How ready are you to start a business?

Your target, mission and vision are important in creating your strategy. [iStockphoto]

Whenever an entrepreneur speaks, one thing that stands out is the pride in the scars they got while building their business empires from the ground up.

They tell these tales with vividness, painting a Goliath versus David battlefield scene that lights you up with excitement. It makes you believe in the little David in you.

You will imagine yourself as a founder or chief executive of the business you want to set up. And the craziness of your dream will make you brave enough to go for it.

Akin to the satirical memes of motivational speakers who started a hotel with one plate; your rush to start the enterprise will confirm the words of King Julien, a famous character from DreamWorks Animations who said: “It is always the stupid ones who show true bravery.”

Yet a conversation with seasoned entrepreneurs and business advisers deduces that while you can be crazy enough to dream, don’t forget to think.

And this is where Reema Doshi, chief executive of Ardy Marketing comes in. Her business specialises in providing marketing strategies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and startups.

Target audience

She says one thing these businesses miss when she encounters them is; who their target audience is.

So, when they are developing a marketing strategy for them, she says they have to start from that base.

“If anyone says everybody (is their target audience), we have to break it down,” she says.

This applies even to B2B (business-to-business) enterprises whose target customers are other businesses. “Even if it’s B2B, it has to be an individual within that organisation you are targeting and they have challenges and pain points. What is it that you are speaking about? Are you giving a solution to the problem they have?” she explains.

Ms Doshi says once this has been established, then the strategy is developed. But this strategy has to be linked as well to the business goals.

“What is your business objective? Your target, mission and vision are important in creating your strategy,” she says.

“Before we start opening a social media page, putting up banners or billboards; understand who you are speaking to and you will be able to create messaging around that and then link it to your business goals.”

Ms Doshi was speaking during the just concluded SME Business Summit sponsored by The Standard Group held at The University of Nairobi.

It was themed; Money, Markets and Mentorship.

It was noted by Jeff Njau, an SME consultant, at the summit that many entrepreneurs who get into business have not fine-tuned their audiences.

“If you fine-tune who your audience is from the marketing perspective, that is how you will talk to them but product development perspective is how you will render that product in a way that person you are talking to can be able to receive it,” he explained.

 This, he said, needs to introspect from the entrepreneur.

Payment platform

 Such questions should be asked by the entrepreneur: what is the target for this idea? What is the need I am meeting? Is it a real need or an imaginary one?

 “When you start interrogating, then you can begin fine-tuning the product and marketing,” said Mr Njau.

“You will realise maybe you do not need financing which will have you default that loan. Maybe all you have is an idea that you still need to work on.”

Danson Muchemi, chief executive of JamboPay, an electronic payment platform that provides solutions to businesses, government agencies and other organisations said sometimes, money to start the enterprise is not the big issue.

In his case, he recalled, how he started JamboPay in a cyber café stating that all he needed then was a computer, internet connection and a desk.

“As entrepreneurs, we understand that finances are probably four to five per cent of the ingredients you need to get started. I knew then that I needed an internet connection, that was the most important thing. It was not trucks to move around or vehicles or even big offices,” he said.

For him, what is important is the clarity of what the customer wants.

An entrepreneur should ask themselves: what values are we giving to whom? What is their pain point? What value are we extending in our service on how we meet the challenges they face?

“That clarity is put down and filtered into numbers,” he said.

“In our first three or four years, I had JamboPay in a cyber. That is basically walking into a cyber café and telling the owner that I would really like to take a computer here and pay every month and not give anyone else this computer. That in itself is a refined approach to what we needed.”


Besides clarity and value, Mr Muchemi said entrepreneurs should also be agile.

This means being agile enough internally on decision-making and externally to admit you need partnerships with other like-minded enterprises to thrive.

“If numbers and numbers never lie, are indicative that you need to shift or change your product from one market to another, you have got to move. And act as fast as you can, he said.

Technology is an ally, in this case stating that it can help a business navigate these challenges. “That ability to respond to the environment as tough as it may be, is an essential attribute of any business leader and entrepreneur,” added Muchemi.