What you need to know:
Just because you are young and seeking business does not mean you should bow down to the requests of the “big boys”.
They know the market rates of the services you are offering.
You need to keep researching to stay ahead of the competition.
You have that gut feeling that this business idea you have can be the world’s next big thing, like M-PESA or Facebook. But how sure are you that it can stand the test of time?
Here are a few tips to get you on the right path to that earth-shattering business concept!
1. CREATE A PRODUCT PEOPLE WANT TO BUY
If you want people to buy what you have; you had better make it worth their while. Your product needs to add value to your customer’s life, say self-cleaning sneaker or a stiletto that guarantees a modelling contract.
Your product needs to offer your customers a solution to a problem they have now or may have in future. This value is what is called Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
What will make your customer pick your product over your competitor’s?
2. FIND WAYS TO KEEP INITIAL COSTS LOW
Yours is a startup, so we know you can’t “make it rain” yet. You are operating on a limited budget, but image is everything, so you cannot afford to meet your clients at a rundown restaurant.
There are several workspaces in Nairobi that hire out space from as low as Sh5,000 a month or Sh2,000 shillings an hour – the choice is yours. You can organise one day a week to schedule meetings in the hired boardroom.
If you prefer a monthly package, you and your team get to use a shared work space.
3. GIVE VALUE, NOT DISCOUNTS
Just because you are young and seeking business does not mean you should bow down to the requests of the “big boys”. They know the market rates of the services you are offering.
Set your pricing against an industry standard and create your unique service offering and value add. For example, if building a mobile application costs Sh70,000, and your costing is at Sh90,000 shillings, instead of simply stating application development, you
could offer an additional after sales service for that application, which then justifies the extra Sh20,000.
4. SALES AND MARKETING IS YOUR LIFELINE
If you are not talking about your product, no one will know you exist. You have to do the hard work, attend networking meetings, workshops, make office presentations, send numerous emails and newsletters and make cold calls.
You have to do the foot work. Over-reliance on social media and online hype alone limits your product. If you want people to buy your product, you need to go to them and preach the gospel of your product.
5. RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH!
If you want to be on top of the game, you have to research! You need to know what everyone is saying about their experience with your product, from the man on the street, your primary consumer, to industry competitors and players – good and bad.
Look at any research data you can find, Facebook stats, Google analytics - all that counts. With this information, you are able to adapt to the market needs and changes. Not all information will be constructive; take what you need, adopt accordingly and
watch your business grow.
What established entrepreneurs say:
SET UP SOLID OPERATIONAL SYSTEMS
Entrepreneurs tend to focus on the money and forget that what oils the wheels that turn the business is Systems. “Systems are simple. For every transaction you make, give a receipt and take a receipt. Note down all expenses. Get back to clients on time. Make sure you do what you said you would. Pay your taxes. Honor your obligations”.
Paul Otieno, Founder and CEO, Silverball
UNDERSTAND THE UNIQUENESS OF YOUR BUSINESS
Business is like a relationship, you go through the romance phase, and soon, you start fighting as you both try to find your individuality and still make the relationship work. “Being an artistic enterprise, I thought all I needed was my skill. I knew nothing about client relations, time keeping, finding new business and record keeping.
Amunga Eshuchi, CEO, Enigma Images
Entrepreneurs tend to get carried away when they start their business. They take up nearly every job feasible.
“Saying ‘yes’ to too many ventures eventually scattered. I have since learned to say ‘no’. If you don’t focus on holding on to one or two ventures, you’re going to drop them all and lose sight of yourself as well as the vision.”
Founder and CEO, Niro Collections