What’s your business missing out on?

The Pareto Principle, named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, states that 80 percent of the consequences come from 20 percent of the causes. In the business world, we often imply this theory referring to the benefits that the handful of major clients bring into the organization.

A simple way to put this would be understanding the fact that airlines don’t make more money out of the hundreds of passengers they put in the economy-class seat. Rather, they make more money from a few of the first and the business class passengers. According to a report by International Air Transport Association (IATA), in 2018, premium-class passengers accounted for only 5.2% of the total international flight passengers but generated over 30 percent of the revenues for the airlines. While airlines might value and prioritize these 5.2% of the passengers, they might be equally trying to give the rest of 94.8% of the passengers a taste of flying on premium-class tickets to lure them into the much profitable segment of premium-class passengers.

A recent experience of working with a photography agency for personal work made me realize that perhaps many of the businesses in Nepal have failed to acknowledge the importance of this theory. I had booked a team of photographers and videographers through this agency for a family function a week before the event. I had found this agency while browsing through social media. We had a deal where the crew would cover the complete event and would deliver the work in 15-17 days. A day prior to the event the guy who was corresponding with us said that they would arrive at half-past-eight in the morning and asked us to be ready by then. As requested, all of us did get ready on time. However, the crew itself did not arrive on time. After they did not arrive for another 40 minutes, I made a call to the guy I was in contact with. He said that they are almost there and would be there in a couple of minutes. We waited but they did not show up. After several calls and a couple of “we are almost there” they showed up at quarter-to-ten. While I was pissed at these guys I had no choice to back them off. Having no choice we carried on with the work and the event.

The event went well, and the guys seemed decent and fun. By the end I just consoled myself thinking that they might have gotten into some real issue and it happens at times. After two weeks, I called the guy and asked if the work was done. He said the photos were ready but the video needed a final touch-up with the color, and asked me to wait until the next day. Upon giving a call on the next day, the call was not received. After a few days of losing the contact, the guy said that he would get everything delivered by the evening but did not show up again. This game carried on for over six weeks and the work finally got delivered. While the agency emphasized on the quality of the work they did (which really was upto the mark), they never bothered apologizing to the client.

What did the agency lose? The event, being a family function, had over 25 guests. Most of the guests including me were super excited to see the pictures and the video. However, the agency had killed our excitement by the time the photos and videos were available to us and so did it kill the agency’s reputation among over 20 “potential” customers it might have gained had it delivered timely work and provided better customer service. Further, it would not have lost a deal to cover two of the upcoming wedding events in our family and many more events to come had it been successful in establishing a long-term relation with our family through an impressive service.

This story might be relevant for many of the businesses in Nepal where businesses expect the customers to rely on the “Nepali style” of working – arrive to the work late, deliver the work late, and expect the customers to pay the price in full. A few years back, we ordered a kitchen shelf from a nearby carpenter. The owner promised to deliver it within a month. One fine morning, after two months, he finally showed up to our door with the shelf ready. While the deal was for fifty-thousand, I decided to pay him a thousand less and teach him a lesson of not valuing the time. The money we paid wasn’t just for the product. It was also for the time he promised to complete the work. Since then we never approached that very carpenter for any other work. He lost a customer and I’m sure he must have lost many others too.

Any customer who visits you for the first time or purchases from you for the first time might not be a part of the 20% of the customers who bring 80% of the revenue into the business. However, any customer who visits you first is a potential chunk of that 20 percent that the Pareto Principle explains. Thus, if you have a decent item or service that is not being rendered by your previous customers, it’s time to give a second thought about the care and the service you are providing to them.

Originally published on Republica Daily

Lessons learnt in 2020

2020 has been a memorable year to, probably, every human on this earth. From hundreds of people dying each day to the economic downturn as a consequence, COVID19 has shaken the world never like before. With the news flowing about the success of COVID19 vaccines and countries purchasing them, we are hoping the “new normal” of putting the mask, maintaining the distance, cutting down the travel, and implementing many other precautionary plans will be gone over within a couple of months or at least a year. Better late than never, as they say: “This shall too pass.”

It truly wasn’t an easy year for anybody. So was it for this blogger. Beginning the year by leaving the role as a co-founder of the company started together with the school-friends and staying home for 3-4 complete months, 2020 was a year of a new start for this blogger in multiple ways. Let me share a few of the lessons that I learned and the realizations I made in 2020.

