Problems over Problems… Repeatedly…!

In running a company, you can face problems. but what if you work in a problematic company?

For the past two years, i face problems every now and then running a company. To run a company, you need a good infrastructure. Infrastructure by means, good power source, computer systems, printers, office setup etc which are required to run a online tamil book store.

I am listing down some of my routine problems

  • internet not working if power is there.
  • internet works but no power
  • internet works but very very slow.
  • computer systems dont work if power is there
  • some times computer systems work but suddenly power goes off.
  • if internet, computer systems work, then no power.
  • If internet and computer systems work, then your printer wont work.
  • If printer works, then it will have fuser problems or no carbon in it. it has to be refilled.
  • if all these are in working condition, there wont be any human resources using them.
  • if there are human resources, then one of them might fail.

This is the true case in the life of an budding entrepreneur. in order to start a business, he/she needs to take care 90% of things that is required to kick-start the business. not the business itself.

for to run a online store, rather than talking to vendor for products which is business talk, i need to get these things done well before

  1. get company registered with GOI. it takes its own time with all restrictions
  2. get bank accounts (only if the mgr likes you)
  3. get payment gateway (only if that company likes you and if the sales person is in good mood.)
  4. get office space at home or outside. all house owners think that we are going to do multi-crore biz because it is online. For them, Being Online is luxury category.
  5. converting residential to commercial power from EB if we are going to use our own terrace or top floor in our house.
  6. sign up with courier. beg India post – post office to get your parcel booked cheaply.
  7. hire people for low cost (if possible). everyone thinks most people start business who have lot of money.
  8. If it is in TN, then power problems have to be faced.  high real estate cost coupled with low productivity due to bad power source.

these are the things where we interact directly. there are also other factors that influences your business operations.  we have to sort out all the above things before we talk business with vendors who supply things.

  1. They expect like how big the order is!
  2. are we trust-able?
  3. are we big enough to run the biz or company?

after all these, we have to explain things to our friends & family members so as to convince them to get their support……!

you got to convince your girl friend or would be or wife –  V VIP

finally, need to convince customer, vendors to run the business smoothly.

running it to successfully has its own set of problems to be faced. I can’t comment on it now!

Envelope 2.0 – can it be upgraded?

Traditionally, we have seen envelope – white or brown or orange. With no details in it. I have been going to post offices and courier for posting parcels for chennaishopping.com

I found that people waste lot of time there waiting in queue at the booking counter. most of the post-office have electronic booking of speed post. only few courier companies booking centre have electronic booking.

The long queue is due to the data entry like name, address, pincode into the system. There are few drawbacks in this.

1. What if the name / address / pincode does not match in the receipt / proof of delivery? since this is entered by human. Many times, i have seen that at the booking centre, they don’t type your full recipient addresses / pincode / name properly.

2. They use their own tracking number shipping label.

i have seen huge letter covers being booked, atleast in courier offices. Error #1 can occur most frequently and there is a inefficiency.

How can it be improved?

I have been thinking about this for some time and i kind found some basic solution i guess. why can’t india post or courier provide their own shipping barcode enabled envelope to their customers? This way it is easier to scan and send at a larger scale which solves #2 problem. this also increases revenue for these companies by selling envelopes.

what about the problem #1?

The sender details and recipient details can be embedded in the form of QRcode.

Automatic Posting Machine:

Imagine like a ATM kiosk wherein you can type in your address and get the envelope or a label sticker with

  1. Address printed clearly
  2. Tracking number enabled

You just pay the amount mentioned in the envelope or label at the counter. This can reduce the queue size.

I am sure there are lot of ways to re-imagine the post office operations.  If you got, please do add your suggestions….! What do you think?

StartUp Idea #5: Forms online

Back in Dec 2010, i have written few posts related to StartUp Ideas. It took me one year to write a new one. 2011 was a great year for me because I finally quit my job at Amazon and (re)started my company http://www.chennaishopping.com/

Let me write about the new start-up idea which i had been grinding in my mind. It may exists or may not. i am not sure. most of the ideas i have written are problems that exists currently.

