4 Important Things that Start-Up Entrepreneurs need to always remember

I haven’t been posting consistently on this blog lately (I have decided to break the silence – and follow my own advice ^_^)

I was inspired to blog due to an interview I was invited to during the week of the GE Summit for a radio program called The Conversation for The BBC World Service. I was proud to be part of such an inspiring program and I met a lovely lady who was also guesting on the program; she is a co-founder of Closet 49, Serah Kanyua.

Our lovely hostess; Presenter Kim Chakanetsa, asked us several questions. One that really stood out for me and I thought was very important (enough to warrant a blog post ^_^) was: ” What do you think are the top tips for aspiring business women and men out there?” I will share my four top important tips for those who want to be or are starting out businesses.

1. Planning

Make sure before you start your business to plan ahead; make a business plan, including your start-up budget. Make an action list of what you need to do in order to get started properly. It’s also important to plan all other aspects of your life; if you’re an employee quitting a job to start a business, your personal life will change as well. Depending on what you were doing before starting your business, you need to adjust your life accordingly in order to focus completely on your business venture.

It's very important!

It’s very important!

2. Research

While you’re in the planning process for your business start-up, you also need to do a lot of research. It is imperative for your business’ success to conduct research on your business industry, your target customers, business location, whether your product or service is viable in the market and many other important aspects of your start-up. The reason it’s very important to conduct research is to reduce your business’ chance of failure. When you research thoroughly and plan properly; you have knowledge and insight that will increase your chance of success.

3. Mentorship

At any phase of starting up your business; whether it is during planning and research, after starting your business or during your entrepreneural journey – I think it’s important to have a mentor (or if you’re lucky, mentors). Mentors can be different types of people who help you gain insight into entrepreneurship. They can be individuals in your industry who guide you in the right direction while doing business; they can even be your customers or family members who also own businesses or among other individuals who offer insight and positive guidance to help improve your life. Mentors can help you “fail fast” as an entrepreneur – or at least help you avoid some business failures that slow down your business’ success. I can personally attest to the importance of having a mentor in your life as a start-up entrepreneur.

Get your own Yoda ^_^To guide you on the right path

Get your own Yoda ^_^To guide you on the right path

4. Self-Motivation

I said it on the interview and I will say it again – sometimes you don’t have someone to give you a pep talk; or to support you and inspire you daily. You have to wake up everyday and motivate yourself; you need to get up and tell yourself that you’re going to make it. You should be able to find various ways of getting inspiration to keep going; especially on those tough and challenging days. Whether it’s your favorite inspirational music, quotes that motivate you to do better or just an amazing pep talk to get you revved up for the day. Find your motivation daily, from within – then go out there and succeed!

Motivate yourself to succeed

Motivate yourself to succeed (Image Credit: BusinessDailyAfrica)

I hope those four business tips have helped you, especially if you’re planning on starting your own business soon. Make sure you are prepared before starting your venture (or as prepared as you can be).

Do you have any other important business tips to any aspiring start-up entrepreneurs you would love to share? Please do so below on the comment box – feedback is always appreciated ^_^

Don’t forget to share this awesome post with your friends – I bet they’ll thank you for it ^_^

How Authorpreneurs in Kenya Can Connect and Gain Loyal Followers

As an authorpreneur in Kenya, you may be wondering how to connect your brand (you as an author) to your target audience in order to gain loyal followers who will not only purchase your books; but also share your fiction works with their friends and networks as well. You will need to apply a kind of marketing called inbound marketing in which you attract, convert, sell and delight your target audience. There are various ways of engaging with your target audience and achieving those four goals. Today I want to share four effective ways in which an authorpreneur can do so.

Authorpreneur 101 pic

1. Create a blog and post on it consistently
As a fiction writer if you don’t already have a blog, you need to create one right away. There are many reasons why any brand should have a blog, and for a fiction writer such as yourself – this applies to your brand as well. It is a very effective way of connecting with your audience; as well as sharing your sample fiction works and updates about your brand or any other interests you would like to share. You can write short stories in your blog which your audience can read to get a better understanding of your talent and style of writing as well as the genre in which you write in. A great example is this blog on Romance in Nairobi. You can also choose to share helpful and relevant information in any topic; whether it is geographical information about locations you write about, or helpful tips to writers who are beginning to write fiction stories. This is your own space online that will attract your target audience and let them know more about yourself and possibly convert them to become your loyal followers.

