A lot of times, we are very busy building our own business and yet we still don’t seem to have enough time. In this episode, host Timothy Bush talks with special guest and serial entrepreneur Ramesh Dontha about how he became an entrepreneur. Ramesh is an entrepreneur, writer, and blogger. He talks about his agile methodology which is a very iterative, incremental, collaborative approach to developing software that makes things very fast. Ramesh also introduces his book, The 60 Minute Startup, and touches on how to properly pivot and what should cause it. Join Ramesh today as he teaches on how to be an agile entrepreneur and make your own business empire.
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How To Be An Agile Entrepreneur With Special Guest Ramesh Dontha
I know there’s some time in between the podcasts but that’s okay. We have some great stuff coming down for you guys and I know that you’re going to be excited. I feel good. I feel like it’s been a while and I’m glad to get back. I hope you’re all doing well. I hope that you’re rounding out. Kids are going back to school. Things are starting to settle down but not for us. The fourth quarter around the corner. If you have not done it before, it’s a good time to sign up for a consultation with me, a coaching session with me. If you’re interested in that, if you’re interested in working with me to take a look at what you did and how that will affect and how you can grow upon that for the future, reach out to me, Tim@TLBConsulting.com or you can reach out to me at Tim@OnTheShelfNow.com and I will be glad to get that scheduled with you.
You may notice that TLB Consulting is down. That’s a good thing. I know it’s weird to say that your website is down being a good thing, but that’s because we’re revamping it. TLBConsulting.com is going to get a huge facelift and I’m super excited about it. I can’t wait to launch. It should be coming next and I think you guys are going to be excited about that. It’s going to be a hub for everything that we’re doing. From consulting to coaching, to total sales solutions, to masterminds, and then to the On The Shelf Podcast, it’s all going to be housed in one place. One place that you can go to do all things TLB and all things regarding getting your products on the shelf. We’re excited about that. It’s been a long time coming.
Don’t trust that too many people. I finally found the right person to head that up and we are underway. We have a great show for you. I got introduced to this gentleman, his name is Ramesh Dontha and he’s a serial entrepreneur. Like us, we are all entrepreneurs at heart. We all are longing to make our own decisions, control our own destiny, and be our own boss. Whether we’re trying to get products on Amazon or trying to get products into retail, trying to develop products, create products, engineer products, these are all things that are coming directly out of our head. Ramesh is the host of The Agile Entrepreneur Podcast. He’s the author of The 60 Minute Startup, which is a cool book. It’s a proven system to start your business in one hour a day and get your first paying customer in 30 days or less.
I know sometimes when we’re looking to start a business, it seems overwhelming. It seems like, what do you do first? What do you do second? What do you do third? What’s the plan? How are we going to get this done? That’s what this particular podcast is all about. Ramesh is going to take us through his step by step process and how to chunk this down. If I’m going to use a Tony Robbins word, we’re going to chunk it down into bite-size bits. A lot of times we start our secondary gigs while we still have our major gig going. We don’t have a ton of time. We can’t spend eight hours a day on this new venture. Ramesh is going to show us how we get that done. We’re excited about that. I’m not going to keep rambling on.
Ramesh, welcome to the program. I’m glad that we finally made this work post-hurricane.
Thank you, Tim. I’m glad and honored to be here on your podcast.
I know that we had some recordings scheduled though we had to postpone it. We were in the midst of the hurricane. Is it going to come? Is it not going to come? It might come. Might it be too close? Might it be too far? Should we get ready? Should we not get ready? Do we need to buy water or not buy water? It was a whole thing.
I’m glad that you guys came to it without much of damage there.
What ended up happening was being here in Florida, when you’re not for a hurricane, at some point, and I know it seems strange, but you want something to show up because you’ve been waiting and thinking. I don’t want my power to go out. I don’t want anybody to get injured, but you’d like to see some little effects, maybe some wind, some rain. On this last one, we were supposed to get dumped on for a couple of days. It ended up being maybe like three or four hours of rain and no wind at all. I know in the aftermath of what went on in the Bahamas, it would be not politically correct of me to say, “I was a little disappointed.” To be honest, I was a little disappointed. I was hoping this is a little bit more something.
No, that was pretty bad in the Bahamas. I don’t think you want anything even remotely close to what happened there.If you want to be an entrepreneur, you don't always have to start in an area that you're passionate about. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting because with all the technology that we have, we can’t tell what Mother Nature is going to do. I find it a little comforting knowing that there are still things out there that are beyond our control. No matter how much we try to figure out what they’re going to do, we’re not that good at it.
