Dear Entrepreneur, experience is a good teacher, BUT first, here are 5 KEY Lessons for you
By Steve Biko Wafula / July 19, 2017
If there is a journey that epitomises the essence of pain, loneliness, psychological torture and nightmares is the entrepreneurship journey.
When I started on this journey, I wondered if I am an entrepreneur or a businessman and with time, I found my niche in research and settled. My dream was to streamline and disrupt the essence of research. I knew the idea.
What I wasn’t prepared for was what was waiting for me ahead.
I didn’t have any mentorship of any kind to guide me and tell me what pitfalls lay ahead and what roads to avoid and what to do and not to. I was a puppy chasing the bone, not knowing that ahead was a live electric fence.
Lack of mentorship put me on a path where life would teach me lessons that have left deep tissued emotional scars. I made mistakes in a way that was akin to seeking the Guinness World Record on making mistakes for an entrepreneur. I made all sorts of mistakes. Mistakes that if I had a mentor, I would not have made them.
Five years down the road and still on the journey, I believe it’s my turn to help a younger entrepreneur or startup owner to learn from me. I know experience is a better teacher but it’s always better to be prepared. They say, to be forewarned is to be for armed.
These lessons are KEY for any entrepreneur. Don’t bother starting the journey if you won’t learn, harness and tie them around your neck. Especially if you operating from Kenya or Africa.
Get a mentor.
My current mentor asked me once, how can you go to a place you have never been and have no guide? How do you travel to China and you have no guide? Entrepreneurship is like China. You need a guide to help you navigate for you to achieve whatever you need or else failure will be truly yours.
Get an Accountant.
However expensive it is, get an accountant. When you setting up the business, have a budget for an accountant. If you can’t afford one, seduce one to grow with you but do whatever to get one. Their role is critical in managing your cash flow and helping you with statutory requirements. Cash flow is the holy grail of entrepreneurship, without which, you are dead on arrival.
Identify the right bank to have a sustainable relationship
Banking as we know it is changing but the banking needs are more than ever more crucial in today’s connected world. Access to credit is KEY and what I have learnt is that in Kenya, it’s more about relationships than rules. Nurture the relationships. Grow, albeit slowly but steady.
Debts are inevitable. Honour them.
One thing that almost cost me was debts. Cash flow constraints and clients who refuse to pay can land you into serious trouble. This leads to debts. One KEY lesson was to always honour the debts, no matter the cost. Plan accordingly in regards to your revenue stream, learn to communicate with those you owe and elucidate to them your challenges. People understand. All they want is communication. We all have debts.
Communication is KEY for any successful enterprise.
They say communication is the fabric that connects humanity. Now imagine what it can do for you if well executed in business. As the vision bearer, learn to communicate, with your team, with your staff, with your creditors, with your clients.
Humans are very interesting creatures. We love attention and we love to communicate. It makes us feel important and involved. That’s KEY to success.