Introducing Ramesh Dontha Ramesh Dontha is today's guest joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast is a man who thinks the world is doing things wrong. He is the author of the brand new book "The Agile Entrepreneur, 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" Bold and exciting statement, so let's hear what he has to say. As he says "I know you’re well aware that would-be entrepreneurs get bombarded with all kinds of business advice all day, every day. It’s like all they have to do is add “self-employed” to their Facebook profile, and they start seeing ads for webinars and expensive training that they’re told they “must” enroll in to be successful. Not to mention that most of them have never started and grown a business before, and as they try to figure it out, they can’t see the forest for the trees! That’s why I am publishing a book my book. I think there's a better way for sure" So has he gone through the weeds and clambered out the other-side with this sense of clarity and understanding? As from the point of graduating at the Duke University - The Fuqua School Of Business it seems that he has always had one eye on creating his own future. And what would be the biggest mistake people make, starting the wrong business or simply not starting at all. Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Ramesh Dontha Show Highlights During the show we discussed such deep weighty subjects with Ramesh Dontha such as: Ramesh shares how he was one of the walking dead, and strongly felt that he needed to leave his role to save his sanity, although it wasn't easy to do it. We discuss the early stages of the side hustles that quite often pull us off track from what we should be doing with our businesses. Why it's so important to re-engineer other peoples products and services to find out what is working already. Don't recreate the wheel, use what works. and lastly...... The reasons why people shouldn't do the leap of faith no matter how many people encourage them to do it. There are safer ways to go about things. How To Connect With Ramesh Dontha Website Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Return To The Top Of Ramesh Dontha If you enjoyed this episode with Ramesh Dontha, why not check out other inspirational chat with Clayton Morris, Dorie Clark, and the amazing Niall Doherty You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy Audio Transcription Of Ramesh Dontha Interview Intro 0:00 When we're young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here's your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph. David Ralph 0:25 Yes, hello. Good morning, everybody. Good morning, my young ones, thank you so much for being here, another episode of Join Up Dots. Now, we've been talking about creating your own businesses and creating our own income streams for about six years now coming up. And a lot of people might think it's really, really easy, and other people might think it's really, really hard. What's the truth in it? Well, today's guest joining us on the show is a man who thinks the world is doing things wrong. Basically, he's the author of the upcoming new book, the Agile entrepreneur, over 60 minutes startup, a proven system them to start your business in one hour a day, and get your first paying customers in 30 days or less bold and exciting statement. So let's hear what he has to say. As he says, I know you're well aware that would be entrepreneurs get bombarded with all kinds of business advice all day, every day. It's like they all have to do is add self employed to their Facebook profile. And they start seeing ads for webinars and expensive training. And they're told they must in load in to be successful. Not to mention that most of them have never started and grown a business before and that's a try to figure it out. They can't see the forest for the trees. And that's why I'm publishing a book, my book, I think there's a better way for sure. So Has he gone through the weeds and clamber down the other side with this sense of clarity and understanding himself? And from the point of graduating at the Duke University of the grass School of Business? And I'm sure I've said that wrong, because it sounds very rude. It seems that he's always had one eye on creating his own future. What would be the biggest mistake people make starting their own business? Or simply not starting at all? Well, let's find out as we bring on to the show, to start Join Up Dots with the one and only Romeo done fine. Good morning. How are you? Romesh Dontha 2:16 Very good. David, thank you for having me. David Ralph 2:19 Start straight away. How do you say the School of Business you went to because I've been practising there? And it just sounds like I'm swearing. How do you actually say it? Romesh Dontha 2:29 That's the question to start with the David. So it's a Duke University. Of course, the school itself is called Fuqua School of Business. FUQUA. and gentlemen, Mr. Fuqua donated some money to the school and that they named the school after him. Also is more food David Ralph 2:45 and far, I was more than, yeah, I was pronouncing the wrong thing. But few few. So a few. Yeah. That's why I'm now a master. So let's get straight into it, because you are somebody but as I say, you've had one eye on the sort of entrepreneurial journey, I know that you've sort of done your own businesses, and then you work for other people, you've gone back and forth. Do you think most people need to see the back and forth? Because it seems to me most people go into corporate land, and then instantly decide they're going to be an entrepreneur and a businessman? Without having that ability to say no, hang on, I will step back again, and see a different way of operating. What do you think? Romesh Dontha 3:26 I personally think that the going back