There are a lot of aspects that we still don’t have complete control over.
Nobody knew. It’s going to sit there, I don’t know where. My heart and prayers go out to the folks in the Bahamas. That was for sure a tough ride. Anyway, we made it through. We’re all rescheduled and here we are. I’m so glad that you reached out to me. I was super interested. Anybody that’s an entrepreneur, which I think we’re our own breed for sure. If it was easy to be an entrepreneur, everybody would do that because it sounds so great to be your own boss and do your own things. There’s a tremendous amount that goes with that. Before we dive into you and The Agile Entrepreneur and all the things that you do, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? What brought you to this point? It will give the Big Box readers a little bit of understanding of who you are and what you do.
I was trained as a mechanical engineer. I did not even work even for one day as a mechanical engineer. I realized that that was not what I wanted to do. Afterward, I went into Information Technology. Originally I came from India. I came to the US on work. I lived in Florida, in Jacksonville for quite a few years. We were helping with election systems and I have nothing to do with whatever happened with the election software there.
You had to answer that question several times and you didn’t even get a chance for me to get it off my lips.
Afterward, I realized my passion was in business. I left my comfortable, cushy Information Technology job and did my MBA. I went full-time MBA. I attended Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Afterward, I joined Intel Corporation in the marketing area. I spent quite some time there. Throughout, I was always eating to be my own boss. I’m trying to start my own company but never had the courage to do it.
I hear a lot of people say, “I want to be my own boss.” What is the number one thing that appealed to you about being your own boss?
The number one thing is the flexibility, not only with respect to the time but with respect to the areas and the topics that I could go into.
Control of your own time, was it your biggest thing?
Control of my time but the control of the areas that I wanted to look into. For example, the whole artificial intelligence and machine learning data analytics, that area was blowing up in a pretty big time outside. I wasn’t getting a chance to work in those areas. I want to do work in those areas and do something in that area. Time as well as the things that I wanted to do.
I wanted to stop you there because I think that’s interesting. Everybody becomes an entrepreneur for some reasons, but different reasons. Meaning more personal reasons, but I hear a lot of times people say, “I want to be my own boss.” I was interested to know what about being your own boss appealed to you? Back to you saying that you never had the courage, you’ve got the courage somewhere. What happened?
What happened was I started indulging in the side hustle. I started learning about web development, buying websites and selling websites. Slowly, I was gaining confidence with the side hustles that I was doing. I originally bought a pet medicines affiliate website. I didn’t even build it. I bought it. That started making money almost from month one, not huge money but some money. Those kinds of things gave me confidence that these things that I’m doing here work.
I always like the word or the phrase, side hustle. It sounds so gritty and back alley. “I was working my side hustle.”
The challenge that I always had was that there was so much advice out there that says, “You’ve got to take this workshop, this seminar, go learn about email marketing.” That was very frustrating. It’s taking much longer from those angles, having to learn all these things but that’s fine. That was the thing that is frustrating. By 2016, I had enough confidence and then also financially I felt comfortable that I could finally leave my job and start on my own. 2016 is when I started full-time. I started a consulting company dealing with data strategy. That’s what I wanted to do. Secondly, I always love to write. I started publishing a lot, writing a lot, mostly on LinkedIn, and then started gaining a following.
That also gave me another and a bit of confidence. I started looking into people who wanted to be entrepreneurs and then started talking to them and listening to their fears and why they are doing. It’s so interesting that whatever’s holding them back, people who want to start the business that can’t start where the same as my own fears when I was working full-time. These are the challenges, then maybe I should do something about it. I started putting my thoughts together and all those thoughts came into a book idea. That resulted in this book that I have, that’s called The 60 Minute Startup.
What are you currently doing? What’s putting food on the table right now?
Primarily it’s a consulting side of the world. I still have a company called DigitalTransformationPro.com, which is primarily a data strategy consulting company that brings the money for me to keep going.
Let’s go back a little bit, you went to school to be an engineer.
Originally undergraduate, yes.
It was interesting when you said that you didn’t even do that for one day. You went to school, your undergraduate degree was in engineering. Did that dawn on you that maybe you didn’t want to do that?
No, I am growing up in India. It’s not so easy to change your majors like what is in the US. I was one of the first engineers in the extended family. I didn’t have much guidance where to go and what to do. We asked a bunch of people and said, mechanical is evergreen. You always find jobs in mechanical. It’s not about what my attitude is, what I like to do. It’s about what’s most likely to get you the job. I went and joined and interestingly, I was doing quite well academically. At the end of the day, I did quite well, but from attitude perspective, I had zero attitude towards that.
