Category Archives: Experiences

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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 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?


business Experiences Learning

Picha Booth – A Fun Way to Capture Memories

Picha Booth – A Fun Way to Capture Memories

Venturing into uncharted waters can be risky. Most people are comfortable staying in their comfort zone for as long as it takes. Unfamiliar territories can be scary and full of uncertainties especially if the territories are those of entrepreneurship. It’s even harder when you are investing time and money in a new concept that is yet to be tested in the market. You have to be really bold and believe in yourself since there are very few success stories and no mentors to guide you.

This is the story of Nyambura Kinyori, a communications and marketing graduate who took a bold step three years ago and has not looked back since. She founded Picha Booth, a photo booth company that allows you to capture memories in a fun, exciting way. It is a relatively new concept in Kenya and she is set on making it popular.


Picha Booth’s photo booth at work

The beginning was a little rough but Nyambura together with her business partner were able to crack it. The business idea came about when Nyambura and her friend were brainstorming on the kind of business they would go into and by mere chance Nyambura stumbled on the photo booth idea on the internet. She went on and did more research on the idea and voila! They had found their money maker.

There were a few challenges in the beginning in terms of getting capital and buying the booth since from their research they realized it could only be found in the USA at the time and shipping it back was quite expensive. Family and friends came through for them and after a short while they were good to go.

“It has not been easy. Sometimes I wake up and tell myself that maybe I should just look for a job but then I remember all the times that my photo booth has put a smile on someone’s face and I push on. Life is hard enough out there so knowing that I can contribute some level of happiness in people’s lives gives me immense joy,” said Nyambura.

She added that,

“Picha Booth offers three packages all billed per hour; silver, bronze and platinum. The longer you stay with the booth the cheaper it gets. There is also a variety of props available so people can be whoever they like in front of the camera and have fun doing it during the photo session.”


The Kuza team sharing a fun moment at Picha Booth’s photobooth.

Kuza Biashara works with such micro entrepreneurs to empower them through mentorships and training. We believe that if every micro entrepreneur can employ at least one person then we would be headed in the right direction. In that line Nyambura has been able to create employment for three other people an accountant, a technician and a content writer for their digital media platforms. That is what entrepreneurship is all about and Nyambura totally agrees,

‘We are a community I don’t intend to grow alone. If I can make a difference and empower a few people then I am content with that”

Despite some challenges Nyambura has had to become resilient and lean more on her family and friends for support. She is glad that more people are embracing the photo booth concept and with time she would like to be at more events and touch points like malls and churches. Things are definitely looking up for Pichabooth as there has been more demand. They plan in investing in more machines even going into manufacturing booths since they are not locally available

Nyambura urges her fellow entrepreneurs to be patient, persistent and plan ahead if they want to see their efforts bare fruits.


Blog business Experiences Learning

3 Ways to Market your Small Business on a budget

Image courtesy: Freepik

Marketing is vital for the growth and visibility of a small business. A marketing strategy for your small business should not necessarily be expensive, all you need to do is be creative enough. At the end of the day, what you need is to hit your intended targets. Here are 3 approaches to nailing you marketing without spending a dime.

1. Create a killer pitch

As a business owner, you automatically take up the marketing role for your business. This means that wherever you are, whatever you do, you need to be looking out for opportunities to talk about your business and what you do.

To make sure you are always ready when an opportunity arises, prepare a brief pitch that will draw people to listen to what you have to say. The average attention span of an adult is about 8 seconds so this leaves you with less than a minute to effectively market your business.

If you can master this skill, your business ROI will thank you for it.

2. Word of Mouth Marketing

If you master the use of word of mouth marketing for your small business, you may never have to budget a dime for marketing again. There are many small businesses that thrive solely on word of mouth marketing and only use other marketing strategies to help solidify their brand and not necessarily to get new clients because their happy clients bring in more clients.

Here are some tips to make the best out of word of mouth marketing;

  • Understand your target market, what they need and focus on fulfilling their needs.
  • Have a customer feedback strategy. When customers give feedback, it makes them feel like they are adding value.
  • Be unique; Your competitors can do what you are currently doing and even more. However, what makes your business stand out? It might be as simple as how you package your product or your exemplary customer service
  • Reward loyalty – Always reward loyal customers and they will recommend more people.

3. Online Marketing

Online Marketing is a wide topic but for this article, we will focus on social media marketing. Social media marketing takes two formats; organic and paid.

With organic marketing, you do not pay to boost your posts or promote your page. However, with paid marketing, you have to pay to have your posts shown to a wider audience and to promote your page.

