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ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

Entrepreneurship comes with a host of challenges. Rewarding challenges, but difficult challenges nonetheless. This is especially true if you’re venturing into an unfamiliar industry or designing the next generation of products. For new entrepreneurs there’s little to no training and sometimes no mentors to guide and support you through the process. This is why it’s so important to gather as much information before you start your new business venture. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. GATHER YOUR TOOLS

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a step; make sure you’re wearing the right shoes. Before starting your business. You should gather as much information about the industry you plan on delving into. How are the thriving businesses structured? How big is the market and who should you target first? What marketing techniques work for the industry?

Speak to other business owners and find out how they operate and what success have they’ve had. Look for the potential and predicted shifts the sector is facing and how your business could respond.

Before you even begin hiring employees, you need to do the job you need them for. This means you’ll be familiar with role and its requirements and can therefore properly recruit for it.  Preserve your cash flow by avoiding unnecessary spending like unqualified employees.

  1. SET SPECIFIC AND REALISTIC GOALs

When starting a business, it is absolutely important that you set specific goals. Goals help you stay on track with your vision and inform all the decisions you make. Setting specific goals enables you to prioritise actions instead of taking random shots in the dark. While it is essential to set goals, it is also vital that you remain realistic about them as well.

In the initial stages of your business, you should set short term goals that are easy to achieve. For instance, having a five-year growth plan that is both specific and realistic will guide your efforts and ensure your actions are focused. Realistic goals are important because they are achievable. Setting unrealistic goals will only serve to demotivate you in the event you don’t achieve them.

  1. BE PATIENT

Rome was not built in a day. When you start your business, you may focus on growth and expansion. This is completely reasonable because this is the point of starting a business in the first place. However, don’t rush yourself remember that any progress, no matter how small is still progress.

In its initial stages, progress may be slow. In the pursuit of growth, you may neglect your focus on improvement. Check your systems and processes, is your business a well-oiled machine? In order for your business to achieve the success you’re working for, all the elements that make it up must be properly maintained. Be patient and persistent and you will begin to see results.

  1. GET THE WORD OUT

Marketing plays a huge role in the success of your business. Now is the time to invest in a content marketing strategy. This will get the word out on your business and draw customers in. Take advantage of social media which has grown to be one of the most powerful marketing tools available. There are many benefits to this marketing strategy such as free traffic and continuous growth as people engage with your content. Keep an eye out for all the new apps and websites that are coming up and use them to your advantage. Your business is only as big as the people who know about it.

  1. KNOW THE LAW

As tedious as it may seem, it is absolutely important that you know the law when starting a business. It is important to know the laws surrounding your industry in order to avoid penalties and legal hurdles. It is also important to ensure that you are in compliance with the legal requirements of running a small business. These include financial regulations, tax obligations and employment laws. Ensure that your new company complies with all its legal responsibilities so you can get back to focusing on growing your business.

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

https://www.success.com/11-game-changing-tips-for-small-business-owners/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikekappel/2017/07/12/10-tips-for-starting-a-small-business-that-you-havent-heard-a-thousand-times-already/?sh=7a360d416e19

YOUR GUIDE TO THE REST OF 2021

5-4-3-2-1: Don’t think

Borne out of the need to preserve life, fear was once necessary. Now more often than not, it hinders your progress. When it becomes detrimental we call it anxiety. If you compound your values and belief systems and somehow generate the ideal version of yourself – the steps you need to take to become that person are clear. The steps are usually a mix of small changes like eating healthier and big changes like leaving your job. Yet sometimes, these challenges seem insurmountable. Worst case scenarios cloud your mind – once again waging a war between who you are and who you want to be.

Here’s an insanely simple trick to bypass these instincts for self-preservation. When facing a challenge you deem necessary for achieving your goals, start a 5 second countdown. Focus on the numbers rather than why you shouldn’t or can’t make the change. Countdowns prepare us for a necessary – almost mandatory action. We use them to launch rockets, start races, cross the new year etc. Why wouldn’t they work for you!