Speaking of entrepreneurship, I also think the key component is people. You never hear an entrepreneur going out on their own and doing something that they hate. They’re generally leaving something that they hate to do something that they love. They’re striking out on their own to make their own way. Interestingly enough, you were in that position. I completely get it. Sometimes you have to, even in creating a side hustle or getting to be an entrepreneur. A lot of times you are going to have to do stuff that maybe you don’t like, but you’re good at it to bring in the money so that you can do the thing that you love.The best way to start making money is to be an agile entrepreneur. Click To Tweet
Another line of thought that I have, if let’s say you want to be an entrepreneur and you want to start a business, you don’t always have to start in an area that you’re passionate about. Your passion could be there because a business is about making money. If you find an opportunity that makes money but you may not be passionate about, get started with that area. Later on, you can pivot, you can iterate your way into where your real passion is, but you don’t have to start a business with what your real passion is.
You grew up in India. Did you know from a super early age that you wanted to be an entrepreneur? What did you think you were going to be when you were little? What was the first memory you have of thinking, “I really want to be blank.”
I grew up in a small rural village. I didn’t have “any dreams.” I didn’t see the world at all. To tell you the truth, the only thing that I ever saw was a motorcycle in that village at the time. I said, “My dream is to get that motorcycle.” The first time I thought about entrepreneurship is when I graduated from college. I started a small tutoring business in the town that I was living at the time. That’s primarily because I was waiting between the jobs. I just graduated. I was waiting to get a job and then there was some time so I started the tutoring business. That tutoring business did not go anywhere. Afterward, I got in the job. When I started working, I realized I was fascinated by everything about business. Like a company, who is the management? Where are they getting the money from? How are they growing? How many customers? Every time, every day I would go on, read up on the business side in the newspaper than any other area. That is when I realized that’s the area I want to get into.
When was that? How old were you when you were ingesting business information?
I would say around 24, 25.
You’re still in India at this point?
I was still in India at this time. At that time, I applied to a business school in India itself. I almost made it but did not make it at the final juncture. I said, “I’ll continue the work that I’m doing right now,” but at some point, my dream is to go and do MBA. That is when I was working for a multinational company and then that company won a contract with the Department of Elections in the State of Florida. They wanted me to come and install the software system that we developed. That’s how I came to the US.
It’s interesting that you say you’re in this little village, you don’t have any dreams. Your dreams only can go as far as what you can see. You see this motorcycle and that’s the coolest thing in the area that you’re in so, “My dream is to have that motorcycle or a motorcycle like that.” The internet gets a ton of bad press. “It’s this, it’s that,” but the one thing that the internet has done, at least I see it in my own daughter, I see it in kids, it’s given them a much bigger area to dream about than even I had growing up. There was no internet when I was growing up. If I was doing a book report on dolphins, I’d look in the encyclopedia and there is one dolphin. I didn’t get to see videos of dolphins and hundreds of articles. My world was much smaller.
I never knew that I could leave for summer, go down to and catch king crab on a trawler over the winter, make hundreds of thousands of dollars as a young kid and have a real adventure. I didn’t know any of that stuff existed outside what I was doing. My counselor at the time and even my parents don’t think people thought about it. Widening and letting you know there are things outside of your immediate area. The only way back then to get that was to travel. If you’re lucky enough to live with a family that travels, it’s something that they did, you got to see other parts of the world or even other parts of the US and expand your horizons. Although your story is a very finite one, I understand what you’re meaning and that you can only dream as far as the information that you have.
Many of us don’t realize because we have the luxury of seeing the entire world with the internet and everything else. There are pockets of the world that don’t have the luxury. We’d say, “What’s your dream about?” “I don’t have any dreams.” People say, “How can you not have dreams?” You can’t dream about something that you don’t know. That’s the situation it was then with the limited information all around.
When you’re in a small area and what you can see, do, feel or hear is limited, is it better not to know about all the stuff that you can’t see, feel, hear and touch?
It is not better. I’ll tell you why. As a result of this ignorance, then what happens is other aspects of life show up. People who know stuff tend to dominate. They didn’t have more influence of what’s the society and things like that. People who travel and they’ll bring knowledge, but they’ll keep the knowledge to themselves and they can use that knowledge to have an undue influence. That’s why this internet and all that stuff has democratized in my opinion to a larger extent. It’s not a good thing not to know. It’s always better to know.
