Build Your Business on Your Strengths, Hire Your Team to Cover Your Weaknesses

If you dream of quitting your job and becoming your own boss, you’re not alone – 48 percent of Americans want to start their own business. But are you cut out for the entrepreneurial path? There’s an ongoing debate about whether entrepreneurs are born or made. Is there such a thing as entrepreneurial DNA?

Certain factors give you a better shot. Risk tolerance is a must but, by-and-large, there’s not just one type of person who can be a successful entrepreneur. In fact, business success has very little to do with whether you’re a people person or an introvert, detail-oriented or big-picture, quick-thinking or contemplative. I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years and seen people at each of these extremes achieve great success in their own ventures.

The key is knowing your strengths. It’s not about what type of person you are, it is about knowing what type of person you are. The one essential characteristic that makes a successful entrepreneur is a capacity for introspection. The entrepreneur who succeeds is the one who truly knows his or her own strengths, and builds a business around them.

Think about Disney, Ford, Apple, Google, Amazon, Virgin–some of the most successful businesses in history. Most people assume that the founders were just born with exceptional talent. It’s true that each of them had a particular area of genius but that’s not why they succeeded. They succeeded because they knew where they excelled and organized their management structure accordingly. Each one of them designed his company in a way that allowed him to spend almost all of his time working on what he loved to do. Success followed.

I asked my friend and business coach Lex Sisney (cofounder of CX.com and author of Organizational Physics) to weigh in on the question of what makes a successful entrepreneur.

“I think a business can reach a modicum of success with any entrepreneur who’s smart, hard-working and determined,” he says. “But only an entrepreneur who fuses his or her unique talents with a driving sense of purpose can achieve a transcendent level of success, and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it.”

Every one of us is a genius at something. Every one of us is a potential entrepreneur. The key is to understand where your greatest talent lies, and figure out how to build a business around it.

Know your weaknesses, too. But what if there are certain areas in which you’re maybe not-so-much of a genius? Can you still be an entrepreneur if, say, you never passed calculus in high school?

Even the most successful entrepreneurs I know have their weaknesses. Some people excel at starting projects but are terrible at finishing them. Others shine in customer development but can’t wrap their head around operations. The good news is you don’t need to be a genius at everything to be an entrepreneur.

You do need to be aware of, and open about, your weaknesses. When you know where you’ll need support, you can build your team accordingly. Don’t hire people who are just like you. Instead, bring in people who complement your skills by excelling where you struggle. If you fail to do this, you’ll end up spending a lot of your time working in your weak areas, experiencing a ton of stress in day-to-day operations as a result.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. As your business grows, it’s not long before you get drawn into fighting fires outside of your specialty. If you don’t trust your team, either because you didn’t hire the right types of people to support you or because you haven’t learned how to get out of the way, it causes everyone stress. The business won’t perform up to potential.

Lex told me a story about how he almost ruined his own business (which went on to become the largest affiliate marketing company in the world) by failing to recognize his weaknesses early on:

“A business I started was growing like gangbusters,” he said. “As a result, we were having a lot of problems getting our internal systems to keep pace with our sales. Rather than sticking to what I was good at–, innovation and market evangelism, I wrongly decided that I needed to become more of an ‘operator.’ I stopped spending as much time out in the market with customers, and I started spending more time working inside the business trying to right the ship.”

As he became more and more frustrated trying to fix operations, he started to lose confidence in his own capabilities. Problems with the system persisted and, even worse, sales started slipping. Finally, he brought in a coach who helped him delegate so that he could get back to working from his strengths.

“My energy level and confidence quickly came back and so did our sales,” he said. “Once I stopped meddling, the inside team rose to the challenge and made dramatic system improvements as well. That business went on to become the largest of its kind in the world. And to think I almost wrecked it by trying to work from my weaknesses rather than my strengths!”

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses. We all have biases that make an accurate self-assessment almost impossible. I’m introspective by nature but even I didn’t fully understand my strengths and weaknesses at the start. Luckily, there are lots of great tools out there for introspection junkies like me!

Here are my favorite tools (I’ve used all five) for better understanding your strengths and weaknesses:

1. StrengthsFinder. The StrengthsFinder assessment first showed up in the 2001 best-selling book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Dr. Donald Clifton. The self-assessment (now available online independent of the book) identifies your top five strengths based on your unique combination of talents, knowledge and skills.My top five strengths, per the test, were: activator, woo maximizer, communication and competition.