It is important to boost your posts and pay for social media ads once in a while but your main focus should be making the best out of your organic posts.

With facebook introducing a new algorithm that prioritizes posts from friends and family to business pages, businesses have to work extra hard to create content that stands out.

Here are some tips you can use to promote the organic reach of your page;

  • Present a consistent image of your brand from the beginning.
  • Be authentic with your posts, let them be natural and not look like you are forcing the sales message.
  • Share content that adds that add value to your audience including tips and quotes.

Other online marketing tips you can consider are email marketing and digital marketing through a website.


Blog business Experiences Learning

HOW I CAME UP WITH AN INNOVATIVE REAL ESTATE SOLUTION FOR YOUTH AND MIDDLE INCOME EARNERS – GRACE WANJIRU

HOW I CAME UP WITH AN INNOVATIVE REAL ESTATE SOLUTION FOR YOUTH AND MIDDLE INCOME EARNERS – GRACE WANJIRU

It has been said that when it rains it pours, Ciru knows this too well having lived through the toughest of times and still came out shinning. Grace Wanjiru also known as Ciru is the founder of KODIKODI a real estate company that lets you rent with the intent of eventually owning the property. It all began as an idea that was conceived during one of the lowest points of her life when she was down and feeling defeated.

How It All Started

Most people graduate and are so enthusiastic to go out in the world and find a job. Ciru was not any different. She completed college having studied Interior Design and embarked on the strenuous job search. For her first job, she worked at an architectural company in Westlands before pursuing a career as a flight attendant for Kenya Airways.

“I am a curious being and everyone especially us women feel like being part of a cabin crew is an awesome job because you get to travel the world. I loved the travelling but I still had so much passion for interior design so I quit my job as a flight attendant and pursued my passion which was starting an interior design company,” Ciru said.

Things Fall Apart

The business did well for some time but then Ciru got pregnant and that is when things started falling apart. The company fully depended on her and she wasn’t able to go out to get jobs and contracts due to the complications that came with the pregnancy.

“It got to a point where I couldn’t pay my rent being a single mother of two babies then and I didn’t have anyone who could step in for me at that time.”

Two months later, Ciru’s landlady kicked her out of her apartment.

Pregnant and homeless Ciru had to think fast. People she thought would come through for her turned out to be a big disappointment. She had to send her kids back to her mother’s place and luckily, her close friend who turned out to be her business partner later offered to take her in until she got back on her feet again.

“I was in a position where I felt useless, I felt hopeless, I felt like I had failed my kids, myself and that is when I started reflecting about my problems at the time. There was a time when I was able to pay Ksh. 50,000 rent at ease. I’d actually done it for 8 years yet I had nothing to show for it. That’s when I asked myself, how many Kenyans out there are going through the same thing?”

The Birth of Kodi Kodi

That was the genesis of KODIKODI, which translates to ‘RENT RENT’ in Swahili. She approached her friend who also happened to be her host at the time with the idea and he got on board agreeing to help her bring the idea to life.

KODIKODI is tailored for the middle and low income earners as it allows one to own property at 0% interest and 0% deposit. Buyers are able to own the property after making monthly installments for a certain period.

For example, If a property goes for Ksh. 900,000, a Kodi Kodi client will acquire it at 0% deposit and 0% interest and they have the option of paying Ksh. 30,000 monthly for 30 months and at the end of the payment, you get to own the property. The same way you rent a house for Ksh. 30,000, the only difference is at the end of a certain period, you become a property owner and the value of the property has also gone up.

Why Invest with Kodi Kodi?

When asked how profitable the venture is seeing that it offers 0% interest Ciru says,                  “KODIKODI is not just about making money, it’s a movement out to change lives and disrupt the mortgage industry.”

The venture is guided by the acronym CAV which stands for;

Credibility, what this means is that their client is able to get all the necessary documents upon completion of payment at the stipulated time.

Affordability, the property is affordable in that if the value of the property appreciates within the time the client is still making payments the price of the property is not increased! The payment system is also very flexible.

Value addition, the property comes with other amenities such as swimming pool, kids playground, electric fence, borehole, basketball pitch, clubhouse etc.

Future Plans

KODIKODI is clearly going far as the CEO has plans to expand. They are finished with phase one and are now working on phase two both projects located in Nanyuki. In future they plan to spread the venture all over Kenya and to also come up with a package suitable for the youth as young as university students.

