Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Preparing your Documentation for Retirement

As you reach the age of retirement, one of the first things you need to do, after resolving your finances, is to take stock of all your personal documents. Boring and tedious as it may seem, you will have to find the motivation and the time to organise your personal files. This is required for you to understand for yourself which document is filed where and to start listing these out for your family members, in the event something were to happen to you.

A majority of people do not think of consolidating all their personal documents in one place during their work life and scramble to do this when they retire. It is also essential to make sure that your spouse and at least one other family member is aware of all these details. Sure, it will take a little bit of time. But if you don't do it, there will come a day when your children will spend many hours trying to figure out where all the accounts are and how to access them. Don’t leave then in a situation where they will hope that they have not missed anything that you would have left to them.

You need to preserve the following information and documents carefully:
  • Details of Bank Lockers along with Passwords and Key Numbers. 
  • Details of Bank Accounts along with a list of all standing instructions that you would have issued 
  • Details of all your investments. If you are comfortable with a spreadsheet, list all your investments in a single spreadsheet and share it with your spouse. 
  • Records of Cheque Books, Share certificates, De-mat accounts, Life Insurance Policies, Health Insurance Policies, Vehicle Insurance Policies along with 3rd party ID Cards, Pension Papers, Recoverable and Payable money from/to friends and relatives. 
  • Records of passports, Aadhaar Card, Permanent Account Number, Income Tax number, Voter identification number 
  • List all your mobile and phone numbers, your broadband connection and all the passwords and direct debit instructions you would have issued for your phone connections. 
  • Title deeds of Property, any changes made to your property, Government approvals for modifications, if any and encumbrances if any, on the property. 
  • Original Will (Execute one if not already done). It is generally a good practice to give copies of your will to the beneficiaries so that there is no dispute after you. Your lawyer would be able to give you the best advice in your specific situation.
  • Passwords of your email ID’s, ATM, Credit and Debit Cards, Bank accounts, Wi-Fi and other electronic access, online profiles, net banking, demat trading accounts, Income Tax e-filing, and any other points where you use a password. 
  • List out all your frequent flyer numbers, your hotel loyalty card numbers etc. along with passwords. These points could be worth a lot to your nominees. 
  • Ensure that nomination has been done in all investment and bank accounts, lockers, Insurance Policies. As far as possible all the investments should be in joint names of yourself and spouse with the nomination registered in every account. Ensure documentary evidence is clearly filed for any registered nomination. You can cancel and re-register the nomination during the currency of investment. 
  • Names and contact information for your legal and financial advisors 
  • If you have any outstanding loans, list out all the loans along with the loan agreements and the equated monthly instalments you are paying and contact details of the bankers 
  • Names and contact information for all your doctors 
  • Names and contact information for any spiritual advisors 
  • Power of Attorney, in case you have issued one
Locate all the original documents that you have lying in various files at home and in your office and list out and catalogue every document. It is worthwhile to invest in a home scanner. This will allow you to scan every document. With the easy availability of storage space in the “cloud” it is definitely worth your while to scan every possible document and store it in a secure and safe account in the “cloud” which gives easy access to your family members. The simplest would be to download the Google drive linked to your Gmail account and store all your documents in this folder.

Make sure passwords to your accounts on the “cloud” are available with your spouse and family. All your documents must be scanned and stored properly. Once done, your documents can be accessed anywhere in the world as long as you or your family members have access to Wi-Fi.

This is also a good time for you to record your own “end of life arrangements.” If you are to be cremated, where would you like this to be and would you like an electric cremation or a normal wood fire? If you are to be buried, think about your casket. Some people I know have also written down which photograph they would like to be remembered by and how their obituary should be written. Morbid as this may sound in this article, if you have taken the trouble to outline your wishes, this will make it much easier for your children when the event actually happens.

When my 87 year old father passed away a couple of years ago, we were surprised at the extent of details he had left behind in his files. Not only were all his personal details carefully filed and listed out in separate files but also he had made sure that all these document files were then cross-linked together through an index in a master file. We also found that he had written out detailed letters for submission to the Provident Fund authorities, the Pension Fund as well as to all the banks. All that was required for us to do was to insert the date on the letter and the date and number of the death certificate and print the letter.

