Why you should bootstrap your startup

These days everyone is talking about startups and entrepreneurship. It is quite cool to start a company, build a product and get funded. I am writing this blog based on my own experiences that how I am able to run a company successfully for several years and why you too don't need a funding.

So you have decided that you want to start a company, it is a topic of another discussion and I will write more about it but you should always think twice, thrice and ten time before starting a company and you should have solid reasons for that. Now coming back to the topic why you should not take any funding and why you don't even need it in first place. One thing I feel is very important for all the wannabee entrepreneurs is to answer whether they are starting a company to gain something for themselves or to give back something to the community and society as a whole. In my case I had very strong reasons to start something on my own. I never got satisfaction (technical) in any company work wise. Except my last company my managers and colleagues in previous companies were not technically sound as I am and I never really enjoyed working in company of non intelligent/smart people. May be I am little harsh here but this is just the fact for me and I always wanted to do something cutting edge or at least do something were I have control over my work so eventually I know where my effort is going and the money that you earn working for someone is good and decent but there is always a saturation after few years. More than anything else I always wanted to do something on my own. May it is the way you are brought up. Money was never really the concern for me. I was earning decent salary and but I could never give my 101% on my job. For me starting a company was always about myself and personal gains. I never really wanted to do something for the world. I have always been quite selfish person. I do everything for myself. I could not imagine even now how people can spend 12 hours in traveling and working for years and they don't get much in return. They miss out time with their family and they sacrifice major part of their lives. I knew from the very beginning that I will eventually do everything for myself only.

So before you even think about getting funded you should have the reason to start a company very clear because getting funded depends on that reason.

Now why people seek funding. This is my opinion.

1. It is cool to get funded.
2. You will get respect from other after getting funded.
3. You need money to sustain your company.
4. You want to hire more people to work in your company.
5. You will get rich after getting funded.
6. You and your company will get famous

Technically all these seem like valid reason to seek funds but you should keep in mind that someone will give you money in return of control/stake of your company. You will not be free to do whatever you want. You will loose authority over your company.

For a moment lets go back to the reason why you want to start a company and for whom you want to do it and think again about these points above. Getting funded is sometimes really need because you may want to scale up your already running successful business but these days I see people think that will build something after getting funded. I think it is stupid to jump in the funding process with just an idea or prototype. Recently I also came across people who want to be like serial entrepreneurs, they want to start with an idea, develop prototype, launch and seek funding all within a span of few months and if that doesn't work, do everything again with a new idea. I think this is again very stupid. One should spent sometime in the market, at least few years. Nothing really happens in few months. When I met these people I ask them again the reason why they want to start the company in first place and they could not convince myself or even themselves. They just want to look cool.

I realised this a little late in my career that earning money is probably the easiest thing that one can do. If you have the skill then you will find a market for it. I think everyone who is working for someone as an employee and frustrated in life can do something outside their job to earn money and which is again starting a business only but you need a good reason to start a company. It is not like you wake up one day and start a business. Your reason to do something on your own should be very solid. In case you are not happy with your job then you probably need another job.

There is no shortcut
Do you know that I have worked in 10 companies in my career? I changed many jobs until I found the one that was somehow not bad for me and I stayed their for my last 6.5 years. I have been freelancing since my college days. I started taking small projects back in 2002, so when I started my company in 2010, I had already worked in the market for 8 years. I started with Visual Basic projects then Linux consultation and training and then I started doing Excel VBA work before moving to web development. I started working in 2003 and did job for almost 12 years. Starting from 2002 till 2015 for almost 13 years I was working almost 7 days a week, After my job hours, I would work on my projects and I got married, had kid and also managed to live a normal life but it required lot of discipline and extreme hard work. I had very strong reason to work hard continuously for 12 years. I sacrificed a lot, I hardly took family vacations and spent time with my friends but it was all worth it now. I did all this because I just wanted to reach a point where I can easily leave my job. May be in your case you need to give at least 5 years but I do not understand why people expect magic to happen in few months. There are no shortcuts. If you do not have the determination to work hard then you are probably better with your job. I did all this and gained a lot now. At this point of time I am of course generating more revenue, I have regular clients, big clients and we are the best in what we do. It took us 12+ years, so what. If I include my freelancing time then I am in the market for 14 years now. That is a lot of time.

Seeking funds in the very beginning is for losers who don't know what they want in life and they just want to follow others. You should first start a business, start generating revenues and seek funding only when you want to scale up. By the time you are running a company successfully you will probably not worry about getting funds. You will find ways to scale up yourself without external inflow of money. I am by no means highly successful business but being a 6 people company we are making quite an impact in the market, we are one of the most sought after Atlassian consultants in India and whole Asia pacific for that matter. We have been into Drupal development since the beginning and have developed expertise for Non Profit Organizations. All this is done by just 6 people. We do not have a fancy turnover to showcase to other but we are quite content and happy about our work. We are growing steadily revenue wise, client wise and we hire more people only when we really need to, not for the sake of it.

