Category Archives: business

Blog business Experiences Learning

How to tell if it’s time to Pivot Your Business

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Part of being a good business owner is knowing when your original ideas for your company no longer work. If you want your business to survive for the long term, you have to be nimble. You need to be able to adapt to change and conform to the reality you are confronted with in the market as it actually exists.

Doing so takes guts, but it’s often needed for your survival. If you don’t adapt, your business will surely fail. 96 percent of companies don’t make it to their tenth year. There are endless examples of companies that went out of business because they refused to change. With that in mind, below are five clear signs it’s time to pivot your business.

You’re in a Bad Location

Sometimes, pivoting as a company doesn’t mean changing your business model entirely. Sometimes, it’s as simple as changing locations. A certain location in a city may have provided you with steady business for years. However, things not under you control, like the economic health of the rest of that neighborhood, can dry that business up almost overnight.
Don’t be afraid to move to a different location with better economic prospects if you have to. If one location isn’t performing very well for you, you should consider hiring movers to allow you to move to a more up and coming location in the city.

Your Profits Are Steadily Declining

If you want clear evidence you need to pivot, you should examine your bookkeeping. You may find that revenues have been on a downward trend for quite some time. While you can make up some of those losses by slashing overhead, that may not solve the problem. It may be best to start considering adjustments such as introducing new products that can turn that trend around.

Your Target Market Has Changed

In other cases, your niche market may evolve. Many companies tend to hone in on one target market. However, what if that target market suddenly stops supplying your company with business? You could redouble your efforts to market to that demographic, but you may still come up short.

If that is the case, you need to consider adjustments. You may, for one, want to explore different demographics. The demographics of markets are continually changing in regards to age, sex, race and ethnic background. Making adjustments to better meet the needs of different communities could allow your company to get a foothold with these consumers.

The Tastes of Your Target Market Have Changed

If you start losing business, it may not be that your target demographic has disappeared. Instead, it may be the case that the tastes of those consumers have shifted away from what your company offers its products. If this is the case, you need to pivot so you can better cater to those particular tastes.

Your Fixed Costs Are Too High

In other cases, your product may not be the problem. However, what is really holding you back are the fixed costs and overhead expenses that eat too much into your profits. If that’s the case, you may want to rethink all your different business processes. You may find many different ways to bring those expenses down.

Final Word

Overall, you need to be able to adjust as a business owner. You can’t be stuck in your ways in regards to your products, your marketing or your business processes. Due to the fickle nature of the business world, being too resistant to change can be a death sentence.

Author: Sia Hasan


Blog business Learning

Basics of Starting an M-PESA shop business in Kenya

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If you have been thinking of starting a business in Kenya, an M-PESA shop has probably crossed your mind. M-PESA shops are quite profitable businesses and what makes them an attractive investment is that they are quite easy to start and you can operate both as a main or side hustle. Even if you already have an existing business, you can still incorporate an M-Pesa counter into the business.

Would you like to be an agent of the biggest mobile service provider in Kenya? Read on.

Step 1: What You Need to Get Started

To operate an M-PESA shop as an agent, you need to have a registered limited company in business for at least 6 months and have at least 3 outlets ready to offer MPESA services.

A minimum investment for an MPESA outlet is Ksh. 100,000 float.

You’ll need to provide Safaricom with business permits for each of the MPESA outlets, VAT & tax certificates, ID’s, banking license from a reputable financial institution and police clearance certificates.

Fill in the MPesa agent head office application form and the MPesa agent store application form.

Once you have submitted your forms and met all the requirements you’ll be given a till number that you will use.

Step 2: How to run the Day to Day business

You can run the MPesa outlet yourself or hire competent staff with at least KCSE qualification. You also need to brand your MPESA outlet with the Safaricom brand guidelines. The day to day operations include;

Depositing cash into accounts of registered MPESA customers.

Process cash withdrawal for registered MPESA customers.

Register new MPESA users.

Comply with Safaricom business practices.

Step 3: Choose your preferred MPESA outlet

You can run your M-PESA outlet in two ways;

Standard Outlet

This is the most recommended outlet since you have to go through the complete process above and be registered as an agent.

As a sub – dealer

Operating as a sub dealer is much more affordable than registering as an agent. However, you will need to work under a licensed agent by buying their MPESA line and paying them commission for using their lines. For sub dealers, you only need a float of Ksh.20,000 – Ksh. 40,000.

