Friday, December 12, 2008
This is a common question that a lot of people ask me in professional and personal meetings.
We know that a lot of companies around the world spend a lot of money to get certified or assessed against standards or frameworks like ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 2000, P-CMM, CMM-i, etc. etc. etc.
This is line of business that has very close relationships with some of the strong competencies, some our consultants have. For example I myself am a lead auditor of ISO 27001 and ISO 20000, have helped two companies get assessed at CMM-SW Level 5, one company get assessed at P-CMM Level 5, and very closely involved in getting a company certified at ISO 27001. Some of our consultants have more detailed experience in CMM-i, ISO 9001 and the list goes on.
In the earlier days these certifications were considered to provide cutting edge competitiveness to the market players. They were mandated by companies looking for vendors and vendors got them. Once a vendor got it in a certain market, the rest followed. There was a rush. Everyone wanted to be certified. A huge market opportunity around certifications sprung up.
Senior Management were given goals to get their companies certified in 6 months, in 1 year and so on. Most of them did their job, they got their companies certified. I still remember seeing a resume which said "I spearheaded the CMM-SW Level 5 assessment program for our company, and we got assessed at Level 5 (from Level 0) in a record 6 months". I thought, 'wow'!
In the earlier days, these certifications were appreciated and spoken proudly about during sales meetings. These days, no one wants to speak about them in sales meetings. They are a part of the sales presentation (most of the times), but mostly in corners.
A couple of months back, I met the Management Representative of a Large Indian Bank. She had called me for help. I met her and was sure trying to help her. She kept asking me 'Will this be enough to get the certification? I want to know what is just enough to get certified?". She asked me at the end, if we certify companies and if would be interested in their opportunity. I replied 'No, we are not in this business'.
I personally have learned a lot from these frameworks and standards. I was introduced to corporate systems 8 years back, through these frameworks and standards. They are excellent and continuously evolving. I would never have been here today, without learning and implementing them. I also believe that every company that has implemented them (to whatever level) has definitely benefited from them (to various extents).
But the reason they are sought after today, is not the primary reason for why they were developed in the first place. No wonder Software Engineer Institute (the keeper and developer of CMM frameworks) has tightened the assessment process. No wonder the International Organization for Standards (ISO) is tightening its standards. If not, it will not make sense for them to exist in the first place.
If a company is willing to invest towards a certification for helping their end customers and thus themselves, we are willing to help. If not, we are not interested.
We will never get into the business of certification ourselves. We will only help if the above prerequisite is met.
One of our corporate value says 'Delivering Sustained Strategic Value; Professionally and Ethically'. I want to highlight the word 'Ethically'!
The moment you become a high-ranking official in a company, you start getting recommendations and references for employment of people from
- friends of relatives
- relatives of relatives
- friends of friends
- relatives of friends
Initially you accept to at least speak to the candidates, to not disappoint your relatives or friends.
Once you speak to them you will realize that you are now requested to speak to the candidate's friends or relatives, and then it dawns to you that there will never be an end to this thread if you start encouraging it.
It is very important to understand why you are in a business. And it is always better to set the right expectations immediately.
And by the way it is not only you who gets pushed. It is your wife, father, mother and other close friends and relatives. You will need to start setting expectations early on, or be rest assured that you will spend a lot of time in these tactical activities with result in no beneficial business outcomes.
And lets not forget that there will always be exceptions, when you will speak to the candidates. But those need to be a few. Very Few!
Wish you all the best!
One of the common issues most startup face is to balance between perfection and practicality.
You have to make choices between these two, constantly. For example:
- Should we have a state-of-the-art office setup? Or should we setup an office with basic requirements, that leaves increased working capital for research, service development, sales and marketing?
- Should we create the best sales presentations possible (which would mean a lot of effort and time)? Or should we be Ok with near perfect presentations and depend more on the sales team?
- Should we buy the best computers with 19" LCD screens or should we buy 17" CRT monitors?
These are questions you will have to constantly answer on a day-to-day basis. If you have a looot of working capital you could go the route where you invest in the best (which does not ensure the best outcomes, but definitely aids them).
If you don't have looot of working capital, make sure you don't lock up your working capital.