When you said that, it made me think of myself. I didn’t know what a fund manager was. I have no reason to go to school to manage a fund and make big dollars. As far as making money, that was one thing that my family never discussed. All I knew about making money and paying bills was that once a month my dad would spread all his stuff out over the table and he would get upset. Generally, he would make some large statements about how we’re not doing this or we’re going to do that. It lasted that day and then things went back to normal. I didn’t know my dad was an airline pilot for Delta. I didn’t know, what does that mean? I don’t know you’re making six figures. Are you making more or making less?
I had no idea how much money my parents made to give me the lifestyle that we had. I knew that we had more than some and not as much as others, but I couldn’t equate that to a dollar amount. Leaving home, I had no concept of what I needed to make in life to at least have the same life that I was used to having. I could equate it to anything. I didn’t know. Do I need to make $100,000, $150,000? That did not serve me in my quest to understand. All I did was trying to get more. Instead of understanding where I’m at. I don’t even know what I’m trying to explain other than like I said, I have no concept that I could be a hedge fund manager and make multimillions of dollars or even what a lifestyle of making multimillions of dollars look like.
You could apply the same concept to other things. If I don’t know anything about starting a business, I don’t even know what starting a business means in terms of the effort involved and the rewards involved. If somebody who started a business says, “I made multiple millions of dollars,” it’s how do you go about doing it. You won’t have the concept. Relating to what you said about this fund manager, I could clearly understand what you’re saying.
Not only have that but a little bit of understanding, if you can make multimillions of dollars, what should you do with that? You’re spending it. You have something called Agile Entrepreneur. Tell me about that term. I know that you have a book and we’re going to talk a little bit about that. I don’t want to forget to do that but you mentioned to me the Agile Entrepreneur. That’s the name of your podcast, right?
The podcast is The Agile Entrepreneur. I worked in the technology industry and then in the software industry, there’s something called an Agile Methodology. It came into being around 2001 or so and then all these Airbnbs, Ubers of the world, anywhere the software gets developed, they use Agile Methodology. Essentially, the philosophy is that it’s an iterative, incremental approach to developing software. In the past, you have requirements given to the developers. The developers go to the area and then they develop something, come back in three months and said, “This is what I developed.” People who gave the requirements they say, “No, this is not what I wanted.” They’ll go back to the drawing board and they do something. It’s called a waterfall approach. After six months, one year, you’re still not anywhere close to what you’re doing.
Whereas in the Agile Methodology, there is something called a sprint. You take two weeks, I give you requirements, you bring me a proof of concept and you show me and I’ll tell you, is it close to what I want or not. A much shorter sprints that you develop something and show to the customers and then make it a collaborative approach, understanding that the requirements will change. You adjust your plans as the requirements change as opposed to all requirements should be set in stone. I’m going to do that. The whole Agile Methodology is a very iterative, incremental, collaborative approach to developing software that made things very fast and closer to what the original requirement is. You take the same methodology and apply to entrepreneurship.
Before we go onto that, I want to make sure I understand. Big Boxers, you did not know that you were going to school, but you are. I hope that you guys are getting a lot of this. I’m understanding what you’re saying because a software can take a long time to develop. By the time you got back what you ordered or asked for, your business could have already changed in a little bit or made some pivots here and pivots there. Now the software, even though it was delivered as requested, it’s still a cookie-cutter approach. You’re like, “We added this part to our business. How are we going to deal with that?” The developer is looking at you like, “I don’t know. I made you what you asked me for.”
I think you said it right, Tim. That was the before and after effect of Agile.
Going into being an agile entrepreneur, I want to hear this because I want to know. I’m going to bump myself up against this definition to see how agile I am.
If you look at entrepreneurs, any business person that you talked to, I’ve been interviewing quite a few people. One thing they tell you, number one is that where they are at this stage of the business is not where they started. They start with some concepts, some idea and then they learn something, they make mistakes, and then they pivot, they iterate. That’s one aspect of it. Let’s say another aspiring entrepreneur, they start and then they don’t know where to start, number one. They keep taking the workshops, sessions and all that stuff. After three months or four months, they’re probably much worse than they wanted to start. They either give up or do something else.A business needs an innovative product or service and a customer. Click To Tweet
My philosophy is that be an agile entrepreneur in the sense, first start with whatever your initial idea is. Don’t waste your time, just start. As you progress with a certain business plan, identified certain customers, certain pricing you established, you go ahead and start. After a week or a month, you learn something about your market. You learn if the pricing is too high or pricing is too low, or the customers that you are planning to target, it’s not a big market or a small market. You adjust and pivot and then go accordingly. You fail fast. You learn from your mistakes and keep adjusting your business so it evolves and then gets you going as opposed to waiting for the perfect website, perfect pricing, perfect business model, and then after six months or one year, you give up. “I don’t want to be an entrepreneur.” That is the difference.
