3 Helpful Tips on Saving Money as a Start-Up Entrepreneur in Kenya

The first few year as a start-up entrepreneur are the toughest, not only have I heard this advice from many successful entrepreneurs in Kenya and read it from international entrepreneurs; I have experienced it (and continue to ^_^). Most successful entrepreneurs actually state that the first three to six years are the toughest for any new start-up venture and the entrepreneur behind it. I call them the ‘make it or break it’ years, that’s the time when you are constantly under pressure, stress and many other challenges; both financial and personal. These years not only test your true character but your strength and endurance through very tough challenges and failures that you face. One major challenge that most start-up entrepreneurs face is financial; in both aspects of your personal life and your business. For your personal life; it’s very important to find ways of reducing your expenses to a bare minimum because they can interfere with your business cash flow, especially if that is where you get your money from. I have started up a business twice; I failed the first time I tried for one year and personal finances played a major role in that failure. This time around I have been going for two years and I am applying the lessons I learned from the first time around on saving money as much as I can. There are numerous ways of making sure you save money, but I want to share three easy and very helpful tips of doing so that will guarantee the safety of your business cash flow for the first two years.

1. Reduce all your personal expenses and eliminate all unnecessary ones
If you wish to be successful, you have to be disciplined and start having great control of your spending habits. If you were employed before you became a start-up entrepreneur, such as I was; it can be a great challenge to change your spending habits, however, it is necessary for your success. Reduce any personal expenses such as eating out, going for nights out with your friends, impulsive retail purchases, over-spending on personal items or expenses such as personal phone calls, if you rent your apartment or house – find a more economical, budget-friendly place to stay. You should actually eliminate any expense you feel you can do without or that is a luxury. If you can run your business from home; do that. I moved back home with my mum since there was space to build a bakery workshop in the compound and at the time, the bakery was delivery based, it can run from home to start. Make sure you have very few personal expenses that will need cash; this will stop you from dipping into the business cash flow to fund personal matters.

Reduce your personal costs

Reduce your personal costs

2. Buy in Bulk
This applies to both your personal and business aspects. Most products or services that are offered in bulk are usually at a lower rate than the ones that don’t. Examples are phone credit (distributors of phone credit sell to shops at wholesale prices for larger amounts, you can do the same as well) and internet bundles (or if you can manage the expense and your area permits it – sign up for monthly internet service e.g. from Zuku or Faiba). If your phone usage is quite high per month, you can also sign up for post paid service; all major phone service providers have post paid bundles and plans – you can even try the business bundles if your phone credit and internet usage is very high. Do the same for your business stock; production, print material (e.g. business cards and brochures), packaging materials and any other purchases you make often. This can apply even to your personal purchases such as toothpaste, deodorant, soap, etc. Visit your local wholesale shop and you will be surprised at how you can save bu buying in bulk.

Buy phone credit in bulk (Image: kateskikapu.com)

Buy phone credit in bulk (Image: kateskikapu.com)

3. Negotiate deals and discounts with vendors or suppliers
If you make purchases often from specific vendors e.g. print material, production ingredients, etc; you can negotiate certain discounts or deals with that supplier. If you have built a relationship with the vendor; you can discuss different ways in which he/she can discount your purchases because of your loyal service. If you have a supplier who is also a customer as well; you can also discuss a way to trade between the two businesses. Make sure all the details are discussed and if necessary written down, both businesses can benefit from trading items and saving costs in the respective businesses as well.

Get discounts on purchases (Image: juniorwatch.com)

Get discounts on purchases (Image: juniorwatch.com)

Those are just a few simple and highly effective ways of saving money as a start-up entrepreneur in Kenya. If you are an entrepreneur who would like to suggest any other ways you have found to save money in your life, please feel free to comment below and share.

Remember to work hard, keep the faith, be strong and work smart!

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6 Essential Websites for any Start-up Entrepreneur in Kenya

As a start up entrepreneur, life can be very hectic and one has to look for many ways to manage everyday life and ensure he/she is being productive. As an entrepreneur in Kenya, I have found that there are websites that are essential for everyday success in my small business. I use them everyday and they are vital to my success as a business person. The websites range from inspirational to informational, others are about design and marketing automation. I have shared my top six picks that I believe every start up entrepreneur in Kenya should use to improve their productivity. They are truly helpful to me, I hope they help you as well.