Now,  Forms  Online

What are forms?

Forms is a document which you use to fill up with pen and apply form some thing. checkout out Forms at wikipedia. I am not talking about HTML forms here.

what is the problem?

The problem is simple. collect all these application forms and provide them as pdf downloads to get it printed or make an HTML form out of it and present a printable form with customer data in it. You can store customer data for later use.  This solves the following list of problems

  • user will not type / write duplication information like name, address, phone etc etc etc.
  • user will just type the “new-not found information” that are asked in forms.

This gives the following advantages

  • user knows exactly the form to use to apply for certain things. need not search here and there.
  • all forms at one location. saves time for the user.
  • user is not frustrated to fill the same details, 1000 times.

Different types of Forms

I am going to list the types of application forms available in general public.

  • School/College Application forms
  • Government Application Forms
  • Job Application forms
  • Bank Application forms
  • Applying for Gas connection, ration card, DL, passport
  • so and so…. hell a lot of it.

School/College application forms:

there are around 1.6m schools in india as per SchoolofEducators.com. see if you can help these schools, get their application forms online for just download for that academic year.  some schools / colleges do make money even in these application forms. you can make a cut out of it.

Government application forms:

Hell a lot of it. just browse through various states respective .gov.in website and collect their PDF link and provide them for download at one location. provide a easier way to find and download.  I spent lot of time in figuring out marriage certificate registration form online. Even though i found the site, i am not sure whether it is updated or legitimate. if you can assure it, your website is a HIT.

Job Application Forms

I am talking about Non-tech jobs. Get the job application forms for non-tech jobs that comes in paper or what ever and get it filled

Bank application forms:

Check deposit slips pre-filled or what ever loan application or what ever. Do tie-up with major banks and get their forms in pdf format to be downloadable at your site. List it by category, banks etc.

Gas connection, ration card, passport, DL:

Just get the gas connection form online. or what ever it is.

Miscellaneous forms

  • BB plan change letter for BSNL
  • BANK letter format for update of any information to ICICI, SBI et all.
Note: Do add more in comments if you have any.

Hell a lot of forms:

There are lakhs of forms to be filled by a user. every time he/she fills the following information multiple times

  • Full name – first, middle, surname
  • DOB
  • Father’s / Guardian name
  • Permanent Address
  • Residential Address
  • PAN
  • Passport

and many more

Privacy issues and Trust factors:

what ever the information forms online get its, it will be too personal information. one should take care to protect the user’s privacy and get user to trust the website. It’s very difficult to achieve the trust factor in short run. but overtime, if you provide good service, users will trust these kinds of forms service, because it saves their time.

Business model:

More downloads. More Users. Your traffic and download is your source for revenue. you can get sponsors for various form channels say bank or get the advertising revenue. You can also get a revenue share with school/college application.

You can add premium service by providing few forms at a paid price etc. may be this will work or not. not sure though.

Conclusion:

whether this idea will work or not, the problem of filling offline forms exists. the problem of searching forms to apply for certain things exists. You have million opportunities to solve for the main stream users….. do share your thoughts at the comments below.

Update 1: there is a startup nopaperforms.com which is trying to solve this. Do give a try.

Your Carry bags and the environment

Recently, in every super market, i see a notice that “Please carry your own carry bags. As per Govt. order, we are advised to charge for the carry bags. This is done to save/protect the environment. ”

I really don’t know how much percentage of carry bags usage, spoils the environment compared to plastic packed foods like Lays chips, packed fruits, milk packets, chocolates and many more. Most of the plastics packed foods are produced by large MNC’s. They are not being called to be part of the initiative.

my question to the government

  • How much % of plastic usage can be reduced by this initiative?
  • are these done due to politics behind?
  • Why only supermarkets/garment shops are targeted for this initiative? what about other places / organizations

General public are forced to pay 1-3 rs for the plastic.

  • Will paid carry bags reduce?
  • why not government provide these supermarkets / garment shops, the paper bags at subsidized rates?

