4 Reasons You Should Attend the Storymoja Hay Festival If You Live In Nairobi

The Storymoja Hay Festival is drawing near; it runs from September 17th to 21st. You may be asking yourself;
‘What’s the big deal?’, ‘Why Should I Attend It?’, ‘Isn’t it just another Festival in Nairobi anyway?’
Well, I’m here to answer all those questions. You may think that if you don’t write fiction or work in that industry, you have no business attending the festival. I’m here to tell you that it should be on the top of your to do list in September, especially if you live in Nairobi – you have no excuse. I’ll share just a few reasons why you should attend and why you won’t regret doing so.

1. It’s a vibrant gathering of the greatest minds in Kenya and beyond – celebrating ideas and culture.
If you have read books, you know the power that they hold within them. They inspire our imagination, creativity, dreams and aspirations. The authors who pen those great books are the ones who awaken these emotions within us that drive us to either; be better individuals, want a better life or to imagine and create great things. Imagine if you were told that a collection of those authors are going to be meeting somewhere where they will speak and interact with you- for five days? Wouldn’t you want to join that conversation? Well, that’s what Storymoja Hay Festival is about. Bringing together great Kenyan and other African writers together to speak about their ideas and discuss culture with you. Even Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka will be there! Now I bet you want to just get that ticket and start counting down the days.

Prof. Wole Soyinka (Courtesy: Storymoja)

Prof. Wole Soyinka (Courtesy: Storymoja)

2. It’s a great way for any aspiring fiction writer to gain knowledge and confidence.
Are you a writer? Have you been writing in journals or notebooks, short fiction stories for as long as you can remember? Maybe you never thought it would amount to anything, but you still find that to this day you still write. Well, you have to definitely go to the Festival. If you’re not sure how to get started on writing and need inspiration; Storymoja Hay Festival will help with that. Not only do you get to meet great authors who will share their experiences; you can sign up for a Storymoja Festival Masterclass where you will have a three hour session with a great thought leader who will lead a session about a topic such as ‘Fiction for Beginners’. The great thing is that it’s not a class where you are lectured; you actually get to have a discussion – session leader and participants. That ensures that all your questions will be answered and it will encourage your creativity to the utmost. So make sure you sign up for one of those Masterclasses to ensure you make the most of the Festival and I’m sure you’ll be writing to your audience in no time!

3. It’s a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain more insight on writing for business
Are you an entrepreneur? I bet you’re thinking; ‘What? How’s that going to help me in my business?’ Well, as an entrepreneur myself, I’m here to tell you that it’s a must attend for any entrepreneur in Kenya who uses inbound marketing in their business. Inbound is content marketing and involves a lot of writing; this is done in order to attract and engage your customers. What better way to learn more about writing than from a professional writer? If you can make the time, you can even sign up for a Storymoja Masterclass that discusses Guerrilla Marketing or one about Blogging – perfect for you if you have a business blog. I know I’m definitely signing up to know more about marketing – anything to take my business writing to the next level. So make sure you get your advanced ticket and mark those dates on your calendars entrepreneurs! Not convinced yet? Hmmm…I know just the thing.

Get more insight as a blogger for business

Get more insight as a blogger for business

4. Entertainment galore and celebrities you definitely want to see.
There will be entertainment too – Sauti Sol will be there (I know you’re very impressed ^_^). There will be poets, for the poetry lovers, such as Clifton Gachagua. Jeff Koinange will be there; it’s always interesting to hear what he has to say- as an author, journalist and an entrepreneur as well. Writer, satirist and humorist Oyunga Pala will be there; I know you’ve seen his articles in the newspapers. All kinds of artistic individuals from other genres will be there as well such as award-winning photographer Boniface Mwangi whose powerful photos have touched many; not only in Kenya but internationally as well. It will definitely be worth it to attend the Storymoja Hay Festival.

Sauti Sol Band will be there

Sauti Sol Band will be there

It’s going to be held in an easy access location – the Nairobi National Museum and it runs for five days so you can schedule time well and make it there for at least one of those days. It’s also a great activity to plan for one day on that weekend in which you can go with your friends, colleagues, family (great for kids as well) or just visit by yourself. I know that you are very convinced right now and that is why you will head over to the website and click to buy tickets. You will enjoy a free pre-registered Masterclass if you do so right away.