I would say that I’m on the extreme agile side. Sometimes I go too fast. My wife and I are very different. She’s much more, “Make sure the space is right, make sure the website is right, make sure this is right. Do you want to add a new service? What’s that going to cost? Let’s do this.” If I have a thought for a new service, I roll it out. The very next person that wants to talk to me, I sell that to them even though it’s not completely ready or don’t even have that service listed on my website yet. I offer multiple services that I’ve sold to multiple people that still aren’t on my website. I tell my Big Box readers all the time, you want to sell your products to retail, you’ve got to start. You have to start. Unless your name is George Clooney or whoever, the journey for none well-known people is the same but in order to take a journey, you have to start. You can’t keep waiting until you have this perfect scenario. Now that I know what you’re meaning by that, we’re super aligned.
I’m sure there are lots of different ways, but for you to start making money, this is probably the way to go.
I think a lot of times a big question that I get is, “When is it a good time to really go full-time on something? When can I make my side hustle my main hustle and let go of my main hustle?” It’s a hard decision and it’s a personal decision. In this, you can’t be as agile, especially if you have a family. You’ve got to weigh a lot of things. Sometimes something will happen in your life that forces it. All the kids that I talk to that are coming out of college all have great skills and they go get a job. The first thing that I tell them is go start your own gig. Get a website up. They’re like, “I’m not even 90 days into my job.” I’m like, “I don’t care. Whatever you have a skill for, put up a website and as long as it’s not a conflict of interest and it’s not illegal and you haven’t signed anything with your company, as long as you’re legally able to do it, start it right now.” If you were to do that, five, six years in, when you gain that experience, you could make your side hustle your main hustle because you started at the beginning. It’s much harder once you’re established and you have a family to take that leap of faith.
I can’t tell you how much we are aligned in our thinking. I tell my daughters the same thing. They are still going through high school and college, it’s not too late. Start now.
For these kids with everything that they have available to them, we’re in an Information Age and things that you know, things that you’re good at. If you’re good at something and you know something really well, there’s somebody else out there that’s willing to pay to gain that information from you. The sooner that you can create some of those things, who knows? We have friends of friends, but this one guy, while he was in college started creating his own software. It became a big company. Before he even turned 25, he’d already sold his first company for I think $60 million or something like that. When you hear Google bought this for $1 billion or Facebook bought this for $3 billion and we live in this billion-dollar world now, but if you’re just Joe Schmo, 25-year-old and you sold your company for $60 million, that’s a lot of money. Sometimes they think that we’re bombarded with this billion here, a billion there, and we’re going to make a show called Billions. Even if he sold it for $6 million when he was 25, that’s a ton of money.
That is a lot of money compared to probably in the top 1% of the earnings for most of the people.
The last time I looked, you said to make $350,000 to be in the top 2% of the country. I remember when I thought six figures was the end all be all. Crushing it if I was making six figures. Six figures at the time were like $100,000 and $1. It wasn’t multiple six figures. If I can get over $99,000, I would be crushing it. It’s funny to look at that and say, “I know a lot of people that are making that and they can’t even survive. They can’t live. It’s not enough.” When I was 25, I think I was making $51,000 and that was crushing it. In the field that I was in, it’s interesting to watch what’s required, even change. To know that three times of $100,000, it puts you in the top 2%. It’s no wonder that we have so many people out there working paycheck to paycheck to earn or income households to make a buy.
I’m interested to know there’s a phrase on the front cover of your book. It’s called The 60 Minute Startup: Start Your Business in 1 Hour a Day. I love that title and it makes it sound so achievable. Big Boxers, as you know, if you follow my podcast, I know that you’re out there either with a side hustle or full-time hustle. I’m just crushing those words for you, side hustle. I can’t stop saying it. I know my readers out there already know. They’re already in this entrepreneurial space because they know. If you want to be in control of how much you earn, part of being an entrepreneur, part of the coolest thing about being an entrepreneur is depending on what type of business you’re in. You can turn it on. If you’re working maybe 25 hours a week and you turn it up to 30, you can make more money. You look at people in 9 to 5, they could work as hard as they want. They could be working overtime. They can be killing it and they’re making the same amount of money.
