How to start a business in Kenya by applying three fundamental principles that have been the basis for success for some of the most influential people in the world
Contrary to what many business ‘experts’ often try to elaborate, starting and scaling up a business is no easy task, even for the most experienced veterans. The number of startups and SMEs in Kenya and around the world that fail each year is concrete proof of this fact. But not to be discouraged, once you manage to set up a strong foundation, then success becomes within sight. Yes, several new businesses usually fail just a few months after launch, but those are ones that did not understand how to start a business in Kenya in the first place. Even the most mediocre concepts have a shot at success once the market penetration tactics have been set up correctly. This post will cover the 3 most important things to know in order to substantially scale your venture.
Step 1: Before anything, invest in the acquisition of specialized Knowledge
“Knowledge will not attract money unless it is organized, and intelligently directed, through practical plans of action, to the DEFINITE END of accumulation of money. Lack of understanding of this fact has been the source of confusion to millions of people who falsely believe that ‘knowledge is power.’ It is nothing of the sort! Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.” – Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs in Kenya are often unwilling to invest in their minds, in their strategies, and in their overall business preparation. If you look at the most successful ventures from all over the world, they all have founders that are masters of their craft, that are curious and constantly on the lookout for answers that would help better themselves and their businesses. Like many of them who managed to establish empires worth millions and billions, if you decide to take the time to invest in the acquisition of specialized knowledge, then your path could be similar to theirs.
The problem with us in Kenya is that we often see such efforts as ‘time-consuming’. Others are too lazy to pursue them. Failure to achieve anything because of laziness is unforgivable. If you ever find yourself stuck in that state of mind, take a minute to look at the long-term value that could be derived from just half an hour of self-education each day. More than 90% of the most successful people in the world are avid readers and regularly make time to enhance their brains.
Step 2: Start by setting up marketing tactics that counter the consumer’s behavior
Human beings are pack animals by nature and the decisions that we make are highly influenced by the people around us. A lot of our purchase decisions are often sparked by references that we receive from other people regarding a product or service. For instance, if your friends recommend to you a new restaurant that serves the best chapati in Nairobi, you would be easily convinced to go there because they have a strong yet subconscious influence over your decisions. Now, from a business perspective, the chapati restaurant would be the winners because they spent zero marketing shillings to acquire you. Zero!
A fundamental goal in the early stages of your business should be to establish a market for the products/services that make it easy for consumers to reference each other. Word of mouth is by far the most powerful form of marketing, but it doesn’t just happen, it has to be planned for. In order to start a word of mouth chain reaction, before anything else, the products that you are selling must be a more attractive buying proposition than those of your competitors. Product superiority can be achieved in several ways and without the need for substantial expenses, as explained in this post on Growth Strategies 101. This is an important one to remember while you understand how to start a business in Kenya.
Step 3: Be a growth hacker, or find one
Growth hacking means to achieve rapid business growth within a relatively short time and by using whichever means necessary. Developing the mindset of a growth hacker is fundamental when starting your business. Momentum is the one thing that will see the venture through the brutal first years, therefore it must be achieved as quickly as possible. Momentum in the sense of a rapid growth in customers and revenues. A lack of momentum is what often kills many new businesses.
The traditional marketing approach usually has a broad focus and uses the mix of textbook tactics to achieve the goals; and while the effects cannot be understated, startups and SMEs need a growth hacker to steer things in directions that a traditional marketer wouldn’t. Traditional marketing becomes much more useful once the business has gained momentum, operations are stable, and when goals can be set with a realistic understanding of the market environment. Growth hacking means being creative in the acquisition of customers, in the acquisition of strategic partnerships, and in the acquisition of anything that will help the business achieve rapid growth.
(This article was written by Emmanuel Soroba, the C.E.O, and Founder of FiveSok)