If you have not already completed this critical exercise of taking stock of and recording your personal documents, it time for you to get organized. This is necessary not only for yourself and your spouse but ultimately for your children.

The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.

Twitter: @gargashutosh
Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com | ashutoshgarg56.blogspot.com

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Branding for Startups

Brands are like children. They need constant attention and investment to grow and prosper.

A strong brand with strong values will survive forever – well beyond the life of its founder or any of the managers of the company. It is not the cost of designing the logo but the cost of inputs and perception that builds brand values. Your brand is created from customer contact and the experience your customers have with your brand will determine its ultimate value.

Therefore, as you think of building the brand for your startup, think of some of the following points.

Find the Right Name

The care and attention we normally give while naming a child is no different from the care and attention needed in naming your brand. You will need to nurture your brand just as you would your child as it grows in stature and establishes its place in the World.

For every Startup, it is critical to select a brand name that will convey the correct meaning of the business enterprise first to the entrepreneur, then to the employees and finally to the customers. Brand names have been known to fail if their meaning changes in another language. By way of example, a brand named “Horizon” failed in India because the common man colloquially called it “Harijan” (untouchable) in Hindi.

Understand your Competitor’s Brands

Remember that it is a crowded world and your brand will have to find its place among all its competitors. To give your brand a fighting chance, you need to clearly understand the brands of your competition and how you wish to position yourself. Understand the logos and the tag lines and try not to copy any of these. Understand how each of these differ from one another and then decide on how you will position your brand.

Define your Brand as a Person

Try to define your brand as a person, rather than an inanimate logo. Think of your brand as a human being. Is it male or female? Is it young or old? Is it fashionable? Will it make friends with the millennials or the pre-millennials or the post-independence generation? Is it modern or conservative? How would it talk? What kind of food does it like? How does it interact with its neighbours? Is it flamboyant or reclusive? Is it outgoing or shy?

As you answer these and more questions, the characteristics of your brand will become clearer to you. The answers to these questions may never come up in front of a customer, but they will help you come up with a better, more precise feel for your brand.

A clear understanding of your brand will help you to define marketing and communication strategy for your young business.

Logo, Tag Line and Corporate Colours

The logo of the company must identify with the brand name and should empower the vision of its founder. Hence lot of thought must go into this.

The tag line of the company must evolve from the brand name, the logo and the value proposition that the business is proposing to offer. It should be able to communicate to your customer the value proposition of your brand.

If competition is using red and white colours, you can be different be selecting another set of contrasting colours for your brand. What is important is to ensure that whatever colour you select is used consistently with no exception.

Respect for your Brand within your company

Getting company staff to understand the importance of respecting your brand is a huge challenge. You have to ensure that your entire team is on board with the brand and using it correctly in every application.

I used to find our staff members misusing company stationery, company branded paper bags were used to wrap foodstuff and company poster or damaged signages would be used as floor covering on a rainy day. During one of my rounds when I saw a member of the staff standing with his shoes on a company branded point of sale poster.

Instead of getting upset like I would normally have done, I decided to try something different. I asked the employee to write his name on a blank sheet of paper in bold capital letters. Once he did this, I placed the paper on the ground and asked him to stand on the paper. His immediate reaction was one of horror and he said “How can you ask me to put my shoes on my name. That would be disgracing my family name!” I pointed to the company poster under his feet and showed him that he was standing with his shoes on the name of his company.

The message was loud and clear and this spread story through the company very quickly. Everyone understood the meaning of respecting the company’s brand name.

Get Professional Help

Once you have the answers get professional help to design your brand and the logo. You must make this investment no matter how “boot-strapped” your startup is. Designing the font of your brand or your logo and committing these designs to the right set of colours is the task of a specialist and unless you have been trained as a graphic designer, assuming that you can design the brand yourself will create serious challenges for the future.

Be patient with your brand.

With the right inputs, it will grow and thrive. Stay consistent with your message. Do not permit any exceptions when it comes to the brand name, the logo, the tag line or the colour. You will find that your brand will slowly but surely increase its visibility, authority, retention and acceptance with your customer. 

To quote Warren Buffet, “Your brand had better be delivering something special, or it's not going to get the business.”

The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.

Twitter: @gargashutosh
Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com | ashutoshgarg56.blogspot.com