Mint on July 31, 2020 with the title “How  the pandemic  will drive digital politics

[Translations in other languages are also available: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam.]

The pandemic has upset the normal in many aspects of life. It threatens to undo even the slow progress that India has been making. In one fell swoop, many who have experienced better lives now face the prospect of being pushed back into a world they thought they had left behind forever.

Migrants in search of prosperity who had moved to cities are now back in their villages subsisting on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Livelihoods have been disrupted for many across the services sector—because services cannot be stored or retrospectively consumed. These ripples will inevitably cascade through the world of politics also.

Politics, by its very nature, is a touchy-feely exercise—a contact sport. Politicians are the “doers”—they are out there meeting with people, doing small events to large rallies, and managing a steady stream of daily contacts. They have to be seen among the people. For them, the interaction and response from the people is their energizer.

What the pandemic has done is to change all of it. For politicians, social distancing means that direct contact with people becomes much more limited. Large gatherings are a no-no.

Every decision of going out and mingling with people now needs an evaluation of risk.

If there is an election coming up, the challenges mount. How does campaigning work during times of a pandemic? Does appearing on a single mobile screen stir up the same passion as an open ground with tens of thousands chanting in unison?

Against this backdrop, what will the new post-pandemic politics look like? What will be the impact of the digital-first voter for politicians and their parties? Will the already big get even stronger, or will it create new challengers?

To start, let us see how politics has changed in the past decade, digitally speaking.

The rise of tech

The 2009 elections saw the use of SMS and outbound voice calls in a big way. But for the most part, politics was still in the offline domain—dominated by big rallies, traditional media and boisterous physical world campaigning.

By 2014, social media adoption had grown. Facebook became an important part of campaigns. Data started playing a role—with an identification of which seats, booths and voters had to be targeted for favourable outcomes. (Disclosure: I was an actor in this election via media platforms like NitiCentral.)

The 2019 elections moved up a notch in the digital engagement ladder with the widespread use of WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. It was India’s first “social media election”. If BJP had its Namo app, Congress had Shakti. The name of the game was to empower the intermediaries (party workers and motivated volunteers) who could deliver the message to the chosen supporters among the voters.

Voters can be segmented into three categories: the loyalists (or committed voters), the non-aligned (or swing voters) and the non-voters. As it turns out, each of the three buckets account for about a third of the voters. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, about 27 crore voters did not vote. According to Lokniti’s post-poll survey, of those who voted, nearly half made up their mind either during the campaign or in the days or hours before they voted. That leaves us with the loyalists—for whom the candidate does not matter; only the party symbol does.

Thus, we have a split of roughly 30-30-30 in the 90 crore voters: 30 crore loyalists who vote and vote based on the symbol for their favourite party, 30 crore non-aligned (NA) who wait until close to polling day to decide whom to vote for, and 30 crore non-voters (NV) who skip the vote.

The key challenge that politicians will face is how to persuade the NA and NV segments. Think of the NA as those who can swing the election—they delivered the extraordinary victory for the BJP in 2019 (BJP won 230 of the 303 seats in 2019 with a vote share greater than 50%; a winning percentage even better than what the Congress did during its 1984 victory.)

The NA voters are especially critical because they need to be persuaded. The hawa is critical—and this is created through the various events that take place. In a subdued pandemic-time election campaign, how will these voters be persuaded becomes the big question.

The NV segment can also become important—should they decide to change their mind and turn up to vote. They may be hard to predict and may spring a few surprises. Many migrants are now back in their villages—where presumably they are registered as voters. In most elections, few bother to travel back to their villages to vote. Which way will they swing if they do vote now? The same applies to the young—many who are now back home where they are likely to be registered as voters.

The basics of every election campaign are constant: identify, register, persuade and turnout the right voters. What the world of data and digital does is bring precision to the process of targeting. This is the world which digital technology will impact and transform even more in the months and years ahead.

