7 Important Lessons My Mentor Has Taught Me In Four Months

I recently agreed to take up a consulting job for an upcoming conference center. One of the main reasons why I decided to do so; is that there is a business lady I wanted to work with. She is a business woman based in Nyeri; however she does business all over Kenya – her name is Irene.
I am humbled to have her as my mentor-ess (^_^). It’s amazing how much you can learn from someone who has a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom in a short period of time. I’m constantly learning a lot from her and I’m glad I chose this opportunity to do so. I never knew how important it is to have a mentor, especially if you’re a start-up entrepreneur.
Here are a few important things I’ve learned from her in such a short time; that will help any entrepreneur(s) out there.
1. Create more than one stream of revenue.
When you work on your start-up and it stabilizes; create another income generating project and if possible, another. This will guarantee when you have lows in the economy – especially in some industries, you’ll have a kind of cushion when it comes to the revenue you’re collecting. If possible, ensure that the income generating projects are in different industries. An example of how my mentor does that is by having a business in the hotel industry, one in the road construction industry and another as a wholesale distributor of goods to institutions and large organizations.
2. Be tough and authoritative
If you are a start-up entrepreneur; you will wear many hats, especially the one of a manager. You will have to make tough decisions especially when it comes to your employees. As important as it is to work with your employees and get to know them; you are still the boss. If there are difficult issues to be addressed; no matter how hard it is, you should address them. If you have employees who are likable but are not working well, make sure to address the issues at hand. They may not like it; and you may not either, but you have to do it. If you are a manager in an organization; some changes may be necessary to make, they may not please everyone – but you are the boss, so they will have to follow suit. Don’t be timid in your directions, be authoritative.
3. Have your own unique personal style
Don’t be afraid to dress the part as a start-up entrepreneur; dress accordingly. If you’re in a corporate setting; dress professionally and according to the industry setting. You can dress more casually if you’re industry calls for it; or if you are in the fashion industry – ‘dress to kill.’ Make sure you dress comfortably and appropriately. Select outfits that give you confidence and make the right impression. If you’re as brave and confident as my mentor, feel free to dress in bold colors such as yellow and red ^_^. They make a statement and your look exudes confidence as well.

Even Beyonce knows how to rock a pant suit ^_^

Even Beyonce knows how to rock a pant suit ^_^

4. Be generous: give and you shall receive
Most start-up entrepreneurs I’ve met and even heard about have big hearts; therefore it’s not hard for most of them to follow this advice. Give in any way that you can, it doesn’t have to be money, give your time to people in different ways. You can teach people a skill you know and want to help them empower themselves. You can share information about a certain topic that will help many people who have similar passion or interests but don’t know as much as you do (a great way to do this is starting a blog that offers information on a certain topic e.g. baking, saving energy using jikos, etc.). You can join a group of people who help others e.g. a church, youth or common interest group. You can volunteer your time or services to an NGO that helps people. There are many ways to give back to the community. Choose one way and start giving; you’ll be blessed in return.

Be Generous

Be Generous

5. Network – network like a fiend!
One thing I’ve noticed with Irene is that she knows a lot of people in many different industries and walks of life. She is a great connector and is always meeting different people as well as introducing me to different people as well. At first it seemed to me like a talent you have to be born with due to how easy it was for her. She has however taught me to be constantly on the look-out for experts in different fields, entrepreneurs who can help by offering great products and/or services. As well as just meeting people in order to enrich your life; spiritually, mentally or business-wise. I have realized you can gain insight on many topics and industries from certain people even at one sitting. I have gotten better at networking and even though I have a long way to go; with more practice it will come naturally to me in time. Ensure you do the same everywhere you go. If you identify great entrepreneurs and individuals who seem to have insight into specific things, get to know them. Connect with them, ask questions and if possible; keep in touch. You will grow exponentially when you learn how to network.

