At the age of 19, Tony was the first in his group to own a car and was the envy of all his friends. But then again, he was also the hustler in the group; the great entrepreneur always selling this or that. In his first deal, he made a profit of Sh150,000. He used the money to buy the car, a beautiful red Toyota Starlet. As his friends looked for jobs that would pay them Sh50,000 or Sh60,000, he was making three times the amount.
The car defined his success. Fifteen years later, his friends were driving bigger and better cars and living in the tony areas of town. They were clearly earning much more. He still owned his beautiful boutique and had the best and latest styles in town, but was making considerably less than his friends. What happened? He became successful very early, achieved satisfaction and stopped growing. This is the trap that most entrepreneurs slide into without even realising it.
But what is growth? Mental or intellectual growth is the first step. Start thinking. You must ask yourself some difficult questions. Are you keeping in touch with changing trends? Are you growing financially? Are you making money? Are you happy doing what you are doing? All successful entrepreneurs enjoy what they are doing. If you have stopped enjoying doing your business, then you are on your way to failure.
How do you kick-start your growth process? First find out your market value. How much would you earn if you were employed? To justify staying in business, you should earn at least twice what you would make being employed. Self-employment means taking higher risk and less consistent paydays unlike employees who get upset when salaries are delayed by two days.
Business is all about meeting client needs. You started selling at 20 to other 20-year-olds, now they are in their 40s and their tastes have changed, have you changed? Are you still able to attract other 20-year-olds or is there a new kid on the block who shares their swag? Stay ahead of the pack or they will eat you. That’s the nature of competition. Get used to it.
Growth requires five things. First look for fresh ideas. Look for inspiration from friends, a mentor who has walked your path or other businesspeople who will often share ideas.
Second, you need money or capital. Avoid bank loans unless you are sure you can repay. Find an investor who is willing to share capital in exchange for a share of profits.
Third, look for supplier credit. The same people who sell to you in bulk can also give you goods on credit. Start small, build confidence and increase your sales on credit. Your suppliers also want to grow their sales. Give them a chance to take a calculated risk on you.
Fourth, cooperate with other sellers. The more you sell in your shop the more you grow.
Redefine success. It is not the Toyota Starlet anymore. Does your business meet your financial requirements or are you still permanently struggling? If you are, then you need to find a new hustle – or heavens forbid – look for a job? It's not that bad my friend.