  1. The world can shut down: 

COVID19 has made all of us realize the extent to which things worsen. There is this new definition for the world of how bad things can go. We might have to crumble into our homes and apartments for months that too without a job. Countries can shut down, literally close down! Traveling or moving around in public can be a nightmare. Millions of us can lose our lives. These are the extremes that we now really know could happen.

2. There are hidden opportunities in crisis:

COVID19 did accelerate the e-commerce sector. Not only did it temporarily spike the revenues for these businesses but also did introduce many consumers into the eCommerce world. To a larger extent, this impact shall now remain forever. Even for countries like Nepal, where the use of tech was nothing more than an “extravagant” trend, the pandemic made the government realize the need for digitization. Had there been proper digital systems in place there would not be so many manual hassles such as paying the taxes, renewing the vehicles/driving license, distributing the travel passes during the lockdown, and tracking/controlling the COVID19 cases. Thanks to the initiators of Nepali digital wallets like eSewa and Khalti who broke the barriers and were well setup long before the crises. Else, neither would the banks so far would care to have a proper mobile app nor would we have any other source to facilitate cashless payments.

3. Patience is the key:

COVID really tested the level of patience in me. While I left the company as a cofounder, I thought I would start working after a good break of a month or two. But things didn’t turn out the way I thought. I had rejected quite a few offers that I received before the pandemic and had almost gotten into the job I wanted. Unfortunately, COVID took those positions away. I had to wait for over 5 months to land into a new job. Definitely, you don’t get to work at all the places you want to but I did get offers from some of the companies I wanted to get into (I rejected them. But that’s a different story). Amid the crisis, I got an opportunity to facilitate a class of undergraduate students too. The other side of the story is that I stayed home with little or no work for 3-4 months while I even hated to stay home on Saturdays. Now, that I work from home, staying at home for four days a week on average is the “new normal” for me. Nothing is forever – neither was the lockdown nor is the pandemic. Things will get better or we will get used to with this.

4. There is no destiny:

There is no destiny in life. 

Let’s put this simple. 

We do whatever we do to achieve something. We believe that this “something” will provide us happiness and keep us content in life. But happiness is not something to be achieved in the future. There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. Don’t plan to get happy, and just be happy with whatever you have right now.

5. Keep your life in between reactive and proactive path:

Karna Shakya posted a status on his Facebook which really summed up the realization I made this year. Here’s the translated version of what he said:

“As you get old you don’t need a reason. My back hurt the whole night and I came to my Karma-Kunj early in the morning to get over my pain. I sat on the table hoping that if I can think of something else, I could forget my pain, and I opened my heart (thought). Slowly, I delved into my thoughts. I wrote whatever came to my mind.

Time supported me in a decent manner in my life. I played a lot as a kid, fell in love numerous times, traveled around, danced, and did many more. In reality, you don’t have to wait for the right time to work and to learn. You can gain knowledge, wealth, name, and keep up with your life at any time. However, those are not only the future of your endeavor. Now, at the age of 78, I am getting lost in the nooks-and-crannies of philosophy.

Religion, philosophy, -ism isn’t the truth. These are just shadows of verticles, views, and perspectives. There is no truth, there is only perception. Whoever can convince others, is the right. In this ostentatious life, we do need these types of perks because we need reasons to live and add romance to a boring life. However, our life is directed by truth, not philosophy.

Realistic people are of two types – Reactive and Proactive. Reactive are those who are rapturous, do not care about the future, and live in the present. They enjoy the principle of “Don’t ask me about tomorrow. Only the good will happen.” To be true, even this is one of the precise ways and a style of living a happy life.

Proactive people are aware and prefer to live for tomorrow rather than today. Sometimes they even tend to get lost in ideas while contemplating. They do climb the mountain of success but get lost in the clouds. That’s why after passing through these seven decades, the experiences of my life are now pushing me to walk through the glorious mid-way of the Reactive and the Proactive path.”

That’s exactly where I decided to stand after a year of contemplation. There are few things (not many either) to be achieved in life but not at the cost of giving up things that keep me happy at present. It’s a balance of present happiness and the zeal to achieve something in the future that keeps me going. Not too much, and not too less – Lagom.

6. One step at a time:

My reasonings worked in a deductive manner defining the consequence without thinking much about other ways to get things done. I realized that this has really pulled me back from achieving or doing a lot of things. Someone to me said “We don’t do more of planning. We do and then plan.” This is where I have started to focus. I do know I need to climb Mt.Everest. Had I been the previous me, everyday I would plan and think of reaching the top spending significant time in thinking if what/how I planned is the right way to get to the top. Further, every time I would think of summiting Everest, I would be unsure about my ability to get to the top. However, now, I plan the path once but plan on reaching a certain milestone every day. I deal with smaller chunks of larger problems each day. This not only keeps me going but also helps me focus and deal with a piece of the problem. While the ultimate goal of clinching the peak is in the back of my mind, much of my thoughts, energy, and ideas are preparing to take one more step to move ahead.