1. Google

Google is a one stop shop for many useful apps & functions

Google is a one stop shop for many useful apps & functions

Google is a great website that helps you in many ways. The much obvious function is Gmail, the email service that Google provides for free. It’s also the way you sign up to any other Google app or service. Google also provides its users with ‘Google Drive’, which is a cloud storage function where the user can save any files and can access them anywhere as long as they sign in to their account. Google also has its own social media platform – Google + which each user has access to as long as they sign in. Another social platform for sharing videos is ‘You Tube’ which is also accessed by Google users. If you have a smart phone, you can also access Google Play Store which is an app store. For directions on different locations, there is Google maps. You can also sign in to Blogger, which is a blog service offered by Google.  I can honestly say that I could not function daily without the different Google services since I use them daily in my business.

2. Canva

Canvas screenprint for KTL Blog

Edit your photos at canva.com

Canva offers picture editing services for free. You can edit your pictures in different ways before sharing them. It allows you to add text, water-mark your blog pictures, crop, add frames, backgrounds and many more functions. I love this website since it’s free and offers many options. You can sign up for a paid version of Canva if you feel it’s worth the investment, especially if your business is mainly visual based or even if you want more access to photo editing features.

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is great for social media management

Hootsuite is great for social media management

Hootsuite is a social media management platform. You can sign up for free and get an account, you can also use your Facebook, Google or Twitter accounts to sign up for it. I especially use it for scheduling posts for my business Twitter accounts. You can also use it to schedule your Facebook posts (however it’s good to know that Facebook also offers you the function of scheduling posts on your business page as well). I like using it because you can also keep track of  any mentions on Twitter about your business. You can also track any hashtags you want to stay updated on. They also have a paid version as your business expands. It offers analytics on all social media pages, you can have more social media pages to track as well as include other team members to run your social media and engage with your customers as well.

4. Bitly

Bitly is great for tracking links

Bitly is great for tracking links

Bitly is a website that offers the service of shortening your links and tracking them as well. It’s a free service and you can sign in using Facebook or Twitter accounts. Bitly shortens your long links for websites or blog posts to assist you especially when posting online. For example, when posting on Twitter, instead of using a long link that will use a lot of much needed character space on your Tweet, you shorten it to something manageable; like this -> http://bit.ly/KTLBlog. As your business grows, you can sign up for the paid version that helps businesses manage and shape their brand as it grows.

5. Hubspot

Hubspot provides advice on Inbound marketing

Hubspot provides advice on Inbound marketing

Hubspot is a company that offers inbound marketing software, you can purchase their software if you have a large online based business (this is definitely my plan as my business grows ^_^). However for those of us who cannot pay for it yet, they offer advice on how to use inbound marketing in your business. I signed up for their newsletters to receive emails on their blog posts everyday. Hubspot is the leader in inbound marketing in the world, they are not only pros on the topic, they have marketing scientists who constantly research and keep track of what is working in the industry. They not only provide great advice on inbound marketing, they even give free e-books, e-mail templates, content calendar templates and many more essential tools used by marketers.  As an entrepreneur who uses inbound marketing in Kenya for my business; I would advice anyone who wants to start or is using inbound marketing to use Hubspot’s resources.

6. Addicted2Success

This is a great motivational website

This is a great motivational website

Addicted2Success is an inspirational website by Joel Brown. It started as a blog to give entrepreneurs inspiration and motivation; it has grown to be a very popular website. I love reading this site because it offers quotes and advice from successful entrepreneurs who share their insight into their lives and motivation. It also offers advice on being a more productive person, thinking for success, picture quotes and other pieces of advice that an entrepreneur constantly needs. You can sign up for the newsletter to receive updates on posts.

I hope the above websites are useful to you as they are to me. If you know of any other websites that are helpful to entrepreneurs in Kenya, please share below.

Keep the faith and achieve success ^_^