Expected Challenges

  • Running an MPESA shop doesn’t really make you an entrepreneur because technically you are employed by Safaricom. You have to share your profit with them and they determine the amount of profit that you earn.
  • It is also quite a flooded business. MPESA shops are everywhere, on every street corner and this makes it very competitive.
  • There are also strict guidelines that you should follow as an MPESA agent and failure to adhere can lead to your line being blocked.
  • Running an MPESA shop is also a security risk since people know that you handle a lot of cash and that makes you a target for thieves.

 Final Word: 

Would opening an M-PESA shop be a business you would get into?


Blog business Learning

How to tap into Influencer Marketing for Your Small Business

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Small businesses, startups included, are not known for having endless marketing budgets. Usually, their resources are allocated to more practical aspects, like day-to-day operations and maintenance, sales operations, and employee benefits. Marketing becomes part of their priority only when they are expanding, in order to reach more audience or try new markets.

However, with the help of the Internet, there are now new ways to make a name for your business even when you’re just starting up. Through tapping into social media and other platforms to connect with large numbers of people online, small businesses can start their own marketing campaigns and one way to do so is through influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing, from the term itself, is the approach that focuses on individual influencers, rather than your usual marketers. Influencers range from well-known celebrities to experts in niche topics of your industry. You could include knowledgeable bloggers with a sizable following, or social media personalities that tackle topics related to the industry you are in.

Maybe now you’re wondering if influencer marketing would work for your business. Take a minute to think about how well your brand is engaged online: how many followers do you have on your Facebook or Instagram account? How often do you update your accounts, or post something new for your followers? If your answers are leaning towards dismal numbers, then perhaps you should consider going with the influencer marketing route. And no, this is different from social media management.

You’re not getting another person to handle your accounts or post updates about your brand. What you’re doing is targeting influencers with thousands of followers to talk about your products or services and promote them to their followers. Their influence is what you’re after, and just like any other marketing campaigns, your aim is to attract and engage the right audience, only this time, these are the influencer’s audience too.

To have a simplified understanding of what influencer marketing is, refer to this 4-step process:

Step 1 – Identify the experts in your industry, specifically in your chosen niche/field. Learn how well-connected they are, to see if they are influential enough to be an influencer for your business. Come up with as many as you like, so that you’ll have an extensive list of potential influencers before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2 – From the compiled list from the previous step, make a shortlist of those who are closely related to your business. These people should be complementary to your business, meaning, they are targeting the same audience bracket, as well as their reach, and their tone. It would help if you could find some that have the same target audience as yours so that they won’t have a hard time selling whatever product or service it is you are offering.

Step 3 – Start building a connection with your influencers. First step is to follow whatever platform they have so that they’ll know that you are connected through the same industry. Formally introduce your business, and express how well their blog/page resonates with your brand. State that you are looking forward to working with them in the future and are open to discussing a partnership. Share their content on your end, so that they’ll know you’re positively considering them as an influencer.

Step 4 – Once you’ve formalized a connection or partnership, you can now start to create content with them. These could include videos, posts, info graphics, and other items that they could share with their followers. This would be something related to your brand and will be promoted by them in whatever platform they have.

Why is Influencer marketing effective?

This type of marketing works simply because it helps you go directly to your target audience. Unlike typical marketing, which is like casting a net in a wide ocean, you’re cutting through all the unnecessary noise of your usual advertising efforts. From the get-go, you’ve identified influencers whose audience are quite similar to yours, so running campaigns through them would assure you that the ones on the receiving end are at least interested in what you’re offering. This method would be like casting a net on a commercial fishing pond, wherein you are highly likely to catch something.

But of course, it still takes a lot of work for this kind of campaign to work. Going back to Step 4, you’ll need to coordinate with your influencer in order to create a content that will capture your audience. You can’t just go and ask your influencer to say something about your brand and tell your audience to buy from you. Just to give you an idea of what they can do, here are some of the tactics that influencers usually employ:

– Your influencer gives you precious blog space so that you can write a content that’s related to their blog theme, and find a way to mention your product. In a way, you’re projecting yourself as an expert, and it builds trust from influencers’ audience, drawing their attention to whatever your brand is offering.