Take – Away

“If you have an idea just get started. Stop with the procrastination. You should also be willing to put in the work, you cannot plant the tree from the fruits!” that is the advice Ciru has for the upcoming entrepreneurs. She also agrees that she has made mistakes and learnt from them.

“As an entrepreneur you should not be afraid of taking risks and if you feel your idea or business is not picking up sit back and evaluate yourself, seek assistance from friends or even pray about it, there is always a way,” she concluded.

Kodi Kodi Founder, Grace 'Ciru' Wanjiru sharing a light moment with the Kuza Biashara team.

“Kodi Kodi Founder, Grace ‘Ciru’ Wanjiru sharing a light moment with the Kuza Biashara team.”


Blog business Experiences Learning

5 Remarkable Negotiation Tips You Must Embrace

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The success or failure of a business deal greatly depends on an individual’s ability to negotiate. Therefore, for you to strike as many business deals as possible, having the right negotiation skills is key. Negotiation is also essential for business success because good negotiation skills can help you climb the corporate ladder and acquire profitable contracts for your company.

It`s, therefore, necessary for you to know how to negotiate if you want to achieve success in business or in your career.
Here are 5 negotiation tips that you should embrace in your next business meeting.

1. Create a friendly atmosphere

It is important to create a friendly atmosphere during a negotiation process. It not only puts the other party at ease but also makes them share more information that you can use to your advantage.

2. Do not make the first offer

Making the first offer may work against you either when buying or selling something. When selling, you might set a lower price than what the buyer expected.

On the other hand, when buying you might set a price higher than what the seller was expecting. However, if you have to make the first offer, ensure that you set a very high price if you are a seller and a very low price if you are a buyer.

3. Act as if you are not desperate for the deal

The other party might set abnormal offers if they realize that you are desperate for the deal. Therefore, act as if there are many deals waiting for you somewhere else.

Few businessmen would want to delay a deal. Therefore, they will offer you a good deal if they realize you might cancel it anytime because you have other deals.

4. Display extensive knowledge on the subject matter

Knowledge shows the other party that they cannot deceive you by providing false information about the product or service on sale. Also, extensive knowledge proves that you are serious about the deal to the extent that you researched about it.

5. Lastly, you can pretend to walk out of the deal

You can pretend to walk out of the negotiation if all the other negotiation tips backfire. Walking out might force the other party to state his final offer especially if they are desperate to close the deal.

Conclusion

These tips cannot fail you if you embrace them when negotiating. However, these are not the only tips for successful negotiation.

Therefore, if you know other tips necessary for a successful negotiation, feel free to add them in the comment box below.

Bio: The author is Isaac Wechuli, a Kenyan entrepreneur, professional research writer, and founder of www.unboundedwisdom.com. He loves enlightening people on the factors that could help them live a happy, and successful life.


Blog business Experiences Learning

5 Bad Money Habits that Will Always Leave You Broke

Blackman-depressed

With personal finance, the habits we have can either make us successful or cause us to stagnate. If you have been struggling with your finances, take a look at this list and make sure you are not bringing yourself down with any of these habits;

1. Procrastination

Are you one of those “I’ll start saving tomorrow” kind of people. We all procrastinate at times but there are people who are always telling themselves they will do something later or the next day. Procrastinating is one of those habits that may end up costing you not only time but money as well.

Here are a couple of ways that you procrastinating your financial freedom;

  1. Paying your bills and loans late causing you to have to pay more money as interest.
  2. Purchasing certain things late e.g event tickets, plane tickets thus you end up buying with the highest price.
  3. Never settling on a financial plan or taking a decision to save/invest when the stakes are good.
  4. Not preparing a monthly budget on time and by the time you get your income, you end up spending impulsively.

Do you know any other ways people procrastinate their financial freedom? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.

2. Impulse Buying

Giving in into impulse buying is not only hard on your wallet in the short term but it also prevents you from developing good financial practices in the long term. It is okay to treat yourself once in a while but it is important to be clear about what you want and what you need.

Here are some reasons why people impulse buy;

  1. Buying items on sale to ‘save money’ even if you do not really need them.
  2. You want to fit into trends so as to conform to your friends and the society.
  3. Doing too much window shopping both online and at physical stores.

You can avoid impulse buying by;

  1. Planning for big purchases
  2. Knowing your triggers, what makes you impulse buy?
  3. Finding ways to treat and reward yourself without spending money.
  4. Remembering the past losses that you made from impulse buying.
  5. Budgeting always.
  6. Carrying fixed cash and avoiding having too much cash in your MPESA or shopping using your bank card
  7. Setting financial goals and following through.

