5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting A Small Business

These days starting a small business has become an acceptable alternative to getting a job and being employed. It almost seems like a trend – being a start-up entrepreneur. I’m personally glad to see that more individuals in Kenya are looking at other options of generating income in their lives, other than getting employed, not because it is a bad thing, but mainly because for some people – it’s very difficult to find a job. It is important to note though that starting a small business, especially in Kenya, is not for the faint-hearted. It is very good to be honest with yourself on whether you are ready to take on the challenge of being a start-up entrepreneur.

There are at least five questions that I think you should ask yourself before taking the step to starting a small business of your own. This will not only put the reality of owning a small business in Kenya in perspective for you, but it will also help you get very honest with yourself on the journey ahead.

Am I cut out to be a business owner?

Being a business owner means a lot of things and you need to be prepared for it. First, you have to be able to persevere tough times that may seem to last for a long period, this could be having cash shortages or cash flow issues – constantly. Can you be able to not only handle the stress of those issues, but also find solutions to your cash flow challenges in order to progress? The other thing you have to be aware of is a lifestyle change; you have to realize that as a small business owner, you will wear many hats. You will be an accountant, secretary, sales and marketing personnel, etc. This will mean sacrificing your social life in some way; if you’re friends go out every weekend – you won’t be able to do the same since you’ll be busy building your business. You will sleep late and wake up early more often. If you are married and/or have children; you have to look at your life and see what you can plan early and do; how to make time for your family, as well as time for your business.  You have to know that you will have to adjust your life drastically and be willing to be flexible as well. The other important thing to know is how to manage stress levels. You will encounter challenges often and you will be forced to make tough decisions as well; can you be able to handle that stress without breaking down? As a start-up entrepreneur; you have to find different ways of managing your stress levels in order to keep going.

Talking baking for business while eating cake

As a business owner: I’m not only doing the practical work, I’m also a marketer for my own business as well ^_^

Do I have the skills required to run the business?

This is a question that is very important for anyone about to start a small business. This will depend on the type of business you have decided to start. Most people start businesses based on the skills they have e.g. a baker will start a small baking business, an accountant will start an accounting firm, etc. Make sure to sit down and write all the skills required in the business for it to run well, then evaluate yourself and see if you have any of those skills required. For the skills you don’t have; you have to find a way to ensure they are available in order for your business to run properly. This means that you either have to outsource those skills, hire a person or even learn the skill yourself. In this day and age; you can also get software that can assist you in certain aspects of your business e.g. accounting and inventory management (e.g. Quickbooks Accounting Software), you can also visit other sites that can help you with the skills to run your business e.g. photo editing, marketing, customer service, etc. Just to mention a few skills that you might require for business; people skills (in order to persuade potential clients to buy your products or services, practical skills pertaining to your business (e.g. baking if starting a bakery, photography skills if you will start a photo studio, etc.), book-keeping and accounting skills (these are good to learn even if you don’t have them – it’s necessary to be aware of your financial position at all times), marketing skills – this is important to learn as well, even as you think of getting someone to assist with marketing your business. Learn how to also do it yourself since you will be the most passionate person about the business since it’s yours. You can find many resources and tips online on different skills you require that you can learn from.

Bakerette Faith garnishin black forrest cake - Amari Baking classes

If you want to start a bakery; make sure you have the baking skill, if not, take some baking classes

Do I have the funds to start my business and if not, can I be able to fund-raise?

You truly have to get very honest with yourself about this question; do you have enough money to get started? The best thing is to sit down and find out how much you will need to get started, you can do this while writing your business plan. In the financial part; have a detailed budget on all you need to actually set up your business and get started. You also need to know how much working capital you’ll need at least for the first 3 months – this is money that will be used for monthly expenses, etc. Once you find that out; you’ll have a clear picture of the total amount of money you require. Check your finances at that time and see if you have that amount; if you don’t, don’t worry – you can make a plan on how to get that money to get started. Come up with several ideas of how you can come up with the money and write them down; if they’re individuals you need to approach, write down their names, if you can be able to save for a period of time, etc. Once you have a list; make a plan on when to fund-raise from each source. For example; maybe you need a total of Kshs. 500,000 (Starting-250K & Working capital-250K) and you have found that you only have Kshs. 20,000, you can decide that within 6 months – you can save Kshs. 120,000.  You can choose to save per month and keep the money or once you get the money at the end of the month – you can purchase a particular item, equipment, etc – required in your business. That means that within 6 months; you’ll have Kshs. 140,000. You may have identified a family member who can lend you Kshs. 110,000 within those 6 months to get started. That means that you can actually start your business after those 6 months. For the working capital; you can also look for 2 or 3 sources to fund-raise from. Example; you can find a friend or another family member who can fund you the first month of operation with Kshs. 150,000 to get you some working capital and you can maybe get some grant or government funding of Kshs.50,000. You can then discover that within the first 3 months of operations, your business can have Kshs. 50,000 to use for working capital. This will ensure that you are at least set for the first 3 months of your business start-up.

Amari Biz plan template

A business plan is very important

Am I willing to do the research and be fully prepared before starting my business?