– You create a content for your own platform, but this time, you’re using your influencer as a subject matter expert. By interviewing your influencer for your own content, their audience (fans, followers, etc.) will likely go visit your site to see the content. You can also ask the influencer to promote it by sharing the URL on his or her accounts.

– The influencer will create a content that includes your product, either as a part of a tutorial (how-tos, FAQs, etc.) This can just be a subtle mention of your product as an ingredient, or as a material to whatever they’re creating. The influencer can also allot a post especially for you, to review your product or service. If they’re pleased with your brand, their followers would know about it and most likely try it out, too.

Final Word

Going back to the original question, should I get an influencer for my small business? The answer is obviously, Yes. It’s a great way to make your presence felt in a jam packed industry, and hopefully, help you make a name even when you’re just starting out. You can couple influencer marketing with other marketing strategies like mobile marketing in order to achieve best results.

Author’s Bio

Francis Mansueto has been writing for more than a decade now, focusing on Digital Marketing in the last couple of years. He is currently in charge of writing web-optimized content for RingCentral, an industry-leading cloud phone systems provider. Francis is also a voracious reader, spending most of his free time immersed on fictional worlds. You can reach him through Twitter.


Blog business Experiences Learning

3 Ways to be Taken Seriously As a Young Entrepreneur

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With the current shocking rates of unemployment, more and more young people are turning into entrepreneurship as a full career with most youth even starting a business while still in university. However, despite all the challenges young entrepreneurs face such as raising capital, lack of experience, balancing personal and business life, and lacking mentors, one other major obstacle they face is struggling to be taken seriously in the first place.

Young entrepreneurs are often dismissed by doubtful investors and most times they have to prove their worth more than their older, more experienced counterparts.

Are you a young entrepreneur? Here are a couple of tips on how to be taken more seriously;

Surround Yourself with Successful People

You cannot expect to be taken seriously as a young entrepreneur when the crowd you hang around are ‘jokers’ and people with no vision or goals in life. The saying, “Show me your friend and I’ll tell you what you are” rings true in this situation.

Make sure you hang out with people who:

  • Push you to be a better person and not distract you from your goal.
  • Have a positive attitude towards life and cheer you on.
  • Challenge you by asking the tough questions and giving you a different perspective.
  • Listen and are genuinely interested in what you do.
  • Have their own vision and goals. Seeing them work has a direct impact on your mindset.
  • Are more experienced and can give you advice and direction.

Work on Your Personal Appearance

One of my most thought provoking quotes is, “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” Whether you like it or not, investors and influencers in the business world will always judge you based on your personal appearance, intelligence and the first impression you create.

When you are smartly dressed, it boosts your confidence and others treat you with respect even if you are just starting out as a young entrepreneur. Always strive to look your best regardless of the type of business you are in.

You can do this by making your appearance a priority and investing heavily in yourself; invest in a good wardrobe, a good hair stylist/barber and other self-care practices. It is also important to prioritize quality over quantity. You’d rather have 5 good quality handbags for example than have 20 cheap handbags that do not compliment/boost your appearance.

Focus on Building a Good Reputation

You might look at your age and the fact that you are starting out as a disadvantage but on the flip side, it is actually an opportunity to build a great brand from scratch and lay a good foundation for yourself and your business.

Here are some tips on how to do this;

  • Always keep your word – Be known for results from the beginning. In fact deliver beyond people’s expectations.
  • Know your industry inside out – Read, research, be up to date with current trends in your industry. This way you’ll be able to hold your own when having conversations with the who’s who in your industry.
  • Associate and keep close ties with the influencers in your industry, follow them on social media, attend their events. Basically, stay visible.
  • Be aunthetic – Present yourself as a serious, authentic entrepreneur who just happens to be young. Also don’t be afraid to be honest about the challenges you are facing.

Final Word

Do you have any more tips for young upcoming entrepreneurs? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.

 

 

 


Blog business Learning

I Sold Flavored Ice to Raise Capital for My Fashion Business – Mercy Salama

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The tailoring business relies heavily on creativity as well as having great sewing skills. A tailor needs to be able to come up with fashion designs that they can then recommend to their clients depending on the shape of their body and the type of fabric they want. Therefore training and passion are key if one is to succeed in this industry. It’s even better if one realizes that this is what they want to do from an early age so that they can nurture and improve their skill overtime.