In the past I did have low time and thought of winding up everything and going back to comfortable job but I never could do that, not because I am emotionally attached to the company but because I am used to earning a lot more money in less time now. No job could pay me the money that I am earning now. I worked hard for it and I want to grow more from here now. I live a pretty humble life but I enjoy earning money. It gives me high and I feel good and happy. I may have become greedy but we have developed a skill set and people need us. So why not get the most out of it.

So coming back to the topic that you should think first about the reason to start a company and for whom you are doing it - yourself or for the society. One should take funds only after you are running a successful company but not in the beginning. You will loose the focus right in the very beginning. One should start with the ambition to learn something, one should focus on earning money from the very first year and stay in the market for few years then decide that do you really need more money or not. May be someone will give you money based on just an idea and a stupid prototype but it is like begging someone to support you. Why should you take money from someone when you don't exist anywhere in the market. I think one should stay in the market and run the company for at least 3-5 years before even thinking about getting funds. In Sparxsys we are primarily into services and we have had few successful products in the market, we will probably build more products this year too and based on my experience I don't think I will ever think about seeking funds. There is no fun in it for me. I find it shameful asking someone to give me money and finally one should learn about running a company. You run a company for 5 years and you will learn far more than any graduate from A grad business school.

If you want to get in touch with me to share your experiences then you can write to me at ravi [at] sparxsys [dot] com. May be we can learn from each other.

My top 10 goals for 2016

Ravi JIRA Training in Pune
I am trying lot of different things recently both in personal and professional life. Since last one and a half year I am taking my work not quite seriously. I work only 5 days a week and don't even open my laptop on weekends. This is working quite well for me. I feel much better now as I have less to worry. Working less doesn't mean less business. We are doing pretty good, my company Sparxsys is doing great and I am happy about it. Just that I am not to ambitious these days and I make small achievable targets. My idea is to feel good about whatever little I achieve and not set very high goals.

Last year was not very good health wise, I didn't go to gym regularly and I gained few kilos. This year I have made lot of plans for myself that may require giving up some pleasures but I know in the end it will be all worth it.

My 2016 plans

These are plans for this year. People say you should not share your plans with everyone but I don't know how sharing it with other stop me from achieving them.

1. Read 24 books
I recently purchase a Kindle and that is good enough reason to indulge myself in reading. I have been reading actively for the past few months but I need to speed up and read more books. 2 books per months seems like not difficult to me. I have created a new page to list all the books that I have read.

2. Get 6 pack abs
In past I have managed to built few packs but never really complete 6 packs. This year I have decided that it is now or never. Get back in shape and get at least 6 packs.

3. Less beer
I really like beer, may be I am addicted to it but I don't know why I have it almost everyday. I know it is not good, it adds fat to waist. This year I have decided that I will have it not more than twice a week, less is of course better.

4. Cycle and running twice per week
I own a road bike and recently purchased MTB too. I am planning to get more active on cycling and ride at least twice per week. I haven't been doing any running recently but now thinking of starting running twice per week.

5. Improve my public speaking skills
I do lot of corporate trainings and speaking in front of 50+ people continuously for 2-4 days is quite normal for me. I feel I can improve a lot here, it will no only help me professionally but personally I also want to become better speaker. I feel good when on stage and it give me high. I am thinking of joining Toast Masters club, I went to their session in the recent past and really liked it. Most likely I will join them as a member too.

6. Continue learning French
I joined french classes last year and I really learned a lot, this year I will continue to learn this language and I wish to converse with someone entirely in French this year. I joined one institute called Just French and it is quite good.

7. Learn guitar
I recently dusted off my old guitar and started practicing simple tunes by watching youtube videos but this year I want to learn from some professional. May be I will join some classes.

8. Grow my company
This year I want to scale up a little bit and grow my company. I want to increase my business both money wise and also want to grow my team. We are doing quite good but there should be hunger and desire to do even more. I want to keep that desire alive.

9. Start building a product and launch it
I have always been into service industry and our major company comes from service only but I really wish to build a product this year and launch it.

10. Write another book in 2016
I have to admit that writing a book and getting it published was one of the most satisfying experience in my life. I was quite happy when my book "Mastering JIRA" was published. This year too I plan to write another book. Writing a book is a wonderful way to learn something and also to share it with the world plus it really establishes your credibility in the market.

This is probably not the complete list, I have other things in mind too but these ten items are my top priority goals. All the actions that I take and all my work would be focused to achieve these goals and as you can see most of these are personal goals and some of the goals will help me both personally and professionally. I believe everyone should plan their life with written goals.