and forth, having certain corporate experience is important. Does it mean that everybody has to go through that exercise? Not necessarily, you know, I've come across people who have never gone to school, who have never worked in a company, and then they think they're unemployable. But they have built very successful businesses themselves. So there are lots of case studies, but my own personal experience, and then majority of the people that benefit by going into corporate world, and then having the back and forth experience, David Ralph 4:00 because my issue, I've never gone back once I quit that was there. And my issue is the fact that I couldn't bear to be told where to be at certain times. The fact that this morning, my alarm went home got a little lucky. And so I had a little delay. And you can't do that if you're going to work. And I'm very aware of that restriction. Romesh Dontha 4:21 That is true. I mean, myself, right. So when you go back and forth, certain times, you feel you regret for going back to the corporate life. And then that's why you want to quit, I myself, come to a stage where I don't want to be told what I want to do. And then you have this phase of life, where you really want to give something you want to accomplish something. And that is the phase. I said, I'm going to do it. I'd not want to have any regrets. And for good, I'm leaving. David Ralph 4:49 And what did you say when you walked in? Did he did he hang on to your leg in and be dragged across the floor? As you're marching to the door? What actually happened? Romesh Dontha 5:00 Yeah, actually, mind was a gradual evolution of wanting to quit. So just a little bit of timeline here. 2014 was when I was I mean, really, I was like a zombie, I really wanted to quit, and I was like, a walking dead, you know, thinking to myself, what the hell am I doing, but I still did not have the courage and that that time, my boss and friends and and strongly encouraged me not to quit, and then stay on. So maybe that played a role as well. And then by 2016, I said, If I don't do it, now, I will never do it. And then I quit. But by the time some of the people already knew that I was thinking about quitting. So it was an evolution. It's the let me go at the time in the sense that I can find a job with a word of encouragement, because they knew that I was going to quit it someday. Someday, David Ralph 5:54 okay. And don't tell me Don't tell me that you went from that point of being the walking dead, to get to your first customer in 30 days, he is that true? Or have you now seen the path? Romesh Dontha 6:07 I have seen the path Actually, I got a trace back, I started a company back in 1994, an information technology consulting company, so I always had the company. So I mean, I had a paying customer at that time, because I simply switched from I was a contractor, a consultant, and then I was consulting for the same company, as a as my own business owner. So that does not count. But when I actually quit for the first time permanently, by the time I have done a lot of what we call the side gigs, a side hustle, experimenting a lot, figuring out trying to overcome this uncertainties. So for me, the 30 days, customer, I already had it within 30 days after I quit permanently. But it is like, you know what everybody calls an overnight success. It is not an overnight success. I've been experimenting, I've been tweaking the model. So for me to get the customer and first 30 days was a, you know, the experimentation that I was doing for multiple years before I actually finally quit. David Ralph 7:13 So what kind of side hustlers did you do? Because I look back on some of mine. And a lot of them were madness. I look back on it. And I think it had nothing to do with my business. It had nothing to do with my branding, what the hell was I doing? But I think it was a kind of a panic, it was a panic of this, this might this might be the key to solve helped me through to where I want it to be. Romesh Dontha 7:35 Yeah, so I was all over the place. David haven't even believe David Ralph 7:39 this is I do believe me? I do. I totally do believe. Romesh Dontha 7:43 Okay, so I was fully employed. I was in the management side, I was, you know, doing the marketing and business development for a large technology company. And then 2005, I was by myself, my family was visiting India. And then I got this magazine entrepreneurial magazine, I was just flipping through the magazine, I came across this article about domains, you know, flipping domains, buying and selling domains and building websites and flipping them. It was a totally new world for me. They said, it's a virtual real estate, internet real estate, that you buy land, you build a salad, or you buy land, keep it when value improves, you know, you sell it like at the time they give example of a business.com
sold for $1 million, just a domain itself nothing. So that whole world fascinated me. Then for the next few days, I was spending literally 18 hours a day, trying to go into this forums and figuring out, and within a month, I bought a website. It's a pet medicines website, from a high school kid, or maybe college kid who built it. And then he sold it to me for about $300. Right? It's actually money making domain, right. So he had an affiliate, kind of a website, I don't know about the listeners how much they knew about the affiliates, but they had a veterinarian who is fulfilling the orders that come through the website for the pet medicines. So I didn't have to do much. It was already search engine optimised to some some extent, at that time, of course, the primitive with all the Google algorithms and all that stuff. So it's a money making website, I bought it for around $300. I bought it just to learn, right. And then lo and behold, I was getting 15% Commission