Of passion, failure and the truths of business

I am super excited. I’m writing this at 2.34am in Phoenix, Arizona; and I’m just from a gig.

It’s the last gig of my US tour and I can’t wait to get home and see my family, friends and the country in general.

Before that, though, I figured I’d do a round-up on the five things I’ve learnt during my stay here.

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1. Do what you love

When I started music, it was out of the love I had for it.

I had gone to college and made my family proud, but at the end of the day, I needed to make me happy.

One of the scholars I met in Los Angeles owns a chain of hotdog trucks. When I asked why he didn’t pursue what he studied in school, he told me there’s no greater achievement than being happy.

And do you know what happiness brings to a business? Passion. And passion brings results. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not against education. In fact, my accounting degree has really helped me stay organised.

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2. You will fail

I was in Oklahoma where Tesla has one of its outlets. If you’re interested in the car, what basically happens is you walk in, they show you the model you want, and then they let you test drive it, with a supervisor of course.

Did you know that Tesla cars don’t use fuel? You charge the car just like you would a phone. But before Tesla became what it is today, its founder, Elon Must, tried so many times. He even got to a point where he was bankrupt and had to shut down his company. He failed over and over.

Most of us start a business, but the moment we fail, we drop our dream.

Elon, on the other hand, had a dream and a passion, and he pushed on. Now he’s the billionaire founder of one of the companies that’s showing us the revolutionary potential of technology.

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3. Control expenses

I’ve seen posts on the Internet where millennials write, ‘Let the money work for you’, alongside other famous, inspiring quotes.

The sad bit is that most of the people who post these quotes don’t live the lifestyle. Clubs are full every day.

One of the Kenyans I met who lives in Phoenix told me a story about how Kenya’s millennials get poor pay, and then call each other up to meet and spend it.

Why don’t we young people channel that ‘meeting’ time and come up with innovative ways to grow. I’m not saying it’s bad to go out, but the emphasis should be on investing whatever you can.

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The excuse I hear on a daily basis is, “My income is too little that I can’t even save.”

But remember that even the tallest buildings are made of stones that were laid one by one. If the mason never dared to see what it could be, he or she would never build houses.

Let’s make the most of the little we have or earn, even as we have fun while at it.

4. Work with a business partner

When they talk about the founders of the world’s largest companies, you’ll notice almost everyone had or has a business partner(s).

There’s a column I did a while back, so allow me to quote myself: “Why settle for 100 per cent of Sh100 when you can get 50 per cent of Sh1 million?”

In simpler terms, it means I’m willing to sacrifice 50 per cent of my business to my partners, so that together we can work towards building a business that brings in more money. And this works because they’ll have vested interest in the brand.

I discovered this equation in my early days and it has really helped me push the brands that I’m growing.

5. Sniff out opportunities

Human beings are evolving on a daily basis, and what this means is that they’re always demanding innovative executions and market disruptions.

In the US, big companies have appointed agents who, whenever they see a small start-up that has the potential to grow, offer to buy it out.

Did you know that Bill Gates approached Mark Zuckerberg just when Facebook started and offered him millions of dollars so he could own a piece of the business?

Always be on the lookout and always diversify because you don’t know when the next market explosion will happen.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.  

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