See you there ^_^

This post was published originally on the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog.

5 Very Weird And Fun Business Ideas That Made Millionaires

When one decides to do business, getting a business idea that is unique is very difficult these days. It seems as if all great business ideas have been implemented. However, once in a while you will hear of an odd or weird business idea that is very unique and it does well. Today I want to feature five great examples of very unique ideas that made the entrepreneurs that started them very rich. Maybe this will inspire you to put that unique idea you’ve been thinking of into action.

1. Microwavable Pillows

This is a very simple idea that was started by a housewife in the U.S. named Kim Lavine. It’s a pillow that can be warmed in the microwave and used to warm a child or even an adult in their bed while sleeping. Kim patented the idea, a Wuvit pillow, and it sold $225,000 in sales in eight weeks. She now has a whole line of home lifestyle products and is currently a millionaire.

Wuvit Pillow (Courtesy: kimlavine.com)

Wuvit Pillow (Courtesy: kimlavine.com)

2. The Hangover Helpers

This is another unique idea in Colorado founded by two university graduates; Marc and Alex. It is a business that helps people, especially college students, deal with the morning after a hangover. They help you clean up the house, bring you a drink (Gatorade) and a snack (a Burritto) to help with the dehydration and hunger the next morning. The two are now making money from the unique idea.

Party Cleanup (helpinghangovers.com)

Party Cleanup (helpinghangovers.com)

3. I Do Now I Don’t

This is another unique business idea that offers people the platform to re-sell their engagement rings for a better price if they don’t use them. It was a business idea by Joshua Opperman and his sister; after Joshua’s fiancée had decided she didn’t want to get married and returned her engagement ring to him. They make annual sales of about $ 4.2 billion.

Engagement Ring Re-selling (idonowidont.com)

Engagement Ring Re-selling (idonowidont.com)

4. Yournovel.com

This is another unique business founded in the U.S. by a husband and wife; Kathy Newbern and J.S. Fletcher. They offer their customers the chance to be featured in novels that are written in their website and customize the story to fit you as a character in the book. You can even get the cover with your picture. They make money and travel the world together in search of setting for their novels.

5. Doggy Goggles

Doggles are sunglasses made to fit the shape of a dog’s head. The inventor of this idea is Roni Du Lullo who made the first pair for her dog when she realized he was squinting in the sun when they walked. Even the U.S. military uses them for their scout dogs in dessert areas. This unique invention made her a lot of money and continues to be used by even dog owners at home.

Doggy Goggles

Doggy Goggles

The above ideas just go to show you that anyone with a unique idea and good planning can become an entrepreneur.

Do you know of any weird or unique business ideas that surprise you? Share below ^_^

This post appeared originally on the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog


5 Ways To Stay Motivated As An Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, one makes goals that he/she would like to achieve in a certain period. It could be that you want to earn Kshs. 500,000 a month of passive income in five years or that you would like to own land and build a mansion in a certain area in Kenya.

Build your dream mansion!

Build your dream mansion!

Whatever your goal is, it requires certain steps and activities in order to be achieved. These goals that people make are the main reason why most become entrepreneurs. However, the journey of being an entrepreneur is not an easy one and sometimes one faces challenges that pull you down; financially and emotionally. This can make one de-motivated and that could spell trouble for any entrepreneur and his/her business ventures. If one is de-motivated, he/she does not work hard to achieve the goals set and it leads to failure. The obvious thing would be to ensure that you stay motivated, especially when dealing with tough challenges. There are many ways of staying motivated; here are five effective ways that I have found to keep me motivated as an entrepreneur, while going through the various challenges that I face.

  1. Reminding yourself why you decided to become an entrepreneur

Whether you are running a business as a lawyer, baker, writer, photographer or any other industry you may be in; you are bound to face challenges in your daily grind. These daily challenges could cause you to lose focus on your vision. It becomes a rote routine where you wake up, go to your business to work, face different challenges and go home at the end of the day even less motivated than the day before. These days pile up and two or three months down the line, you start doubting yourself and your business. When you realize that is your state of mind, you need to make sure you get out of that mind set. If you continue thinking that way, you will give up. You need to sit down and remember why you started the business in the first place. Read your business plan and the mission and vision you had for the business. Let it give you the drive you need to keep going. If it helps, write it down and stick it somewhere you can see it everyday. Remember your reason for choosing to become an entrepreneur daily to keep your motivation up. I have found that to be a truly effective way of staying motivated.