2. PSIU Management Style Indicator. The PSIU from Lex Sisney of Organizational Physics evaluates three different aspects of your management style: how you are, how you want to be and how others want you to be. Very useful for better understanding not only how you operate but also how other people perceive you in the workplace.

3. DiSC Assessment. The DiSC measures how you respond to your environment and how you influence others. It’s based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Marston, which centers on four personality traits – dominance, inducement, submission and compliance. (Fun fact: Marston also produced the first successful lie detector polygraph and created the comic Wonder Woman.)

4. ARC Leadership Dynamics. ARC starts with a 30-minute phone interview rather than a self-assessment (the makers of this test believe that self-assessments are too biased to be accurate). Following the phone interview, the specialist responds with tailored advice on how to best leverage your strengths in a position of leadership.

5. Predictive Index. The Predictive Index is often used as a hiring tool but it’s also useful as a self-assessment. This test tells you which behaviors you exhibit most strongly in the workplace and gives you a general overview of your management style.

Weakness doesn’t have to be an obstacle to success. Every entrepreneur has many. There are all kinds of people in this world, each with a different set of strengths. So what do you think: Are you an entrepreneur? If you have a deep capacity for introspection, you’re off to a great start.The key is to understand your own personal genius, plan your business around it and bring in people who can cover your blind spots.

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6 Fundamentals Every Modern Entrepreneur Needs to Succeed

The road to being a true-blue entrepreneur is paved with spectacular stories of crash-and-burn. It requires a certain type of stamina that few possess and an insatiable desire to do better than the day before. Such a demanding lifestyle has no boundaries in place, except for those self-imposed. This alone can prove deadly for the half-serious startup hopeful.

Mastering the daily hustle is something that will either make or break any hopes for success. If you’re not serious about upgrading your skill set, than prepare to be beaten by those who make it their mission.

Succeeding today calls for a jack-of-all-trades-like approach. Here are the qualities that future success stories in business need to possess:

1. A scholarly research ability. People don’t simply buy things anymore. There’s a winning mix of brand interactions, advertisements and recommendations that go into every significant purchase we make.

Getting this recipe to truly click involves not only knowing the history of your industry and competitors, but also knowing where and when to go for the latest updates and insights. Don’t pick up a copy of The New York Times, read through, and call it a day. Find those bloggers and influencers leading the way, peruse every trade publication for your industry and learn where to go for real answers.

Having an edge in the form of information is what will help you win those customers who are still on the fence.

2. A strong social media presence. If your LinkedIn profile looks like a phone book listing, we have a serious problem. If your indecent Facebook photos show up in an online search for your company, we might have a catastrophe. Tighten up your presentation to the world to leverage the free online assets we know as social media.

Designers are using Instagram to showcase their portfolios. Business owners are using Facebook to adjust their product offerings. Twitter breaks news, Tumblr shows trends and Pinterest uncovers customer buying habits. Find the channels best suited to your industry and start making them work for you. Just make sure to tie up any loose ends first.

3. An actively updated blog or website.  If you are so much as selling lemonade, you need a website. Unless you don’t like making money, you need a blog. If you’re not actively engaging potential customers online, showcasing your expertise and properly updating your channels and site, you’re losing to someone who is. Get in a weekly rhythm of updating your digital properties.

Websites drive conversions and blogs drive search traffic. Both can become bottomless pits when it comes to managing your time. It helps to have a set of resources or a resident expert in your corner. WordPress sites, and the like, make updating your content painless but consider teaming-up with an outside firm or consultant. Their insights and strategies can save hours of frustration.

4. A professional look and feel to everything you do. Even if you’re not in the fashion industry, every entrepreneur needs to work on perfecting their own personal style.

There’s a certain beauty to a freshly-minted business card or fine-pressed uniform. Clean, appropriate, smart design is what drives the professional world. Even for multi-colored or explosively creative big-league companies, there is a certain order and form that exists in their business materials that simply screams professional.

If you want to succeed, you will eventually need to develop an eye (or at least an appreciation) for the power of superior branding. Because superior branding is enough to turn a “maybe” into a “yes, please!”