3. Ignorance

There is nothing worse than being ignorant or uneducated with your personal money matters. No one expects you can be an expert on finance but at least gain knowledge on the basics of investments, savings, mortgages, insurance, budget, interest rates, etc.

There is no excuse for ignorance, it is actually costly when you hit 50, you’ve had a great career but you have nothing to show for it. Take some time to educate yourself on things like banking, interests, unit trusts, shares and insurance. The internet is at your fingertips with all this information and we are also here to help.

Instead of watching too much T.V and talking about politics all day long, pick a book on finance and investment or take up a personal finance course. Your future self will thank you for it.

4. Not saving for retirement

When you are young, in your 20’s, through your 30’s, it is easy to think that you have your whole life ahead of you. We’ll, just ask someone who is 60 and they will tell you that if they could, they would save for their retirement from as early as their first salary.

Most jobs both in the public and private sector provide you with a retirement/pension scheme but that isn’t entirely enough. It limits you to what you can and cannot do in your old age because you have to wait for a fixed monthly deposit which isn’t much.

At that stage of your life, you want to be independent and have a fairly comfortable life. Please don’t keep living without a retirement plan. The earlier you start, the better. As you try to make ends meet and achieve your financial goals, put a retirement plan in the equation.

5. Ignoring Insurance

I know that insurance has a bad reputation in Kenya and love it or hate it, insurance is an important part of any financial plan. Basic insurance you shouldn’t ignore is health insurance and insuring valuable property such as your car or house.

We cannot control everything that happens and that is why insurance is important, to prepare you for the worst. One accident can totally wipe out your investments.

However, before settling on an insurance cover, do your research and ask people who have been insured before preferably close friends for their honest opinion on certain policies.
Final Word

Are you guilty of any of the above habits? If you know any other detrimental money habits, feel free to share them in the comment section below.


Blog business Experiences Learning

HOW UNEMPLOYMENT PUSHED ME TO START AND RUN A SUCCESSFUL AFRICAN FASHION BUSINESS ONLINE

HOW UNEMPLOYMENT PUSHED ME TO START AND RUN A SUCCESSFUL AFRICAN FASHION BUSINESS ONLINE

Is entrepreneurship a solution to the massive unemployment challenge in the country? Some would argue that young people should rely on their own hustles to make a living due to the huge gap between available jobs and the number of qualified people. However, other people are of the view that entrepreneurship is a tough game that has its own obstacles such as raising capital, acquiring licenses and the huge rate of entrepreneurship ventures that have failed.

This was an interesting conversation I had with Joyce Wagaki, an entrepreneur who started from scratch and is slowly building her brand in African inspired fashion.

If you had told her 5 years ago that she would be a successful entrepreneur, Joyce would have laughed that idea off as impossible. How could she be an entrepreneur yet she was a Journalism and Media Studies graduate, with an amazing voice and a ‘bright future’ in the media industry?

Crushed Dreams

“Before I graduated, I got a 3 month internship at a leading media house. We did a voice test and my voice set me apart from the other interns landing me reporting duties both on radio and on the lunch hour T.V bulletin. I knew then that my goal in life was to be a news reporter and eventually become a news anchor.” Joyce said.

After finally graduating from media school, Joyce was positive it wouldn’t be long before she got a job. She prepared her C.V and her Cover letter and started applying for reporting jobs in the media. She didn’t get any positive responses immediately but she kept applying, kept working on her C.V and following up on the jobs she had applied for.

About 3 years after her graduation with no success in getting employment, Joyce’s sister who was accommodating her in Nairobi got another opportunity in China leaving Joyce to fend for herself while sending her money from time to time for her upkeep.

Seeing her job applications for news reporter/news anchor were not bearing any fruits, she went an extra mile and sent her C.V with voice recordings of herself hoping this would set her apart. Unfortunately no station picked her and this left Joyce frustrated and disappointed.

“I knew I couldn’t go back home because I did not want to burden my parents. Even though my sister supported me, I still needed my independence.”

Entrepreneurship or Employment?

One day, Joyce’s sister saw some handbags in China which had unique prints. Amazingly, the bags were so cheap. She reached out to Joyce and asked her if she would be interested in selling the bags in Kenya.

“At first I was reluctant because I had never thought of being an entrepreneur. However, my sister convinced me to give it a try since one of my strengths was the ability to convince people.”

Joyce’s sister sent the first batch of 20 bags and 20 ear rings. True to her word, the bags had a unique design and print compared to the bags in the market then.