2. Create social media pages and engage with your audience
Once you attract your audience, it’s very important to engage and interact with them. The best way to do this is on social media since that’s where most of them are as well. If you don’t already have accounts, create pages for your brand in which you will connect and engage with your audience. You can choose two or three social sites that you feel comfortable to start with, instead of opening numerous accounts that you cannot keep up with. Examples are; creating a Facebook page for your brand image, opening a Twitter account and then you can add another social media site such as Pinterest or LinkedIn depending on whether you want a visual based social site or you want to network with other authors. You don’t have to get a third social media account, if you are comfortable with only two, stick with that. Make sure you post consistently on your social media sites and use the 80/20 rule; 80% helpful and engaging material and 20% promotion on your brand products i.e. Fiction books.

Elly Kamari - Author FB page

Elly Kamari – Author FB page

3. Create accounts on self-publishing sites
As a writer, you need to be available in sites that are used in your industry because that is where majority of your target audience will be as well. Two main examples of these sites are Smashwords and Amazon. They are important since they sell fiction books to their customers and this is a ready market for you to attract. This is very important especially if you are a self-publishing fiction writer. If you don’t already have accounts in these sites, make sure you open them as soon as possible. You will be able to create a profile for your brand as well as share your writing to your target audience as well.

Self publish on smashwords.com

Self publish on smashwords.com

4. Visit industry-related events and festivals
As a fiction writer, it is necessary to connect with other writers in your genre and area; as well as readers who have a major interest in your industry. Great places to connect with such people are poetry and spoken word events, festivals such as the Storymoja Hay Festival which offers a chance to meet great authorpreneurs in various genres and master-classes that offer insightful discussions and information on various industry-related topics. These kinds of events will be visited by both your potential target audiences – avid readers interested in meeting authors and learning more about their interests. You will also meet and network with other authors; those who have been in the industry for long or new fiction writers beginning to write seriously such as yourself. Therefore ensure you are always on the look out for such events; so make sure you attend the Storymoja Hay Festival in the Nairobi Museum starting on the 17th of September this month.

Come to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Sept. 2014

Come to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Sept. 2014

Get started on doing the above things and you will be on your way to creating a strong and loyal following for your brand as an authorpreneur in Kenya.

Do you have any other sites or tips for authorpreneurs to visit or follow? Please feel free to share below.

This post appeared originally on the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog

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!

If you found this post helpful, please share below – it will be helpful to someone else. Spread the love ^_^

3 Easy Ways to avoid distraction from your business goals

I went to a lovely wedding today for a sister of one of my best friends. It was a joyful and infectious affair (and I got helpful tips on wedding cake ideas of course). I was then invited to go to the after party and I was sooooo tempted to agree. However, I said no and excused myself ( I had to go back to my Bakery – new staff I’m training). I was rather proud of myself but it was very hard since it’s rare to have my best friend ask me to go out with her and she looked awesomely made up (yes, just made that word up). I also really love to socialize and party (and of course go dancing ^_^). However as a start-up entrepreneur, one has to learn self control and discipline. I thought to myself that I should share how I have been working towards ( and actually have been succeeding) staying focused by staying away from distractions that will derail me from my success.

1. Remember your business to-do list.

When someone asks me these days to join them for some fun (e.g. after-parties, party sleep overs etc), I make sure I remember my mental (and mostly written) to-do list; such as Frost 3 birthday cakes for next morning pick-up, call potential investor for fund-raising to add more bakery equipment etc. This brings reality back into focus and you’re able to prioritize very fast (exactly what I did today ^_^).

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Prioritize (thepinstripedsuit.com)

2. Avoid the party crowd – they’re very convincing

As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly looking to meet and network with other entrepreneurs, you get to learn a lot from them and hear about their challenges and how they deal with them. I make it a point to interact and surround myself more with entrepreneurs, especially start-up ones. Another reason I do this is that when I spend time with career people, they don’t have the same challenges ( and small, almost non-existent budget) that I do. The are more likely to extend a coffee meet-up to a night out or even a brunch into a shopping spree.

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Coffee dates are ok (Courtesy:www.rookie-manager.com)

That is very bad for my personal and business budget as well and I avoid it completely. If you can, spend less time with your employed friends (be nice about it ^_^) and more with entrepreneurs that are less likely to splurge.

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Shopping Sprees… soon(courtesy: 123freevectors.com)

3. Have very few (2 or 3) main goals to achieve

The less goals you have to remember or achieve, the better. I sometimes have 2 business goals for the month only (e.g. Hire & train new production staff, focus on online marketing for the business, purchase a bread proofer for the Bakery etc).

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Set few goals (courtesy: peerlessgolf.ca)

This will make your focus much more easier as well as stronger until you achieve those set goals. Two goals are also easier to remember than a long list of ten goals per month.

I hope those few, but very important, tips are helpful to you as they are to me.

Cheers and have a great time dancing to music in your bedroom (cuz you can’t even afford to go to a club right now ^_^)