Can’t or Won’t: Make it a priority

There’s something you assume you’re notoriously bad at. Something you seem to always struggle with. Here’s a simple truth – you’re bad at it because you’re not interested in getting better at it. There’s always going to be more things you’re bad at than things your good at. Therefore, improving in something is a matter of priority. Narrowing down the things you need to learn dramatically decreases the fear of the things you don’t know. So instead of hilariously being terrible with names or birthdays or whatever you struggle with – recognise that you’ve not made them a priority. You can but you won’t.

The Millennial Question

Termed appropriately to reflect a common struggle within younger generations – the millennial question describes a lack of patience. The desire to see instant results in actions we’ve taken is relatable – no matter who you talk to. Our brains are notoriously wired to only show us what achieving our goals and desires means for our lifestyle. We strive to leave impactful change in our wake. What we don’t see is the difficult path to who we want to be. These achievements won’t happen as easy or as fast as we want. Practicing patience and repetition are a sure way to stay on the road to success. One sit-up doesn’t make you a body builder but thousands, over a good period of time will. Take the necessary actions but don’t expect instant results. You might not see the progress you’ve made but in time you will.

Leading not lagging

Focus on designing leading goals rather than lagging ones. Here is the distinction – leading goals are within your sphere of control and are things you can influence. For instance – how long will you read each day, what time will you wake up, what will you avoid eating. Whereas lagging goals are those whose outcome you cannot guarantee. For example how much money you’ll make, how much your business will grow and where you’ll be in 3 months. If you’ve not spotted it yet, leading goals focus on the process for achieving your ultimate goal whereas lagging goals solely focus on the outcomes of your ultimate goal.

Locked in:

Lastly, do it today not tomorrow. A recurring myth we all face and know to be false is the one where tomorrow you’ll be the version of yourself that achieves your hopes and dreams. Only for tomorrow to come and your ideal self is still a day away. To defeat this fallacy, start by recognising the only version of yourself that exists or will ever exist is the one now! Only you can do what you want to do. Progress is made with action AND time. You’ll still be the same version of yourself 6 hours, 12 hours, and 365 days from now unless you incorporate action. Next time ask yourself – what is so different about tomorrow that I’ll suddenly achieve my dreams? If time is your only answer – you know what you need to do!

BIDCO AFRICA
BIDCO AFRICA: SUCCESS FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Over the years, Kenya has proven to be a country thriving with economic success. Numerous Kenyan companies started from the ground up have achieved massive success in the East African economy and even Africa as a whole. One such company is the Bidco Africa Ltd. Bidco is East Africa’s leading manufacturer of Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Started in 1985 and it has continuously grown over the years to be the home of some of East Africa’s most loved brands across the edible oils and fats, hygiene and personal care, and most recently food and beverage brands.

Bidco Africa has won over 30 awards and recognitions in the last thirty-two years and is an acknowledged leader in the East African Manufacturing sector. Bidco was the first company to establish a fully operational refinery in East Africa. It was established in 1970 as a garment manufacturer in Nyeri, Kenya. In 1985, the former chairman, Mr Bhimji Depar Shah and his two sons Vimal Shah and Tarun Shah saw a growing need in the African market for soap products. They relocated to Nairobi, and set up a soap manufacturing plant. Bidco only produced three soap products; Kuku, Sabasaba and White Star.

In 1991, Bidco set up a state of the art refinery in Thika. The growth and expansion continued by Bidco acquiring various brands from other companies such as Elianto from Unga Group in 1994 and Kimbo and Cowboy from Unilever in 2002. After a rocky start, overcoming challenges with distribution and marketing, Bidco managed to break into the market and became the success they are today.