“I knew that my livelihood depended on the sale of those bags and ear rings so I did everything I could to sell them. I started by selling to my close friends and church mates. I also went to town daily with a backpack stashed with some bags and walked office by office selling the bags. Sometimes, I didn’t make any sales, I had to deal with some clients who were so rude but that did not deter me.”

However, this whole time, her mind was still set in the media. She sold bags during the day and in the evening, she did her recordings and kept applying for jobs.

“Impressively, I managed to sell all the 20 bags and ear rings and made a profit of Ksh. 30,000. My sister had bought and shipped the bags and ear rings at only Ksh. 10,000 in China. Since the bags were unique, I sold them at Ksh.800 – Ksh. 1000 per bag and the ear rings at Ksh. 250.”

The Birth of Gaki Collections

This experience made Joyce rethink her initial decision of being employed full time in the media to actually taking entrepreneurship more seriously. Her sister kept sending her bags from China and with time, she expanded her collection to leather bags which were more official compared to the printed ones. She even opened a face book page, Bags and Leather to take advantage of the online market.

Joyce sold the bags for a while and the returns were great, she was able to pay her bills but due to unavoidable circumstances, the bags business was not sustainable.

“I had to think on my feet since I couldn’t keep running an unsustainable business and I still had financial obligations. I thought of going back to applying for jobs but considering how far I had come, this wasn’t an option for me.” Joyce said.

One day Joyce had gone to Eastleigh to meet up a friend. However, as is the typical Kenyan style, her friend kept her waiting for over an hour.

“I was so frustrated when my friend eventually never showed up and called to cancel our meeting. Instead of wasting my day, I decided to take a walk around Eastleigh and window shop because Eastleigh was popular for getting quality items at affordable prices.”

As she was window shopping, Joyce met some ladies selling deras. At the time, she didn’t even know what deras were since it was 2014 and deras were still a new concept in Nairobi.

“I got curious and asked the lady to tell me more about deras, how much they cost, how they are made, e.t.c. She sold me a material for Ksh. 300 then directed me to a tailor who sew the dera for me at only 50 shillings and in a few minutes, the dera was ready.”

The Birth of Gaki Collections

HOW UNEMPLOYMENT PUSHED ME TO START AND RUN A SUCCESSFUL AFRICAN FASHION BUSINESS ONLINE

Joyce was so impressed with the end result that she wore the dera to church the next Sunday. Being a lover of taking photos, she took a photo of herself wearing the dera and posted it on facebook that Sunday evening.

“When I woke up the next day, I was surprised to get a lot of requests from my comment section and inbox from people who loved the dera and wanted one for themselves. I was so shocked by the numerous requests but I also saw this as a great business opportunity. Also most people perceived Eastleigh to be unsafe and I took advantage of that by being the middle person between the traders and my clients.”

However, Joyce still hadn’t figured out how she would run the dera business since she needed people’s sizes thus each dera needed to be custom made. So she asked people to send her their measurements and design preferences and she would ensure they get their deras delivered to them at a fee of Ksh. 500.”

That was when Joyce opened Gaki Collections, a face book page that she used to sell deras.

The Birth of Gaki Collections

HOW UNEMPLOYMENT PUSHED ME TO START AND RUN A SUCCESSFUL AFRICAN FASHION BUSINESS ONLINE

“With time, one of my clients asked me if she could get African sandals to wear with her dera. At that time, I had no idea where I would get African sandals but one lesson entrepreneurship had taught me was, You do not tell a client No, Just say Yes and figure it out later.”

That is exactly how Joyce started the Gaki collection sandal line which consists of custom made sandals tailored to a client’s needs. All a client needs to do is send details of their shoe size, what color and design they would like their sandals to have and Joyce makes sure she gets the sandals made and delivered anywhere in the country.

HOW UNEMPLOYMENT PUSHED ME TO START AND RUN A SUCCESSFUL AFRICAN FASHION BUSINESS ONLINE

HOW UNEMPLOYMENT PUSHED ME TO START AND RUN A SUCCESSFUL AFRICAN FASHION BUSINESS ONLINE

Since my business was purely online, I knew there was more to social media and in order for my business and brand to grow, I needed to pick up social media and digital marketing skills.

“That is when the She Goes Digital program came along. Through the program, I learnt how to boost my page, make use of online ads and figure out details such as what time my audience is active online. I made use of the skills I gained through the program and by the end of 2017, I had shipped my goods to Ghana, Liberia and U.S.A and I got even more clients online.”

This year, Joyce plans to open a website for Gaki Collections and also open a shop in town.

