When you're just starting out in business, you have a lot of questions. What are some practical business skills you should learn? What character traits do you need to develop on the road to success? SEMrush spoke with youthful entrepreneur Chirag Kulkarni to see what tools he uses, what skills he draws upon daily and any other recommendations he has for someone looking to mimic his success.
18-year-old Chirag Kulkarni is a speaker and startup advisor. He has experience starting and running successful companies. His first company, STR, offered tennis racquet stringing to the B2C and, eventually, B2B markets in the Kansas City area. STR was awarded honors such as "top 15 business plans in the nation" and "2nd best business in Kansas City." Chirag later sold STR and decided to pursue C&M Group full time. C&M Group is an entrepreneurial strategy consulting firm focused on growth and new product innovation for companies ranging from startups to those in the Fortune 500.
Click here for the Pro Talk with Chirag Kulkarni PDF
Business According to Chirag Kulkarni
Airmail Airmail is an application I use to keep track of all my mail on my Macbook. A lot of my business is done via email and on the phone, so a secure email client is very important. It supports every type of email, which gives me the opportunity to add both my corporate and personal accounts. For the iPhone, I use an app called myMail.
Macbook Although I love meeting entrepreneurs in person, the reality is a lot of my networking is done virtually. Not to mention, my company is completely virtual. Any time my Macbook is not available is a time I miss out on what’s happening with my company, my blog, my social media accounts and the world.
iPhone I am a huge iPhone junkie. Like my MacBook, my iPhone is used to check email. Although I have a very unusual policy for email (I only respond to emails 2 times a day) I like to have a grip on what’s going on. I’m also a huge tweeter! Lastly, doing business means people-to-people interactions. I talk with people a lot. Personally, I am usually on the phone for at least 3-4 hours a day.
My brain Although not a gadget, it’s still something I use everyday to perform at my very best.
“Running Lean” by Ash Maurya. One of my favorite books because it focuses on the specifics of business. It is my go-to book for entrepreneurs trying to build a business.
Do What You Love, No Excuses" — Gary Vee is one of the best out there. He has a way of talking transparently about his life that makes me feel empowered and willing to take on every challenge I may have.
“The Innovator's Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen. A great book that describes the emphasis on customer needs, and what keeps businesses from moving forward.
“The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy on Leadership” by Bill Walsh. A great book that teaches people how to lead and achieve incredible results. Bill does an awesome job of speaking about direct things that people can do to become better leaders and achieve results.
“The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” by Atul Gawande. In a world where entrepreneurs are constantly running and doing things on the fly, it is important to realize that everyone can use a checklist to get things done.
Education and professional growth
I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t like traditional education. My suggestion? If you are strong in one part of business (such as business development) become more familiar with product development and other sides that can enhance your business acumen.
"Everyone can learn something from anyone; realizing this is important for growing as an individual and entrepreneur. Take advantage of your professors and focus on learning rather than getting an 'A' in a course." - Chirag Kulkarni
Five character traits you need to develop to succeed
- 1. Discipline
- 2. Vision
- 3. Perseverance
- 4. Passion
- 5. Drive
My greatest achievement
My greatest achievement has been my ability to understand gaps in the market and relate to people to win over others. In my humble opinion, starting a company, selling a company and achieving a certain revenue are great, but the soft components of life are the achievements that can be carried on.
What keeps me moving?
The journey is what keeps me going. All the little achievements and feelings I get internally when I work are what keep me going every day. I love the failures because it teaches me what I am doing wrong and what I can do better moving forward.