In 2013, Bidco reported an annual turnover of more that USD 500 million. In the same year, Vimal Shah was ranked as the richest man in East Africa by Forbes with a net worth of USD 1.6 billion.

Here’s how you can achieve your own success:

BRAND VALUES

Bidco was started by a family and believes that all employees and partners are a part of that family; the Bidco Family. They believe in Africa, which can be seen in their commitment to using local raw materials and making quality products that are affordable to all, regardless of their income. The company truly believes in their products, ensuring their quality and safety. They also work towards promoting a sustainable business practice with the elimination of waste, recycling and use of renewable energy.

In addition to this, Vimal Shah truly believes in being motivated by the desire to grow and improve the communities around him. He speaks against using money as a key motivator in his business and believes in empowering those around him to succeed.

“Money motivates you for a certain time, but when your basic needs are met it doesn’t motivate you anymore. My biggest inspiration today is to arouse the leader inside every other human being. I want them to know that they too can achieve their dreams. I was born here. I went to school here. Even for university I did not go to Harvard, I studied here. You too can do it.”

-Vimal Shah

If you’re looking to start a business venture, ensure that your business is in alignment with your personal goals, and vision. Let it be reflected in the way you interact with both your customers and employees. Of course when starting a business one of the main goals is to turn a profit and earn decent money however, this shouldn’t be your only motivator.

PROMOTION AND MARKETING

Bidco’s brands are designed to enhance the quality of daily life. Their purpose is to promote a Happy Healthy Living through spreading the goodness of mother-nature in all homes. The message is communicated via extensive advertising & media campaigns including strategically located billboards, promotions and special events. In addition to mainstream media and advertising, Bidco believes in being a Socially Responsible Corporation. This is the goal that informs the company’s focus on aiming at sustainability. This has been done through social investments in education, engagement with farmers and activities aimed at environmental conservation as well.  The company also works on a system aimed at producing zero waste.

Market your business. Let people know what you’re working on. Use the resources available to you such as social media, newspaper ads and if you can buy some airtime on local T.V and radio stations to promote your business.

PERSISITENCE

When trying to build your business, you may come across sceptics and naysayers. Always have your goals in mind and focus on the big picture. “If you come with something new today they will give you 100 reasons why it won’t grow. That is why your own conviction is so important. Look at the best case scenario and the worst case scenario. Be persistent, never give up,”

START SMALL

Work with what you have and make the most out of your situation. Starting small allows you to learn the basics and teaches you how to manage your resources. You will also be able to lay down a strong foundation for when your business takes off and begins to grow. Starting small is necessary to build the required character traits to handle growth and success. There is truly no such thing as an overnight success. Most times, when we see someone take off and achieve massive success, it is because they have spent years behind the scenes refining their craft and building their business i.e. putting in their 10,000 hours. Shah’s advice is “start small, aim big and keep at it.”

HIRE A COMPETENT TEAM

Hire people that have the Same visions and goals as you in order to ensure that your company thrives. Hiring the right employees for your business is important no matter what kind of work you’re doing. Having quality employees will help your company run and grow. Vimal says; “The best thing about competency is that you can build it by employing people who have the skills to deliver what you need. And the concept of outsourcing manpower has made it easier to acquire competency in business.”

Also see:

References:

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/entertainment/thestandard/2001261308/14-lessons-business-has-taught-me-bidco-africa-chairman-vimal-shah

Vimal Shah: How to become a successful entrepreneur

https://www.bidcoafrica.com/our-business

productivity hacks
PRODUCTIVITY HACKS

A lot of the time, our inability to remain consistent is what prevents us from achieving our goals.  Usually, we all have spurts of peak productivity which then either take a nose dive soon after or just plateau. It’s these drops in productivity, or rather lack of discipline that prevent us from clearing our to-do list. It’s no secret that you need to be productive most of the time, not just some of the time in order to succeed in your business endeavours. You simply can’t just have random, fluctuating episodes of productivity and expect to see results. We also know that being and staying highly-productive all the time can be challenging. Here’s some tips on how to be more productive and to maintain that productivity.

