Last week I attended three conferences where young entrepreneurs were gathered like hunters about to set out on their first hunt and I, like the experienced hunter, was called to give advice on successful hunting.
In the absence of adequate jobs, many young Kenyans are now setting up their own businesses and becoming entrepreneurs – or what we call “hustlers”. Perhaps in the long run, this absence of jobs might turn out to be a good thing for Kenya because we are building a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
Some of their questions were the usual ones. How do I deal with failure? Sorry to tell you that 70 per cent of lion attacks fail but if they give up, they will starve. The moral of the story is that you should continue hunting and when you fail, get up, dust yourself, lick your wounds and start again.
The next question; where do I get funding? The first money comes from angel investors, friends and family which will get you started but money for growth can only come from investors or funds which will want to see serious growth potential and profitability growth before they invest in you.
The most serious question is how do I grow my business? Unfortunately, at such youth conferences I am rarely asked this question. I want to answer this unasked question.
I recently read an interesting book titled, Growth IQ: Master the ten paths to grow your business by Tiffani Bova which I feel should be a must read for all young people setting out to do business. There is no single secret that will help a business grow. I will highlight some of the ideas, but read the book yourself.
The book focuses on the key drivers of growth. Number one in any business are your customers. How do you inspire additional purchases and make sure your clients promote you to their friends? This sounds intuitively obvious; you cannot grow if you do not sell more. How do you expand sales by increasing your products and expand into new markets?
Second is how you grow by focusing on new markets by increasing your product lines, geographical areas and customer base penetration and that is to sell more to new clients.
She focusses on customer experiences and how to retain customers and reduce dissatisfaction. How many times have you gone into a restaurant and begged for a water refill? That extra bottle of water multiplied thousands of times adds a significant number to your sales.
The book looks at growth through partnerships and co-opetition. Young entrepreneurs shun partnerships, yet this is often a good support base that you need. Co-opetition like in supermarkets is the best example where multiple traders compete to sell their goods in one store.
Why shouldn’t the small trader also operate as a mini supermarket and sell the products of other traders in the same industry? Customers get variety and the traders get to share the rent.
Finally, the book discusses unconventional strategies that have been followed by other companies to grow. The book is easy to read and has excellent examples that are fun to read. As you take that matatu to work today read a few pages. You might get some great ideas. Share them.