This is the story of Mercy Salama a tailor in Nairobi who is passionate about what she does and is very happy that she is living her dream,

“Growing up I always knew that I wanted to be a tailor.  My aunt was kind enough to take me through a tailoring college where the journey to my dream began. My family was not well off so taking me to school was the best they could do for me and the rest I had to figure out on my own.”

Salama’s story is like something out of a Nigerian movie where she came from selling flavored ice to becoming a successful tailor, a business that currently sustains her and her family. Getting the starting capital was a challenge but that did not discourage her. She thought about her options and decided she would open a flavored ice business which did not need much money to start and from there she could save enough to buy what she would need to open a tailor shop,

“I sold the ice for a while until I had enough money to buy my own sewing machine and other things that I needed to start my tailoring business.”

A visit to stall number 460 at Nairobi Textiles which is where her shop is located gives one a feeling of how Salama’s sacrifices along the way have paid off.

 

Salama working on an outfit at her stallSalama working on an outfit at her stall.

The business has also had a big impact on her family. She’s been able to successfully take her three siblings through school and comfortably pay her bills. As a way of giving back to the community, she offers tailoring lessons to a couple of students at a small fee.

Despite all this benefits, Salama’s tailor shop business has not been without challenges,

“One of the challenges I face is that I’ll finish sewing an outfit and when the owner comes to pick it up they promise to pay later but then fail to do so. This is a setback that I have decided to address by being strict and not releasing clothes until the full payment is made.”

Salama is happy with how far she has come and regards her clients as family so she tries to be honest with them as much as possible,

“In this industry tailors are known to be liars. They tell you to come for your clothes on a certain day and when that day comes, they know they are not done yet and even worse, they lie about it and some even hide to avoid confrontation. It’s better to have a good reputation since a good name is better than wealth”

The young entrepreneur urges youth to use their brains, hands and feet to make a living since different people were meant to do different things in this world.

“Just because your neighbor is a lawyer, doctor, engineer doesn’t mean that you also need to be one!” she concluded.


Blog business Learning

What You Need to Know Before Creating a Website for Your Small Business

What You Need to Know Before Creating a Website for Your Small Business

Your website is also known as your virtual brand or online storefront, and it speaks to the world about your company. Before you get overwhelmed by the excitement of getting your business on the internet or redesigning your current website, you need to be aware of certain essential things that will ensure that your website gives you return on investment (ROI).

The primary goal of designing a website is to enable users to find your company’s information in a relevant and easy-to-read format. The question of what is front end web development is a common one for most companies when they are developing their websites. Front-end web development entails producing CSS, HTML, and JavaScript for sites to enable end users to see and directly interact with them. Its goals are to ensure performance and accessibility of websites.

If you are serious about getting financial returns from your site, then you should understand these fundamental aspects before you spend thousands of shillings on hiring a web developer to develop a website.

Understand that your website is a marketing tool

 

With the popularity of the internet, people find almost everything online. Therefore, you need to have a plan for your company’s website before you code it. You need to find out who you will attract to your websites, what you will tell them, and what you want the visitors to do once they visit your site.

You may want them to call you, find out where your company is located or find more information about your company. One of the most important things you have to do is set a goal for your website. For instance, if your goal is to get visitors to call you, you should ensure that the web developer makes your phone number visible on your website. You should ensure that all your top goals are reachable from your site’s homepage.

Define the audience for your website

You need to know who will visit your website. It could be your current clients, new people, or people who know about your brand. Also, you should define where you want your website’s visitors to come from so that you determine the appropriate way of presenting your content on the site.

For instance, if you want current customers to visit your site, you can use familiar terminologies such as marketing names of products or services. The existing customer already understands the vocabularies you use because they have heard it before, but a new visitor might not understand the terminologies unless you add extra words that expound on them.

Define the needs of your customers

You need to be clear on why people are visiting your website. You should understand what they want to get from your website. When you understand why visitors visit your website, you will be in a position to speak to them in the language of their needs. For instance, if you are a plumbing company and your visitors want to get tips on how to maintain their plumbing systems, you ought to have an appealing first introduction that asks them if they want to avoid plumbing emergencies.

Figure out the underlying architecture of your website

It sounds complicated, but it is a simple task. You need to lay out the menu structure of your website. Each page on the website needs to have a purpose and a hierarchical order. Notably, good website architecture is the foundation of proper search optimization (SEO). A good architecture design will enable your visitors to navigate through your site quickly. You should have the blueprint of the website in writing to allow the developer and graphic designer to comprehend your needs and ensure that the website meets the requirements.