Final Word

Our take-away from this interview is that we are all gifted in many ways. However, we need to have the heart to explore. You don’t need to close up your mind to employment as the only source of income, open up your mind to more possibilities.

So what’s your excuse? Get up, identify opportunities around you and make a difference.

 


Blog business Experiences Learning

My Entrepreneurship Journey: Lessons from Gina Din Kariuki

My Entrepreneurship Journey: Lessons from Gina Din Kariuki

Earlier this week, I was going through my YouTube feed and bumped into a Caroline Mutoko interview with Gina Din Kariuki titled Gina Din Kariuki – @20. Having drawn so much inspiration from Gina Din not only as an entrepreneur but also as a pioneer of Public Relations in Kenya, I knew the interview would come with a wealth of knowledge.

Here are some things that stood out for me from the interview about the different phases of entrepreneurship.

PHASE 1: DENIAL PHASE

The denial phase signifies the early stages of entrepreneurship where you are transitioning from employment or whatever else you are doing to entrepreneurship.

It’s called the denial phase because as a new entrepreneur, you think you’ll have more freedom, more free time and more money. You enter this phase with high excitement, high expectations and high energy while being in denial about the harsh realities of entrepreneurship.

As a new entrepreneur in the denial phase, you have a clear idea and vision about what you want to do and you can see the potential of your business but you are also not sure how to execute everything at this stage.

PHASE 2: WILDERNESS/HYENA PHASE

During the wilderness phase, your business is gradually picking up and your main focus is bringing more clients on board.

You realize you have bills to pay, new staff to hire and salaries to pay. So what do you do? Be like the hyena, and grab every opportunity available, get as many clients as you can so that you maintain cash flow.

At this point, you rarely consider the quality of impact a client’s project will have. You believe you can do it all as long as it translates into more cash for your business.

PHASE 3: BOUTIQUE PHASE

So you’ve launched your business, gone through the denial phase where you had a fairy tale about how you envision your business to turn out, your business is just starting to pick up and you have already adjusted to life as an entrepreneur. This is where you transition to the boutique phase.

The boutique phase means you are getting work done, you have secured some clients and you can comfortably pay your staff salaries and cater to your bills.

However, you still hunger for more growth.

PHASE 4: DESERT PHASE

The desert phase is probably the trickiest part for most businesses and if you are not careful, this is the phase where you get stuck.

At this point, you have an adequate number of clients, however, you still want more clients. This means you hire more staff thinking it translates to more business. You also want to probably move your office to bigger better premises at a posher location.

However, this becomes a vicious cycle that doesn’t translate into more money for your business because the more money comes in, the more it goes out to other ‘non-essential’ expenses.

The desert phase is hypnotizing, you feel good about yourself about your business and you may end up staying at this phase for too long without any notable growth.

PHASE 5: PERFORMANCE PHASE

This is the phase where you get a harsh wake up call. The issue is no longer, Is there work? But Is the work I’m doing impactful?

You realize that you don’t need to have a million clients but only a few whose work is impactful. The performance phase is where you scale down on your employees based on their professionalism, performance and stick to projects you can deliver with impact.

This phase also means you have figured out how to make more money for your business while still cost cutting and maximizing on your profit to help you be more flexible financially.

FINAL WORD: Are you an entrepreneur? Can you relate to these 5 phases?

Watch the full video below.



Blog business Learning

How to Start and Run Your Own Small Bakery

How to Start and Run Your Own Small Bakery

Getting into entrepreneurship is becoming a popular trend among youth in Kenya. Starting a small bakery business is a profitable business idea you can explore especially if you have a passion for cooking. That said, owning a bakery business needs a lot of commitment and capital but it’s a great way to earn extra income. A bakery is also a good business idea because baked goods are quite popular and move quite fast. Baking also requires little to no formal training but if you need to sharpen your skills, you could consider taking a few baking classes.

If a bakery is a business you would like to get into, here is what you need to know.

1. Getting Started

Register the bakery – If your plan is to run your bakery as a full fledged business, you will need to register your company name (cost – approx 1000Ksh.), register your limited company (cost – approx 30,000Ksh.), get a KEBS licence (cost – approx Ksh. 20,000) and a single business permit (cost varies from county to county)

Licences – To run a bakery business, you’ll also need these licences;

 Food handling Medical Certificate – This certificate makes sure people who handle your food are free from disease. It costs Ksh. 600 and is valid for 6 months.

Food Hygiene Certificate – Valid for a year and starts at Ksh. 300 depending on the size of the business.