Recently, I met a high-ranking official of a mid-size IT firm based out of USA. They were growing fast when the market was good. They decided to invest on a campus in India, spent millions of dollars and met that objective. Today they wish, they hadn't done that.
Everyone knows that the market is in a recession. Working capital has shrunk for a lot of players, and most wish they were prudent in good times.
Coming back to the point on presentations. There are cases where we get a day or even less to prepare for a sales meeting.
We believe that:
- A good prospective client will always want it's vendors / partners to bring their best, to the table.
- We should never put our company brand name at too much risk.
- If we think that we do not have the required time to prepare, we ask our clients for a meeting that is on a later date.
- If the prospective client agrees, well and good.
- If not, we weigh the risk to the brand. Inspite of our best efforts if we cannot mitigate the risk to the brand to an acceptable level, we convey our apologies to the prospective client and let the opportunity go.
- if the risk to the brand is acceptable, we give it our best shot and go for the meeting.
Remember, you don't want a prospective client to think that your company is no way close to your competitors. If you loose by a small margin, that is still Ok. I have seen a lot of cases where a vendor looses, only to be called back because the other vendor made some big mistakes during the engagement.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
What is the difference between Authorized Capital, Issued Capital, Subscribed Capital, Called-up Capital, Paid-up Capital
1. Nominal Authorized or Registered Capital
Nominal authorized or registered capital means the sum mentioned in the capital clause of Memorandum of Association (say Rs. 10,00,000/- i.e. Ten Lakhs). It is the maximum amount, which the company raises by issuing the shares and on which the registration fee is paid. This limit cannot be exceeded unless the Memorandum of Association is altered.
2. Issued capital
Issued capital means that part of the authorized capital, which has been offered for subscription to members (say Rs. 5,00,000/- i.e. Five Lakhs) and includes shares allotted to members for consideration in kind also.
3. Subscribed capital
Subscribed capital means that part of the issued capital at nominal or face value which has been subscribed or taken up by purchaser of shares in the company and which has been allotted (say Rs. 4,00,000/- i.e. Four Lakhs).
4. Called-up capital
Called-up capital means the total amount of called up capital on the shares issued and subscribed by the shareholders on capital account. i.e. if the face value of a share is Rs.10/- but the company requires only Rs.2/- at present, it may call only Rs.2/- now and the balance Rs.8/- at a later date. Rs.2/- is the called up share capital and Rs.8/- is the uncalled share capital.
5. Paid-up capital
Paid-up capital means the total amount of called up share capital, which is actually paid to the company by the members (say Rs. 3,00,000/- i.e. Three Lakhs).
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
'KINDUZ Business Consulting' is the name of the organization. We got the confirmation mail a couple of hours back.
The organization will be branded as 'KINDUZ' and the website is http://www.kinduz.com/.
Before you visit the website, just wanted to let you know that it is currently under development and will be released on October 9th 2008.
Thanks for your patronage.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
When you start an organization, your on your own.
There is no one to check what you are doing, if you are wiling away time, if you are watching the TV endlessly, etc.
You need to be self-disciplined and self-motivated. This is one of the most basic needs of becoming an entrepreneur (I can't stress this point enough).
The more deeper you get into setting up the company, the more you realize that a lot depends on 'YOU'.
The moment you start recruiting people, they will be as good as YOU are. To a large extent YOU and other founders define the culture of the organization.
If you don't have the self-discipline and self-motivation, would recommend that you don't get into entrepreneurship or stop. If you get lucky, my best wishes are with you as well!
Monday, September 15, 2008
This is again a very important question to answer. I will provide some tips, the choice should always be yours:
1) Use a name that can be easily pronounced by people of different nationalities (if you are planning to build a global enterprise). For example: Google, Infosys and Apple are all very simple. Company names like Technoelectroics are tough to pronounce and remember.
2) Keep it as short as possible, this helps easy brand recall
3) Make sure you can obtain a domain name. You might name a company 'XYZ Business Consulting Pvt. Ltd'; ideally you should be able to find a domain name which is http://www.xyz.com and not http://www.xyzbusinessconsulting.com/. It is too long to type and
remember. If you can't find a good domain name, I would recommend you find a name with a domain name.