Final Word

Designing or redoing websites is a massive investment that will pay off with time if carried out in the right way. You should make sure that you carry out detailed research so that you are a knowledgeable buyer to get the best ROI on your digital marketing strategy. Besides, the web developer and designer you hire to redesign or develop your website should be qualified and experienced.

Author: Sia Hasan


Blog business Experiences Learning

WHY I QUIT MY INSURANCE JOB TO BE A MECHANIC – SAMMY MACHARIA

WHY I QUIT MY INSURANCE JOB TO BE A MECHANIC – SAMMY MACHARIA

Have you ever gone to work but deep down wished you had your own business? That is the story of many Kenyan employees, they are employed but most of them hope to be their own boss someday. It takes more work obviously but knowing that all the efforts you put in are towards your own growth and not anyone else’s makes it all worth it.

Sammy Macharia, the 31 year old founder of Soroti Auto Spares, an automobile repair shop, is one such Kenyan. Sammy was previously employed at an insurance company but realized he could be more than just an insurance agent. He had worked closely with mechanics, especially when their clients’ vehicles had been involved in accidents. The insurance company would work hand in hand with the garage of their choice to ensure their client’s vehicles were fixed. Because of this interactions he learnt the ins and outs of operating a garage and figured he could open a garage and do the fixing himself.

“After watching the company oversee vehicles being fixed when I was employed as an insurance agent I fell in love with the art of fixing a car and decided I should open a garage where I fix damaged vehicles among other services such as spray painting, panel beating, normal vehicle servicing among other things.”

Having worked as an insurance agent had its advantages as most of his clients are people he met while on the job while he gets the rest of the clients through referrals which also happens to be his most successful form of marketing.

“Most of my clients are people who have been referred to us by our other clients, meaning you have to do a good job and it will speak for itself,” Sammy said.

Through his garage business, Sammy has not only been able to sustain himself financially but has also employed 16 others at Soroti Auto Care. He urges young people to embrace the blue collar jobs because white collar jobs are flooded and at the end of the day what matters is your ability to take care of yourself as well as your responsibilities. He also challenges them to create their own opportunities instead of waiting and crying out to the government for help when they have the ability to control their own fate.

How to Start a Motivational Speaking Business in KenyaThe entrance to Soroti Auto Spares located along Langata Road.

Sammy adds that the business has impacted him in so many ways. He is able to pay the bills and run the business efficiently and the most important benefit is networking. He has met people who have inspired him and given him a new perspective in life which helps him to push on and want to get better with each passing day.

 


Blog business Learning

How to Start a Motivational Speaking Business in Kenya

How to Start a Motivational Speaking Business in Kenya

Do you love speaking in front of a crowd, inspiring people and have a likeable personality? Then you should consider starting a business as a motivational speaker. Everyone likes a passionate speaker who motivates them to accomplish what seems impossible and fuels them with hope. Motivational speaking is also a business which once you get right, you’ll reap a lot of rewards while leaving an impact on people’s lives.

Big names like Robin Sharma and Zig Ziglar have all built a strong brand in this industry and so can you. Here are the basics of starting out a motivational speaker business;

Getting Started

One advantage of being a motivational speaker is you do not need hundreds of thousands to start. The major capital you need to invest in is yourself. Start by identifying your area of expertise depending on your back ground, interest and expertise. Some places that are most receptive to motivational speakers are;

  • Schools (primary, high school and university)
  • Corporates
  • Churches, etc

You also need to fully invest in yourself and your skills by;

  • Developing public speaking skills: strong public speaking skills are a must have for any motivational speaker. You can invest in some lessons and tutorials on public speaking and even though you won’t be perfect overnight, practice makes perfect.
  • Gain experience: become an expert in your field by going to school, gaining work experience and trying out new opportunities. Successful speakers have gone through success and failures then talk about what they’ve learnt during their speaking engagements.
  • Maximize on your life story: life stories draw people in and make you more relatable.

Build your Networks

Networks and recommendations are what will take you far in this business. Build your networks by joining professional speaking organizations, reaching out to various trade groups, schools and corporates and joining reputable clubs and societies like Rotary.

Market yourself to your networks by creating and sharing business cards, brochures and having a website which should include testimonials and short clips from your presentations.