Fire Safety Certificate – Valid for a year and costs Ksh. 3,000.

2. The Business

Get Your Recipes Ready – Create a list of all the baked goods you intend to sell. Start with a few items and diversify to more products with time. Prepare a Menu. Prepare a Price list that puts in consideration the cost of ingredients, labor and any other expenses.

Get Your Ingredients Ready – Purchase all the ingredients you need; flour, sugar etc. Also purchase packaging materials, labels, boxes and anything else you’ll need.

Marketing – Find out your target market. Baked products sell quite fast in offices, schools, canteens and local kiosks. Where exactly is your demand?

Figure out how to grab the attention of your target audience by using specific marketing strategies like using fliers, posters, social media, etc.

Network – Attend relevant events, workshops and meetups organized by bakers groups in order to grow your networks.

3. Investment

Starting a small bakery will set you back any amount between Ksh.100, 000 – Ksh. 150, 000 inclusive of licenses and required business permits. Here is a breakdown of the basic items that you’ll need to start out.

Basic Ingredients (prices are approximated)

Wheat Flour (1 bale)  Ksh. 1400
Sugar (50kg)  Ksh. 7,000
Margarine (carton)  Ksh. 2,000
Icing Sugar (5kgs)  Ksh. 850
Baking Powder (4kgs)  Ksh. 500
Eggs (Tray)  Ksh. 300
Milk (box)  Ksh. 500
TOTAL  Ksh. 12,550

Utensils

Electric Hand Whisk Ksh. 3700
Cookswell Oven Ksh. 26,000
10 Baking Pans Ksh. 2,500
Icing spatula Ksh. 550
Noozle set Ksh. 1,500
Other utensils Ksh. 2,000
TOTAL Ksh. 36, 250

Others

Charcoal – 1 bag Ksh. 1,500
Fliers, Brochures Ksh. 1,500
Cleaning agents Ksh. 1,000
Packaging Materials and labels Ksh. 2,000
Miscellaneous Ksh. 5,000
TOTAL Ksh 11,000

TOTAL INVESTMENT: 11,000 + 36,250 + 12,550 = KSH. 59,800

Depending on the quantity and demand of your baked products, you can make up to Ksh. 5000 a day.

Expected challenges

  • Price fluctuations of raw materials like sugar, flour.
  • Baked goods are perishable thus they need ready market when they are still fresh.

Final Word

Just like any other business, starting a small bakery is not a smooth sailing venture. However, as long as you have figured out your target audience,  get the required equipment, get the required ingredients, have your recipes in place, figure out your workspace, get all the required licenses & permits and a marketing plan, you are ready to go.

 


Blog business Experiences

Developing Start-Up Strategies Poised for Success

Developing Start-Up Strategies Poised for Success

No astute definition of ‘start-up’ exists. It is broadly categorized as a new business venture. It could be based at home, a street-side stall or have hip presence on Internet. In brief, all new businesses are start-ups. Everything from a new neighbourhood sandwich cart to glitzy high-tech software companies are start-ups. Businesses less than five years old get included in this definition too.

A word of caution

Setting up a start-up is easy. Finding funds is hard. Keeping the business afloat is harder. Findings by British commercial insurer RSA indicates, 50 percent of all start-ups in UK failed within the first five years. Insufficient government support, lack of bank loans, regulatory issues, intense competition and high operational costs are cited as reasons. Venture capital experts claim that about 90 percent of all start-ups fail . This scenario indubitably requires strong strategies for launching any start-up.

Off the beaten track

Proverbial flock mentality plagues most start-ups. Entrepreneurs eye successful ventures to imitate. Pitted against established businesses, they stand little chance for success. Uniqueness or exclusivity is the first rule for success. Evolve concepts nobody dreamt of. Get a fair idea about target customers, suppliers and logistics. Discuss ideas with people from diverse industries but remain secretive of your own concept.

Putting it in words

Type the concept on a PC, laptop or simply write it down. Readable concepts can be further developed and refined. Amend any feature where required. Once you have a clear idea about the start-up, draft an excellent project report. Funds permitting, rope in services of a professional project report writer. Great project reports attract attention. Finer detail boosts prospects of the right person reading the project report- and taking action.

Incubators and Accelerators

Joining a renowned start-up incubator works wonders. Start-up incubators guide and instruct entrepreneurs. They refine a project while developing business models. Incubators focus on innovations and are industry specific.

Accelerators help businesses grow. They help by focusing resources of start-ups in most profitable directions. Accelerators look at putting start-ups on the fast track of growth.