Digital politicians

In pandemic-infected India, life is now almost impossible without a smartphone. Want to get on a train—you need the Aarogya Setu app. Want to learn—the school is now online. Want to check where hospital beds are available—the app will tell you. Want to order something without the risk of visiting a store—there is an app for that. Want to just pass some time—there are many apps for that too.

Until a few years ago, India was in the digital stone age. The launch of Jio and the ensuing price wars created the opportunity that delivered an affordable phone with cheap data to most Indian households. This is the digital foundation that politicians can now leverage to get their jobs done.

At a basic level, politicians have five key jobs to be done: manage a hierarchy of workers and volunteers; build a voter file of their constituents; communicate with their supporters (loyalists and some of the non-aligned) to get their message across; get feedback from voters on their pain points and expectations; and manage the booths for the get-out-the-vote on election day.

Digital can now help them do each of these tasks more efficiently. There are many parallels with the corporate world and businesses creating customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track engagement. The one big difference between politics and business is that in politics there are no prizes for coming second—one has to spend five years figuring out what went wrong and preparing for the next election.

In this winner-take-all world of politics, digital will now be the differentiator. Voters already have gone digital for their other activities—it is now time for the politician to become digital-first.

This offline-to-online shift mirrors what has happened in the past few months for many consumer-facing businesses. For many businesses, it is not even about being omnichannel—they have to be only online. For politicians, it is going to be the same story. In a world wary of direct contact, the interface with workers, volunteers and voters has to shift to becoming digital.

One database, three apps

Digital politics will need one database and three apps to do the five jobs that politicians need to get done. The starting point has to be the voter database. Many politicians had already started building these in the past few years. This will now become central to all communications and interactions.

This database is akin to the customer data platform (CDP) that consumer-facing brands have used for many years. The CDP aggregates all customer data into a single repository. This includes identity (name, email ID, mobile number), demographic information (age, gender, location), behavioural data (actions done on the app or website) and transactional data (details of all the purchases made). Taken together, the CDP provides a unified view of every customer.

For politicians, the voter file is the CDP equivalent. For every voter, all the info needs to be collated and put into a single database—voter ID, mobile number, loyalty level and the likelihood of turning out to vote. With the voter records, the politician also needs information about the place and what schemes have benefitted voters. Armed with this, it now becomes possible for the politician to personalize communications to every voter—exactly what businesses do with their customers.

Once the database has been set up, the digital-savvy politician will need an app for managing the intermediaries—the workers and the volunteers. This is typically done on WhatsApp and via a mix of phone and personal contact. An upgrade is needed to a better system that enables hierarchies to be created, tasks allocated and activities monitored. Just as managers in corporations are discovering the need for new apps to monitor employees, politicians will need an app for engaging with their next level.

The second app is for voter communication and engagement. With large shows of strength becoming increasingly unlikely for the near future, politicians will need the equivalent of digital events and rallies to get their face, party symbol and message across. Think Zoom on steroids.

In this process, politicians also need to run surveys to get better feedback on what people are thinking since in-person conversations are out. Campaign initiatives like Chai pe charcha need to become Screen se charcha. We are already seeing early signs of this in the election campaign that has started for the Bihar state elections, which are due later this year.

The third app needed is for booth management. A typical Lok Sabha constituency can have 1500-2000 booths, while a Vidhan Sabha constituency has 200-300 booths. Each booth has about a thousand voters (about 250 households). Close to polling day, booth workers need to be managed and guided on which voters to persuade and turnout on election day. The coming Assembly elections in states like Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal will be a test of how digital booth management works.

Taken together, the voter database with the three apps for coordination with workers, two-way communications with voters, and booth management can lay the foundation for digital politics in the times to come.

In conclusion

Besides shifting the engagement model from offline to online, the pandemic will also bring about three other changes in politics.

First, it could encourage more younger politicians. With older people being more susceptible to the virus, older politicians may be more reluctant to venture out—until a vaccine is available.

Second, with people feeling greater economic pain, solutions that make more money available today may be more acceptable than putting forward the vision of a better tomorrow. In other words, politicians promising money in the present may find more traction than those who offer a better future.