Build your Brand

Every professional needs to intentionally build a reputable personal brand. However, motivational speakers should take their brand seriously since that is what will sell you. Before you start building your personal brand, take time to think about who you are, what you have achieved and how you want others to see you.

To get your brand out there, have professional headshot images of yourself taken, build your online presence through branded social media pages and a personal website.

With time you can also venture into other fields. Most successful speakers are also authors, T.V show hosts, etc.

Set a speaking fee rate

Determining what your speaking fee should be can be so stressful especially because when starting out, you may have to do some speaking engagements for free. Here are some important questions to ask yourself before choosing a speaking fee rate;

  1. Will travel expenses be included? What will be the mode of transport?
  2. What audience am I speaking to? Speaking to experienced professionals for example will definitely cost more than a speaking engagement with high school students.
  3. Is accommodation covered? As a motivational speaker, you have to travel a lot. Set your accommodation standards from the beginning and don’t accept anything that is not decent.
  4. What’s the audience size?

Whatever you do, make sure you do not work for free for too long and don’t underprice yourself. However, the more times you speak, the better you get, the more you should charge.

If you are an author or have DVD’s of your talks, you can sell them during the events.

Get Registered

After you have everything ready, register your company and get the relevant licenses. You also need to get certified by the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) to have an edge in the industry.

Final Word

Would you venture into motivational speaking as a business?


Blog business Learning

When a Business Idea Comes to You in an Unexpected Place, Run With It

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Kenya is a growing nation and everyone seems to be moving towards making it a 24 hour economy. People are either busy at work or at their business. Many are the times that these people need to run errands but they don’t have the time! What could be better than having someone to run these errands for you?

George Kamau is the founder of HCS Errands, a company that runs a variety of errands for people who may be too busy to run them on their own. This is an idea that was conceived by coincidence. As George was busy looking for a job from office to office and getting little to no response he noticed one thing. In most of these offices he visited he would hear of the receptionist either struggling to get someone on phone to deliver company documents or they would be complaining about delays in the delivery of their documents. It occurred to him that this was it! It was time to try and venture into the world of entrepreneurship. Running errands such as delivering packages among other services would be his entry point.

Services he offers include making deliveries/courier services, data entry services, government online related services, banking services etcetera. This is one of those businesses you can start with very little money or literally zero capital. As George himself puts it, “The most important capital in this business is the idea, a positive attitude and commitment. In terms of money you need transport money which was a challenge for me when starting out since I was jobless and didn’t have money, so I would sometimes have to borrow from friends then refund upon being paid.”

Despite this hiccup in the beginning George has been able to persevere due to his resilient nature. He adds that entrepreneurship has shaped him up and he is happy that he has been able to create opportunities for young Kenyans with the skills. The young CEO is a proud employer to five other people, two stationed in the office and the rest work in the field “The company has really grown from the time when I would do everything by myself to now where I have people to assist me. To be more effective as a businessperson you need a team of people who understand your vision”

The business has not been without challenges. For one George says entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. “You will find that very few people believe in you. Some view this business as that of the illiterate! It’s up to you to believe in yourself. Work with those who support you strive to be the best and you will see that the doubting Thomas’s will get on board eventually”

George adds that in this business one must remember that the client is king. Provide to their level of demand and ensure your services offer them a solution. He attributes his success to God, hard work and being dynamic. Despite all the challenges he faces he is very confident in his business and sees a bright future ahead. He urges the young people who may want to go into entrepreneurship not to be afraid to start, “Don’t let challenges weigh you down you can start with the little that you have. Use the resources that are within you, visit places that mentor young people like Kuza Biashara and be open to learn.”


Blog business Learning

5 Ways to Make your Small Business Stand Out from Competition

5 Ways to Make your Small Business Stand Out from Competition

If there is one challenge that every entrepreneur faces across the board, it’s being able to stand out from competition. Do you ever feel like everyone in your industry is doing the same thing, sharing the same message, using the same tone and style?

Standing out from competition may be a difficult task but it’s not impossible. There are major brands that have built strong brand identities for themselves and acquired a large share of the target market in their industries.

As a small business, you can still use the same strategies as your competitors but add a unique spin that makes you unique.

