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Challenges faced when getting started as an entrepreneur

By Paul Kariuki | October 27th 2021
Mary Macharia, an entrepreneur from Nakuru. [Courtesy]

For the last twenty years, Mary Macharia has been in entrepreneurship and currently runs two businesses in Nakuru town.

Her business journey has been tough, interesting but worth it, she says. 

For her, being in business is totally different from being employed. Whereas she can give her employees paid leave or off days, to her those are luxuries she rarely indulges in, except at weekends when she closes for a day.

The businesses – a printing hub and a hotel - require her presence.

She says it’s challenging in entrepreneurship and business is not for the faint-hearted. We look at a few of the challenges.

Will the idea work?

This is what confronts those venturing into business. Her printing and publishing business was doing well – she was among the few entrepreneurs offering the services in two decades ago in Nakuru town before competition came along and cyber cafes changed the way of doing business. Diversifying into the hotel business came with a lot of doubts. What if the idea would not work? In the end, she found it was worth the gamble. As she puts it, one doesn’t need to see the end of the destination they’re travelling to have the assurance they’ll reach there safely. It’s better to give the idea a try and progress one step after the other.

You are on your own

It feels good to discuss a business idea to family members and close friends expecting their support but to your disappointment, you realise that despite warming up to your idea, no one is there for you. Instead, they’ll be there watching every of the business step that you’re making and when the thing doesn’t work out and your business closes down, they’ll say: “I told you that wasn’t a good idea.” However, if you manage to crack it and throw yourself a toast, the same people will want to celebrate with you. Her experience: no one will want to identify with your struggles but only share in your accomplishments.

Ploughing back into the business

Business growth is a journey. That idea of making a good buck and going to a holiday destination may look real, only for it to work in the opposite. She realised this when she had to dig into her safety net to sustain operations when the bottom margins in either business was not that impressive – and it still happens. This is besides repaying and taking fresh loans to shore up operations. Depending on the nature of one’s investment, it can take longer for a business to break even and for the entrepreneur to enjoy the returns. She advises one to focus on long term business goals with short-term objectives that will help one target the former.

You can’t be everything at the same time

Being an individual entrepreneur can be challenging when it comes to multitasking. Usually, individual entrepreneurs are everything rolled up as one as their business is a one-man or one-woman show. They are the manufacturers, the managers, the supervisors, the distributors and the delivery agents. It is easier when the business is young but as the enterprise grows, multitasking becomes impossible. Unless they hire and delegate duties, they may never realize their business potential.

Inevitable changes can disrupt your business

It was smooth going with her printing and publishing business at first. And with the evolving technological innovations, she had to keep discarding machines that had become obsolete for newer ones in the market in order to remain relevant. Then came the cyber café businesses that shrunk her market share necessitating thinking outside the box. The same is observed with many other businesses.

Getting trustworthy employees

Since multitasking will be impossible with business growth, hiring employees is inevitable. Here you are your own recruiter and getting the best hire can be a bit difficult. Employees can make or break your business, and your hires may not know about your business vision. when you’ve invested in their training only to reap disappointment by letting them go.



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