Then, there is a danger of a sentiment shift against politicians. If the pandemic continues its spread and the lock-unlock duality persists, anger could start rising. While Indians are remarkably patient, at some point, the pent-up rage against their conditions could start rising.

Even as politicians make the move to going digital, can challengers create new platforms and marketplaces to create political disruption? If ever there was an opportunity to put India on a new path and correct the historical mistakes that kept Indians poor, this is the moment. Are digital-savvy political entrepreneurs listening?

[Translations in other languages are also available: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam.]

My Proficorn Way (Part 25)

Giving Up

One of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur is the decision to end a venture – the act of giving up. This is different from just failing. My view is that every entrepreneur is actually starting off with a high probability of failing and then goes to work to reduce the risks. Giving up is different – it is about the decision to end the venture. It is never an easy decision because it means firing the people who have been part of the journey and also separating oneself from the idea that one has lived through for the past few years.

The first time I “gave up” was in November 1994. I had come back from a 2-month trip to the US. I had gone with the recognition that I was failing in what I was doing and I needed to re-start, but did not know what exactly to do. It was during that visit that the IndiaWorld idea was born. When I came back, I knew I had to “give up” on my old idea of building an image processing software product. I had to reduce staff and start a new journey into a new and unknown future.

Asking people to leave was the hardest thing I had done in life till then. I still remember that afternoon as I sat on my desk, met with the few employees that I was letting go, and telling them that they will have no job in a few weeks. The shared dream was over. They were on their own. And in some ways, so was I.

I had to do this again in February 2019 when I shut down Nayi Disha. We had almost 40 people working on the idea of creating a movement for prosperity in India. But as the elections got closer, I realised that we would have no impact on the outcome. I could keep doing my videos but I was broadcasting them into the ether. No one was listening. I called my entire team and told them we were shutting down completely. There would be no Nayi Disha. I had failed.

It was one of the hardest things I did. For the preceding few years, I had dreamt of how we could create a pathway to prosperity in India by persuading people to create an independent voters movement. But I had made far too many mistakes. I did not listen to many who told me that I would fail. I thought I was invincible. Until, I was not. I realised that no course correction was possible. I was too far away from the destination. On a long flight back from San Francisco to Mumbai, I “gave up” – Nayi Disha was dead. And the sooner I recognised it, the better it would be for everyone.

It is only when one door is closed that new ones can be opened. If there is one learning I have, it is that in all my failures, I have clung on to the past much longer than I should have. Giving up is not a bad thing – creation happens after destruction. That is the way the world of entrepreneurship and innovation works. Give up to start-up. Let not the past hold back the dawn of a new future. But first, let the past go.

Will be continued soon.

My Proficorn Way (Part 24)

Blogging

My first foray into writing started with a fortnightly column in Express Computer, thanks to the then-editor Venkatesh Hariharan. Those were the early days of the Internet – perhaps around 1996 or 1997. He approached me to write a long column on the Internet – 1500 words. That meant a full page in the tabloid-sized paper. Writing two columns a month meant that I had to think and explain ideas to others. It was the first time for me – and I agreed. It was perhaps the best decision I made – and one that has stood me in good stead through the years.

Around 1999-2000, I started my blog at emergic.org. I started a series “Tech Talk” wherein I would write a short new post daily – much like I do now. Then, I would also post links to other interesting readings. Over time, the “Tech Talk” phrase disappeared but the daily writing became a habit. I continued until August 2012 – when I stopped because I was getting too deeply involved in the political side of things, and I did not want to become the news because of something I wrote.

The blog format through those years is what I liked very much. I wrote for myself. To clarify my own thinking. Without worrying about who was going to read and what they would think. Without the need to be perfect. It was like I was speaking out my thoughts aloud and simply typing them out.

I never created a social media presence. I somehow did not like the short snappy comment format. I also did not want to write for others. If they read and benefited, that would be fine. But I wrote for myself.

When I look back on the years that I stopped writing, I realise that it was a mistake. I should never have let my writing cease, because that came at a cost of limiting my own thinking.