on every sale that goes through and very soon made the money. So that was my first side hustle, David Ralph 9:37 Tosa I'm gonna jump into, I'm gonna jump in there. So why do you think that he because he obviously done the bulk of the work with young lad. Why do you think that he been sold it for such a small amount. $300 is nothing Romesh Dontha 9:49 is nothing actually that it was, is that the only thing that I could get to is that is high school K, the college kid around that age, like around 1718 years, he needed that problem $300 for whatever reason, and then he was about to go to college as well. And he didn't want to manage. So he probably had multiple personal reasons, you know, for him to sell for in a very less money at the time. And then I got into this gold mine gold mine not just from a money perspective, gold mine from learning perspective. David Ralph 10:21 I think what you did was really wise that you literally bought something that you knew was working, and quite effectively, you could rip it apart, but then learn what's happening there. And I see that as a great way of doing it. You're buying an engine that's operating. And then you're actually going, Oh, I can see why that's doing that. And back and forth. Romesh Dontha 10:45 Yeah, exactly. So the other option is I could have learned to build and all that stuff. But I was lucky enough I wanted to know by and then that's probably the I think the best learning that I got is you just want to buy something, you rip it apart, you reverse engineer it. Then I went back and been learned about this content management systems like a WordPress and Juma this all those things, right. So it gave me an opportunity to break it apart and learn the underpinnings of the website. David Ralph 11:17 I have actually spent thousands on things like sales funnels and stuff. And when they started operating, and the guy said to me, I will get it going, you will get a tonne of traffic. And this this was in the early days of Join Up Dots. And I paid him at about $2,000, whatever. And it did, it started working. And I hated it because I didn't understand why it was working. And I literally pulled it apart and killed it to find out what you know what was actually going on behind the scenes. And I think that was the best two grand I've ever spent. Romesh Dontha 11:51 I agree with you 100%. So your original question was what other side hustlers have done. So I've done that. And then then I went into this domain flipping domain names like a at one point, I had 800 domains, in my name, right? Just trying to figure out which of those will become gold mines like a business.com
, somebody would buy kind of stuff, right. So that did not pan out too well. Because come one year around, you have to renew all those 800 domains. So I was not willing to renew them for whatever the fee, so I let majority of them go. But that during that one year, it was another learning experience. Just studying that industry of the domain flipping as an example. Now with domains, David Ralph 12:35 I'm always buying domains, I bought one yesterday and I do exactly the same, I got a great idea. I'm going to buy a domain name. And then more often than not, it sits there for a year. And then I just sort of roll off and disappear into the domain graveyard. Now. Is it something now when you look back on all those things that you wouldn't have been able to write about the Agile entrepreneur without those? Or is it the case where literally they have pulled you away from being Alberto? Right, the Agile entrepreneur maybe couple of years earlier? Romesh Dontha 13:09 No, David, I mean, all those experiences of the successes and failures are key ingredients of this agile entrepreneur business, right? Each one of those experiences taught me so much. I think without those experiences, I would not be here talking about building businesses and agile entrepreneurship kind of concept. David Ralph 13:33 Now, so let's get on to your book, we're going to talk about your book because I know our audience will jump out and get it now. I read a lot of business books rubbish, I probably read three a week. And after I'd read the first four chapters, I realised that they're just banging on about the same subject, I get one key idea. And they sprayed maybe 30 pages into 300 pages, and then I struggle to get through them, I think Yeah. All right, donate. Now I understand what you're talking about. Just leave it. Now is yours one that is very much like that, or is it a blueprint for people to follow? Tell us tell us what's in the Agile entrepreneur? Romesh Dontha 14:12 Yeah, if you could, let me just set the context for the book first. Okay. So when I looked at the research, primarily, let me talk it from the US perspective. And then probably global also will apply. So many research studies say that about 70% of the people want to have a business, start a business, it could be a side business, it may not be that that's the main business. But when you look at the actual number of people who go about starting a business, it's less than 15%. Right? So there's a huge gap, you know, 70% want to start, but only 50, less than 15% actually end up doing something about it. So then we looked into why, right, the reasons again, the research says it's primarily about the fear, the fear of uncertainty, fear of unknown risks, and things like that, right. So then I said, Okay, I broke it down. Those were the fears that I was going through myself, right, the uncertainty fear, you cannot take it up. But the unknown fear, you can do something about it. So when I was going through my own experiences, and by the way, in parallel, I was I also had a podcast. So I was talking to lots of entrepreneurs who have gone through the journey, I was learning tonnes and tonnes of information. So it breaks