Connect with insightful individuals

Connect with insightful individuals

6. Have faith; in God and in yourself
I am a Christian and I have a very strong faith. Whatever religion you are, make sure you have a strong belief in your faith; it will keep you strong especially through the tough times (and they are many!) You should also make sure you believe in yourself and abilities. As start-up entrepreneurs; sometimes we often feel overwhelmed by some projects and we can start doubting our skills and abilities at times. It’s necessary to be self-motivated as an entrepreneur. Believe in your idea or passion in the same way you take breath every moment of your life. Have faith in your skills and ability to grow and keep learning. My mentor is the kind of person who encounters challenges in life and doesn’t seem affected by them at all. She always finds a way out or around any issue and believes they is always a solution. She has the utmost confidence in herself and her ability as a business woman; to me that is truly inspirational.
7. You can be a successful entrepreneuress and have a happy family life
In this day and age; many marriages don’t last and families are constantly breaking apart. A large reason is mainly due to the spouses being too busy to nourish their family life and work on their relationships in order for the marriages to work. A lot of start-up entrepreneurs (especially women) find it difficult to run a business and have a successful family life. It is not an impossible thing; one just has to work hard at the relationship and work as partners with your spouse. Many great business women have shown great examples of how it’s possible; my mentor is no different. She has a successful family life and maintains a good balance of business and family most of the time. She shares that it’s not a perfect life but she knows when to give her time to her family and when to focus on business – that is the key. Create time to nurture and grow your personal and family relationships even as you do business. It’s very important in life and especially when you need moral support. It’s very inspiring for me to see up-close how achievable it is (I won’t lie, I was skeptic before ^_^).
I hope these bits of advice will help you out as an entrepreneur; I know they’ve helped me a lot. You don’t necessarily have to go out and find a mentor; but it’s advisable to have one. You can even choose someone who inspires you and read about them; learn from their actions (and even mistakes) and if possible – connect with them.
Do you have a mentor, or just someone who inspires you, challenges you to be better and gives you guidance? Feel free to share any piece of advice you’ve learned from him/her below. Thanks!
If you found this post helpful, make sure to spread the love by sharing with your friends ^_^

Fried Chicken Legs with Breadcrumbs

For the past Christmas holiday, I tried a simple and classic recipe; fried chicken with bread crumbs – as always it was delicious ^_^!

Everyone loved it, the whole family stuffed themselves over Christmas dinner – so I figured i should share; hope y’all love it.

Fried Chicken coated with breadcrumbs - Delish!

Fried Chicken coated with breadcrumbs – Delish!

Ingredients:

  • 7 Pcs Chicken Legs
  • 500gms Breadcrumbs
  • 2 pcs Eggs – beaten in a plate
  • 1 T dried herbs
  • 1t Salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Boil the chicken legs until cooked inside; for about 45 minutes to an hour. Drain them in a colander.
  2. Take a medium frying pan and pour vegetable oil about 1/3 full. Heat it on a gas cooker (or if you’re living la vida Cookswell like me, an energy saving jiko ^_^).
  3. In a plate, pour your bread crumbs, salt and herbs and mix with a spoon. Clean a medium tray and set aside.

    Coat the chicken in breadcrumbs

    Coat the chicken in breadcrumbs

  4. Take one chicken leg at a time, dry it with a clean dry cloth or kitchen towel. Dip it in the beaten egg mix, then into the breadcrumbs mixture. Place the prepared chicken pieces on the clean dry tray.

    Chicken ready to cook - while sipping on some Sangria ^_^

    Chicken ready to cook – while sipping on some Sangria ^_^

  5. When your oil is ready, place two or three pieces of chicken into the pan one at a time with tongs – be careful not to burn yourself.

    Fry your chicken and then dig into it!

    Fry your chicken and then dig into it!

  6. Fry each side for at least 5 minutes or until golden brown; then turn and fry the other side until golden brown as well.
  7. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and place into a colander to drain excess oil or a tray lined with kitchen towels or serviettes to absorb excess oil.
  8. Serve the chicken with your meal ready to eat. Enjoy!