As an entrepreneur, you want to turn it on for the next month. You might be able to bring in another $10,000 to $15,000 that month. I know that is one of the things that draws people to be in that much control. My readers have read about this a lot of time, it can happen the opposite. We had a couple of years ago, where we lost 75% of our revenue in one summer. When I talk about this, I always use, it’s important to know your why. I know that’s almost a cliché thing but it’s super important. It’s not just your initial why, but you’ve got to get deeper than, “I want to make more money. I want to be my own boss.” That’s your initial why. You’ve got to go way deeper. Once you find out why you do what you do, it can snap you back from even the most tragic of circumstances like losing 75% of your overall income in a three month period of time. They are the downfalls of entrepreneurship as well.
The risk of not consistent income.
Are we able to talk about the book?
We can talk. It’s out there.
The book is called, The 60 Minute Startup: A Proven System to Start Your Business in 1 Hour a Day and Get Your First Paying Customers in 30 Days. That’s a pretty bold statement.
There are a few businesses that have done it. If you start digging deep into it, it’s not that bold of a statement. I can give examples, but here is a concept which is when we think of a business we might even think of an established business completely replaces my income, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year kind of stuff. It doesn’t have to be that way. The first thing is you have to get started. If you think about a business, there are only a few things that you’ve got to do. Mr. Drucker, somebody who I admire and as a management consultant, his main thing is that a business needs innovation and an innovative product or service, and needs a customer. Those are the two things.
This book is about within 30 days, first fifteen days is all about launching the business. Take 60 minutes a day. Every day only do what’s necessary for that day based on the Agile Methodology, which is if let’s say it’s a website, you don’t have to spend more than 60 minutes to create a website. That’s all you do. The next day is about incorporating your business. That only spends 60 minutes decide an S Corporation or a C or LLC, whatever that is necessary steps to do incorporate. The next day is about identifying your minimum value proposition, like an MVP. What is that you want to do? Only spend 60 minutes on that one. The next day could be identifying the right price structure. Every day for the first fifteen days, you’re doing one element of the business to launch the business in the first fifteen days.
The next remaining fifteen days is all about different sales strategies to get your first paying customers. Don’t worry about all unnecessary stuff, social media engagement or whatever. Only figure out the right strategy for your business to get the first paying customers. The book goes on a day-to-day almost like a workbook. The first day it says first figure out, what are you bringing to the party? What are your strengths? What assets do you have? The second day talks about who is your target customer? Let’s go through that exercise. It has a template-driven way for the reader to launch the business in fifteen days. The last fifteen days gives fifteen different strategies to go and get the first paying customer.
I don’t often think back to when I started my business and the steps I took and what I did. You’re telling that story or talking about that, it’s making me think back years ago when that all came to be. It makes it sound super easy.
It is easier or difficult to the secondary point. Once you launch your business, then let’s say on the second day you identify the customer and then you start engaging the customers, you find out that’s not the right customer, you iterate and you pivot. If you keep on analyzing, trying to figure out who the right customer is, then you will spend one month and not make any progress. That’s the whole point. The point is you get started. You start somewhere and then you learn from that experience. Let’s say you totally went wrong. You went after a large retail customer as your customer for your business. You figured out it’s very difficult to reach them because the easier is to go to small and medium businesses.
You learn from that experience and then you pivot and go after that. That’s the whole point here. Depending on the business, it could be easy or difficult, but if you keep on analyzing, whether it’s easy or difficult then you will never make progress. The other thing about this is probably perfection. There are few things that people may struggle with where to start, that’s one. Secondly, they might struggle with trying this imposter syndrome that people are talking about, “Am I good enough? Do I have the perfect business plan? Do I have the perfect website?” Those things are the ones that hold us back.
Tony Robbins says these days, when he’s up in front of other people, he doesn’t spend one second thinking about, “Is the information I’m giving helpful or am I doing good? Am I doing okay?” He said because that takes his mind off of delivering the things that he knows. Tony Robbins is Tony Robbins. He’s been doing it a long time but it’s like what you were saying, you’ve got to think about the right things. The question that’s been rolling around in my head, the question I was trying to ask is, there’s also a danger in pivoting too fast, constantly pivoting and never giving what you’re doing an opportunity to take hold. Do you think that that’s a true statement or not?
That is a very true statement. In the book, what we do is this, every chapter starts with an entrepreneurial story. We have 30 stories of 30 different business owners. I’ll give an example, there is this gentleman who graduated from Harvard Business School. He started with a business plan. Within a span of three years, he changed his business plan five times. I don’t know if it’s a fast pivoting or a slow pivoting but he pivoted. The gentleman attended Harvard Business School. You would expect, he would know a lot more answers but he himself told the story in my podcast. I interviewed him for the book as well and he didn’t mind pivoting five times. For his business, he’s in software development and software reviews.We can always find 60 minutes for things that we believe in and things we are passionate about. Click To Tweet
His business is a software review for HR software and any company that is in Human Relations, they’re looking for the right software. These people evaluate and then they give the software. That’s where he is and that’s where they found a sweet spot. Within a matter of three or so years, they pivoted five times, but pivoting too fast could be detrimental. I agree with you. That realization will come depending on the situation of the business that you’re facing at that point in time.
