Being able to sponsor my own MBA is the biggest dream I’ve ever had.
But realistically speaking, it might take me 5-8 more years to gather the required funds & fly abroad.
But you can only keep learning from the curious mind for so long.
And so I thought I’d start reading up on great books meant for MBA aspirants & marketing leaders or business professionals. On the side, I’m also paying a weekly visit to some of the best business blogs like HBR (Harvard Business Review).
Nothing can beat the whole experience of going to a great university, but until that time comes for me, I still want to grab as much knowledge as I can from the internet.
In my reading journey, I’ve found many bookmark-worthy “mental tools” that can help you make savvier business decisions.
Think of them as frameworks that will give you proper direction across different stages; some of them come in handy during the initial ideation phase, while others may help you react to an ongoing crisis more smartly.
The list below includes all such charts, diagrams, tables, insights, roadmaps, etc. that I’ve amassed over the years.
Hope it aids you on your journey to becoming a kickass entrepreneur!
Table of Contents
As a business leader, you’ll constantly be swamped with hundreds of to-do tasks every week.
There’s no end to it – unless you’re planning to pull the shutter.
So learning how to prioritize activities & distribute your energy/time throughout the day is a crucial skill we all must learn.
It helps you to divide all incoming tasks into 4 categories, each attached to a recommended action you can take:
Urgent & Important (with a deadline, immediate consequences)
Urgent but not important (need to be done but don’t require your individual attention)
Not urgent but important (without a deadline, but payoff in the long term)
Not urgent, not important (knowledge gaining, leisure, or personal activities)
With priority tasks at the top left quadrant, it’s recommended to “eat the frog” i.e. do the hardest, most painful thing first.
Once you’re done with that excruciating task that you’ve been putting off for so long, you feel much lighter & motivated to get through the bulk.
This can be going to the gym in the morning rather than delaying it for the day. Or completing your toughest assignments before lunch.
For crucial tasks on the bottom left, learning to delegate some duties to a team member will really change your life. Often times, you’ll feel the need to do everything on your own – but that’s the control freak in you speaking.
Try to look back at your day, and ask, “What’s something I did that I could’ve asked a colleague or loved one to help me with instead?”
It can seem like you’re begging for help at first, but if every entrepreneur thought this way, we’d never see empires like Google, Amazon, or Facebook rising up.
All successful leaders are super-delegators. They pick people with hard skills; identify the tasks that are taking up most of their manual labor, energy, and time; and then assign such workload to their team.
This frees up time for them to:
Look at the bigger picture
Strategize long-term moves
Come up with innovative ideas to grow their business
Learn a new skill on the side / read a self-help book
Hit the gym to stay fit & capable of working
Build relationships with other stakeholders (networking)
BTW, the above activities, together called “deep work,” are essentially what the top right quadrant is all about (not urgent but important). These are tasks that don’t give you immediate rewards or gratification, but have massive payoffs in the long run.
Coming back to the bottom left quadrant, delegating doesn’t mean simply pushing your work onto someone. You must ask, “Do you have all the resources to get the job done?”
This includes ensuring your team mate has:
Access to all folders, documents, accounts
Knowledge & context/background on what’s happened so far
Clear expectations outlined in the brief
Ample references on what the end product should look like
Priorities & most important points highlighted
Contact details of all concerned parties/partners
Timeline for execution with Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 marked
Last but not the least, activities that don’t have any productive outcomes can be indulged in every weekend.
These also have a role to play as they relax your mind, and enable you to just have some freakin’ fun!
All work & no play makes Jack a dull boy, so hit the party deck & lighten up; you deserve regular breaks to rejuvenate & reflect.
Last but not the least, if you want to visualize this matrix, pick one of these project management tools:
First, the Problem Statement has to show that its a painful gap or issue that is hurting customers. Without it, there’s no purpose.
Second, the Solution is your golden hook – people buy how you’re going to tackle the problem. Without it, you won’t get any traction.
But getting initial traction isn’t enough. So third, you need a huge enough, well-segmented niche Market that’s projected to grow in the coming years (with a scientific analysis).
Fourth, once you have these customers ready to buy, you need a Business Model to print actual $$$ on a consistent basis because without it, you’re just a charity. Investors only really care about how you’re going to manage the cashflow + what are they getting in the exit/IPO.
Fifth & last, you need to prove that you have a solid team with complimentary skillsets & some background in the industry you’re venturing. How are you going to execute the plan & why are you the best ones to take it forward?
Sheth wisely notes that any slide you include your deck will inevitably be a blend of these basic blocks.
Problem-Market = Industry Dynamics
Solution-Market = Competition
Market-Business = Unit Economics
Problem-Solution = Product Viability
So the suggestion is to first get your 5 basics right, then create the slides.
Although knowing the structure helps in theory, taking direct inspiration from a few good examples can really help you hit the nail on the right spot.
So where can you find these examples? Easy! Pitch Deck Hunt is a dedicated platform that contains 200+ pitch decks from successful startups across various industries & funding stages (like Seed, Series A, Series B).
Check out their site to learn from the best pitchers at Shopify, Airbnb, Uber, Coinbase, WeWork, and more. Oh, did I mention it’s all free?
BTW, have you created a pitch deck for any of your ventures?
Share the link below & we can dissect what works + what can be improved!
Barriers to Purchase
While making any sales, there are five factors that usually cause people to hesitate when they have to pull out their wallets.
Addressing these barriers in your communications can help you preemptively tackle their effects and convince the customers before they even raise the concern.
Spending too much money on it i.e. loss aversion
Flexi-pricing plans, No-risk return policy, ROI calculator
Doubts about whether it will actually work
Free live demo, Testimonials
Doubts about whether it’ll serve their individual needs
Questionnaire, Free trial, Guarantees
Willing to wait & look around for a better tradeoff
Countdown time-bound sale, create Urgency to solve
Feeling it will be too difficult to operate or understand
Live tutorials, Resources & Training, FAQs page
These objections are not restricted to traditional offline sales.
If you’re a digital marketer making a Landing Page for a product or campaign, addressing the above concerns will give you more conversions from incoming traffic, and also result in a lesser bounce rate as visitors will spend more time reading your messaging with keen interest (because it directly addresses their fears).
This table’s also from Kaufman’s book. Any other barrier you think he missed?
Let me know in the comments.
So those were some of my favorite frameworks to tackle problems in the business world.
Have you already applied any of them before? Which ones are you going to use? Do you have any more concepts that we could add to this list?
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