I believe these six lessons are enough to move ahead for a couple of years. After a couple of years, I shall once again revisit the past and redefine the philosophy of life as things change within and around me. Until then, amen! 

Marketing during the time of Corona

The world currently has the greatest number of people who have “free-time” and are using the internet more than ever. If you run a business and were thinking of the best time for you to revamp or begin with a fantastic plan to have a digital presence for your brand or business, this can just be the right time.

Corona Virus (COVID19) has thrown the world out of the league. It has hit many of the businesses worldwide. Hit so hard that not only many of the SMEs are struggling to survive, but also quite a few of the larger corporations and businesses are hardly pulling this off. If this pandemic doesn’t show the sign of going away anytime soon, the world after this wave of COVID19 might be a very different one, a complete paradigm shift in terms of human development. However, as a friend of mine said a few days back, “This shall too pass.” 

Right now, many of us are running our offices establishing a work-from-home policy, and many of us have also completely halted our operations. Never had the world before this time had seen so many of us working from home. The world currently has the greatest number of people who have “free-time” and are using the internet more than ever. If you run a business and were thinking of the best time for you to revamp or begin with a fantastic plan to have a digital presence for your brand or business, this can just be the right time. And, if you still think your business does not need to “go digital”, you might want to give another thought about it.

With over a billion population staying at home working or using video streaming channels like Netflix or Youtube, ISPs are being tasted with their ability to manage bandwidth for everyone. In a bid to alleviate the potential congestion, Facebook joined Netflix, Amazon, and Youtube to reduce its default video quality in Europe on March 23. A report by CNBC states that over 60% of data transmitted over the internet account to video streaming. This is mostly because videos have a larger file size than other types of files. Yet, this is the time when the number of daily active users and the daily active session per user is at its peak. Facebook and Twitter have already reported this over the media. This clearly means there is no better time than now to reach your targeted audience through digital platforms.

Over 3.3 million US citizens filed for unemployment benefits last week. Not just the U.S., gig economy has pretty much stalled around the globe raising the level of unemployment and sunken level of earnings. There is only a small amount of discretionary income available in the hands of people and they are going to spend it in a wise manner. Thus, unless you are a product or a service provider for the basic necessities, your marketing efforts should focus not on promotions and advertisements to sell your products or service but on public service announcements (PSAs) and non-profit initiations intending to give a boost to the level of brand awareness. Impressive and interesting messages will not only keep your business or brand in the mind of the customers but will also allow your business to polish the brand image.

Similarly, if you are yet to have your business presence on social media platforms, now is the time to start. And if you do have an account that hasn’t been done much, working on the content and posting updates is what you should start doing at this time. As mentioned earlier, the greatest number of people are “online” at this period of crisis and you can leverage this time to show the level of concern you have over your customers. Depending on the type of user-base suitable for your business, you can go ahead in creating accounts over several platforms. One thing you shall however remember is that the initial state of setting up accounts and making posts over these channels is more about diving into content marketing and not throwing in ads or offers. Content marketing is not more about conversions but is more about building relationships and keeping the engagements at a high level with your target audience.

Before you dive into preparing and posting content over the platforms, it is highly recommended that you look into the dynamics of each of the platforms as each of these might have a different target-audience to look into and require more-or-less a different content and strategy to succeed. You may look into some of the interesting tips from Social Media Examiner’s Youtube channel which I find to be concise and extremely useful in terms of developing content and building engagements across multiple channels.

Make sure you have your presence over Facebook – that’s where the biggest crowd is right now. Also, do not forget that search engines have a major role to play in your digital presence. Conduct SEO audits for your website if you can, or get the help of the experts. In my case, I always provide a list of checkpoints for my clients to look into as a part of the basic SEO audit. Optimize your website based on the results of the audit. Another thing to remember is that Youtube is the second most popular search engine. Thus, your presence on Youtube might be of great help, and with Instagram’s IGTV gaining popularity you may use shorter versions or similar content over both of these channels.

Leveraging these strategies might not pay off in the short run, yet these are sure to turn into an invaluable asset as the world dives further into the digital and augmented world over time. As they say, better late than never.

Originally, this article was previously published on Medium.