And so, I am happy now that I have started blogging again. The same format, the same mindset. The discipline of publishing a new post daily ensures that I have to keep the writing – and thinking – flow going.

For an entrepreneur, writing is a big positive because it helps clarify one’s own thinking and also communicate ideas to others. I don’t worry about whether the ideas are perfectly formed. My aim is to get them out there – because it ensures that I read and think about them. There will always be time for a new series later to improve on the initial ideas.

I think every entrepreneur should write a blog. Not just tweets or pithy LinkedIn posts. But write about one’s ideas and aspirations in real-time. Give people a glimpse into the world that you see. Because that is what you are really doing – creating a future ahead of others. And blogging is a great way to accelerate that future.

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 25)

My Proficorn Way (Part 23)

One Meeting, One Idea

I am reasonably open to meetings. I don’t say Yes to every request that comes, but if there is a referral from a source I trust, I go ahead and do the meeting. When I go into a meeting, I have one key objective: to get one new idea.

When one meets with different people, we see the world through their eyes. They have constructed mental models of the world. These are different from ours. So, one has to understand how they view the world because that will give us a new frame of reference which can provide new ideas. That is why it is important to have conversations, read books, listen to different people and put ourselves in different situations.

Meetings are for me the best source of new ideas. While I always have plenty of things to talk about, I do try and listen to learn. Each meeting is unique and goes in many different directions. A typical 60-minute meeting means more than 10,000 spoken words. That is a lot! Do 6 meetings in a day, and it is almost like writing a book.

My approach to meetings is three-fold: to listen, to be alert when something different and interesting is said, and to walk away with at least one good new idea. To listen means ensuring that there are no visual distractions – no emails, no Whatsapp, and the likes. My approach is to make notes – so it keeps me from getting distracted with my own tangential thoughts. When I sense something interesting, I mark it in my notebook so I can come back to it later – especially if I have a continuous stream of meetings which limit thinking time between meetings. Finally, either after a meeting or at the end of the day, I will review my notes to see which ideas stood out and how I can link them and enhance my own mental models.

So, go into a meeting with a simple objective: can you learn one new thing that you did not know. If you can do this, the meeting will have served its objective, and you will be better for it.

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 24)

My Proficorn Way (Part 22)

Chase Profits Not Valuation

Too many entrepreneurs start a new business thinking about the exit. There is a fancy business plan with big numbers (created to please would-be investors). And when there are investors, there is always talk of exit and returns. And thus it starts to become a valuation game. Once money is invested from an investor in a business, the game is on. Money needs to be spent and new money needs to be raised in the chase for a higher valuation. Little thought is given to the quality of the spend or the business model.

Chasing valuation is the wrong way to run a business. Valuation does not create the business model; it is the business model and growth that results in a valuation. The valuation is an outcome over which an entrepreneur has no control. What the entrepreneur controls is just the business.

In IndiaWorld, I had to focus on profits because I did not have funds or investors. And once we were profitable, while I did get incoming interest from investors, I was never under any pressure to do a deal. I was cashflow positive, profitable and had money in the bank. I could take my time and quote my price.

It wasn’t easy staying focused on profits because everyone else was chasing valuation. As such, there was huge spending on brand building that was happening all around me. It wasn’t easy keeping my head down and staying focused on the business. The pressure to raise-and-spend was there, but I knew that once I went down that route, it would be hard to stop.

Even in Netcore, we have followed the same approach. We do not skimp on the right spending. We stay focused on profits. Valuation is what will come when it comes. I always have a mental estimate when I am asked, but it’s not the chase. The focus is on staying profitable and growing them.

During the current pandemic times, this has worked out well. Because of our profitable and private foundation, we can take the long view and imagine the business we want to be in two years time, and work to build that. Had we been chasing valuation, then I would have had to perhaps spend a lot of time worrying about the impact of down-rounds and the need for cost cutting.

So, as a proficorn entrepreneur, stay focused on the profits. The valuation will come when it comes!

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 23)