  1. SET DAILY GOALS

Laying down a strong foundation for the rest of your day begins by setting goals that you would like to achieve. Setting goals takes away the stress of having to juggle multiple tasks in a day which you weren’t prepared for. When you set daily goals, you’re then able to plan what you want to get done and how much time and energy you’ll expend on each task. This then enables you to focus on specific tasks and takes away the general panic and brought on by life’s curveballs.  It is important to set daily goals because they provide a roadmap for your day.

  1. MANAGE YOUR TIME

We all experience various interruptions throughout or day. Family, health and even financial obstacles can slow down our momentum. Effective time management is key in order to push past these interruptions. As you plan out your day, set time for specific tasks and set deadlines for them as well. Set aside time for rest as well as socialising. This will help you stay on track with your goals. Try to avoid unnecessary interruptions and only deal with things in a timely manner to avoid that last minute rush.

  1. TURN THAT PHONE OFF

Each day, take some time to disconnect from your phone. This is especially important if you find yourself getting easily distracted by social media, news, and video sites. Switching off your phone is an excellent way to ensure productivity because it gets rid of all those distractions as well as the information overload.

For some; like myself, simply switching off the phone is not enough. There are many great apps that ensure productivity by locking you out of your phone for set periods of time. One great app I’ve been using for a while now is Flipd. Flipd is a work and study productivity app that forces you to put your phone down and get some work done. The app works by allowing you to set a time for a specific amount of time. Once activated the app then locks your phone and all access to various apps and social networks until the timer is up. A few essential apps such as the calculator, the call function and a few others are available for use. The great thing about this app is that there is literally no way to cheat the system. Once the timer starts the only way to gain access to your phone is waiting out the timer. This has helped me get so much work done over the past few months because it takes away all potential distractions.

  1. GET THE UNPLEASANT TASKS DONE

Sometimes, when we have tasks that we’re not particularly keen on doing, we take longer to get to them and end up in a last minute rush. This also slows down our productivity momentum in an attempt to avoid the task. Well, now’s the time to buckle down and commit to getting it done.

Set aside enough time to get the task done, buckle down and get to it. Really laser in your focus and just commit to getting it done. Block out any distractions or interruptions and only get up when it’s done. Most times it’s the start that’s difficult. Once you get into a rhythm you’ll find the work flowing smoothly and you’ll be done in no time.

  1. MAKE SMALL CHANGES

Making small changes in the way you do things each day is one of the best ways to become more productive. This is because you are able to build better more efficient and effective habits slowly over time. For example, if your goal is to read more, you can start by committing to reading at least one chapter each day. Over time this small habit effortlessly becomes a part of your routine and eventually you’ll build a reading habit.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” — Paul J. Meyer

ALSO SEE:

It’s wide scaling capabilities and rapid scale model, placed it in the far reaches of the country where other providers were unhurried in their approach.

Mshimba Michelle

Safaricom - Kenya's Success story
SAFARICOM: KENYA’S SUCCESS STORY

Africa is a vast continent with immense potential. This fact is often overlooked because it is also plagued by great adversity. Africa once still considered “The Dark Continent” is now a booming economic hub with growing businesses and a competitive edge in the global trading scene. There are many successful companies in Africa, one them being Safaricom. On Forbes, Safaricom is actually at the top of the list of the Ten Most Innovative Companies in Africa. In this article, we’ll look at some of the reasons why Safaricom has been so successful and what you can do to replicate this success.[1]

1.SAFARICOM IS A TELECOMMUNICATIONS JUGGERNAUT

Safaricom has got the largest number of subscribers in Kenya. A report published by the Daily Nation stated that as of January 2017, Safaricom had recorded a whopping 25.94 Million subscribers. Airtel had a total of 6.76 Million subscribers while Telkom subscribers had dropped to 2.9 Million up from 5.2 Million. This wide margin makes it unlikely for their competition to catch-up.