5. A knack for storytelling. This is an often untapped asset in the business world, an escape from being perceived as just another vendor. While a great many might feel like they don’t have one, rest assured: every business has a story worth telling. It may take some soul searching, but once you lock in to that narrative, greater opportunities will begin to present themselves.

The world is filled with truly special individuals and great stories just waiting to be told. Recognize where your products or services come into that story and align yourself with it.

When it comes to keeping things fresh, it helps to keep a journal to recount all of your awesomeness. At a company, it’s about creating the story of a best-in-class service or product that makes life better. And don’t forget: a great story needs great characters!

6. A way to put it all together.  Keeping an ear to the online grindstone is a full-time job. A limitless smorgasbord of productivity apps and software services can leave many anxious and distraught. Turn these feelings into fuel and recognize that anything is possible. Use sites like IFTTT.com to automate certain processes and services like Evernote to keep tabs on your daily readings.

Be sure to take a step back from it all every day. Find time to reflect, with family or through fitness. Keep yourself motivated by seeking out mentors, video tutorials and new information. You don’t need to back yourself into a corner, but you do need a strong focal point to help guide you through hardships the that will inevitably come about. The stronger your focus, the better chance you have of coming out victorious.

In today’s world, it’s never been easier to make your mark in business. The challenge lies in saying something meaningful and relevant. Take part in the global economy, find the balance that best suits you and get ready for big things to happen.

posted on:entrepreneur.com

10 Pointers Every Young Entrepreneur Needs to Know

A young entrepreneur might run across a lot of articles offering advice for the new business owner. But how many articles are actually geared toward the young entrepreneur?

As a former young entrepreneur myself (now I’m 30), I’ve decided to share my insights from my past experiences — all the types of things that I wish someone had passed on to me when I was first starting out.

1. Do what you love.

When I graduated from college I worked at a job that I didn’t like because it paid me well. I hated to go into work each day. I admit that entrepreneurs typically make the worst employees because they want to be out there growing their own enterprise. Figure out what you love and then become the best that there is at it.

Your passion for your product or service will keep you motivated and get you through the tough times. Yes, there will be challenging moments. But when you work on something that you actually care about (as opposed to just trying to make a quick buck), you’ll probably be happy, have direction and fight as hard as you can to make this crazy idea of yours become a reality. 

2. Stay focused.

It’s awfully tempting to jump from project to project, especially when it seems as if a million opportunities are flying by. But don’t become distracted from the big picture. Instead of working on multiple projects, stay on track and complete the task at hand. If you’re working on multiple projects, you can spread yourself too thin, which will have an effect on your performance, productivity and resources. Perfect that one thing instead of working on five so-so projects.

3. Exploit online resources.

The Internet is a gold mine of resources. For example, visit the site of the U.S. Small Business Administration for advice about writing business plans, legal considerations, loans and even local resources to help you get that startup off the ground. Other awesome online resources are the websites of SCORE, America’s Small Business Development CenterBplansVentureBeat and, of course, Entrepreneur.com.

4. Find a mentor.

Whether you turn to a local entrepreneur, a business leader or a weathered vet that you meet through LinkedIn, having a mentor is one of the best resources you can have. Not only might a mentor have experience (such as dealing with venture capitalists), he or she also could possess an extensive network and help you connect with the right people to make your startup a success.

Don’t be afraid to cold call or email a big name in the industry. Many of these big names like to help younger entrepreneurs as a way of giving back. I met my mentor when I was 12. He was the owner of a large carpet store. I was his paper boy. I delivered his paper in the perfect location every day for three months till one day I saw him. I asked him straight up, Will you be my mentor? He said yes. He’s still a mentor to me today along with many other people.

5. Take care of yourself. 

I was a young go-getter once. (At age 12 I started my first candy stand and had three at one point.) I know exactly how it is: You think that you’re invincible. Here’s the breaking news: You’re not.

As an entrepreneur, you might find it easy to push aside healthy lifestyle essentials, such as getting exercise, eating a balanced diet and securing enough sleep. But what good will you be if you’re tired or your immune system if weak? Plus, exercise is a great way to relieve some stress.

Don’t forget to make time for yourself. You need to take a break from work or you might burn yourself out. I personally love to listen to books and have since I was a kid. I’m not very good at reading as I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder so I listen to books. Find what works for you!