  1. Reminding yourself of the goals you wish to achieve 

As I stated above, most people have certain goals they wish to achieve in a period of time they set for themselves. For most people; they wake up to go to work or their businesses in order to achieve these goals. If you find that you are discouraged or disillusioned, it’s good to go back to your list of goals. It could be one or two goals that simply state where you would like your life to be in five or ten years. Remind yourself that in order to achieve those goals, you need to take positive and successful steps in your everyday activities. As you make decisions daily in your business life, keep those goals in mind. These goals will motivate you to work harder and more passionately in order to achieve them.

  1. Reading inspirational and helpful e-books, blogs or books on successful entrepreneurs in your industry

Most successful entrepreneurs are usually very helpful individuals who like to share their journey as entrepreneurs, to success. Great examples are Richard Branson, Kim Kiyosaki, Jeff Koinange among many others. Most of these entrepreneurs share their advice, business tips and challenges faced through blogging, writing and publishing e-books and/or books. I find that reading from entrepreneurs in the industry my business is in, as well as reading about other female serial entrepreneurs, motivates me. Their insight and advice will motivate you to be a better entrepreneur and to keep going in your ventures as well.

Read inspiring books (courtesy: judyoz.com)

Read inspiring books (courtesy: judyoz.com)

  1. Working hard to be the best in your industry

If you’re a fiction writer and you have been writing for a while and publishing your books for some time. You then discover that there is a new fiction writer in your genre who has been publishing for some months and is gaining a lot of popularity. This information could de-motivate you and discourage you from continuing to write. This can happen to an entrepreneur in any industry, maybe if you are an online marketer or run an advertising agency. Instead of taking the situation in a negative way or feeling discouraged, you should work hard to do better in your business. It could be that the fiction writer has the same skill you have but is a better marketer, or has better book covers. It could be that the online marketer is using newer and more effective software to collect data and therefore market their client’s business more effectively. It could be that the marketing agency is using better visuals and more effective marketing methods. In whatever industry you do business in, you have to stay updated. Whether it’s on best practices, new methods of operation, marketing or human resource management – you have to stay informed. If there is a new kind of software or website that is helpful in your industry, you get it and learn how to use it to better your business. Instead of being de-motivated, work harder to be better. Keep experimenting, researching and trying new things. It makes you feel confident as an expert in your industry and that is good for your business as well.

Keep working hard (Courtesy: sodahead.com)

Keep working hard (Courtesy: sodahead.com)

  1. Don’t stop, just keep moving

Sometimes certain aspects or new projects in your business might fail. This is a blow to your confidence and often times, to your business financially. Some entrepreneurs can feel as if they don’t have a choice and may even close their businesses. When you’re in a situation that seems impossible, it’s best to just keep working. At this point, most people stop working on the business, they give up and tell themselves that they can’t continue anymore. I have found that constant progress is more effective. An example, such as loosing a few clients in your business should not drive you to close your business. You can decide to do a survey to find out from your clients why they chose to leave your business. You can then source for new clients with your new information. You can also decide to find a strategy in which you can get back your lost customers by offering incentives or discounts for them. The point here is not to give up and stop working. Just keep moving, keep working and find more efficient and positive ways to keep doing business

.keep calm and moving

In whatever you’re doing how do you stay motivated? Feel free to share below.

7 Ways to Create Marketing that People will Love

Marketing has evolved drastically in the last decade. Traditional marketing consisted of TV, Radio and newspaper advertisements, billboards, spreading flyers and brochures outside to passer-bys, sending e-mails to random lists of people, calling random people in their home phones to sell them services, among other types of outbound marketing. This kind of marketing does not talk with people, it talks at people. This kind of marketing does not engage with its target customers and with time, people stopped listening. Businesses realized that this kind of marketing was not really effective so they turned to a different kind of marketing – inbound marketing. This kind of marketing focuses on attracting the right kind of customers and engaging with them. Inbound marketing asks for permission to engage with its target customers and to send them e-mails and texts. This kind of marketing has the potential to make your target customers love your brand marketing. It gives you the platform to create marketing that will have your customers loving your brand and wanting to engage with it. So how can one create marketing that people will love you wonder?

