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'Fail fast to succeed sooner!'
Anand Chhatpar, CEO, BrainReactions LLC

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March 12, 2009

A few hundred years ago, when a kingdom went to war, they had to use canons which were slow and expensive. It took a group of four soldiers a total of 15 minutes to load the canon ball and set up its aim. Then, after firing if they missed, they just wasted a lot of time and money.

Therefore, the sensible strategy was: 'Ready, Aim, Fire!' Today, the story is quite different.

Soldiers use machine guns which have plenty of inexpensive bullets. Nobody wastes time trying to load individual bullets or planning their aim. In fact, they fire first and then adjust their aim. Therefore, the strategy today is 'Ready, Fire, Aim!'

This analogy is true today for all of you who have just graduated and are starting your career from a clean slate. This is a great time in life for you to start a new business, especially when you do not have the responsibilities of a family or the pressures of a house mortgage payment.

Starting a new business has become much cheaper today because office rent, cost of advertising and cost of employees has gone down. You probably also have a group of friends who would like to work with you and all of you can pool your startup money together. Some of you have ideas, but are hesitant to act due to the fear of making mistakes.

Let me assure you that everyone makes mistakes when starting a new business. What is needed to succeed is the will to recognise your mistakes and to fix them quickly. As I learned from my mentors during my internship, 'Fail fast to succeed sooner!'

Some of you may not yet have thought about any ideas for a business you can start. My company, BrainReactions, is in the business of identifying new opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies by generating creative new ideas. We not only generate ideas professionally for clients, but we also teach people methods of being more innovative systematically so they can create useful new ideas for their unique situation.

Perhaps we can share some business ideas with you here. Although the general sentiment today is quite negative, this is in fact, a great time to use the recession to your advantage.

Not all businesses are suffering in the recession. According to Barry Moltz's recent survey, about a fifth of all businesses are such that they actually do better in a recession. Such businesses, called 'countercyclical businesses', present great startup opportunities right now. Businesses that help people save money generally tend to be in this category.

For example, in a recession, people prefer to buy more groceries or eat cheaper junk food than eat at a fine dining restaurant. Insurance agents that can save people money on their car insurance premiums also do well in a recession.

Funnily enough, in India, astrologers tend to make good money during a recession by capitalising on the general distress among people. Could you, perhaps, create a new product or service that helps people save money or reduce wastage in their homes and offices?

For new entrepreneurs, it is easier to set up service-based businesses that have a low startup cost. Businesses like tutoring, washing/ironing of clothes, dog food delivery, car wash service, event planning service, and a travel booking service are some examples.

Since you are reading this article on a computer, I would assume that you know how to use the internet and are open to ideas for making money online.

Sites like and provide opportunities for freelance writing, graphic or web design, programming, and even simple tasks like data entry and virtual assistance.

Similarly, Amazon's Mechanical Turk at pays people for completing simple tasks online as well.

If you are good at photography, you can upload good quality photos to and get paid royalties. Metacafe pays users to upload videos that are popular.

Sites like and pay you to write reviews of Web sites on your free blog. Speaking of blogs, pays a revenue share to people who contribute articles to their site. has a database of unique business ideas from around the world that you could spend hours reviewing. The web is a huge resource of business ideas and for reaching out to other entrepreneurs who are available for providing guidance and help for your new business.

To get more new business ideas, I would recommend travelling to a new place that you have not been before, perhaps to a different country if you can. Experiencing a new place and culture can give you tremendous amount of fresh inspiration for new ideas. Also, check out the book called Successfully Launching New Ventures by Dr Bruce Barringer which features BrainReactions as a success case study in its second chapter.

Furthermore, you can double your chances of success by learning the fundamentals of systematic innovation through a six-week online course we deliver via webinars at where I will be happy to offer a discount for all Indians if you email and mention this article.

I hope that after reading this article you will not go back to your normal daily job-hunting and will actually use some of the ideas and resources that I have shared in order to create your own successful business and create new jobs for our country and our world.

Anand is currently the CEO of BrainReactions LLC (, a company that helps companies and entrepreneurs with innovation. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a stellar academic record supplemented by his research in various fields within computer engineering. He holds 8 issued US utility patents.

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