Do you think there are any rules to be known about when, why or what should cause the pivot?
I do not have specific rules. In my own experience, so whenever I was pivoting, there are two things that made me pivot. Number one, was the customer acquisition strategy itself? My assumption is that my customer pipeline, I’m going to build new customers every two weeks or every month, depending on whatever business. If that particular customer acquisition is not working out, it’s taking longer, that’s a time for me to evaluate and see what’s going on. The second area that I almost always pivoted was the pricing area. I mean both are interrelated, but those are the two things, more times than not, made me pivot my business strategy.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, if you’re starting out, it helps. Let’s say you have your own thought process on how long something should take. Now you’re past that time and you think that you need to pivot, the only advice that I would give is make sure that you understand that your time frames are realistic. You do know how long things should take. I’ll give you an example. I help a lot of Amazon sellers evaluate their products when they’re thinking to take them to retail. Not every Amazon product can make that jump, but when they do, their understanding of how long something should take, you’re skewed because they are used to Amazon. You put a product on Amazon. If you do it right, it starts to sell. You see the immediate fruits of your labor and life is wonderful.
However, when you send a product to a buyer of a major retailer, that buyer might not look at that for four months before they even look at it or longer. Depending on how long you think that should take, make sure you understand how long it can take before you decide that what you’re doing needs pivoting or you need to pivot. I remember when I realized that writing on the internet, blogging or writing articles no longer brought me either the type or the number of potential new clients that I wanted. That was in October of 2015 and I decided to pivot to podcasting. That was a major difficult move. I had gathered leads the same way for years or whatever it was. To change that was a big deal but I had seen the decline over a longer period of time. It wasn’t like, “I have a month of decline. I need to pivot.” We’re like a year-long decline in readership, what people were doing and how they were seeking out information and to make that decision to pivot.
I’m hearing a lot about video marketing. It’s a lot of businesses. Customers are saying, “The consumers, the readers are much more into video.” You’re right because your customer acquisition was not working out and then you pivoted from content to podcast.
I don’t know how everybody does it, but I take a dispassionate look once a year at my business. How it went and decide for the next year, “Is there anything that we’re going to do differently? Are we going to start something different? How are we going to be relevant?” Taking a look at what you’re doing and being able to be agile, flexible is everything in your own business. You have to constantly take a look at what you’re doing and see, is it working? Is this still working? Is it going to be working in five years? You can’t look a stone is thrown away. If it’s working right now, but maybe you think it’s not going to work in five years, then you need to start your pivot soon to what you think is going to work. If it comes to five years and now you’re like, “I was right. It’s not working.”
You’re going to have some down growth time while you try to pivot on the spot. Tell me a little bit more about the book. I like the way you’ve used the word 60-minute, one hour at one day, 30 days or less. To me, those are all great buzz words that people think they can’t do it. I’m maxed out with my full-time job already and you’re saying, “Can you give me 60 minutes a day for 30 days?” I don’t know anybody out there that is not going to be able to say, “You might have to do it in the middle of the night. You might have to do it late, but if you want to change your life, probably everybody can squeak out 60 minutes a day.
For things that we believe in, things we are passionate about, we can always find 60 minutes.
What’s next for you? We’re going to have the contact information from Ramesh in his website and all his details, and especially listen to his podcast as well.
The website is pretty easy to figure out. It’s RameshDontha.com and then also at The60MinuteStartup.com. The first thing is I would like to give an offer to your readers. October 24th is the book launch. That’s also World Polio Day, which is a big deal for Rotary International. I’m part of the rotary as well. The first 50 readers who’ll reach out, we’ll give a free digital copy of the book. They can reach out to me directly. I don’t want to overwhelm your systems. The best thing is for them to come to RameshDontha.com and then contact me. We will send out 50 free digital copies of the book who’ll reach out after tuning to your podcast.
Free digital download of The 60 Minutes Startup, but you’re going to have to wait until October 24th. You’re going to have to put that on your calendar. It seems like a long time to wait, but by the time you guys are reading this, it will probably be a couple of days. What a tremendous offer. We appreciate that first 50 Big Boxers reaching out are going to get a free digital download. That’s amazing and I appreciate that.
