Friday, December 12, 2008

Balancing between Perfection and Practicality

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.

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