JIRA Training in Hyderabad, Chennai, Meeting old friends and traveling with one bag

Yeah I am back to writing blogs, I took a long break and I didn't really feel like writing much. Today I am actually writing during my work hours as I don't feel like working, in fact I am feeling guilty that I am not working but writing blog but that's ok. I have been working consistently hard for the past two months and I deserve to do little things that I like during my work hours :) I promise I will get back to work in 15 minutes.

Past two months were hectic and I was traveling a lot. I went to Hyderabad and made new clients there for JIRA consultancy work and I earlier this month I went to Chennai after several months and this time I liked begin there. May be the weather was surprisingly good. It rained when I landed in Chennai.

JIRA consultancy and training in Chennai

When I woke up and looked outside my hotel window I felt really nice. I spent few days in Chennai and unlike last time I went to different places to dine and enjoyed my time.

These days I am trying to revive contact with my old school and college friends. I realized that being social keeps you happy. I am still trying to organize a get together with my school buddies but over the past few months I met my college buddies after several years and it felt really good.

ASET College friends

Also I am learning new things. Recently I enrolled myself in French classes and I am thinking of understanding Agile methodologies in detail. I train companies on implementing JIRA Agile and over the years I have learned myself both SCRUM and KANBAN techniques. I have had several wonderful opportunities to work with several companies as a JIRA consultant. In the past 2 years my company Sparxsys has successfully implemented JIRA and other Atlassian tool many organizations and I feel really proud and little arrogant in saying that we are probably the best Atlassian consultants in India.

Recently I joined one workshop on Agile where they organized an exercise to build Leave Management System using Agile and I have to admit it was really a good session. I got some references from that workshop and I am thinking of doing some certification course on SCRM now.

Implementing Agile

The guy in the picture (unfortunately I forgot his name) works in HCL and the session he organized was wonderful. I will surely connect with him in near future. In fact many companies ask me to train their employees on SCRUM and it would be good to connect with good Agile trainers in Delhi NCR region.

What else?

I travel a lot these days for trainings and meeting clients for taking down their requirements and I feel really difficult to organize the travel. Book tickets, make hotel/cab arrangements and most importantly packing. I have now decided that I will travel with just one single backpack with everything I need. I am a great fan of Samsonite backpacks and I recently ditched my old Samsonite bag for a new one.

Samsonite Vizair backpack

The black bag on the left is Samsonite Vizair, it is bloody costly bag but it is an investment. I carry this bag to places and it keeps my laptop safe with shockers at the bottom and it has lot of spaces. I miss my old bag which was several nice pockets here and there but that bag sever me well for over 5 years and it started to torn from the edges. Although it still is in proper shape and I will probably use it for fun vacations.

You can buy this bag from Amazon. It is costly but as I said it is like a good investment and I plan to use it for the next 4 to 5 years for sure.

Phew, I am getting tired now after writing so much. Total I posted couple of blogs on my several sites and I feel good. Sometimes you are not sure about life's true purpose, in fact many people don't know what they want to do in life and everything seems out of control for them. I am not sure either as of now but I know for sure that writing is something that I love. Last year when I wrote my first published book "Mastering JIRA" I could not believe that I can really get something published. Now that I already have a book published I am thinking about writing more book in near future. It is like leaving a mark in the world :)

If you want to buy the book then click on the above link. I agree it is a bit costly but you can purchase the Kindle version :)

Have fun and stay happy!

Building good habits, learning french and yes I am writing after a long time

When I was little kid I used to hate the idea of going to school everyday at the same time, follow a strict routine everyday for several years, preparing for exams, going through school tests and final terms. Now when I look back I can not even image going through all those tough routines. I was really glad when I got out of school. Then I started college. It was comparatively easy, we can always bunk classes, go out for movies during class time and we actually had little freedom to spend time where ever we wanted, but still I used to get scared about the idea of exams. I never liked doing something without any reason and the only reason I studied and somehow managed to pass engineering was the fear of getting failed. What will happen if I fail? I was scared of so many things.

While in school the only thing I wanted was to get out, the same was the case in college. I used to think that I will do this and that when I get out. I was waiting for something but never knew what was it.

Then I started job, it was no better, going to the same place everyday through out the year without vacations. It was horrible experience. Since school time I was looking for freedom but never really got it and I was never really sure what was it that I was looking for, I never liked the idea of doing something because someone else wants you to. I worked for 11 years.