4) I would strongly recommend that the name of the company have a basis for its selection. When a prospective client or a prospective employee asks you about why such a name was selected, you should have a story to say. A story that is ideally better than "It is based on my name."
5) Try and stay away from naming your company on your last name or first name. In today's world, it can scare away employees, investors and clients.
6) Make sure that another company does not have the same name, or sounds the same phonetically.
7) At the end always ask yourself, "If I have to introduce my company, will I feel proud introducing my company with its name?"
It took us about 3 weeks to finalize the name of the company. Part of the delay was due to us finalizing the name, and part of the delay was due to some issues raised by Registrar of Companies.
Some learnings while dealing with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), India:
1) Do not use a name that sound phonetically similar to another company, especially Trademarked companies. For example: 'INDDUS' sound very similar to 'INDUS'
2) If you want to use words like 'Industries' or 'Business', the RoC will ask you to increase the Authorized Capital to at least Rs. 10 Lakhs
Ok, so what's the name of the company? I am not going to answer this completely as I am waiting for a final confirmation from the RoC; I will sure do once I have the formal confirmation in my hand. But here are some clues:
1) The name of the company is going to be 6 letters long
2) The complete name will be "<CompanyName> Business Consulting Pvt. Ltd."
3) The name of the company is based on the company 'Values' defined previously
4) The company will be branded using the 6 letter word '<CompanyName>'
5) The website of the company will be the 6 letter word and '.com'. The website is already registered and we have also registered domain names with similar names to avoid confusion for our visitors.
Look forward to communicating the company name soon.
I am a firm believer that an organization's logo if well made, makes a huge difference in branding the organization well.
I was at Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad two weeks back (My brother-in-law is completing his MBA from ISB). For some reason I woke up at 4.00 A.M. and starting reading a book. At about 5.00 A.M., I wanted a coffee and started walking to the 24/7 Cafe Coffee Day at ISB. Had an excellent coffee and started walking back.
It was still dark but you could see the twilight coming. You could hear the birds chirping and the pleasant sway of trees because of the breeze. A perfect time I thought.
The stars were still visible, but they were slowly fading as the Sun was rising. As the Sun rose higher, the lesser you could see the other stars. Someone told me when I was a kid, that the stars are all there in the sky even during the day. It is just that we don't see them because of the Sun is so bright.
For some reason, I started thinking about what a good Business Consulting organization does. If they are in a position to transform a client from one of the many starts to a Sun; a Sun that starts to dwarf other stars (competitors), the Consulting Organization would have done their job.
I am looking at creating a logo that can represent the above idea, and also represent the DNA and Values of the company at the same time.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Have been reading the 'The High Performance Entrepreneur' - by Subroto Bagchi for the last few days. Chapter 5's title is "DNA, Mission, Vision and Values". These are very powerful tools that define an organization.
Here are the DNA, Values and Mission Statements of the company we plan to setup.
1) Innovation, Research and Learning
2) Dreaming, Creating a Vision, Acting Practically
3) Delivering Sustained Strategic Value; Professionally and Ethically
4) Stakeholder Satisfaction through 'Karma'
To understand 'Karma', please click here and refer Wikipedia
I will detail out each of the DNA's and Values in the due course of time
"We will deliver Sustained Strategic Value; Professionally and Ethically, ultimately ensuring Stakeholder Satisfaction. We will achieve this by Dreaming, creating a Vision but at the same time Acting Practically. We will enhance value delivered by continuously Innovating, conducting Research and by being Life-long Learners."
If you have a name in mind, and want to check if the company name is available, you can go to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website and check its availability. Navigate as follows:
http://mca.gov.in/ -> 'Other Services' -> 'Check Company Name'
Once you find it available, you have to formally apply for availability of a company name using the Form 1A. This can be downloaded at http://mca.gov.in/MinistryWebsite/dca/downloadeforms/Download_eForm_choose.html
You need to have a minimum of two directors in case of a Private Limited company
The concept of a Director Identification Number (DIN) has been introduced for the first time with the insertion of Sections 266A to 266G of Companies (Amendment) Act, 2006.