A Brief Analysis on WorldLink’s FTTH Service

You may download a copy of the analysis by clicking here

While I did a comparitive study of the rider application for Pathao and Tootle a while ago, this paper has been written to provide an overview of the existing various aspects of WorldLink Communication‘s FTTH plan. The data has been collected through multiple first party, second party and third-party sources. A minor social media survey conducted by the author, and personal experience acts as a primary source of data whereas multiple websites, social media pages, and other news sources.
The paper intends to serve as a white paper for the company in analyzing multiple aspects of the current FTTH plan and services offered. Further, the paper provides some of the findings and suggestions to improve the available services. Report highlights the major value proposition to be focus and the major services to be focused into. With increasing competition in the market, use of loyalty programs shall act as a long-term strategy to fend off the competition and have better customer retention result.

Lagging in digitalization

Government has time and again failed to understand the need to go digital in all the sectors and put the effort in developing regulations to monitor the digital platforms

Few weeks back, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) announced that it will take serious action against those who receive or make international payments through social media platforms. Considering these transactions to be illegal, NRB has said that any such activities would be treated as foreign currency embezzlement for which the action would be taken under the Foreign Exchange Act (2019). The announcement was made amid the rising popularity of social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube. While NRB seems to have recognized the growing popularity of these channels, the statement indicates the failure of NRB to prescribe a proper solution to bring these transactions into a tax bracket.

It isn’t true that making or receiving payments over international online channels is illegal. However, as none of the banking sectors are connected to the international digital banking channels, most of the companies and individuals opt to make payments using foreign bank accounts and cards. These payments are then either sent or received through informal channels such as hundi which then happens to be illegal in nature.



Provisions so far
As stated by one of the officials of NRB, there is a provision that allows any institution or individual to make payments for advertising over social media platforms which requires approval from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Upon receiving the approval, the provision allows payments up to Rs 10,000 to be made through banks. It is unclear if this limit is per transaction or per year for an institution or an individual. However, any transactions beyond this limit require approval from NRB.

While the process to get an approval of almost a hundred US dollars is such a hassle, one can barely think of dealing with provisions to get approval beyond Rs 10,000. Moreover, for an agency providing advertising solutions to multiple clients and running multiple online ad campaigns, visiting a bank each time to make the payment is in no way a practical solution.



In one of the interviews, Sixit Bhatta, the founder of the popular Nepali ride-sharing app, said that “If we look at the developed economies, the absence of laws and regulations means it’s legal, and you make the frameworks very swiftly to accommodate innovation. In our (underdeveloped) economies, they (the government) deem the absence of laws as not legal and they are pretty slow in creating regulations.” The government has time and again failed to understand the need to go digital in all the sectors and put the effort in developing regulations to monitor the digital platforms.

In the absence of law, Pathao and Tootle riders have been cracked down and fined multiple times for “operating the vehicle against its purpose”. However, after a strong backlash from the public over the social media platforms, the government stepped back and stated that it would allow their operations. Soon it was heard that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli directed the Ministry of Physical Planning and Transportation to come up with the laws for governing these platforms. While the Department of Transport Management had stated that it would have the new law ready by the New Year’s Day of 2076 (April 2019), nothing has been heard of over these several months.

Third-party platforms have surely been a boon until now. However, the ability to make direct payments through the cards of the banks is much of an easier option.

Amid the growing popularity of online shopping portals and increased online transactions, the government released a national strategy for e-commerce only in August 2019, almost five years after the e-commerce began operating in a full-fledged manner. Yet lack of auxiliary infrastructures has been much of a hurdle for these platforms every now and then. For instance, the country lacks proper road maps and house numbering systems to locate or deliver the ordered goods. Moreover, the inability to make use of the debit or credit cards of the national banks for the payments in these platforms and compulsion to use third-party payment channels such as eSewa and Khalti has been a hassle for the users. Third-party platforms have surely been a boon until now. However, the ability to make direct payments through the cards of the banks is much of an easier option.



Time to speed up
No one can deny the fact that the offerings that can be made through online platforms are immense. The ability to encourage such platforms and accommodate them into the regulated market will not only ease the lives of the people but will also allow the government to bring these into a tax bracket and earn revenues.

Moreover, while the government aims to welcome millions of tourists there is a need to realize the significance of developing digital infrastructure to cater the needs of the tourists. For sure the tourists would prefer to search for a cab service online, book it through an app, and make payment using their card rather than taking up a hassle to walk to the street, look for a cab, bargain over the price, and get used to with the currency.

This article was published on March 12, 2020 on Republica National Daily