Monday 30 October 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Why You Should Never Pick Such Projects?

When I write these blogs, I try and make sure, I do not sound preachy or super instructive because all I am trying to be is proactive – protect you from same grave mistakes, save your time / energy and keep your motivation to pursue this intact. I also kind of keep my tone neutral when I comment on certain project briefs, that I get to see on various freelancing portals.

We share these on a case to case basis as we have a growing virtual team of BECKON Aspirants in different modes. They are most likely to find this helpful and proactively work out a way to manage such queries from prospective clients.

In the BECKON Learning Community,  the beginners can be in any of the following modes:

1.   Reading mode – These members self-learn by reading different sources including a beginner’s guide for online working.

2.   Learning mode – These team members are working on their skills with one on one support from BECKON Coach to refine their offerings and deal with clients with more confidence

3.   Delivering mode – These are associated with local or global assignments however the project lead who is training them on this live job is front ending the client. This is entirely a collaborative effort.

Each of these members, in different modes cannot initially gauge what they are getting into when they respond to project like the one indicated below:

Project Brief
I'm looking for someone to finish this proposal

Here is what you need to consider before you respond:

1.   Reading Time

If you want to figure out what is wrong with client's current proposal, you have to read it end to end for a quick gap analysis. A proposal can be anywhere between 8 to 10 pages. Do you want to offer this at no cost – Your first impressions of the draft – Good, Bad or Unacceptable!

2.   Research Time

The amount of research time required to deliver as per client's expectations

3.   Rationale Time

You will never be able to figure the exact rationale first draft writer had when the content story board was created.
For all you know, the first draft writer delivered was as per instructions he received from client. You cannot expect the client to ever admit his own mistake to you – if at all there has been a communication gap from his end. 

If he does admit, you can treat this as a fresh assignment and get started. You can completely ignore the earlier outline to begin with a fresh perspective that is relevant now. The client should be able to call out now – what exactly he wants or trust your expertise

Based on your conclusions, you may want to probe client for further inputs before even considering the project.

1] If the client is not happy with the existing draft and needs a better version, can he articulate what changes he needs? What he finds missing in the first draft? If he is not crystal clear about his needs and edits he wants, you can be sure he is relying on you to do something with the document.

2] The client may have his own learning requirement. While discussing the order, you can assess if he knows his mind or is in two minds about the draft. If he is not clear, you educate him based on your expertise. Whether you want to do this business coaching for free as part of relationship building or as a paid order so that he gets a sample of your thinking horizon – it is absolutely your call.

The point here is – you have to know why the first draft did not satisfy the client.

Stay away from freeloaders

Some portals empower buyers to claim refund if they are not satisfied with delivered content. If the client is not able to clarify what the draft proposal lacks, he is probably just running the same document through another pair of expert eyes - for free.

I am not sure how neutral was that? I am sure you got the message by now –

1] Stay miles away from any kind of messy document created by someone else.

2] If you really have  to clean any mess, it better be your own because, that will at least be part of your learning experience - a revised version of your own work, is any day a subtle skill enhancement.

Connect with us here if you are unsure about any assignment - if you should proceed and execute or just drop it due to lack of adequate direction for the right output

Friday 27 October 2017

The Startup Kit: What Would You Want An Extended Arm To Do For Your Business?

What stage is your Startup at?

What we, as a virtual team, can do at different stages of startup - as  your extended arm.

Ideation Stage

We validate the ideas through Research

The steps are simple

1.   Is there a pain point that needs to be addressed?
2.   Ask appropriate and open ended questions to assess if at all a solution is required?
3.   Often people you ask to confirm if they have any pain point will call out the kind of solutions they prefer which hints at how good  your idea is

Proof Of Concept Stage

We support companies validate business ideas with Sample Customers

1.   Identifying focus groups to test MVP
2.   Review and Feedback based on user experience to refine offering

Customer Traction

We assist startups achieve Paying Customer Traction

The steps

1.   Social Media Management
2.   Website Development
3.   Landing page
4.   Lead to deal

Scale Up

We provide end to end support to start ups when they are ready to expand, seek funds and grow.  Companies that have

A.   Minimum of one year P&L or Balance Sheet
B.   Website
C.   A core team

We constantly keep reminding first time entrepreneurs about the basics.

The fundamentals


People, often do not realize they have one. Establish that need


Customer habits are changing. Keep the dynamic market place in view as you plan and foresee the future


Investors are usually ready, when you are ready. They increase their stake when they see you have enough at stake already and on the verge of that big leap


Rely more on insights than information


People have information at their fingertips –Use this opportunity


You do not have to re-invent the wheel, just have enough value adds


You are the perfect change agent


Focus more on LTV (Life time value) than CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)


Never attempt to sell solution through a price. Sell the price through the solution.

Connect with us here to discuss way forward for your venture to discuss the fundamentals in details – We are open for both, an informal chat or with a firm quote.

Saturday 21 October 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Are You Ready To Deliver Independently For An International Client?

A few beginners I have worked with want to be advised on what skills they should get started with to establish freelancing income online

How exactly is the coach expected to know what you are good at? If you specify what skills you want to offer as services, a coach can provide a few avenues relevant to that.

The next thing the beginners expect the coach to confirm – if it is the right time to go ahead and create an online profile in any freelancing portal and begin bidding.

This is seriously so juvenile. If you know what skills to offer and ready with your offering, why do you need an external nod to get started with your side hustle related efforts – When to get started is absolutely your call

Then you have another type of beginners who are driven by what skills pay more. I guess most of us, at least once think from this angle unless reality strikes hard.

