They say that hindsight is 20/20, and for entrepreneurs, no truer words can be said. Here are some lessons entrepreneurs wish they knew before they began their journey.
...When you choose some paths, you can’t ignore the politics
In this part of the world, product, strategy and execution are not enough to get by. You need to deal with politics and stakeholder management that has nothing to do with the product.
There are a lot of competitor distractions and just because your product works does not mean you will stay in the market. Of course every business is different, but entrepreneurs should always be prepared for the politics. Cytonn is now more than just money and real estate.
-Edwin H Dande, CEO at Cytonn Investments ...You have to surround yourself with the right people or you will fail miserably
Meeting tax obligations was also a key lesson. I had to learn through painful fines that ignorance is no defense. I now take my accounting very seriously. Also, In my five years in entrepreneurship, I have learnt that the people I surround myself with determine the direction of my business in many ways.
I wish I knew this earlier because you can share your ideas and dreams with some people and they say that’s too big and end up discouraging you. Being friends with other entrepreneurs who have been in business will push you to your limits. These people will pave the way for you, shed light on pitfalls to avoid and even encourage you when the business gets the best of you.
-Cornell Hemi, Founder of The Hemi Group
...I needed to act fast and monetise my skills
I do event planning for birthdays, baby showers and christenings but for a long time, I treated it more like a hobby than a business. For over four years I did it for free for family and friends before realising I could turn my passion to profit. I
wish I had known to do that earlier because by 2018, I realised I had spent so much time sitting on a gold mine. I also had no idea that a business is like a baby. You have to nurture it patiently, with effort and consistency. Your baby needs time to grow, you cannot rush it.
-Juliet Obell, Founder of Pinky Pickles...Marketing was integral to growing my business
When I started my business in 2015, I knew nothing about effective marketing other than referrals.
It took a while, but I got a good grasp on distribution and our revenues grew more than five times over. I wish I had learnt that earlier.
-Sila Obegi, CEO at Meta Capital Limited...As a boss, I had to consult my employees on some matters
I have been in the hair business for over nine years now but as an employer, only three. Something I wish I had known to do is involve my staff in making decisions. As an employee, I was used to bosses telling me what to do and that was it.
Implementing the same as an employer was detrimental. Hiring a new loctician without talking to the other staff would cause them to leave in a huff. It’s important to discuss major business decision with your staff.
Also, despite enjoying the perks of freedom of decision, online marketing really challenged me in the beginning. It is hard to compete when you are not online.
-Jamlick Mwangi, Founder of Beauty Sherriff...Social media was the place to be
Social media and marketing is something I should have mastered sooner. It was an aspect I didn’t catch on to initially and when I tried to expand my business, it was so challenging.
This is despite the fact that I had previously been in employment for over 12 years and during that time done a lot of research on businesses.
I even travelled to the US frequently and invested in learning the business secrets, but I dare say that the biggest secret of all is investing in social media.
-Jayne Akoth founder of Rapunzel Hair Affair... I couldn’t be a one-woman show
I started my business in 2016 while still in school, but I wish I knew earlier that I couldn’t do it all by myself. You cannot be the founder, operations manager, HR and accountant all at once.
At some point, something has to give. For me specifically, it was the accounts. I was making the money but if you make money but can’t manage it then you cannot grow. Not outsourcing to a professional almost brought my business to its knees.
-Melissa Mwende, Founder of Little Wine Basket...Opinions are good but to always trust my gut
I started my company in 2015 and I wish I had moved faster. I needed to listen to myself more and trust my gut. I did not believe in myself nearly as much as I should have and that wasted a lot of my time. As an entrepreneur, listening to many people can cripple the speed of your execution.
I, in no way, mean I shouldn’t have listened to advice from other business people. Sometimes the input is useful but these people don’t understand your business like you do. I only agree with advice that aligns with my core values because differing guidance breeds indecisiveness.
?-Innocent Moranga, CEO of The Founder Group[email protected]