6. Define your market.

Failing to define the market is a common mistake of a lot of young entrepreneurs. Always remember to consider if your business plan makes sense for your market. If you’re dreaming up a late-pizza delivery service, do you start it in a business district or a college town? There are a number of ways for you to try to define your market, such as by demographics or psychological factors.  

I always hear people in the fashion industry tell me that their world is a $1.2 trillion market. Technically they may be correct. But if your product is hipster pants, the market isn’t $1.2 trillion. How many hipsters are there in the world? How many of them would purchase your product on a yearly basis? 

7. Be able to explain your business at a whim.

You never know when you’ll have to explain your business. You could run into an investor in an elevator or end up making a sales pitch to a customer while out to eat. Always be ready to clearly and quickly state your mission, service and product or goals.

This is something I learned from Derek Anderson, the founder of Startup Grind, which hosts events for entrepreneurs. He took me to lunch about three years ago and asked me what I did and the business I was promoting. I really didn’t know how to answer. Since then I have refined my pitch so that when someone asks me what I do, I can tell them in five words or less. Practice your 5-second, 15-second and 1-minute pitch over and over. This will help you be able to explain your business to anyone out there in any situation.

Related: Staging the Anti-Conference That Will Pull in Young Entrepreneurs

8. Remember, you run a startup. 

Just because you secured some funding that doesn’t give you the right to act like you’re a rock star. A luxury home, an office with an actual shark tank or a really fast car are all just a big waste of money, especially in the beginning. Remember, you run a little-known startup (and you’re not Richard Branson overseeing a large successful company). Be careful about managing your cash flow and make sure that you keep track of expenses. That’s not being cheap. It’s being wise. You don’t want to burn through all your cash too early.

9. There are still rules.  

A major perk that comes with being an entrepreneur is that you’re the boss. You can make your own hours and develop your vision of a company. In short, you’re doing whatever you want. And it’s awesome. But there are some rules that all entrpereneurs have to follow like registering your business and paying taxes. These are just some of the not-so-much fun things you have to handle. If not, you’re going to be in just a little bit of trouble.

10. Know when to fold ’em.

Sure, I’ve had success running and selling several different companies, but do you know how many I’ve started and stopped because they weren’t taking off?  Tons. Some say 9 out of every 10 business fail within the first couple years. 

Don’t let your pride get in the way of closing your company. I learned this the hard way in college when I launched what became my first failure, Utefan. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t going to work or make money. I kept putting money into it and spending time on it. Eventually I had to give up my pride and stop. Know when to let go.

If you’re not familiar with the classic Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler,”then stop what you’re doing and check it out. It offers some of the best advice ever. Why? Just like any great gambler, you have to know when to fold ’em. Instead of continuing to work on a fledgling business, it’s best to walk away and reflect on what went wrong. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s inevitable. And you’ll take that lesson with on your next venture. 

6 Tips for Expanding Your Business Internationally

After a good idea grows into a business, it’s natural to have a desire to expand the operation to an entirely new audience. However, much like forging an idea into a full-fledged (and, most importantly, successful) company, establishing a bigger market share, let alone an international presence, is easier said than done. From international business protocols to the customs and cultures of each nation’s consumers themselves, each respective region has its own unique challenges and benefits.

As a European founder, here are six lessons that I learned when I sought to expand my company to the United States. These lessons can apply to any founder, regardless of where they might be headed.

1. Pitching is different. Regardless of however you’ve sold your business previously, when entering a new market in a new location, the pitch needs to be adjusted to meet local standards. That could mean tweaking either content or format and beyond. In some cases, a massive overhaul might even be required to make your presentation successful.

In the US, for example, speaking from my own experience, new businesses must have a precise pitch, getting the message across quickly and efficiently. While Europeans reserve 60 to 90 minutes for meetings, only 30 minutes are provided in the US to pitch a product or service. Also, meetings start on time and, more importantly, end on time.

It’s important to look at the market you’re hoping to broaden to. Research potential changes early to set expectations and avoid surprises.

2. Embrace your existing record. Don’t run away from your success in other markets. Just because your product wasn’t born in the market you’re entering, doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t be successful. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Your prior success breeds new success. Oddly, though, some seem to think this is the case and I’ve seen it firsthand.

When I first considered venturing into the US, several web entrepreneurs in Europe told me that digital products outside the US are labeled as “not invented here.” Some said it gives off an inferior value. But I quickly discovered that’s largely a myth.

