Real-Life Story: If You’ve Never Failed You’ve Never Tried Anything New

SME tool-kit in Kenya

The saying goes,… ''If you have never failed then you have never tried a new thing.'' I thought of trying something new in 2009 after my dreams of joining a university or college failed.

All along, I had been working for my relatives and I had come to notice that I was not experiencing personal growth. I was earning peanuts and I wasn't learning anything new.
I became tired. I would have been at this place for 50 years if I wanted to, but that would not change the facts: the shop would remain in their name, and for that long I would remain a 'slave'. So I decided to start a "new thing".
Starting "A New Thing"
Starting ''the new thing''  was an uphill task, in fact one of the ''biggest jokes'' I ever made in life, as others poked holes into the idea from the onset. ''Does he think it is like operating a kiosk?'' and many such negative statements started coming in, but I was still determined to try the "new thing".
Back in my mind, I knew that any new business idea takes at least 18 months to mature. And true to that, in 2012 my business started to flourish and expansion became a necessity.
I couldn't stop to contemplate anything that would have reversed the gains for a moment. In that little time my business seemed to be doing very well, having grown to two new branches and the sales having come from a low of ksh 711/- in a day to an average of 67000/- per day!
I rushed for a loan
business advice in Kenya
Don't spend more than you earn.
LOANS are good sources of funding for start-up capital but they can be a killer in equal measure. I think most banks have concentrated on marketing their loan products to their customers, and doing everything possible to lure the would-be customers to their side with little efforts at growing the start-up.
Once you acquire the loan the banks then start focusing on how to get their money back, your progress isn't their priority at all. I always grew up knowing the banks to have financial experts: people who would offer solutions to almost any financial problems,but I was surprised to learn otherwise when I got into business.
"Are bank employees nowadays majorly paid on the basis of how many clients they have brought, and moreso who are ready to take loan facility with these banks?? And are clients/ bank customers now going to the banks mainly to apply for loans??" I began to question the very logic I strongly believed in when I was young.
Now, back to my ''new thing''. In that short period of time and my business was doing so well, little did I know what was coming up. I was now growing my business on loans which is similar to constructing a castle on sand. What scheme did I get myself into? I started to question my own thoughts.
I found myself at a cross-road
"Were there not other things that I would do and still avoid these pressure? So do I quit?" By now, I had literary burnt my fingers. I had huge debts to be paid by me, myself and nobody else! The value of inventory in my store did not match the debts I had accumulated.
Much of the merchandise had expired to the tune of hundreds of thousands (Ksh.).
"How did this happen and yet things seemed to have been smooth previously? If I fold my hands and lament, I will fail", I told myself. Even the Holy Bible puts it very clearly, ''..a little folding of the hands and poverty will strike…''.
Getting back to the right course
I decided to get my business back in the right course. But in order for that to happen, I had to change tact.
(1)I decided to start learning new things and change my mentality on loans, saving culture and spending habits
(2)I decided to embrace the culture of continuously reading financial articles
(3)I resolved to tackle the fear of the unknown and to learn a thing or two about cash-flow management
With those three little changes that I effected, I started to see a different future. "Even multi-nationals struggle to survive in stormy market conditions, so what about my small business? You must adopt long-term goals for your business to thrive!" I reflected as I made up my mind not to quit.
Indeed, you must also be prepared to change the face of your business because if it remains "small" it will produce small results as well.
Focus on scaling up. Believe in your idea. Make a decision not to quit when the storms strikes. But most importantly, don't build your castles on sand as I did at one point in my business life.
At least make sure you don't incur too much debt than you can afford to pay. Before you take a loan, make sure to read and understand the terms and conditions. If you can find cheaper sources of capital; the better!

Today, I have lived to thank myself for the strong resolve I made not to quit. Quitters will never be winners! My business is now on the right course and the sky is the limit going forward.

About the Author

30 Year Old, Mr Godfrey Otieno Ouma is from Western Kenya.  He is currently struggling to see his small business grow to an international stature. He's a student of  Human Resource Management. He prefers to describe himself as a "little nobody who believes in changing the way things are done, now and later."

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About Kuza Biashara

About Kuza Biashara

Starting a business is a leap of faith even in the best of circumstances. We at Kuza Biashara are focussed to encourage these daring small business owners who have the potential to innovate and change the world by contributing to the nation’s economy and livelihood.