Here are 5 ways to do this;

  1. Providing Exceptional Customer Service

    75% of customers state that they consider customer care as a true test of a company’s competence. Whatever business you are in, create an environment where your customers don’t want to leave. Great customer service is about making sure your customers feel valued and this does not even have to be expensive.

    Simple things like calling to follow up if a customer’s issue was resolved, listening and acting on customer feedback, calling a customer beforehand to remind them of an appointment they made stand out and make a customer want to keep coming back.

    Another way you can stand out is to be honest with your customers especially if you know you cannot meet a specific need they have. This helps build trust instead of hiding some information or even lying just to make a sale.

  2. Offer a Powerful Guarantee

    Having a guarantee is a great way to draw people to your product/service and boost sales. Guarantees communicate your company’s commitment to stand behind the product or service you provide and makes customers more confident in investing in your product/service.

    Examples of popular guarantees are;

    • If your competitor offers 6 months warranty on their product, offer a 1 year warranty.
    • You can guarantee that every call or email query will be handled within 24 hours.
    • You can have a 30 day money refund for customers who will not be satisfied with your product/service.

    Depending on your industry, figure out what guarantees you can provide that will make you stand out.

  3. Constantly Innovate

    In this increasingly competitive business environment, innovation is vital to the success of your small business. Being innovative provides an edge and boosts your company’s growth and profitability. Innovation doesn’t have to be a complicated, world changing break through. Even the simple improvements in how you do things can be innovative and stand out.

    Here are a couple of innovative ideas that you can incorporate;

    • Embrace green energy, it’s much cheaper, reliable and cost effective.
    • Improve packaging of products.
    • Find creative ways to organize your workspace
  4. Be Easy to Work With

    Having talent, education and experience is no longer enough to survive in today’s competitive economy. Neither is offering the best product/service in the market. Key soft skills such as having a good attitude, having good communication skills influence how likeable you are personally and professionally.

    Here are a few other qualities you need;

    • Be reliable – Being consistent and dependable will help you win contracts and maintain your work relationships.
    • Be honest – In every tough choice you have to make, choose honesty over deception.
    • Have a great 1st impression – Whether you like it or not, people are going to form judgments about you the first time they meet you. Make sure your first impression exhibits your professionalism both in real life and on your social media handles.
  5. Narrow down your Target Market

    Narrowing down your target market can be quite tricky. It might not make sense at first since we all want a bigger market so that we can make more profit, right?

    Assuming that everyone is your target market when starting a business is a big mistake most new entrepreneurs make. You end up spending time and money attracting them while your actual target market who needs what you offer doesn’t even know you exist since you are not directly targeting them.

    If you want to stand out from your competitors, narrow down your market, figure out the little details including what challenges they face, what their needs are, where to find them and how to effectively deliver your message to them.

Final Word

Are you an entrepreneur? What do you do to stand out from competition? Let us know in the comment box below.


Blog business Learning

THE FOOD ‘KIBANDA’ THAT HAS STOLEN THE HEARTS OF SPRING VALLEY RESIDENTS

THE FOOD ‘KIBANDA’ THAT HAS STOLEN THE HEARTS OF SPRING VALLEY RESIDENTS

Do we live to eat or eat to live? The mere fact that someone thought to ask such a question goes to show how important food is. Most people have at least three meals per day.  Lucy Wanja is a lady who decided to exploit these fact by coming up with a business in the food industry. She opened a restaurant well known to the locals as a Kibanda.

Lucy Wanja describes herself as a mother and a businesswoman. The need to be independent and make a living led to her opening a Kibanda restaurant. She was confident in her cooking skills even though she never attended any catering school. Her delicious meals soon enough attracted the people in the area; from office workers to manual laborers. Lucy was doing so well for a startup and that was the beginning of her woes.

“The owner of the kibanda I was renting decided to take back her kibanda. I think it was a malicious move aimed at putting me out of business and it did for a short while”

People had come to love Lucy’s food which apart from being delicious was affordable too. Some of her clients contacted her and encouraged her to get back in business. She had all her tools of trade but no building to house her restaurant. She raised these concerns to her clients who did not relent in their quest of getting her back to work. One of them suggested that she prepares the food at home then ferry it to a location her previous clients could easily access, serve them and finally carry the utensils back home for cleaning and organizing the following day’s meals. Lucy thought about it and decided to give it a try.