It’s been amazing talking to you. I’m sure that we can do this again. Once the book is launched and we’ve seen what’s happening next, maybe you’ll get some more insight into this topic after you’re getting some feedback on the book. I know that my readers are glued to understanding entrepreneurship, how to make it work with what they’re doing, how to make it work if that’s all they’re doing, how do you pivot, go here and go there. Most importantly be agile, I think your topic is very timely. We look forward to reading the book. We may even cover the book on a future podcast. That would be fun.
Thank you very much, Tim. I enjoyed this. We have lots of things in common.
Good luck with the launch, with your business and everything. We’ll be in touch again and talk again soon.
Definitely, we’ll do that.
Thanks for being on. I appreciate your time.
There’s a lot of great information there. It’s great to know that there are other people out there that are struggling with entrepreneurship. We are a different breed of people. We are okay with risk. We are okay with trying new things. We are okay with uncertainty. We are okay with the things that people are not normally okay with. The reason that not everybody is okay with it is because if everybody was, everybody would be an entrepreneur and everybody would be in chaos. Only the few, the chosen, the people like us are built that way. We’re built to where we want to get up and push it to the limit every single day. We want to get up, control our own destiny and take things into our own hands. We want to create, build and then make a difference. We are people that want to make a difference in the lives of the people that we’re working with. The lives of the people that we have as clients or the lives of the people that we are making our products for.
I’m honored to be here with you. I’m honored to be part of the entrepreneurial society if you will. Thank you so much, Ramesh. I appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast and share a little bit of your insight with us. I found it so interesting and I never thought about it until Ramesh said it. If you’re not exposed to certain things, it limits your ability to dream. I did not know growing up that there were people that drove trucks in the winter across frozen ponds to take the product all the way to a mining site. How am I supposed to know that? I’m only dreaming in my own area. The things that are influenced by me or to me, that’s all I have to dream.
With the internet and easier travel, we can expand our worlds and the world of our kids so that they can dream bigger. They can dream bolder. They can dream infinite things that we didn’t have the opportunity to dream, depending on how old you are and how long you’ve been on this earth. I want to challenge you and I want to ask you through this challenge, how big is your world? How much dreaming are you able to do? How big is your kid’s world? How much dreaming are they able to do? If your world is small, what are you going to do this next coming year to expand it and thus expand your ability to dream bigger for your company, bigger for your product, bigger for the things that you want to do and the people that you want to impact?
Feel free to jump on OnTheShelfNow.com. Put that in the comments and let us know how big your world is. What are some of the things that you’re going to do to expand your world this year? You want to put that in our closed Facebook group. Go to On The Shelf “Now” group on Facebook, hit join and you’re in the conversation and let’s start a conversation about that. When Ramesh talked about that motorcycle was big as his world got, that was his only dream. Someday I’m going to have a motorcycle or that motorcycle or a motorcycle like that, but that’s it. That’s as big as it got. I would love to have a conversation with you all about how big is your world. What are you dreaming and what are you going to do next year that’s going to make your world bigger?
Ramesh, thank you for opening our eyes to that particular situation. I never really looked at it in that way. Thank you so much for taking the time to be a guest on On The Shelf. We appreciate you and we wish you the best of luck in the launching of your book. Speaking of interacting, I sound like a broken record but come on people. Let’s get on Facebook. Let’s get on Twitter and let’s start having a conversation. OnTheShelfNow.com, On The Shelf Now on Facebook, On The Shelf “Now” closed group, @OnTheShelfNow on Twitter. There are lots of places to connect with us. Let us know what you’re struggling with, what kind of things you would like to talk about. We would be delighted to work on those. I hope you guys all have a great rest. Again, look out for Ramesh, his book, which is called The 60 Minute Startup: A Proven System to Start Your Business in 1 Hour a Day and Get Your First Paying Customers in 30 Days. I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, I look forward to seeing your products on the shelf.
- The Agile Entrepreneur Podcast
- The 60 Minute Startup
- Ramesh Dontha
- On The Shelf Now – Facebook page
- On The Shelf “Now” – Facebook closed group
- @OnTheShelfNow – Twitter page
- @RKDontha1 – Ramesh’s Twitter page
About Ramesh Dontha
Ramesh Dontha is a serial entrepreneur, host of The Agile Entrepreneur Podcast, and author of The 60 Minute Startup: A Proven System to Start Your Business in 1 Hour a Day and Get Your First Paying Customers in 30 Days (or Less).
Ramesh worked in the technology industry with Fortune 100 companies, started multiple companies, and learned from his successes as well as failures. Now Ramesh teaches aspiring entrepreneurs how to get paying customers faster than they ever thought possible.