down to a few things, right. So first thing is people are afraid they don't know where to start, right? So there are certain elements to actually launching the business, the launching of businesses, you have to have an idea, you want to know which customers you want to target, what are their pain points. And then what is the approximate range of price your product or service that you want to offer? So there are certain set things, about 15 of them, I broke them down that any person has to do to start a business, right. And then the second piece is, is actually selling and finding a customer. Right. So I mean, I am a huge, huge fan of Peter Drucker who is a management guru, he broke down the business into only two things. He said, a business should have only, you know, innovative mark, innovative product, or service. Innovation is key. That's the number one thing. The second thing is you need to have a customer. Everything else is noise. That's what he said, right? So as long as you you figured out the product and service, and you figured out, you know, innovative way of marketing the product and service to find a customer and you got the business. So this book breaks down these elements of launching a business into 15 steps. So the first 15 days of the 30 days, in every day, you spend about 60 minutes. Doing that piece, like one day could be just building the website, you're not building the perfect website, you're probably building a website. And another day, you're just incorporating the business. That's it for 60 minutes, you know, just go through the motions of incorporating the business. Another day could be just brand your business, you know, what are the colours? What are the things that you want to pick? Just 60 minutes, right? So first 15 days is all about every day you do something to launch your business. And the next 15 days is all about different sales strategies that you could implement to find the fast paying customers. So this book lays out in a workbook like fashion every day, 60 minutes, hey, know, do this for 15 minutes. Do this for 15 minutes, do this for 30 minutes like that, right? It depending on the task, right? And then it just doesn't leave the reader just to say do this do this. It first goes over a successful entrepreneur storey. So it features 30 entrepreneurs, a successful entrepreneur storey how they have done it, right. And it actually gives the reader their templates where applicable. What are the templates that they use, for example, email, that they might have sent out a cold email they might have sent out to get the first customer, and then it gives the templates to the reader so they can use. David Ralph 18:20 Now AO sounds great VIA all sounds great. But I'm going to play some words. And I'm going to come back to this. This is a good question. This is a good one. He's Jim Carrey, Jim Carrey 18:30 my father could have been a great comedian. But he didn't believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don't want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love. David Ralph 18:57 Now, the content of your book sounds great, absolutely. But the key thing that I can't understand why people can't grasp this. And actually, I've been training a guy over the last few weeks, and he's been building this business. And when he came to me this morning, he said, Do you know what I'm going to do? And I went penny dropped, penny dropped. And he said, I'm going to start looking at my competitors to see where their traffic's coming from, and start nicking some of it. Now, with people out there, why don't you feel a struggle so much to get a customer? Where we already know where the customers are? The customers are going to the competition? You're not going to start a new business Really? That is anything too unique. Are you is your first one not not many people do they're all going to be similar themes. Mine was a similar theme. Yours is a similar theme, everybody. So why did I struggle so much to find a customer? When we already know where the customers are? The customers are where people are advertising, that where they're going on Facebook? Over data is out there what you reckon. Romesh Dontha 19:58 Okay, so it costs is identifying the right customer, I'll give an example. You know, the the my recent turnaround. So I wanted to start a data strategy consulting company, right? That is what I did. And then I went about the wrong way. So I said, Okay, my customers are this, no small medium, kind of I want to go after a smaller medium, because I don't have a large set of sales people. And I don't want to go through that stuff, right. But those were the wrong set of customers, they were not thinking about the problem. I mean, it's not a big enough problem for them to think because they have other problems to solve. And by the time I figured that out, I said mice, the people, the companies that are actually trying to solve the problem of the large companies, and then I don't have a set up to go after them. I want to go partner with other companies who are actually getting this business from them. So my issue there is not that I could not find the customer in the first get go is I was looking in the wrong place. So it David Ralph 21:01 isn't the same, though. Romesh Dontha 21:04 It's the same as for me to figure out that where I should look itself took me some time. I mean, if I didn't have the sustainability, I could have given up by the time I found my customer. Right. Okay. Okay. So for example, it Yeah, if I didn't, couldn't survive for the three months where I could not get the customer, I would have given up and then gone back to a safe job. David Ralph 21:27 Now with it. And the other thing that you said that was quite interesting was the fact of looking at your branding, and you were mentioning sort of getting