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4Mat System for Entrepreneurs

-Sumukha Rao


Idea? Which one? What to do? Prioritize?
Wow... Never realized that paper napkin can be an Idea tool too :-)

I am confused. Why am I doing it? Can I become an entrepreneur? How can I startup and make this journey happen? Do I have the ideas, to be a success?
I know this resonates with lot of people who want to embark on a new journey in their life. Be it at work, or becoming an entrepreneur, as a first step, lot of people spend time, resources and money in finding answers to questions in their mind rather than finding answers by themselves.

While I am still an early stage entrepreneur working towards making my software testing company a success, I have had the privilege of working with few companies that have taught me to think structured. Be it leaving my earlier venture to start a new one or taking decisions within my own organization, the methods I follow have given me answers and guided me and I would like to share this simple 3-step process with you if it helps.

You build a building or an organization based on plan, a strong foundation and quality outcomes.

IDEA STATION
People have ideas and we would like to do something with it. As humans, we have a pattern. We think about a problem in our mind and our ideas revolve around it. As an entrepreneur, we think about ideas within your realm and what we are passionate about.
But many times, we forget to write it down on a piece of paper. Over a period, we lose track of the idea, the intent and forget the plot.

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As a habit, I tend to jot down my ideas, whatever comes into my mind on a piece of paper or use tools like Yellow on my computer to write it on post-its. As many ideas come into my mind, including articles writing, I write it down and keep it for future use. I consolidate it monthly into points in my post-its and think about it. Sometimes, I laugh at myself for few of the ideas that occurred to me and sometimes, I feel the idea to be feasible and think about it. I may have about 50 ideas / thoughts in my mind every month, I take time to consolidate, think about overlaps and consolidate it to about 25 ideas which may work. As a next step, I prioritize ideas based on gut feel and come up with about 10 ideas that have scope. Based on time, money and resources, I once again consolidate the list to about 5 ideas that is workable and has immediate impact.
People who think that they do not have any idea will be surprised at what this process brings to them. It was always in them but it never occurred to them that they were letting things go by.
4MAT System
Before we embark on the journey, I am sure we all ask ourselves questions. We rarely document it.
It is important to map the 5 consolidated ideas and ask yourself four questions – Why, What, How and What if and document it. It comes handy for your vision, mission and values that you take to your customers. Sometime, it may also lead you to drop the idea as it may be a good according to you but market may not need it.

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Why are we doing this, what is the necessity, why is this important, why will this work?
What is in it for me, what are we going to achieve by doing this, what is the need to do this, what is the information needed to do this, what does market think of this?
How are we going to achieve this, how many resources do we need to do this, how will they work?
What if it fails, what are the consequences – positive and negative?
This helps you in cementing your idea and brings more clarity in your mind.
SWOT
Once your objective is set and you have selected the idea to take it forward, you need to analyze the ecosystem to make your plan more robust.

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The ecosystem consists of you, the market; people who will be working on your idea, competition, geography, government policies etc. You may choose to do a SWOT on each of the items you feel necessary or a few you think is important. Documenting this will make you aware, the unique value you take to your customers.


By following these simple 3 steps and using 4MATS has helped me in taking difficult decisions easier and hope this information helps the upcoming entrepreneurs in their journey.

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