Well, it’s not very easy, but with a healthy dose of commitment, a scoop of research and testing, a handful of hard work and a pinch of working smart; you’ll have a perfect recipe for loveable marketing ^_^.

Create loveable marketing!

Create loveable marketing!

Select your target market/customers

Whether you’re a business selling products and services, an NGO, a school organization or a community; you cannot market to everyone. It’s like trying to please everyone out there; we all know that is not possible. Therefore, the best thing to do is to determine who you are marketing to, who your audience is and then create a strategy that has that target market in mind. You could be a young adult fiction writer; therefore your target would obviously be young adults. You could be a community based youth group based in Riruta, therefore your target audience would be youth between the ages of 18 to 35 years old who reside in Riruta, Nairobi. If it helps, you can even create target personas; that is, a person who is a dream customer for your brand marketing. A great example is if an online bakery in Nairobi is creating a marketing strategy; one of the target customer personas would be:

Online bakery customer persona

Online bakery customer persona

Jane, a 29 year old, Project coordinator for a company based on Ngong road, loves online shopping for utmost convenience, works 6 full-time days a week, accesses the internet at least 5 – 6 hours a day, bakes at home when she has time, has a sweet tooth.

With that persona in mind, the online bakery is able to create content for Jane that she will love. Every brand or organization that is marketing should make sure it defines it’s target market in order to attract the right audience and then create marketing that will resonate with that audience.

Create content that resonates with your target audience

After you have defined your target audience, you should then create content that will appeal to your audience. The best way to create content is by creating a blog for your brand or organization. You should post on the blog consistently and frequently to stay relevant. The blog should have content that is geared towards your target audience. Using the example above; the bakery blog would contain home-baking tips for Jane to use while she’s baking at home. It can also contain updates on important events, sales or tips that will help or involve customers of the bakery e.g. discounts on certain baked goods, improved payment or delivery systems or any events that are upcoming.

Content does not only include blog posts, it also includes pictures to be shared on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram pages, quotes to be shared on Twitter, short videos to be shared on Instagram and/or YouTube. Whatever the content you are creating, you should always have your target audience in mind.

Connect and engage with your audience

After attracting your target audience; whether they have already purchased products or services from you or not, you should make sure you engage with them. It is not enough to post and share your content on your social media pages; you should also talk to your audience and get feedback from them. Using the above example of Jane; the online bakery owner should not only post pictures of baked goods, tips on baking at home and recipes. The owner should also ask Jane what kind of recipes she would like posted on the bakery blog and her opinion of the products she has tasted from the bakery. When you engage with your audience, they feel listened to and important to your brand; they are likely to become brand ambassadors and may promote your business offline.

Make your audience smile or laugh

If you see a funny picture or a hilarious joke on your Facebook timeline or Twitter handle; you are more likely to share it to your friends, than a plain post about facts. As much as sharing factual content on your page is good, it’s also important to evoke positive emotion from your audience by posting posts, quotes, pictures or videos that will make your target audience smile or laugh. It also shows your audience that you are capable of having fun and that is definitely loveable. Make sure the content you share is not harmful or hurtful; don’t have a laugh at the expense of anyone.

Make your audience laugh ^_^

Make your audience laugh ^_^

Research and change your marketing strategy often

Whether you are a community-based organization or a business brand, it’s very important to know that the market changes often. What was popular or convenient last year has possible lost popularity this year or isn’t as convenient. Audiences change their preferences often in this day and age and your marketing strategy has to adapt appropriately. For a brand to keep up, you have to make sure you are constantly researching. Research should be on various things; current trends your target audience is following, new technology e.g. apps or websites, new inbound marketing trends and methods, to name a few. You should carry out this research periodically to ensure that your marketing activities are effective; if they have stopped being as effective as they were six months ago, change them.