It’s wide scaling capabilities and rapid scale model, placed it in the far reaches of the country where other providers were unhurried in their approach. Remember, when you’d go trekking across the country and network connections were unreliable? Even as the service bars on your phone faded, those with Safaricom always seemed to complain last? Safaricom’s “Mwanainchi First” model put a phone in every Kenyan Household and a network pole in every county. Safaricom connected people.

2. SAFARICOM DOMINATES THE MOBILE BANKING FIELD

Over the years, Safaricom has grown to become the largest telecommunications service provider in East Africa. This is primarily due to their M-Pesa service. M-Pesa is the most advanced phone-based money transfer service globally and the brainchild of Safaricom since 2007. A  Kenyan government report published in 2012 stated that only five years after its launch, there were 19.5 million mobile money users in Kenya.[2] Banks and mobile service providers around the world have attempted to  replicate M-Pesa’s widespread adoption, but have not had much success.

Tying back to their accessibility, only Kenyans in a certain area code and certain amount of income had access to a bank account. Identifying a massive hole in the market – one which a large majority of the population falls in – Safaricom sought to solve a problem others had discriminated against. By requiring little above the bare minimum, it granted everyone access to financial tools and mobility.

Learn from this success story and build a brand that reflects the needs of your market. Do not discriminate your clientele and offer tools anyone, in any position can access. The world is advancing – quickly – don’t let classist opinions dictate your actions, lest you get left behind.

3. NUMEROUS PARTNERSHIPS

Safaricom, being the leading telecommunications service provider in Kenya has partnered with many banks across the country. Almost every bank has a till reserved for M-Pesa services. This has enabled Kenyans to transfer money from their banks to their M-Pesa accounts and vice versa. This convenience continues to put Safaricom at the centre of the telecommunications industry.

Building again on their accessible model, Safaricom has tailored options anyone would find useful. Their strategic partnerships with large financial institutions and web-based financial services like PayPal has cemented M-Pesa’s place as a first-rate ‘Mobile-Bank’ who’s success competitors have widely attempted to replicate. A big chunk of Safaricom’s relevance lies in these partnerships. They’ve learned to extend their reach through industry leaders and you should too.

4. MARKETING

With its trademark green colour and catchy tag line (Safaricom, the better option), Safaricom has established itself as a household brand that is recognisable by everyone. Safaricom makes great use of the beauty of Kenya’s landscapes to promote their services and even hire local talent to advertise their products. Investing back in the population they serve has led to the growth and loyalty of its subscribers.

5. CUSTOMER SERVICE[3]

Safaricom has free, round the clock customer service. This has made the service more accessible to users and driven up customer satisfaction. Safaricom is also particularly attractive because other networks such as Kencell for instance, would charge their users for customer care services and were only available during business hours.

6. INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER[4]

Safaricom recently dipped its toes in the internet service provider field and is doing remarkably well. Currently there are about 4 million internet users in Kenya. Therefore, the numbers would suggest that just under 45% of ALL Internet users in Kenya are using Safaricom as their ISP (Providers). Safaricom’s commitment to being a full-service telecommunications giant has driven its focus through the years. Its strategic targeting of various telecommunication areas has allowed it to band these sectors under one well-recognisable brand. This plan of action is a remarkable display of Safaricom’s unfaltering vision and as a result its wide success in whatever fields it ventures into.

All these factors play a huge role in Safaricom’s success and ensure that Safaricom will continue to dominate Kenya’s telecom industry for a long time. Grow this success in your own field by putting up a goal and breaking down the necessary steps to get you there. Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of partnering up and investing and stay true to your vision. 


