As part of my series about how to start a sustainable business in 2020, I had the pleasure to interview…
Ramesh Dontha. Ramesh is a serial entrepreneur, podcaster, and writer. He is the author of the best-selling entrepreneur book The 60 Minute Startup – an exhaustive, step-by-step blueprint on how to build a sustainable business in one hour per day and acquire your first paying customer in 30 days or less.
Tell us about your background and life experiences that lead up to the person you are today.
I grew up in a small rural village in the southern part of India. Back then all I wanted was to get a job as a teacher, like my father. When my father was transferred to a different school in another village it made me realize that I hated change. Change, however, would become a common theme in my life, helping me grow to who I am today.
I never became a teacher in India. I moved from a village to a town for college and then to Bombay (Mumbai) for my first job. I lived in Europe for some time and finally to the United States permanently to work on several projects. Moving across three continents, switching through four different jobs, and starting four companies made me realize change is good. Change is growth. Marriage and the birth of my two daughters were very special life changes that taught me the skill of work-life balance.
What events in your life led to you becoming an entrepreneur?
Before I became an entrepreneur I was trained as a Mechanical Engineer and an Industrial Engineer. I never worked a day as either and actually began my career as a Systems Analyst, traveling throughout India, Europe, and the USA. It didn’t take long before I realized that my passion was elsewhere. After I obtained my MBA, I left my position as Systems Analyst and began working in marketing, product and program management, business development, and strategic planning for Fortune 100 companies.
That’s when I realized my dream was always to be an entrepreneur.
My first business was a tutoring business. I started several more companies learning what it takes to make a startup successful. Currently, I run a strategic management consulting business focusing on data analytics. Once I discovered that agile methodology, an iterative approach normally used in the software development space, could be applied to the early growth stages of a startup I knew I had to somehow share it with the world.
What inspired you to write this book and who is it for?
As a seasoned entrepreneur yourself Rio, I know you’re well aware that would-be entrepreneurs get bombarded with all kinds of business advice all day, every day. The moment they add “self-employed” to their Facebook profile, they’re bombarded with books, ads for webinars, and expensive training that they’re told they must enrol in to be successful.
According to one study on Vistaprint.Com, 62% of US adults dream about starting their own business. That is 6 out of 10 of you (if you are from the US) who fall in that category. Depending on your age (77% of adults between 25–34 years), this could be as high as 8 out of 10.
The biggest mistake people make is starting the wrong business or simply not starting at all.
I knew that with the information I gathered, applied, and tested I could impact those statistics and make a difference in the lives of those people. The 60 Minute Startup is for anyone who ever dreamt about starting their own business but didn’t know where to begin. The book is also for anyone who wants to learn from other successful entrepreneurs who contributed to the book on how to build their businesses better.
What is different about the advice in this book from other books, courses, and seminars?
Many times, entrepreneurs are inundated with advice that falls short. There are over 543,000 new businesses that are started every month and most of them fail. The number one reason is that they don’t have a plan to get them to the point of obtaining their first customer. They are focused on the wrong type of outcome(s) through advice that tells entrepreneurs to throw money at everything leaving them confused and overwhelmed.
The 60 Minute Startup provides proven daily steps that help new entrepreneurs sort through good ideas on how to start a business, how to stop wasting time online, become time and energy-efficient, and acquire their first paying customers quickly. It teaches them how to be agile.
What are your 5 most critical keys that you need to know when starting a business?
Day 1: Don’t Start with Why, Start with What. Just follow the path to what you are most passionate about the industry it relates to and then do as much research as possible, collecting data and compiling sources.
Day 2 Creating Customers: Find the consumer pain point for what the product you want to sell and the product you want to provide to your audience. Develop buyer personas for your future customers.
Day 3 Selling What People Want to Buy: Once you know who you buyers are it is now easier to provide a product or service that fits their needs. Get started on the finer details of your offering.
Day 4 Find Your Unique Value Proposition: This is the most important aspect of the sales cycle. You must determine what is so unique about your offering that it cannot be found in any other product or service in the exact form you provide. This must also be communicated in all of your marketing.
Day 5: Finalize what you have so far to determine if you truly have a viable business with an actionable plan. Continue to develop your product or service, its selling points, and eventually your pricing to see if it all works. It’s not until these all come together into a cohesive package to support a viable business idea that you should then make it official and protect your ideas. Only then will you incorporate, establish a business checking account, business URL, email and phone line, and then begin to file for copyright, patent or trademark protection if applicable.
What holds most people back on an emotional level from starting a business?
When we want to make a change in life we feel a sense of discomfort that develops into anxiety. Our goals seem too lofty and becoming daunting. When you think too far out in the future your goal can seem unattainable. My advice would be, don’t think so far out in the future, bring your thoughts closer to the present to where you don’t feel anxious and can create smaller, attainable goals.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There were several quotes from Winston Churchill that really shaped my life. Churchill was a master communicator and his speeches inspired a generation to fight against the evil successfully.
His Never Give In speech reflected his steadfastness in persevering and not giving up is what inspires me the most as an entrepreneur.
If you’re going through hell, keep going.
Never, never, never give up.
Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
His speech about courage and unflinching effort towards victory also inspire. How he talks about drawing upon the heart of suffering for inspiration is my favorite in this set. So many times, I found inspiration from the suffering of near and dear ones.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts
The first quality that is needed is audacity.
It’s no use saying ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.
This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.
Kites rise highest against the wind — not with it.
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.
He was a wizard with words and was known as a punctilious wordsmith searching for the right word for hours together. He was my hero throughout my life and I continue to be inspired by his words.
Those were excellent quotes Ramesh, very inspiring. Give us your website address and tell us how our readers can follow you on social media?
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