Sunday, May 26, 2024

Olivia Kimani: Don’t start a business just because someone else is succeeding in it

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Olivia Kimani served as the founder of Kobé Productions Ltd, a creative boutique that designs and produces high-quality specialized advertising campaigns and 2D/3D videos for SMEs.

My greatest milestone: Being able reclaim control of my work-life balance is my greatest milestone so far. When I quit full-time employment and opted for flexible working hours as a business owner and consultant, I found myself able to enjoy more important aspects of my life like family, spirituality, and meaningful volunteer work.

Also, the quality of my work improved, and that attracted discerning clients. Through this experience, I learned that no one can manufacture time. But if you can learn to set limits to work and other obligations, and balance it with looking after yourself, you can achieve the work-life balance that will give you better all-round results.

On building my career: It has not been easy, but I have learned that the wisest course to take is to build my business based on my passion, talent, values, and mission. No university education can teach you that.

You just have to horn your skills through repeated hard work, motivation, and coming up with unique solutions that get noticed by customers. When businesses focus on using their core values and good work ethics to transform lives, they are in the right course.

My success recipe: I have seen people setting up businesses that look more like “copy-cat” schemes. They think that just because someone else is doing something, they can succeed in doing the same thing.

There’s no differentiation or uniqueness in the offer. I believe that it is more important to do something that one is good at and be fearless about executing it. Focus on the things that you can control and keep improving on the day to day details.

Biggest money mistakes: There was a time I partnered with people who did not share my goals and values. In the end, I didn’t just lose money, but I also lost valuable time and my credibility. I learned that it is better to let the contract go and accept monetary loss rather than work in an unhappy environment.

Over the years, I have also suffered financial setbacks due to bad decisions and ill-thought-out investments. But I’ve also learned through the years that the biggest thing that one can lose is hope. It is best to pick up the pieces and try again. Next time around, align yourself with positive people who value your expertise and professionalism.

On business survival: I have learnt three things that are central to the survival of a business. Firstly, reach out to others. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Secondly, change what can be changed, and accept what cannot be changed.

You can do this by starting to look at your expenses. Thirdly, don’t always be quick to surrender. Manage your emotions and take advantage of hindsight.

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If I could start all over again: I would avoid the Shiny Object Syndrome, also known as SOS. This is the tendency to chase after a business idea just because someone else is succeeding in it. I would instead focus on my own big and unique Idea, and make sure that I follow it through to completion. A big and unique idea ultimately has very fine rewards, financially and through entrepreneurship satisfaction.

My saving method: When I started my business, I set aside some money from my earnings every month for a given period in order to generate the operating capital I needed. This eventually gave the business a soft landing spot with banks and other financial ventures that provided financial top-ups.

My parting shot: It is never too late to learn something new and improve your product or services. However, it is important to bear in mind that it is not education that always brings these lessons.

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