Finally I started my company, it felt really nice, I can choose my own working hours, work anytime and any day I like. After leaving my job I felt really good that finally I got the freedom to do whatever I want in life but somehow I never really felt completely happy, after all it was all about happiness, you do things to stay happy in life, this is the prime goal of human beings. My company Sparxsys have been doing really good every since we started except last year when for few months we didn't get much profit but I was able to run and stand up a successful company and we are good in what we do. Our client are happy and it feels good but for me it was exhausting. I felt tired all the time and honestly I was never happy. In fact when recall my old phases of life school, college, job. I was happiest in school when I used to follow a very strict routine. My parents were strict too, I remember I used to study during festival time too but during school whenever I got time I used to enjoy it a lot. I loved playing cricket, football, video games and spending time with friends. Now I feel it was the best time. Now I have all the freedom but still I don't enjoy that much.

Every since I started my company I was working hard to deliver projects but never really maintained a balance in life. I never traveled, took vacations and spent time with family & friends. I used to work 7 days a week and every day I used to feel tired and exhausted. I was not sure how long I can manage like this. It also affected the performance of our company and I thought this is not the real reason why I started my own company.

Recently I read the following two book.

Essentialism

The Power of Habit

After reading both the book I realized I should try making some changes in my daily schedule. First of all instead of trying to achieve too much I started focusing on few important essential tasks that brings the most value and also to be able to enjoy life I started building good habits and will power to follow these habits regularly.

Here is the list of things that I started doing now.

  • Start the day by reading a book for 20 minutes. Earlier I used to start the day by checking my email, which is like giving yourself stress in the beginning of the day
  • Go to gym everyday
  • Plan what things I will be doing today and remove every non essential item from my to do
  • Plan your weekly goals ahead
  • Plan your short term and long term goal. What you want to do 5 years from now? All the things you do should be towards achieving these goals. If not then don't do them.
  • Check Email only few times a day only after finishing the scheduled work.
  • Make No as the default answer, saying Yes to everything that comes my way is not good. You cannot keep everyone happy
  • Delay all new tasks that come in your way
  • Work means work, no facebook, twitter, internet browsing, whatsapp during the day
  • Follow the time table, like we used to do in school
  • Never travel more than 3 times in a month

Basically if you want to become any entrepreneur and do what you love it is fine but it is not fun either, you have to work hard to achieve your goals and most importantly never work day and night, you will burn yourself. We human beings have only limited amount of energy in the morning and as we work on our tasks we burn that energy. We need time to relax and away from work to refuel ourselves.

When you finish your day as you planned and achieve things you feel sense of satisfaction and whatever little enjoyment you do by rewarding yourself like watching TV or with beer that sense of satisfaction will make that reward more enjoyable. It is not possible to enjoy all the time. You have to do some work that you don't enjoy or if it is tough but that is ok. Once you get over those difficult tasks the feeling of completing them is really great. Till few months back I used to work all the time and there was no separation of my work and personal life. It was all mixed up.

You don't have to read any book to bring your life on track but it is not harm either. Apart from reading book everyday for 20 minutes I recently enrolled myself in French classes. It is really amazing to learn a new language and after a long time I feel good about doing something different. In the past few years I have acquired different skills but learning a foreign language is totally new for me. I knew little but french earlier but now I have decided that in few months I will try to converse with someone totally in french. I learning how to read, write and of course speak.

Upcoming JIRA Training in Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai

Life is full of ups and downs. Last two months especially December and January were not very exciting for me. I was no able to work productively and I need some break time. However in late January and so far in Feb things are super exciting for me. As I am moving ahead in my life I somehow feel that I am getting closer to what I want. At of the day if I feel happy and satisfied then everything is good. When I started my own company I had this tendency to try different kind of work, being in service industry it is tempting to try to get as many clients as you want. I did this mistake of doing any kind of work that brought money in the company, but everyone is difference. We started trainings on Drupal and then on JIRA since the beginning of our company inception but just recently we have decided to focus primarily on trainings.

We are currently not accepting any new Drupal website development work right now. That is a tough decision to make but it doesn't mean that we will not do Drupal. We have over 40 active projects to support with over 15 internal projects. We are happy serving these clients and since our trainings are bringing more cash than development work so we are happy to stay that way now. Trainings are tough business but more rewarding. We are now working on re-branding and putting life in some of our dead portals that were famous some year back.

Drupal development is costly and most of the Indian clients can't afford us any longer and we don't have the capacity to handle mediocre work now.

Now the exciting news is that recently we have been able to provide JIRA in various companies across India. It is amazing experience to travel these cities and meet different people. We always need to deviate a bit from our course. I personally never thought that this will happen. In fact when I first started using JIRA I didn't like it much.

In the month of February and March I will be traveling to Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune for JIRA trainings. It is going to be quite hectic for me but after every successful training, it feels amazing. I always get nervous and little scared before every training. Various doubts and questions come up in my mind whether people will like my training or not but I guess it is good to get scared and later overcoming your fears makes you more confident and stronger for next challenge.

I am trying to blog more often now, I feel good after writing.

Bye.

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