Recently my interaction with one of the beginners goes like this – I have captured inputs I received about skills date wise here.

20th September

Aspirant expressed interest in the following however realized soon enough that these require a great deal of learning.

a) Graphics and Designs            
b) Digital marketing              
c) Fun and lifestyle 
d) SEO – Keen to learn

22nd September

a) Advance Excel
b) Power point Presentation

I normally offer to review their samples to see if it meets international standards, before they upload their portfolio

29th September

a)   Power point – I receive a sample.
b)   Excel – I receive a couple of worksheets

I shared tips how to do a good presentation and suggested the aspirant to send a revised version.

2nd October

Immediate (Based on current knowledge)

a)   Power point
b)   Research
c)   Word
d)   Excel

In future (Subject to learning)

a)   SEO
b)   Blogging
c)   Whitepaper

A practical demonstration was shown to the aspirant (Beginner) – how you read raw draft slides and develop it to a sleek 7/8 slides presentation with a strong storyboard.

14th October

a)   Web Research and Power point
b)   Article Writing
c)   MS Word and MS Excel

15th October

Resume shared by aspirant with following inputs, seeking my thoughts

a)   Efficient in MS word, MS excel, MS power point.
b)   Efficient in creative and content writing in English

The aspirant had created a profile in a portal and wanted to create gig for content writing

After multiple rounds of discussion, sharing examples, reviewing samples etc. for power point presentation (one skill) – this went on for close to a month and the first gig being offered is Content writing (completely different skill) for which I have not seen any sample from the aspirant.

17th October

I asked sample of content written by aspirant with the same objective –to check if it is good enough and meets international standards

I have not received:

1] Any sample for content writing
2] Revised version of power point presentation incorporating my tips
3] Revised version of resume for which I shared my perspectives.

18th October

Gig was created for power point presentation.

Please read the above sequence again date wise. You can tell easily that the skill choices are being done without much thought or rationale.

In this context, here are my tips for beginners:

Identifying the right skills is critical in freelancing. If unsure, take time to get there, micro learn to bridge the small gaps

There are basically three types of thinking the beginners entertain in their minds.

1] I have this skill (say Content Writing). I know how to do this and I will learn the rest when I have an order to deliver.

Are you planning to practice with real time client's assignments?

2] I have created a few slides (Power point presentation) – I kind of know it is not quite up to the mark. I do not have time for any more rehearsals and revisions at the moment - I will do what it takes in the final stage. I will offer multiple revisions to client

Do you think client has time for all those revisions? Will the client ever return to you with his future assignments?

3] I cannot waste time now in learning. I want to deliver orders first to see how it goes.

Will the client waste his time and money for this kind of expertise?

Few of the beginners have 25 years experience in corporate roles and never thought they were wasting their time doing the same thing for years together for a steady pay check. If suddenly they have all the urgency to get started with real time clients, though under prepared, without adequate skill enhancement and learning, this pursuit is likely to end as abruptly as it started.

Prepare. Practice. Perform. 

Connect with here for detail skill evaluation

Thursday 12 October 2017

Make Your Own Lane: Avoiding “The Full Time Catch”

I quit my corporate job in November 2013. 

For the most part of 2014 and early 2015 I made a few short trips across India with my mother. I somehow got used to this independence – the freedom of not planning your travel based on long weekends and available leaves or cutting it short due to workload.

It is so much fun to plan drives and trips based on great weather outside, without any agenda, the mood of the group and you can actually extend your stay for a day or two, without affecting other’s work or business for not being in action.

Having said that, I do not quite enjoy staying away from home for too long - I actually begin to miss my routine after 2/3 days - my prayers, exercise, my walks etc. So mostly my trips in 2014 were short however they were absolutely care free – I choose my fellow passengers very carefully as I enjoy the journey just as much as I like exploring the destination.

So what is the point I am trying to drive today?

In 2015, after I executed a project for a Dubai based business owner this is his response

Image Source: Original Mail

 Just repeating the mail content here for clarity due to poor image resolution.
Loved your work the website is operational (Masked) pivoting to this industry.
Would you ever look at working in Dubai?
In my mind, "No please. I entertain no such thought in my mind.

Burj Khalifa and may be some desert air. That should be it. I will be done and dying to be back home."

This was my second international client.

The first client was from US based in Indonesia for work. He got almost everything done for his startup from me – Business Plan to Website; Financial Plan to leadership profile; Curriculum to blogging, Social Media Strategy to landing page, presentation deck to content review – over 25 assignments at a stretch, one after another.

He shared my details with his lawyer to be included in company documentation as COO. I was in two minds initially.

Finally I had to politely decline working with him after a certain point because the rationale is simple - Each one of us have our design of life that does not quite enable you pursue someone else’s dream, while you have one or two of your own to fulfill – Being occupied with just one entity was not my kind of dream any more. Why did I quit corporate then?

I received this correspondence from a client Egypt, in March this year. 

Image Source: Original Mail
Due to confidentiality I had to mask, critical information.

Today, I have personally supported over 70 clients across the globe, developed a virtual team of over 10 resources. I established the coaching avenue like never before with 4 quadrant pricing, outcomes driven framework and signing of results, not just the function. 

I have been able to volunteer for Training and Community initiatives, support pet projects with friends in travel, textile and beauty industry.

If I had taken up the offers from my first and second clients, the impact would be just one dimensional.

Today, location and label independence is the new normal for work. I educate my clients to be concerned about deliverables and business outcomes, not how I or how the virtual team delivers it and from where. 

Write to if you want to join the virtual team to learn how to execute projects independently with a beginner's guide.