Further details can be obtained at http://mca.gov.in/MinistryWebsite/dca/din/DIN.htm
Make sure of the following:
1. Pay the application fees on the MCA portal after you obtain the provision DIN
2. Dispatch DIN application with required documents and information
3. Once you obtain a DIN, intimate you DIN to all companies in which you are a director, in form DIN-2
4. Make sure your companies intimate the DINs of its directors to the ROC, in form DIN-3
5. Any changes that become effective based on information filed in DIN-1 should be intimated, in form DIN-4
A detailed DIN Process document is available at http://mca.gov.in/MinistryWebsite/dca/din/processdoc.pdf
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The first step in the formation of a company is to obtain the digital certificate from one of the Ministry of Corporate Affair's (MCA) Certifying Authorities.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 provides for use of Digital Signatures on the documents submitted in electronic form in order to ensure the security and authenticity of the documents filed electronically. This is the only secure and authentic way that a document can be submitted electronically. As such, all filings done by the companies under MCA21 e-Governance programme are required to be filed with the use of Digital Signatures by the person authorized to sign the documents. More information about Digital Signatures can be found at http://www.mca.gov.in/MinistryWebsite/dca/dsc/certifying-new.html.
The list of Certifying Authorities can be found at:
Some Frequently Asked Questions can be found at
Make sure of the following when you get the digital certificate:
1) Obtain only a Class - 2 or a Class - 3 certificate.
2) Obtain a USB Cryptotoken (This is safer than keeping the digital signature on a desktop / laptop). It should cost a bit extra.
This is a decision every entrepreneur needs to make early in the process. Obviously you need to understand the options in hand and their pro's and con's. I must say, both you and me are lucky. There is an excellent website for reference (created by Government of India) at http://business.gov.in/starting_business/location_industry.php.
The forms a business can take are:
- Private Limited Company
- Partnership Firm
- Public Limited Company
- Join Hindu Limited Business
I chose a 'Private Limited Company' mainly because most of the clients are willing to work only with a 'Private Limited Company' or a 'Public Limited Company', not to forget the excellent governance framework the government puts in place in the form of the Company Law.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
In early August 2008, I found 'few' good online resources, with consolidated information about starting and managing a company. What I did find were a lot of eager entrepreneurs posting questions everywhere.
Through this blog, I hope to achieve the following:
1) Share my journey, hoping you will learn something out of it (NOTE: I will share not only the business outcomes, but also what went behind getting those business outcomes)
2) Look forward to your recommendations and feedback
I hope we both find this useful. Feel free to send me a mail by using the online form at PAVANKOTA.com or by clicking here.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
When I started my career in June 2000, I wanted to be exposed to all functions of an organization i.e. HR, Sales, Marketing, Quality, Production, etc. By January 2008 I had met that goal and had done well in my career.
Earning a good six-figure salary in the US, and a good seven-figure salary in India I had no reason to quit. But, I firmly believe that money is secondary, and it is the 'LEARNING' that is critical. If you have the right skills and competencies, money will follow.
I had never thought about what I wanted to do after meeting my first goal, and that was a big questions in my mind from January 2008. I used to talk about the options in hand, with my wife, over and over again; ranging from doing a PhD., to joining a new company, writing a book about my experiences and learnings, and to starting a company. 'I WAS CONFUSED'.
One of my habits, that I have found very useful is to talk about my career plans, career confusions with my close friends. It helps in three ways:
1) You sometimes get very good suggestions
2) As you speak, you are forced to think and ideate which results in increased clarity of thought and confidence
3) You create pressure on yourself to succeed, now that you have spoken about your plans with your close friends
As I spoke more and more about my confusions (than my plans), the plans started to form. I started to realize that I had some unique skill sets and learnings, which I wanted to share with everyone and at the same time build an organization around them.
Some equally important factors helped in making this decision right now:
1) Support from my wife and extended family (without this nothing works)
2) My wife was earning a decent salary and we were in a position to support our extended family (at least to some extent) and take the risk at the same time
3) I did not want to continue in a job and keep thinking about my dream
Hence the decision made. Our family moved to India on the August 15th 2008. The Leadership and Management team at Capgemini were very supportive of my decision and relieved me by August 22nd 2008. And here I am chasing my dream and passion!