I’m a big proponent of mental freedom when it comes to how young people relate to business.
The other day I had a gig in Kisumu, and I usually do a meet-and-greet with fans afterwards. During this session, I’ll often get a group of young people who want to be entrepreneurs, but their excuse is usually the same: “I don’t know where to start”.
To make things easier, I hold a 20-minute forum and address the most common questions and concerns, which are a lack of capital and where to find consumers.
The reason I’m highlighting this is because I saw very interesting tweet as I was waiting for my plane back to Nairobi.
This guy who lives in Rongai had started a carrot juice business in his kitchen and he had got a good network of clients within his neighbourhood.
This meant business was at a constant curve, but he’d reached a point where he needed the curve to grow. This is very important in a business – you should know when it’s time to grow.
His reasoning was that he’d exhausted his neighbourhood clientelle and it was time to expand. He openly admitted that he’d not gone to any business school, but he was very passionate about his carrot juice business, which he’d taken around three years to develop.
Now, what most of us do when reading such tweets is focus on where the juice is; we tend to ignore the fact that he mentioned he’d developed his juice over three years.
Anyway, that’s a reminder that no matter how small a business is, always take your time before you take it to the public.
I had to do an article about that tweet, so here’s how it read: “My name is Albert, I reside in Rongai. It has taken me 3 years to develop a carrot juice, and in the midst of doing that I have exhausted my neighbourhood market and I feel it’s time to grow and expand my business, what should I do?”
What I loved about that tweet is that it was very honest. So I started going through the comments. And I loved the whole forum. Albert’s attitude was very positive and he was willing to take notes. It felt like a start-up class.
1. One of the tweets mentioned that he needs to be careful when taking advice from people. “I am loving the responses and the fact that people are willing, but also don’t say ‘yes’ to every advice for only you know what’s realistic and what’s not when it comes to application.”
This is very important in business. It’s okay to listen, but always do your own research first. There are general pointers, like being disciplined with money, planning for your business, always challenging yourself, which are important. But when it comes to the more detailed ideas about the industry you’re in, do your research before putting any piece of advice into action.
2. Most of the tweets were keen on knowing the name of the juice. Albert had given it a long name, so most people were for the idea that he really needed to make it sound urban.
The name is one of the pillars of a product. In his response, Albert admitted that rebranding has been on his mind and he’d most definitely do that in the near future.
3. Aside from the traditional marketplace, social media is the main existing market. Three-quarters of my friends operate from their phones, which means a majority of their transactions are done through the services their telco provides. That’s why banks have really focused on putting out advertisements targeting the youth and mobile banking.
Albert was challenged to enter this market, which is virtually free to access. Your product gets popular by reference, and you can help things along with a little boosting of your posts. It’s a very profitable space to jump on.
When I started Kaka Klothing, I focused on social media, and trust me, by the sixth month, I’d closed down my physical store and used the rent money on stock.
4. Handle your drink with the same respect Coca-Cola does it. You might not have their budget, but when you wake up in the morning, research on what they’re doing and their journey will definitely inspire you. And you’ll be surprised by how many businesses started in living rooms and kitchens, and now run the world.
Those are the four strong points I got from all the tweets, but the highlight was when people started ordering the carrot juice and a CEO at a beverage company asked for a meeting.
The beauty of a good product is that once you sell it and the consumer is happy, you’re guaranteed a long-term contract. All the best Albert – and all the other Alberts who’re chasing that growth curve.
The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.