If you can show a track record in a significant market, regardless of locality, results aren’t guaranteed, but it makes your pitch a lot stronger. My company’s success overseas has only helped me market our services more effectively and build trust among key audiences.

3.  “It’s great” doesn’t mean “yes.” You can prepare as much as possible but, in the end, there will be some cultural communication issues in whatever market you extend into. Whether you’re a US company venturing into Germany or vice versa, local markets have their own established way of saying and doing things.

As an example, with my company’s existing international track record, it was easier to set-up initial biz dev meetings with larger companies in the US. However, first impressions were a bit misleading. I quickly learned that in the US, positive feedback was common and, in some cases, was actually constructive criticism. Phrases like “it’s great” or “we like it” are often used in a meeting but they didn’t necessarily mean that we were close to a deal.

This is a cultural communication issue. In Europe, it can take a fair amount of time before you get a “this is great.” When it’s said, it generally means that your talks have really evolved.

Remember to keep in mind cultural and language differences when having conversations with third parties. Don’t get tripped up by preconceived meanings and don’t make any assumptions on the status of a conversation. Be prepared to track down real decision makers.

4. Picking a headquarters. Where your expansion market headquarters resides is an important question. Many factors contribute to selecting the ideal location for a corporation’s local HQ. Is your business product or sales related? Where you find the talent you need is hugely important when entering a new market.

When my business came to the states, I quickly discovered that Silicon Valley, New York and most of the well-known cities for European technology companies entering the US just weren’t the best options. Our business goals didn’t align with those areas. In the end, I chose Chicago because of its history as a major retail hub. Its central location also made it easier for our team to travel throughout the US.

Make up your mind and choose one primary headquarters location based on the needs of the business to flourish. Don’t make a decision based off what you think you know given trends or general biases.

5. Don’t underestimate personal effort. Many countries have ESTA agreements (electronic system for travel authorization) making business travel a bit easier. Some don’t, however. The US does have ESTA agreements in place with many countries. Try to determine the status of the ESTA agreements in the country you’re looking to enter.

Check if you need a visa. This varies from country to country. Depending on how much time you spend in your expansion market, you may need to file a tax statement or apply for personal identification (Social Security number, etc.). Even opening a bank account can take many weeks to complete.

Travel and the related efforts you put into the process can be exhausting but there’s no other way to accomplish your goals and grow your business effectively. Be committed.

6. Go big or go home. Building a business in a new market is expensive. It requires a lot of funding. In my experiences, user acquisition, legal fees, marketing and salaries are just a few services requiring larger dollar amounts in the US than overseas. The closer you get to the actual product/service launch, the more you need to spend.

My advice is to set a spending limit. Ensure there is enough money reserved to avoid having to raise additional funds after the launch. You want to have some firepower left over from the launch to achieve maximum results.

Although expanding is never easy, knowing what to expect will let your business thrive at any location. Adjust expectations and business plans to cater to your region. Knowing how each area operates prepares a company, no matter how big or small, for success on an international level.

courtesy:entrepreneur.com

The 7 Deadly Sins of the Eager Entrepreneur

Let’s face it: You have to be a little bit crazy to be an entrepreneur.

While most of us appreciate nothing more than the steady comfort of a regular paycheck and a well-structured routine, entrepreneurs are attracted to more extreme emotions. They need the highs of seeing their vision come true, and they’re unafraid of the lows of witnessing their dreams crash to the ground.

But the very same personality traits that so often bring us innovative and beloved companies can also lead creative and talented people to torpedo their business before it even takes off. Here, then, are seven deadly “sins” entrepreneurs commit much too often.

1. Splitting equity: Anyone who has graduated kindergarten knows all about the importance of sharing, working together and getting along with others. But when it comes to starting companies, that instinct can be problematic. Try to split the equity in the company equally between its co-founders and, almost guaranteed, you’ll soon enough come to a stalemate.

That’s because in business, like in every other realm of life, someone has to have the final say. That means, even if salaries and skill sets are all alike, someone has to be the boss and make the call, especially with young businesses that grow and change rapidly. Rather than fearing that very, very awkward conversation with your partner, have it early and move on.

2. Building a product without a robust go-to-market strategy. Here’s one movie you should definitely not take as your guide to business:Field of Dreams. That famous line—“if you build it, they will come”—is about the worst piece of advice you can give an entrepreneur. Sadly, too many entrepreneurs heed it, regardless.