Don’t oversell

If you’re a business that sells products or services, don’t start sounding like a salesperson. Find a balance, especially on social media; or use the 20 – 80 rule. Post content that is helpful and engages with your audience 80% of the time and post 20% content about your products and/or services. If you seem like your selling too much to your audience; they will not engage with you and they might stop following your brand. They will stop listening to you.

Give away free stuff once in a while

Who doesn’t love free stuff? I do! Sometimes people just love getting free products or services. Offer free items to your target audience in form of contests, raffles or trivia. This increases engagement on your pages and your target audience will just love you for it! This will increase your reach and popularity as well.

These are just a few ways of ensuring marketing love from your audience and we can all use a little love for sure!

If you have any other suggestions on spreading marketing love please share below.

* This post appeared originally on the Storymoja Blog.

7 Signs You Are A Kenyan Youth Entrepreneur

It is not always a straight-forward process to becoming an entrepreneur. Sometimes it can take years to decide or get to the point of deciding to become one. It can be certain circumstances that lead you to becoming an entrepreneur in Kenya over a short period of time. It can also be a set of events or activities that prove one is an entrepreneur. So this begs the question, ‘how does one know he/she is an entrepreneur?

For the many youth in Kenya who are not sure if they can become entrepreneurs or are in doubt that they have it in them; here are some signs. These are signs that you may have noticed about yourself, that are guaranteed to prove you are capable of running your own business in Kenya.

You’re employed in a good job and you’re miserable

Miserable at work?

Miserable at work?

If you finished college, looked for a job and are now employed full-time in a ‘good’ job. However, every morning you dread waking up, taking a shower and getting ready for work. Every weekday seems the same; long and filled with the same old routine. You look forward to Saturdays and you hate Sunday evenings since they mean the dreaded Monday is just around the corner. At work, you think of better ways you could be running your own company and building a better organization. It gets unbearable every week and you’re starting to wonder if starting your own business is just the way to go. You’re not sure if you can take the leap but staying at your job seems like a prison of its own. Well, I can tell you for sure, you’re ready to start your own business.

You’re out of college and you don’t want to look for a job

If you’re straight out of college and are expected to look for a job but that isn’t what you really want to do. You have a certain passion in a business idea, to the point of risking any savings you have to start that business. You feel that employment really isn’t for you and instead of spending your time ‘tarmacking’ for a job, you want to spend that time looking for a location for your business and customers to start selling your products or services.

You’re motivated and need to prove your vision

If you have a certain vision for an idea and people around you doubt it, as well as your ability to make it happen. You are not put off by others’ opinion and completely believe in your ability to achieve that vision. You are highly motivated and are wiling to put in the work required to achieve that vision. Then I would say, you’re definitely ready to get that business started.

You’ve noticed a gap in a certain market and have the solution

You've had an 'aha' moment (Courtesy:kurtkoontz.com)

You’ve had an ‘aha’ moment (Courtesy:kurtkoontz.com)

If you have a job in a certain industry and you notice there is a certain product or service you have thought of, and it’s not in the market. You believe you can create the product or offer the service. Get that business idea started right away, before someone else does.

 You feel the need to help people and create jobs for youth

Youth in Kenya (Courtesy:mercycorps.org)

Youth in Kenya (Courtesy:mercycorps.org)

If you are tired of hearing people say there aren’t jobs available for youth in Kenya. You are disappointed that despite the government promising more jobs, you don’t see it happening. You want to help other youth get jobs and be empowered to better their lives. You have a business idea and you know you can get it off the ground and it will help many Kenyan youth. If you’re as motivated to change lives as Lorna Rutto is doing, get that business idea off the ground! 

You hate having a boss and you want to do something you love

If you have a job that you don’t like, maybe it has nothing to do with what you like doing or what you have a passion in. You also notice that you don’t like having a boss to answer to every time. Then this is a great time to start a business that involves an industry in which you have a passion for and you can be your own boss as well in the process.

 You have finished high school and cannot be able to go to college

If your family cannot afford to pay for a university or college education for you after you finish high school. You do not want to look for a job and believe you can start a small business to earn money. If you have a small business idea in which you can get the necessary resources to get started and source for youth funding; get started now.

If you have noticed any of those signs, then you’re an entrepreneur in the making. Research your business idea and plan well, then get started.

This post was originally posted on the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog