Entrepreneurship, Business and Life!

Archive for June, 2012

Time: An entrepreneurs best friend

I usually encourage passionate entrepreneurs to hang in there for as long as they can see positive gains even if they are not monetary in the short-term. This is simply because the formation of good things take time. I have taken some time to compile some reasons why time improves your chances of succeeding in business as long as you possess the right attitude. And there are many reasons why you should hold on . Here are 11 great reasons why you shouldn’t give up.

You gain experience

If you havent been in a particular line of business before , it will take you time to understand what is going on.Even if you were employed in the industry,you will still have to learn how to run a small ship with limited resources. It will take even longer to understand business aspects like finance, marketing, operations and managing people. However, with time, some things start to fall in place. You cannot substitute experience. You can read a book about improving profit margins, but only experience brings the lessons to life.

You get to understand the market

The market is not always structured the way you think it is. Sometimes markets act in very irrational ways. You might find the people you thought would not spend  money on your product are the ones who end up buying. You might also find wealthy consumers to be very stingy when buying certain products or services. It also helps when you understand how the market is segmented and who competes with you at different levels. You get to understand your competition and what they do to gain an edge over you, which helps you to up your game,improve your products or services and beat them at it.

You get to understand exactly what clients want

Clients are happy to tell you what they want and what they don’t want. When was the last time you asked a client what they are happy with and what they are unhappy with when it comes to their interaction with your company? This constant feedback can serve as a source of innovation, and help build loyalty and trust with your brand over the long-term. It can also save you money when you realise that many things you offer as value adds mean nothing to your clients and they would rather do without it.

Clients help you improve your product

As  you begin your business , your products and services may be a new approach to the market or innovative, but it will be rare that you will start off with a perfect product. Also , products and services generally need improvement with time because of changes in fashion, technology,competing alternatives from direct or indirect competitors or the tastes of consumers.

You learn to add other revenue streams

There are some small additions to your primary products or services that can add a lot of profitability to your bottom line. This could be product or service extensions, accessories, support services, maintenance services etc With time, you get to learn about what the clients or customers want and are willing to pay for and add them to your offering.

You get to understand economic cycles and your industry

Industries have unique cycles and so do economies. Take Kenya for example. Every election year we have high inflation and a very unstable currency. The uncertainty makes people  and companies spend less money. However,industries like the media and advertising industry and those making memorabilia thrive in the same period. Looking at annual cycles, different industries are aligned to the festive seasons,weather patterns or school going for children amongst other things. Pharmacies selling medicines for colds and coughs thrive during the cold season when kids are in school due to high rates of infections across  . All these factors affect buying patterns and if you are unaware of those in your industry you could be frustrated when what you are facing is a scenario affecting everyone else as well. The best prepared businesses usually have strategies to counter the down times (discounts, offers, miniaturization of products) or to capitalise on the booms.

The economy grows and the market gets more sophisticated

Africa is currently experiencing fast growth amongst its middle class. This is a spending group that we have not had before in large numbers and it has created demand for more sophisticated goods and services.Who would have thought that we would have been charged Ksh1300 to Ksh 2500 for blankets and wine or Aaron “krucial Keys” Rimbui’s jazz concert (please note both are organised by local artists) and still have a full house? Something is changing in Kenya, fast.

Friends who are juniors in key positions get promoted

Sometimes when you start out in a business, the people you know  in your networks either from high school ,college or social circles are pretty junior in their organisations. But with time they become more influential and senior and get to the place where they manage big budgets and make key decisions.They could be promoted to become CEOs. This opens up an opportunity for you to get business from them if they trust your competency and track record.

Competitors make strategic changes in your favour

Sometime key competitors could get a directive from head office(particularly multinationals) to either exit or change strategy that works in your favour. This could open up gaps that create business for you. A key case in point in Kenya is when Unilever decided to streamline their product portfolio worldwide that saw the local outfit lose Kimbo,a locally branded cooking oil to its local competitor Bidco. Kimbo was a brand with loyal following but their exit provided an opportunity for Bidco.

Government policy and laws change in your favour

When the local oil industry was liberalised by the Kenyan government, it created space for local players to put up all sorts of fuel stations even in your local backyard. Before regulation was tightened, many local outfits proliferated the market. This eventually saw the exit of the large oil multinationals like Chevron, Shell, BP , Agip and Mobil because of lower margins making their business. Government’s at different points either out of insanity, selfish motives,political pressure or competence usually change policies and some might be in favour of your business, or against. Hopefully the former.

Cartels and Old guard leave the planet(i.e. die)  and open up the market for you (a self-explanatory point don’t you think?) 

So if you are reading this you probably have at least another 10 years (if you are 70) to 60 productive years ahead of you. Why then are you in such a big hurry? The only thing to keep in check in the short term is probably the desire or greed to move a lot faster. So hang in there,success is coming.

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