your colours right and stop. Branding is so much more than that. And certainly I look at my my business every day now. And I think to myself, yeah, my branding is is is bang on its bang on because it's just bringing clients to me easily. And as soon as I land on my website, and we're still improving it all the time. But you can understand we've been about three seconds what it's all about. How do people in the early stages get that? Because it's very difficult, isn't it? People think branding is colours and logos and stuff, but it's not. It's the promise. It's the it's the lifestyle of that business. It's the belief, it's it's everything into one package. Romesh Dontha 22:17 You got it actually. So I was giving colours as an example for that particular days of the work. Because the other things that what is your minimum, you know, what is your value proposition? Those things I would have gone through the prior days anyway, your hundred percent right, David, because the branding is about the promise of your offer that is consistent with, you know, your value proposition, right. So that is what the brand brand is about to me, right? So I mean, it's a brand incorporates number one in a service or a product, and then what is the value proposition that you want to give to the customer? And then what is your promise, it could be that you're low cost, or you're, you know, high value, it's a combination of all those things, but all of them lead into the brand. And then the mechanics of what colours and all is a last step that you only want to make it consistent with the rest of the stuff that you already decided upon. I'm with you. 100%. David Ralph 23:20 Well, I'm glad I'm glad because I didn't want to fall out with you. So I didn't want to fall out with you. Because I feel there's a friendship to be made here. And you live in California, and it's nice place to go on holiday. Now, if we if we look at it again, the Agile entrepreneur, it's a great name. But entrepreneurs agile, are they just making it up as they go along? I often wonder because because we see this all the time where people say yes, I was a born entrepreneur, and I always been. No, you weren't? No, you weren't you, you you just had the ability to overcome the crap and keep going. Romesh Dontha 23:55 David accurate, the Agile term in this one has a very specific meaning and let may go over that here. So in the technology world, especially in the software development side, there is something called an agile methodology. Right? So in 2001, or so what happened was a bunch of developers got together and said, the the traditional way of developing a software where somebody gives the requirements, and then the developers go and take the requirements, spend a few months or six months developing something. And going back to the person who gave the requirements, this is what you, you told us, and then the guy by the time the market is evolved, and then all the requirements want misunderstood by the developers. And the guy says, No, this is not what I wanted. So again, we go back to the method. So that's called a waterfall methodology of developing software. And that was not working out. So the Agile methodology is a very iterative, right? It's an incremental approach. So the way it works, and right now, this Uber's and Airbnb is another way they they develop the software, a very fast is using agile methodology, what they call a sprint. So they break it down into like a one week or two weeks prints, where you give me certain requirements. Within two weeks, I will come back to the proof of concept. Is this what you told me? And the customer says, No, this is exactly not but 50%, you're right, tweak it here. So I go back and then iterate on that one. So with a full realisation, the requirements will change, right? They're not set in stone. So this print approach of developing software revolutionised the software. So this whole thing called agile methodology, it's a collaborative with the person who's giving the requirements. It's incremental with the tweaking. So I have experienced with this agile methodology, and I said, Why can't I take this approach to building a business? So in this agile methodology, we, David, if you talk to any entrepreneur, successful entrepreneurs, they never ended, where they started, the always pivoted, they adjusted the pricing model, they kind of adjusted the persona of the customer, they thought they adjusted the business model, they improved it iterated, changed, pivoted, whatever word you call it. So the Agile methodology of building a business, you know, that whatever business plan that you have, now, it's going to change, but I'm willing to change. So that is what the Agile entrepreneur methodology is that, that you're willing to, you know, iterate, but you know, you got to do it fast, you know, you pivoted so that's why the Agile has a very specific meaning, not just Agilent a very general sense. David Ralph 26:42 Yeah, you explain that perfectly. So basically, what we're saying to the listeners is, instead of getting hung up on perfection, and trying to make everything look perfect, just get it out here, get it out there and then see what happens. Romesh Dontha 26:56 Exactly, David, that's why I'm saying that 30 days, and then 60 minutes concept, I am a strong believer, because let's say you wanted to start a business, right? Instead of wasting six months or X number of months, you know, crunch it down to one month, right? So I mean, can you give one month of your lifetime to start, you know, just experiment with something for 60 minutes a day that you strongly believe in? Can you David Ralph 27:21 know, release this, there's a lot of stuff on Netflix, there's Netflix and Amazon, they're churning it out, it's going to take up time. Romesh Dontha 27:28 Yeah, so it'