Let me know what you think of the dish when you try it out – Bon Appetit ^_^!

3 Signs You Need To Change Your Business Model

I hope your New Years was great, mine most definitely was. I have been reviewing my business plan and model to see if I needed to change it for this new year. I feel that this has been a long time coming due to certain results in business actions that I took and therefore; I decided to sit down and see how to make necessary changes.

I’m sure as a start-up entrepreneur or even if you are a seasoned entrepreneur, you’ve made certain changes in your business model over time. This happens especially if you realize that you’re not getting desired results in your business or for other reasons. Today I want to share three signs that show you need to change your business model for the better in this new year.

1. Your sales have reduced drastically

If you realize that your sales have reduced a lot and you’re still doing the same things you’ve been doing in your business then you have to change your business model. You may be trying very hard to market to the same customers and you still don’t get higher sales; if anything, they continue dropping. This is a very big sign that you need to change the direction of your business (like big flashing red light kind of sign ^_^). If you can’t sell, then your business can’t survive. Find a way to change your business for the better.

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If your sales keep going down – something’s gotta change

2. Your market industry has changed

Customers sometimes change their preferences and tastes; what used to be a trending product or service stops being popular. As an entrepreneur, you have to continually observe these trends in your industry and your business may have to adjust as they change. As a start-up entrepreneur, you may notice these changes late and that may affect your business. Start-up entrepreneurs have to learn to keep their ear to the ground when market trends shift or change so as not to get left out and start losing out in sales. This means you have to keep getting feedback from your customers, keep reading about your industry and any new changes or trends. Always stay informed and keep in touch with your customers by taking surveys and ensuring they are satisfied; as well as improving your products or services to suite their ever-changing needs.

Markets change often - keep an eye out

Markets change often – keep an eye out

3. You, as an entrepreneur, have changed

As an individual sometimes changes can occur in your life that change you in different ways. This can happen due to certain situations, environments or even changes within you as a person. These changes can affect you in a positive or a negative way. If you’re a start-up entrepreneur; if these changes affect you negatively, it can affect your start-up business negatively. This can manifest in different ways such as neglecting your employees or customers; which would result in lower productivity and sales. It’s best if you feel that you’ve changed as an entrepreneur; make the changes work for you in a positive way – even if it means changing your business model. This is especially necessary if your priorities have changed and they don’t go hand in hand with what your business is doing.

Image Credit: essentiallifeskills.net

Image Credit: essentiallifeskills.net

If you are experiencing any of the signs above or even all of them (yup, this can all happen at the same time ^_^), make sure you sit down and have a serious review of your current business model/plan and see what you have to change. Make changes that are necessary and positive to you and your business in the long run.

Have you ever had to change your business model as an entrepreneur? How did it go? Please feel free to share below.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with your network. Sharing is caring ^_^

5 Ways To Build A Positive Corporate Culture In Your Business

I’ve been rather terrible with my content scheduling since last month I will admit, (due to a busier schedule ^_^) and so I’ve decided to follow my own advice – plan ahead and stick to the plan! Today’s post is motivated by three different business cultures that I’ve encountered over the last two months that have highlighted the need for a deliberate organizational culture in any setting; whether an NGO, Church organization, Government organization or business.
I’ve encountered two negative corporate cultures; in a festival setting that I was involved in and a church organization I’m consulting for that’s in transition from one leader to another. I’ve also encountered a very positive and open culture with a vendor I deal with that is very inspiring. This made me realize that whether a business or organization leader chooses to cultivate a culture deliberately or not; a culture forms anyway. If a leader or leaders of a business or organization cultivate a positive culture deliberately, they build a very positive, happy culture and staff that extends to their clients or customers as well. If a leader does not actively promote positive attitudes and perpetuates a negative attitude and actions as well, the organization’s culture becomes a very negative one that also extends to clients, customers and even interns (if such a program exists within the organization). This should motivate any entrepreneur to cultivate a positive business/corporate culture in his/her business for long-term success in the business. Success will be achieved because you will have highly productive employees who are happy and have a positive attitude. This positive attitude will shine through in daily operations to vendors, clients, interns and this will lead to people being satisfied with your business and staying loyal to your brand. Here are a few ways you can build a deliberate positive corporate or organizational culture in your business.