If the GOI is really worried about the environment, it should ask every public / private organization to follow and then only it can achieve Plastic-free India.

Two Men and a 500 Rupee Note

Below is the video I saw it some time ago that was shared like anything by many people. see the views count in youtube

Let me come to the title. There were two men in this world. Both were earning in their own way. But there was huge difference in their earnings. Each lived their own way.

One men works as a software ‘S’ and the other works as a cashier ‘C’ in a petrol bunk. the S guy went to the petrol bunk and got his bike fuel tank filled with petrol. He made a conversation with C guy as below.

S: Add xtra Premium petrol for 200 INR.
C: ok.
S: how much per litre?
C: 70.33 INR.
S: how much will come for 200 INR
C: (goes to take calculator and calculates.)2.84 Litre will be filled for 200 INR
S: Then fill 3 Litre.
C: Ok sir. (His assistant filled the petrol) Total is 211.
S: (gave one biggest Indian currency)
C: sir, you have any change?
S: (gave change of 10 rupee note + 2 rupee coin and got the change for biggest currency) i don’t have 1 rupee.
C: sir, I will give.
S: is there Air?
C: Yes. but that boy went to a nearby shop.
S: ok (then he left to attend some important meeting).

Meeting was so good and S learnt a lot along with his another S friend. While starting back to home, he realized that he gave a 1000 INR note but he got only 300 INR back. he is supposed to get 800 INR back. S told his friend.

This made him upset very much. That’s when he thought about this youtube video that i had posted above. S’ friend said that its high chance that S would get that money back. Given that its a 2 hours gap. S suddenly started towards that petrol bunk. On the way, he ways thinking all sorts of things both +ve / -ve of loosing 500 INR, whether he would get it back or not or how to convince that cashier (by arguing the total collection for the day) or about complaining to the owner about it.

when S went their, again there was a conversation.

S: 2 hours back, i came here to fill the petrol. but i didn’t get change of 500 INR.
C (some other): which side? this side or the other side?
S: that side..
C (some other): Ask that cashier then. He is the in-charge.
S: ok.
S: Sir, i came at 4 pm and filled the 3 Litre Xtra premium petrol. but i didn’t get the full change. i got only 300 INR. i need to get 500 more.
C: are you sure?
S: Yes. (there was a seriousness in his face. guilty feelings as well)
S: Remember, I asked you to put petrol for 200 but then asked how much it would come? then i asked you to put 3Litre…
C: Yes. i can remember. (he instantly gave me a 500 rupee note)
S: Thank you sir.(got it and very much feel relaxed and happy.)

S guy went to fill the Air and had a conversation with Air filler.

S: what was the cashier’s name?
A: ‘Raju’. why? to complain with the owner?
S: no. why will i? he returned my 500 INR rupee. i won’t.
S: (thought within that he should do some thing for this honest person. not sure how and what to do.)
S: i don’t have 2 rupee. I have only one rupee. can you fill the air?
A: will you give 1 rupee extra next time?
S: yes. sure. (then left from there and reached home)

S was thinking about the honest cashier and his customer service. He could have taken this 500 INR note without any issue. but somehow it belong to S and that’s why S got it.
S immediately called the S’ friend and told that he got that 500 back. S’ said that you were lucky… but S said this
Money, if you earned it truly and honestly, It will always stay with you.

somehow, the above statement is true. I too agree and i think about it many times. S guy is none other than me :) Last few days, my mind and soul is thinking some thing else and hence i need to be careful when dealing with money especially when i am not in job.

I still remember and will never forget the stuff said by a director of a company where i left my job recently…
Be careful with the money… otherwise, you are going to loose it.

Let’s see whether i will do some thing for that Raju or not. I thought of sending a letter to that owner or Indian oil company. Will update it soon.

What I learnt:
Its not the fault of the cashier… because 500 and 1000 rupee note do not have much difference. Its my fault. I need to be careful when dealing with the money. Keep my mind sharp and concentrated where ever i go. Also this 500 is a big amount for that cashier compared to me. so learn to spend the hard earned money in a good manner. Also watch the above video again.