Being excited about your product is necessary for a start-up. Believing in it is indispensable. But launching a company without a solid plan for distributing your product is business suicide. Never do it.

3. Ignoring the known unknowns. Self-confidence is every entrepreneur’s secret sauce. It’s the quality that helps you shine in meetings with investors or potential clients.

But self-confidence is a double-edged sword. Like every living person, entrepreneurs have blind spots. Thah is fine, as long as they know exactly what they don’t know and surround themselves with co-founders, employees, advisors, anyone who can help fill in the blanks.

The moment you begin to think that you know everything, the moment you ignore the many, many things you haven’t the foggiest clue about, is the moment you open yourself up to disaster.

4. Not trusting your gut. So knowledge is important, but gut feeling — that impossible-to-describe hunch that just signals to us sometimes and suggests the right course of action — is, too.

Because they’ve risked everything to get their business started, founders have very strong instincts about what is right and isn’t right for them professionally. That applies to strategy, staffing and just about every other decision a founder can make. Entrepreneurs should learn to trust these feelings.

That isn’t an invitation to do whatever you damn please, all the time. As the boss, you should be rigorous in your thinking and deliberate in your decision-making. But if your gut is telling you something, stop and listen.

5. Failing to assign roles and responsibilities. It’s a truth, universally acknowledged, that an entrepreneur does everything. Start a new company, and you’ll find yourself developing product, servicing clients, writing website copy and running to the bank to deposit checks

Because they have so many responsibilities, at least early on in the game, and such a passion to see every aspect of their business succeed, entrepreneurs very frequently fail miserably at assigning clear roles and responsibilities to the their team. That’s a pity. Without clear directions, it’s very hard for employees to meet their targets. Job descriptions should be clear, concise and evolve as frequently as the company does.

6. Avoiding fierce conversations. Sure, entrepreneurs are often passionate, intense people. But they also tend to be outgoing and collaborative in nature, which means that they, like most normal human beings, dread confrontation. Sadly, confrontation is often needed, especially when trying to define the course of a new business. Avoiding awkward or confrontational discussions today will create exponentially bigger problems tomorrow: if something is not right, dig in immediately.

7. Letting whims create whiplash. As the founder, you care about your company dearly. That means that you seek out, and get, input and feedback from people all the time. It also means that you are thinking about your business 24/7, and always have new ideas.

That is great, if you have a framework for you and your team to deal with these bursts of inspiration. Otherwise, you’re likely to just create whiplash by always attacking the new, shiny thing. Don’t exhausting yourself and the company’s resources chasing the latest whim rather than following a systematic, well-laid plan.

courtesy:entrepreneur.com

How does greater cloud-readiness translate into higher ROI?

Pop Quiz: If your company has conquered North America and Western Europe and is now looking for the next big market, where should you go? The no-thinking, because it’s obvious, answer is of course China. But if you want low cost of entry and a rapid return on investment you might want to aim a bit further South – to Australia.

While it isn’t as big a market as China (or even India) and may have a higher cost of living, which can make establishing a beachhead there expensive, Australia has significant enough similarities to the western world a well-educated populace, a high income citizenship and desire for new technologies and innovations to make success here far easier. And if you are doing ROI calculations around this decision, it has a key advantage over its Asian peers: higher acceptance of cloud services.

How does greater cloud-readiness translate into higher ROI? Because your company can leverage cloud-based services to reach and serve Australian customers faster, cheaper, and with a better economic model that maximizes the profitability of crossing shores. And in our latest Forrester report, we show you how Australian companies are using the cloud and achieving success through this activity.

We all know that cloud computing enables new service agility and continuous customer experience improvement. Further we know that by taking advantage of pay-per-use economics we can optimize the efficiency, performance and location of the services we build in the cloud to maximize profits. And in the past two years the major multinational cloud service providers have opened Asian and Australian data centers so you can serve this market with very low latency. But it’s the readiness and hunger of the Australian consumer and business market that makes this country so attractive.

And you can see this in the use of cloud services by Australian enterprises, as shown in this report. The key factors:

A tech-forward culture – Australians were fast to jump on smart phones, SaaS and now cloud platforms. And they want their mobile moments satisfied whether from on-continent or off solutions.