1. Show your employees respect at all times
Many company or organization leaders, especially here in Kenya, don’t show respect to their employees. They like to treat them like lowly servants and show them they are of a lower class, by addressing and treating them in negative ways. This is a colonial and out-dated way of thinking and it’s becoming increasingly ineffective in the management of companies. Many successful companies in the world these days have very positive cultures and focus on ensuring the satisfaction of their work force e.g. Virgin or Hubspot. They realize that happy employees are highly productive and will help you build a successful business. No matter what your position as a leader is in an organization or a business; respect your subordinates, whether you are a manager, department head or even the CEO or founder.

Respect each other

Respect each other

Bottom Line: Treat your employees with respect and dignity as you would treat any other human being and you would like to be treated in kind. Listen to them and do not put them down verbally or otherwise. This will earn the respect of your employees and they will work hard for the company to make it successful.

2. Keep an open line of communication in your business
Are employees afraid to speak up in meetings? Are they afraid to answer honestly when you ask any question? Is it difficult for employees to reach you when they want to discuss a sensitive matter with you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to change the way you communicate with your employees or subordinates. Have brief meetings weekly with your staff to get their opinions on the way the business is running and any challenges they are dealing with daily. Encourage honest feedback on operations and any other issues that concern the business. Employees may share important information on challenges being faced and ways to overcome them in your organization.
Bottom Line: Whether you are a small startup where your staff report directly to you or a larger company where they report to unit or department managers; ensure there is always an open line of communication. This will cultivate a culture of happy employees who feel they are listened to and their opinions are important to the company. They will work hard to make sure your company is a success.

3. Trust your team
If you have hired a team to help you run your business e.g. an accountant, a human resource manager, head of operations, a secretary etc. You have chosen them due to their qualifications, experience and they have showed they work well with minimal supervision and deliver positive results. Don’t micro-manage them, trust them to do their jobs without having to call them or stand over their shoulder every minute to inquire on the progress.

Trust your team (Image: mashable.com)

Trust your team (Image: mashable.com)

Bottom Line: Trust your team to work well and efficiently; monitor them periodically by putting systems in place to check the progress on all operations. Don’t micro-manage.

4. Show accountability
Company leaders are always asking their employees to be accountable for their actions and their work. A good leader leads by action; if you want your staff to be accountable, you should do the same. If you set goals that involve your employees or make any promises in the work place; make sure to work hard and achieve the goals, as well as fulfill your promises. If you’re not able to, communicate the reasons why to your staff and how you intend to deal with the situation effectively.
Bottom Line: Be accountable in your company or small business. Employees feel motivated to be accountable in their work if their leaders are accountable as well.

5. Have fun at work
As a business leader, CEO or founder of your business; you spend 90% (or more) of your time at work. Your employees also spend most of their week at the work place as well. It therefore makes sense to make the working place an easy and fun environment to work at for any individual who works there. It’s alright to loosen up and have some fun while working. You can even plan monthly team building or sports activities that are fun for your employees and will create a bonding experience for the whole company.

keep calm - work hard and have fun poster
Bottom Line: Ensure your employees are having fun at work, but not at the expense of professionalism or your company’s business goals.

These are just a few ways of creating a positive corporate/organizational culture for your business in order to ensure success for your company as well as your employees.
If you have any other suggestions feel free to comment below.

If you find this post helpful and would like to share – please do so below.
Spread the word ^_^!