[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2012/09/07/the-ten-most-innovative-companies-in-africa/?sh=7dfe88353486

[2] https://businesstoday.co.ke/m-pesa-at-10-kenyas-mobile-money-success-story/

[3] http://bankelele.co.ke/2006/08/safaricom-success.html

[4] https://moseskemibaro.com/2010/01/05/how-safaricom-became-kenyas-largest-isp/

Saving Money
SAVING MONEY

For most of our lives, we invest a lot of money on acquiring formal education in order to become proficient enough to succeed in our various career paths. Unfortunately, this formal education doesn’t teach us enough on how to handle money. This then results in many hardworking individuals who are stuck in a metaphorical rat race of constant spending and very little to no savings. We can all agree that sometimes, spending money is more exciting than saving it because we want to enjoy the various pleasures of life. However, saving money is the foundation of your financial success and your future self will thank you for it. In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways you can save your money.

1. MANAGE OR ELIMINATE YOUR DEBT[1]

Debt is a particularly daunting subject for anyone who has it. But if managed properly, you can still live a comfortable life and save for a rainy day. Firstly, identify your debt and interest rates and how the principal payments vary with interest. If you have high interest rate loans you need to consider putting as much as you can afford into paying them off. Reducing your owed balance will give you a bigger financial break than what you could’ve saved or earned from investments.

When it comes to fixed-payment loans like a mortgage, decide what period is feasible enough for your debt and how that would impact your savings plan. If you can manage to pay it off in 5 years or less, then consider placing 10-15% of your operating budget in a savings account for a rainy day. If your repayment terms are 5+ years, your monthly payments are likely lower which allows for a bigger operating budget. In this case consider placing 10-20%  of it towards a savings plan or investment portfolio. Otherwise all that stand between you and a financial crisis is a credit card. Debt shouldn’t take away your financial security, with sufficient planning you can have it all.

2. SET AN OPERATING BUDGET[2]

Think of a budget as a monthly spending plan. This will in turn help you to keep track of your spending habits and reduce spending on irrelevant/ non-essential things. When you begin to budget you quickly realise that you’ve been spending loads of money on things like food i.e. eating out and entertainment which can be reduced.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need to do is write out your bills, bank statements and pay-check amounts and then find out how much you’ve been spending each month compared to how much money you earn. You can then create a budget that includes predictable spending on bills like your rent, groceries etc. the rest of the money can then go into your savings.

3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DISCOUNTS AND SALES[3]

Who doesn’t love a good discount or sale? You get to buy things you want at a reduced cost for the same quality and you save some cash. Keep in mind that these can be slippery slope because the low prices may cause you to spend more than you need to buying more things just because the prices are lower. Be sure to only get what you need from discounts and sale and nothing more.

4. REDUCE UTILITY BILLS[4]

 Great way to save money is to reduce your utility bills. You can do this by reducing your electricity usage. Use energy sufficient light bulbs or solar panels to conserve energy and reduce your power bills. You can also conserve power by switching off and unplugging unused electronics around the house. You can also save up on your water bill by turning off taps and using water efficiently to avoid running up the water bill.

5. OPEN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT[5]

A savings account exists for the purpose of enabling you to save a certain amount of money month/ pay period. A saving account is not like a checking account where you can take money out every day or whenever you feel like it. It is there in order for you to save money over a period of time.

Investing in your future should be a priority whatever position you’re in financially. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush.

Also see:

Whether you’re offering a product, service or information, getting the word out about your venture can be quite burdensome. Without the right marketing strategies, your company may have a difficult time staying afloat.

[1] https://www.regions.com/Insights/Personal/Personal-Finances/budgeting-and-saving/10-Best-Ways-to-Save-Money

[2] https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-budget-and-save-money-in-5-easy-steps-4056838

[3] https://www.definefinancial.com/blog/ways-save-money/

[4] https://www.incharge.org/financial-literacy/budgeting-saving/how-to-save-money-on-electric-gas-water-bill/

[5] https://www.thebalance.com/savings-accounts-4073268

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