A fast follower mentality – Australia has high affinities to the US and the UK but isn’t blind to its distance from these countries. But it isn’t willing to let distance be an excuse for being late to the party. On key technology trends, Australia has been very quick to move from experimentation to full-market adoption. And that pattern is playing out today with cloud services.

A highly educated citizenry – You can’t be tech savvy, especially in B2B without being able to quickly grasp the technologies that enable business innovation and Australians are all over the cloud. In fact, in our interviews with Australian cloud leaders we found a stronger understanding of the realities of cloud services that take many of their peers even in the US and Europe much longer to understand.

Several key vertical markets are the most cloud-forward and thus good immediate opportunities for partnership, early success and strong growth:

Retail banking – where investment banking has led could adoption in most markets, retail is the strongest in Australia. Credit the Age of the Customer down under as Australian citizens are very mobile-forward and open to banking this way.

Media & entertainment – a clear leader in cloud adoption in most markets, it’s no different here. A strongly competitive market facing its own digital disruption is moving quickly to leverage cloud adoption here.

Travel – If you travel the world and have’t run into Australians nearly everywhere you go, then you need to get out more. Australians take full advantage of their time off and thus local tools that help them plan the next great experience are highly sought. Qantas has embraced this trend by creating internal startups to capitalize on these opportunities leveraging cloud services.

eRetailing, local government and many others – In fact the examples of cloud-moves being taken by Australian businesses and companies reaching out to Australian consumers actually surprised us during our research.

Bottom line: If you haven’t prioritized the Australian market and incorporated the use of cloud services to reach and serve it, you may be missing out on a fast and profitable business opportunity. Other Asian countries are harder and more costly to penetrate. While you can’t just pickup your US marketing plan, drop it on Rackspace Cloud and success will follow, you can succeed by thinking local but acting cloud.

courtesy:etcio.com

Premji Jr. to head Wipro’s venture arm, to invest Rs 600 cr in startups

Wipro is setting up a corporate venture arm to be spearheaded by Rishad Premji that will initially invest up to $100 million (Rs 600 crore) in startups to help the country’s third-largest software exporter fill the missing innovation strand.

This first-of-its-kind venture arm by an Indian outsourcer to be overseen by Rishad, son of Chairman Azim Premji, underscores the company’s recognition to existential threats faced by traditional IT companies from startups focused on disruptive technologies, including data analytics and machine-to-machine learning, said people familiar with the development.

Globally, some of the biggest technology names such as Intel, Cisco and Dell have dedicated corporate ventures for investing in startups and mature ideas that are disruptive.

Barring Accenture, which shut down its venture arm in 2002, none of the large IT services companies has experimented on this front.

“Very soon you will hear about this corporate venture fund that the company will be starting,” said a person familiar with the development. adding that Wipro will invest between $80-100 million (Rs 480 crore to Rs a600 crore) in terms of venture funding for the first year.

“This sum ($80-100 million) is for the first year. And then it will grow. There will be more coming out of it,” said the executive.

Rishad is already the head of strategy division at Wipro and according to another person, is in the midst of putting together a team that will assist him on taking decisions, including evaluating projects that need to be incubated by the Bangalore-based IT firm.

Anurag Srivastava, who is overseeing the Change the Business Unit at Wipro, will be the one of the key members of this team.

Two other executives who will be reporting to Rishad are Jagadish Velagapudi, head of strategic programs, and Haripriya Rama Iyer, who in April was given a senior role in the strategy division.

A questionnaire sent to Wipro remained unanswered. Two people familiar with the development said that the company could make an announcement as early as next month. “Wipro wants to be at the front-end of technology. That fs the ambition, h said a second executive, adding that startups from across the world, including India, will be considered. gInnovation is not restricted to the US. So the thinking is why to limit to any geography.”

ET also learns that the corporate venture arm will be part of Change the Business Unit, one of the two young business divisions the company carved out earlier this year. The company has outlined gmassive investments h in technology platforms, including automation and digital space, results of which should start showing as early as June next year, the executive said.

Over the past few years, Wipro has already made minority investments in two such startups, including $5 million (RS 30 crore) in US-based Axeda, as it aims to offer to offer machine-to-machine learning solutions for clients and an over $30 million (Rs 180 crore) investment in Opera, a New Jersey based data analytics company.

Some experts back this latest effort by Wipro as they believe it is difficult to make an acquisition in a space where every customer in an industry has its unique own requirements.