Both are vital for a successful start-up strategy.

What’s in a name?

Everything and more, as history has proved. Catchy, easy-to-remember, innovative brands fare better in the market over those with boring, traditional identities. Stretch your imagination, get creative or seek help from relatives and friends. Great concepts with brand identities exhibit a penchant to flop. A good sounding brand requires great looking logo. Presentations for start-ups look better when made under a brand and logo. They lend a business look. Make branding a major part of your start-up strategy.

Money matters

The trickiest part comes here. Funding start-ups is extremely complex and tiresome. Angel investors and venture capitalists are spoilt for choice. Bank loans for start-ups are almost non-existent. Financial institutions do not lend to companies that live in fertile minds and a few scraps of paper- they require proof.  Thrift is key for start-ups. Launch the business with minimum budget, limiting operational expenses where possible. Common and not-so-common modes of staffing and operations combined help save costs while maximising profits during initial years. Successful start-up strategies do not include high costs.

Finding money

A great strategy for successful start-ups involves finding seed or initial capital. Knowing who can finance how much is key to successful funding. Start-up incubators and accelerators provide essential insights into the complex world of angel investments and venture capital.

  • Self finance: Investing your savings/ assets to seed a start-up.
  • Crowd funding: Collecting money from public for a start-up. These investors get stocks of your company, commensurate with amounts chipped in.
  • Bank/ Institutional credit: Money borrowed from banks/ financial institutions to fund start-ups. Most lenders are reluctant but with some collateral, you may get lucky to get bank loan.
  • Government funding: Almost inexistent. Yet, some ministries do offer soft loans and credit for ventures they believe may help the society at large. These include start-ups concerned with environment protection, animal welfare, alleviation of poverty, child and mother care, facilities for persons with special needs, prevention of HIV/ AIDS and other sensitive, global concerns.
  • Social organizations: Start-ups with obvious benefits for the society attract attention of social welfare organizations. Some consider chipping in with seed investment.
  • Family holding: Hailed as best way to fund start-ups. Getting family members interested in your start-up by encouraging them to invest in exchange of stocks. Ensures your successful start-up remains within the family.
  • Venture capital: Those who got strategies and presentations right attract venture capital. Such funding is limited to seeding the business and initial years of operation.
  • Conglomerate funding: Business conglomerates look for start-ups that can assist their trade. A good presentation to those in your field can help generate much needed funds.

Saving taxes

Taxes and government charges often wreak havoc on profitability. Acquaint yourself with local taxation regimes. Superb strategies for successful start-ups find ways and means to lower tax burden. This means operating from a section of your home, if merited. Avail tax benefits offered to new businesses.

Low cost employment

Students, fresh graduates and freelancers make excellent staff, once trained. Base your start-up strategy on employing these categories of manpower. They can be paid by the hour or for specific jobs only to help cut expenses on wages. Qualified professionals can be hired as consultants only, when required. Working online and getting staff to work from home reduces transportation expenses immensely.

Carpet bombing the market

An essential component of a successful strategy for start-ups is creating brand awareness before hitting the market. Teaser ads in local media, through stores and restaurants, clubs and community hang-outs, social circles help create excellent brand awareness. Those lucky may find investors and customers well before launch.

Splash in cyber world

Strong presence in cyber world is prerequisite to any successful strategy for start-ups. Register the domain of your company and post regular updates about the project. These should be sufficient to keep interest alive but insufficient to alert competitors. Blogging about your start-up, posting frequent press releases and ‘leaking’ insider news to websites works in favour. Email stakeholders frequently about latest developments and innovations, company news and other relevant information aimed at keeping them engaged.

Social media spans the world

A decade ago, nobody would have imagined Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to stand where they are. For start-ups, healthy social media presence works miracles. It helps disseminate information about your start-up to people across the world at fraction of a penny. Social media allows stakeholders, decision makers, investors and other entities to “feel” your start-up through pictures, videos, posts and comments. Social media offers essential tools for introspection and quick turnaround of offerings.

Health and wellness

The secret to successful start-up lies in your health and wellness strategies too. Setting up a business is indeed tiresome. Lack of sleep and skipped meals are common. These take severe toll on wellbeing of entrepreneurs. Lack of concentration combined with mood swings can destroy an enterprise before it gets off drawing board. Include health and wellness as part of your start-up strategy. It also helps foster a good impression among investors and other stakeholders.

Author Bio:
Pritam Nagrale is a blogger and running a digital marketing company in Mumbai. His blog MoneyConnexion writes about make money ideas & tips on Saving Money.