This is a question that a lot of individuals, especially youth, are not asking themselves before starting a small business – it’s also a major cause of business failure for those who start without doing so. I think it’s a very important question because in order to set your business up for success, you really have to do some research on the industry you want to do business in, the location and also on what you actually need to get started. A lot of people feel too lazy to do the research themselves and want to get answers without doing their due diligence. Choose to either do the research in order to be fully prepared i.e. visit and talk to business owners in that industry, research on equipment, legal requirements, labor requirements you’ll need to start – you can get this information in industry blogs, talking to people in the business, online government portals, you can even inquire at your county council office on legal requirements. If you’re not willing to do all the work; hire a consultant who will let you know all you require to get started. If you don’t have the money to hire a consultant and you don’t want to do the research; then don’t bother starting a business in the first place.

ResearchKey

Do your due diligence – make sure to research every aspect of your business idea

Am I willing to keep learning and not be afraid to fail?

As a business owner; you have to be willing and open to learn, at all times. This is what helps you grow as an entrepreneur and in turn, it helps your business to grow and progress with time. In business, you also have to be aware that you will fail at times; sometimes you’ll lose your money in failed projects, but this should not stop you from getting started. Starting and running a business is taking a risk, but it may have great rewards as well. Part of learning in this journey and growing wiser involves failing at times; I believe that you should look at those failures as learning moments instead of just pure failure. The challenges you encounter will teach you to be a better entrepreneur and will also help you learn faster and therefore be wiser and make better business decisions. You have to have the courage to take that risk, be willing to meet challenges head on and learn from them in order to be successful.

learn-on concrete

Every challenge you encounter should be a learning moment

I hope that you will ask yourself these questions before starting your small business and you’ll answer them as honestly as possible.

If you have any questions on starting a business that you have or you think one should also ask oneself – feel free to share below ^_^

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6 Important Steps to Take Before Starting a Business in Kenya

Becoming an entrepreneur in Kenya, especially a female entrepreneur in Kenya is never an easy decision to make. When one makes the decision however, it’s important not to rush into a business without taking a few steps in preparation. Business plans don’t always work as planned, but they are a great guideline to follow. Make sure to take these six steps when starting your small business in Kenya.

1. Research the industry well

Whatever industry you’re in, you should ensure to research it thoroughly. This is so that you find out who your future competitors are and what they are doing specifically, in terms of marketing and what products or services they are offering. You should find out how the market is doing whether it’s profitable or declining; is it a fad that has run its course? It’s also good to find out if it’s too saturated a market; if everyone is doing it. Before starting my bakery, I read many bakery blogs for recipes to try our for my menu, I researched what cake and bread products were being sold at the time, the bakeries that were popular in Nairobi and what they were selling in their menus as well. I checked the price lists of about ten bakeries and their websites to see the kind of online marketing they were utilizing.

Research is necessary in your business (Courtesy: iserotope.com)

Research is necessary in your business (Courtesy: iserotope.com)

2. Decide what your niche in the industry will be for your business

Every successful business in Kenya has a certain need it addresses in its industry. Finding a niche in an industry is important since it helps a business focus on solving that particular problem. An example; Citizen TV in Kenya focuses on regional shows and audiences. Therefore their shows are mainly African show such as Afrosinema and many other Kenyan shows that local Kenyans relate to. Another example is my baking business; one service we’re offering is teaching people how to bake with a charcoal oven. Many people offer baking classes; but since more individuals who want to start small baking businesses are baking with charcoal ovens because they are economical, our focus is on those who want to learn how to bake with it. Choose a niche in which you are certain you will solve a specific problem and that will set you apart from your competition.

3. Find out the necessary requirements to run your business legally in your location

After you’ve decided what your business will be, you need to find out all the legal requirements to run that kind of business in Kenya. Whether it’s registering the business name or a company; to city council permits and certificates for the business premise. Find out all the necessary documents and start working towards getting them before starting the business. When I started my bakery, I first started by registering a business name for the business, then I went to the nearest city council office in my location and inquired on the necessary permits and health certificates needed to get started. If you’re able to, you can approach a person who has a business in your industry and inquire about the requirements. Get started on it.

Visit your local city council office to inquire about requirements

Visit your local city council office to inquire about requirements

4. Find out the equipment required in your business

It’s necessary to know the basic resources required in your business to get started with. For example if you’re starting a cyber cafe business; you should know the least number of computers you’ll need to get started, printers, chairs and tables and any shelves required. You should also have money for expenses for at least three months; however if you can get money to cover expenses for six months – it’s preferred. If you’ll need to hire anyone to help you run your business, decide the kind of skills you require them to have and then start looking for someone to hire. Find out what all your operational requirements will be and plan accordingly.

5. Write a business plan

This is a must for any entrepreneur in Kenya who wants to start a business. Make sure you write a business plan; this will not only help set down your plan in paper in an organized manner; it will give you a guideline for the direction of your business in the future. I will be writing a post soon on how to write a business plan for you to use. To get a free business plan template, sign up via email by clicking on this link.

Start writing a business plan

Start writing a business plan

6. Get the capital required to start up your business

After you have written down a business plan, you will be able to know the exact amount you require to start your business. You need to get that capital; maybe start with the amount you have saved, then find out how much you need to fund-raise to get started.

Get start-up capital

Get start-up capital

if you follow the above steps to getting your business started in Kenya, you will be more prepared as an entrepreneur.

If you have any other suggestions on steps to take before starting a business, please feel free to comment below.

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