King Kaka: Your Pace
There is a Swahili saying that translates to ‘try out food at your neighbours’ before you declare your mother a top cook’. Over Easter holidays I visited Dubai. To say I was impressed by the place is an understatement. On our way back from the desert safari, we were seated with a gentleman who looked in his 40s from Kenya who was also visiting. So we started talking and before we knew it, we were comparing countries, mainly Kenya and UAE.
“My first trip to Dubai was in 1998, and it wasn’t as developed,” he confessed. We talked about the advantage they have over Kenya and immediately I took it to a business context.
Recently, I was mentoring a group of youths on an idea they had and the conversation reminded me of their thinking. Their argument was that they needed to compare so as to know who to ‘beat’ in their specific field.
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My argument is, be aware of the competition but don’t compare, even though by default the world will do that. By being aware, I simply mean know the technology that’s in your specific field, then use it to create a customised customer experience. Remember the consumer is interested in you because you are offering a ‘different’ experience. The more you give them special treatment the more likely you are to get free marketing.
Back to the argument of why the two countries have different growth rates. Kenya has agriculture and sports to fuel growth. Dubai has oil. On our Dubai city tour, our guide mentioned that they have oil reserves that would last them 50 to 80 years in case oil dried up today. A country’s growth therefore boils down to governance. In Kenya we have resources but poor governance, in Dubai they have resources and good governace. Come to think of it, many businesses have failed because of poor ‘governance’ so I will touch on a few things that kill start-ups.
No planning and poor management
Sometimes we get excited about starting new businesses and rush into setting up with no plan. It’s always safe to respect the investment and what that simply means is that you need to do your research before going into any business. A good farmer will know what to do with his farm when the dry season comes and mostly his secret is planning ahead and good management. It’s the same module used when starting a business or when running one. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If you happen to have poor management then your business automatically fails. The two go hand in hand. If you have a great plan and poor management then by all means you will fail.
Scaling too fast
It’s very good to be ambitious while running a business, and trust me, that has been one of my driving forces. But you also have to be realistic. When you are realistic your projection is attainable, which gives you drive to set new goals. What I have learnt over the years is to work in ‘phases’. There is a psychological effect attached to that. Take for instance the game, Candy Crush. It is played in stages, has all these glowing colours and coins at the end of every stage which act as a reward. If it was an all-open game with no stages or rewards, most of us would have no motivation to play the game. The beauty of phases is that it gives you ‘new’ energy. Same applies to your business; set phases which will in turn give you new energy.
Adjust your gun
When you go to war with a specific gun and you find out that getting to the enemy will require new tactics, it’s always wise to strategise. I am sure you have been to supermarkets and a new product is being sampled and the BA’s would convince you to try their new product. What they are basically doing is trying to find out what the market thinks of their product.
All that said and done, compare but only for market purposes. Always move at your own pace. All the best.
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