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!

Prioritization Matrix

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.

This is where the Eisenhower Matrix comes into play.

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:


Metrics to Evaluate a Market

This exhaustive checklist comes from Josh Kaufman’s “Personal MBA” (2010).

Before launching any business venture, you’ll need to prove its potential for scalability.

The million-dollar question is, “Will this actually work?”

While nobody can predict with certainty, you can use the following table to arrive at a near-accurate answer of how attractive & practical the opportunity really is.

For every metric/question, assign a score between 0 to 10, 0 being extremely unattractive, expensive, or difficult; and 10 being extremely attractive, lucrative, or easy.

Sr.FactorQuestion
1UrgencyHow badly do people want or need this right now – are they in pain?

(Renting an old movie is typically low urgency; seeing the first showing of a new movie on opening night is high urgency, since it only happens once)
2Consumer SizeHow many people are actively purchasing things like this?

(The market for underwater basket weaving courses is very small; the market for cancer cures is massive)
3Pricing PotentialWhat’s the highest price a purchaser would be willing to spend for solutions?

(Lollipops sell for $0.05; aircraft carriers sell for billions)
4Cost of
Customer Acquisition
On average, how much money & effort will it cost you to make one sale?

(Restaurants built on high-traffic interstate highways spend little to bring in new customers. Government contractors can spend millions landing major procurement deals)
5Cost of Value DeliveryHow much will it cost you to transfer the product/service to the end user?

(Delivering files via the Internet is almost free; inventing a product and building a factory costs millions)
6Uniqueness of OfferHow unique is your offer versus competing offerings in the market, and how easy is it for potential competitors to copy you?

(There are many hair salons, but very few companies that offer private space travel)
7Speed to MarketHow quickly can you create something to sell?

(You can offer to mow a neighbor’s lawn in minutes; opening a bank can take years)
8Up-Front
Investment
How much will you have to invest before you’re ready to sell?

(To be a housekeeper, all you need is a set of inexpensive cleaning products. To mine for gold, you need millions to purchase land and excavating equipment)
9Upsell PotentialAre there related secondary offers that you could also present to purchasing customers?

(Customers who purchase razors need shaving cream and extra blades as well; buy a Frisbee, and you won’t need another unless you lose it)
10Evergreen
Potential
Once the initial offer has been created, how much additional work will you have to put into it in order to continue selling?

(Business consulting requires ongoing work to get paid; a book can be produced once, then sold over and over as is)

If your total is anywhere below 75, you may want to rework the idea or model to make it more viable to take live.


Value Creation Pathways

This one is also from Kaufman.

When you’re thinking of launching a business, you’ll need a clear understanding of how you’re delivering value to your customers.

Overall, there are 12 ways to get it done, and although there are new models popping up every day, many of them are iterations or extensions of these basic methods.

Sr.ModelReturns
1ProductCreate a single tangible item or entity, then sell and deliver it for more than what it cost to make (Goods)
2ServiceProvide help, skill, or assistance; then charge a fee for the benefits rendered (Counselor)
3Shared ResourceCreate a durable asset that can be used by many, then charge for access (Gym)
4SubscriptionOffer a benefit on an ongoing basis, and charge a recurring fee (Netflix)
5ResellAcquire an asset from a wholesaler, then sell that asset to a retail buyer at a higher price (Walmart)
6LeaseAcquire an asset, then allow another person to use it for a predefined time for a fee (Karaoke machine)
7AgencyMarket/sell an asset you don’t own on behalf of a third party, collect commission (Literary, Residential)
8Audience ReachCreate a mass following of a targeted group, sell access to third-parties for advertising (Event Sponsors)
9LoanLend money, then collect payments over time equal to the original loan plus interest rate (Banks)
10OptionOffer the ability to take a predefined action for a fixed period of time in exchange for a fee (Tickets, Deposits)
11InsuranceTake risk of specific bad thing happening to policy holder for premiums, and only pay claims if bad happens
12Venture CapitalPurchase an ownership stake in a biz, collect part of profit as a one-time exit payout/dividend

Use this table to evaluate your business model & if possible, improve it by adding any of the other modes to open up other revenue lines.


Startup Pitch Essentials

This gorgeous template comes from Romeen Sheth, who heads Metasys as of 2022.

Startup pitches are the first step to getting investors or crowd support for your new business.

Many gurus will ask you to keep them concise, but that doesn’t make it easy. If anything, founders often leave out some of the most crucial elements, which results in rejection.

But Sheth’s table helps you prevent the pitfalls by underscoring how missing each element can hamper the overall impact of your pitch.

He notes the ingredients in his post:

  • Problem: Is this an issue?
  • Solution: Do you have the fix?
  • Market: Is this a big enough issue?
  • Business: Can you make money?
  • Team: Can you pull it off?

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.

To learn how one must structure their startup pitch deck, watch these insightful videos by Slidebean.

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.

Sr.BarrierIssueSolution
1CostSpending too much money on it i.e. loss aversionFlexi-pricing plans, No-risk return policy, ROI calculator
2EffectivenessDoubts about whether it will actually workFree live demo, Testimonials
3PersonalizationDoubts about whether it’ll serve their individual needsQuestionnaire, Free trial, Guarantees
4TimeWilling to wait & look around for a better tradeoff Countdown time-bound sale, create Urgency to solve
5Convenience Feeling it will be too difficult to operate or understandLive 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?

Let me know in the comments below!

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