Starting a business is easy, but running one is not. Waihiga Muturi, founder and CEO of Let‘ s Create Africa, explains some of the things you must get right. By JACQUELINE MAHUGU.
1. Know your risk profile
You need to know how risk averse you are. Are you very high-risk or very low-risk? Sometimes, risk-averse people make more profits because they do not take huge risks, but at other times they also lose out on opportunities because the high-risk people took the risk and got more money in the process. Knowing your risk profile helps you because you can either hire someone who helps you take the risk or just helps you make good decisions using your gut instinct. There are many tests online that help you assess your risk profile. A financial expert or even an honest spouse can also walk you through it.
2. Have no Plan B
Have no way out, regardless of whether it works out or not. If you have something specific that you have chosen to do, having no Plan B allows you to focus squarely on it.
3. Be trustworthy
In the course of business, you will end up having to take a loan or ask a supplier to give you goods or services on credit. If these people don’t trust you because you do not keep your word, it will make it hard for your business. At times you will have big orders, so you have to go to the bank to take a loan, or even from your family. If you are not trustworthy, they will not help you. Your family, friends and creditors must trust you so that they can help you do business when you need them.
4. Be humble
As you do business, you will be placed in situations where you have to strip off your pride and arrogance and ask for help. Too many entrepreneurs refuse to do this, especially the newer ones. We run #TheExperiment, one of whose functions is to look for help. Here, you get to discuss the issues you are going through as an entrepreneur, network, collaborate and meet other like-minded people. It is crucial because 82 percent of entrepreneurs in the world reportedly undergo mental illness. This is because entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted, it is very lonely and very high pressure, no matter which level of business you are at. Your mental condition is tested every day you wake up. So you need to be humble enough to seek help, even from mental health professionals.
5. You should “know people”
Your network is your net worth. The number of valuable people you know is equal the number of profitable relationships you will have. If you maintain quality relationships with valuable people, those connections will open up even more connections, some of which will turn out to be of immense value to your business.
6. Be hungry
Be literally hungry. If you have a hole in your stomach, you will want to earn money to buy food. When you are looking for money to eat, you will look for money plus more on top of it to do the next business. George Benard Shaw said: “There is no love more sincere than the love of food.” Tying to fulfill that love can make you a billionaire!
7. Be impactful.
It is okay to earn money, but what if that money can put food on other people’s tables? When it goes beyond you, on the days you are too tired, do not want to do anything, completely frustrated and things are not working, being impactful reminds you why you are doing what you do. “Africa can change the way it tackles poverty.” That can only happen if every entrepreneur of self-employed person decides that whatever they are doing has to be impactful to people. If every business opened on this continent was about impact, poverty would reduce. Use your business as a force for good.
8. Think big, start small
Have a grand idea. Don’t think Kenya, think global. Many of us blame things on our education system, on our family, on our background – which is really small. When you interact with people out there you realise that you really do not think as big as you should. There are people who are out there with the intention to open a Jumia, decide to begin with a kiosk that supplies to their area, but their main goal is to end up with a Jumia. Think that big. That is why many international companies are coming in and making major profits from us, because there aren’t enough people who think as big as they do. Most people dream of working for them instead. Africans need to build global enterprises for the African market. Your kiosk can turn into a Walmart for Africa.
9. Love what you do but be skilled
This will keep you going. It shall be the fire that keeps you going. You cannot turn passion into profit, because passion comes and goes. Passion changes with age, with experiences – it is like a fire. There are days it will be there and there are days it will burn out. So you can’t always depend on passion. However, if you have a passion and combine it with skill, then you will make money. People let you through the door because of passion, but they let you do the work for them because of skill.
10. Be the best
Nobody remembers number two. Everybody remembers number one. Everybody wants to work with number one.