In order to set up a business which will thrive in Nairobi, there are things which you are supposed to do and others which you shouldn’t. These are;
Lets start with the don’ts:
Don’t spend money on swag: When you are starting out you do not need a fancy office or furniture. You don’t need t-shirts and hats, don’t waste your money in the name of trying to look ‘cool’ like other entrepreneurs you meet in the city. The only thing you need is sales. And that is where your capital should be spent.
Don’t get caught up on cutting edge technology: Use the technology you have and are familiar with. Technology is sophisticated enough to be forgiving. As a start up, you don’t need the most expensive solution: You just need to get it done. Let your few employees use what they are comfortable with. You will be far more productive if you are not spending your time learning new technologies and software systems every other day.
DON’T choose just anyone to start your business with. Remember this is Nairobi, you can’t just trust everybody. If you have co-founders or partners, be brutally honest to yourself about whether you have the “right” team. It goes way beyond objective capabilities. You need to consider their values, motivations, and temperament and don’t forget to do a background check before partnering with them.
DON’T rely solely on textbook knowledge. Reading business startup books and articles is a great start, but textbook scenarios only work in textbooks and case studies are an exception. Take all literature with a grain of salt and learn by doing, by experiencing.
Don’t try to stick square pegs in round holes: Make sure you hire the right people according to their core competencies. Concentrate on and use their strengths for your important needs. Don’t spend time on trying to improve their weaknesses.
Since you now know what you should not do, here’s what you should do:
Research your market. Research price points, research your competition. Then use your knowledge as a template
Do have the cleanest budget on the block. A common mistake new business owners make is thinking as long as they can get their hands on a big enough chunk of money, they can plop it in a business checking account and surely it will suffice to cover their expenses. This is wrong and stupid and no – am not even going to pick nicer words to say that. It is crazy important to have a super detailed budget before you spend a single penny.
If you aren’t an expert at budgeting, enlist the help of someone who is. Considering that a lot of startup CEOs tend to be more “big picture” thinkers, crunching numbers is not a popular favorite task. As such, is too often glazed over. Just…don’t. Every area of the business should be carefully accounted for and the budget should be adhered to as closely as possible.
Do It For Passion, Not For Money. Of course, money is a big reason why you decide to start a business. However, an overly money-focused mindset is a bad thing when it comes to the beginning of your journey as an entrepreneur. Big revenues don’t happen overnight.
Don’t start your company with the sole focus of making money because it makes you focus less on other things, such as customer satisfaction, quality of the product, and so on.
Do Use Automation. Both startups and large companies use marketing automation tools to save time and effort and facilitate the customer journey. As the result, the business becomes more efficient because these tools do many useful things for you, such as customer replies, social media posting, and so on.
It is simple and incredibly useful. For example, emails can be automated so you can expose your business to a larger audience.
Do Aim To Diversify. As a Startup CEO, you need to seek new revenue streams right from the start because a single revenue area is insufficient to move forward. It’s much easier to earn even 2 percent in several revenue areas than to dominate one.
To gain momentum by getting more sales, startups need to diversify their business and make their way into several markets. The more different customer groups that know your business the better.
Do Have Self-discipline. Am not only talking about money here, but to be sure, exercising self-control and sticking to your budget is definitely a must. In every way, running your own business – especially during its startup phase – requires discipline in all areas. Decide ahead of time on goals for each day/week/month, rather than just deciding on what hours you will work. It’s all about a work/life balance, however, don’t let your startup take over your life completely, but the simple fact is that startups require a bit more nurturing than established companies. Decide what needs to be accomplished by when, and force yourself to stick to your benchmarks. It’s better to pull a couple of long days than to get woefully behind. And Oh, and stick to your budget.
Do have Super sharp social skills. If you and your team happen to know key people in high places (“high” in terms of their position in your industry, or “high” in terms of the number of zeros on the investment they want to give you), then fantastic. You’re ahead of a lot of people. If you don’t, being tirelessly committed to leveraging your existing network and seeking out opportunities to make connections with powerful people is part of your job description. Either way, having an ability to form new relationships and nurture and maintain existing ones is important for the vitality of your business. To make more connections, attend entrepreneurship seminars and events which are usually held in various places here in Nairobi.
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