It was not easy at first. Using public means of transport to get her food to the shed (as many have come to call it since it is literally under a tree) was and still is her greatest challenge. “It’s cumbersome and sometimes waiting for the matatu to fill up takes time so I end up arriving late hence inconvenience some of my clients which is very bad for business.”

Located in Spring Valley, Nairobi, Lucy’s shed is very popular with a wide range of people. Responding on how she keeps these people coming back daily she says it’s all in the taste of her food. The price of her food has also been constant despite the inflation in the prices of food at the market. When asked how she deals with this inflation Lucy says no situation is permanent so the trick is to wait it out. The profits go down of course during this period but that is a sacrifice she is willing to make.


Lucy Wanja serving lunch to her clients

As the sole income generator the business has benefitted her in so many ways. “I am able to pay my house rent using the profits from the business, I can confidently say that I sustain myself because of this business and even help my mother financially back in the village.”

The resilient entrepreneur has big dreams and hopes that one day they do come true. She plans to own a real restaurant in future and have more clients to enjoy her meals.


Blog business Experiences Learning

Just How Profitable is the Event Management Business in Kenya?

image courtesy: Freepik

Event Management is an industry that has greatly evolved over the years. Events are no longer just a few hours of food, drinks and fun. They are a major part of an organizations brand and even simple events like birthdays and baby showers have become a big deal and people want them to be as memorable as possible by enlisting the help of event planners.

This makes event management a potential field to venture into if you get a few basics right.

STEP 1: GETTING STARTED

Running an events company may seem fun and glamorous but in the background, there is a lot of work and high attention to detail. As the founder of an events company, you need to always be on top of things, establish great networks and ensure your business is sustainable.

That said, before starting, it is important to learn the ins and outs of this industry by actually working in an events company or working in a department that allows you to plan events. This will give you firsthand experience, help you learn more about industry standards and most importantly, gather networks that will help you in future.

Networks are particularly important since you cannot work alone especially when starting out. You need contacts with suppliers, caterers, florists, sound guys etc. from the business side. You also need to have clients who have seen your work and are willing to hire you. Finally, you need capital. In this case, to start off you’ll need approximately Ksh 100,000 – Ksh. 120,000 that will be further broken down below.

STEP 2: Identify your target market

In the initial days of managing an events company, you may be more open minded and take up various events. However, in the long term, you have to settle down on a target market and establish your niche. Event planners generally serve two market segments;

  1. Private Market – These are more personal family oriented events such as weddings, baby showers, birthdays, reunions, etc.
  2. Corporate Market – These events are focused on organizations e.g trade shows, galas, awards, team buildings, launches etc.

STEP 3: Work on your skills

Everyone whether individual or organization wants their event to be the best and reflect their personal taste. As an event planner, you need to have certain skills that set you apart so that you establish a reputable brand for yourself;

  1. Time Management – When you promise a client that you’ll deliver something at a certain time, make sure you do it. You should also be able to meet tight deadlines and work under pressure.
  2. Attention to detail – Small things such as flower arrangement, cutlery should be perfect at all times.
  3. Negotiation – You should be able to negotiate with various suppliers to get a good price.
  4. People skills – Events are generally stressful situations and you need to be able to deal with tough personalities.
  5. Multi-tasking- You should be able to handle multiple tasks at a time since you will be dealing with different groups of people

STEP 4: Get Licenced

Once you are ready to go, register your business either as a sole proprietorship or limited company.

Sole proprietorship – Ksh. 5000 for name search and business registration certificate.

Limited Company – Ksh. 20,000 for name search, certificate of incorporation, memorandum and article of association

Also register your event planning company KRA pin online.

As a startup, you can comfortably run the company from home and save on office rent.

Lastly, get a business permit from your county. Cost may vary in different counties but it ranges from Ksh. 5000 – Ksh. 15,000 per year.

STEP 5: Investment vs Profit

Here are some basic expenses you’ll incur;

Computer/Laptop – Ksh. 40,000

Office Supplies – Ksh.5000

Licences –Ksh. 25,000

Marketing – Ksh. 5000

Rent – Ksh. 40,000

Total – Ksh. 115,000

Different events are priced differently. You can charge hourly rates or have a fixed fee that covers all your time and costs. However, even if you charge Ksh. 20,000 per event and you hustle for an event a week, you can make up to Ksh. 60,000 per month.

Final Word

Is event management a business venture you would consider?