Friday, 27 July 2012

7 Lessons I Learnt From Ordinary Kenyans Running Succesful Businesses

It’s been a while since I published on this blog, lately I have been working close to 15 hours daily, focusing all my efforts on getting Social Edge Africa on its feet. It can be crazy when you are building a company from scratch, since you are ‘everyone’ in the company before you get a few people to assist in some roles. I can happily say that we are now off the ground (thank you team awesome for the support) the grace of God too has been abundant. When I was thinking of what to share with you I found it important to highlight on a few business lessons I had learnt from ordinary Kenyan entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things today so that I also transfer that knowledge to you. Setting up a successful business isn’t all about having the money to do it, it’s not just having that great idea, but having the skills, character and a team to help you achieve your vision. So here’s five business lessons I learnt from entrepreneurs who are going to be the next generation of business leaders in the continent.
1.Turn your Passion to Profit- Frida Owinga. 
By listening to Frida Owinga and subscribing to her passion profit digest I have been able to turn my love, enthusiasm and passion for social media to a business. Back in 2009 I started being an avid user of social media platforms mostly Facebook. I loved being ‘social’ thus connecting with people was interesting and intrigued me. I have seen companies start on Facebook, to a small office in town and finally grow to something huge. My major lesson here is please looking for gaps in the market that you can fill with your passion. You could be a great cook, designer, talented singer or just love fashion but that alone can't swing business. After you’ve identified your passion, kindly ensure your skills, strengths and level of education, experience can back you up when you launch what you love doing most. It’s one thing to love singing and to sing properly! Don’t quit school to become a DJ just because you love music, successful DJ’s and MC’s that have big entertainment companies have the business skills, education and loads of other things you need to swing business. If you’re still stuck with what I am trying to put across here talk to Frida Owinga of passion to profit school of entrepreneurship and she’ll help you discover how to profit from your passion.
2     2. Treat your team well- Perminus Wainaina.
Perminus Wainaina is a good friend of mine who has taught me how to motivate, nurture and retain a good talented team. Although his background is finance and accounting he clearly understands the issue of human resource recruitment, developing human potential and managing talent in small and medium sized organizations. Every time we meet, he talks about how he grew his company (Corporate Staffing Services) through referrals and how he has grown with his employees, your success as an entity depends on your team. Don’t place your bets on cool strategies; place your cash on the people. I would say that this is one person that has helped me set up Social Edge more so because he made me understand that the people I hire matter. If your employees are happy, they’ll make the customers happy, a happy customer brings in another (referrals) and thus your bank balance changes! Invest in a good team,should you fire someone, be graceful and professional about it. Most important hire character, values and morals then train the skill.Through him I have been able to write for career point and share my knowledge on careers, entrepreneurship and jobs with thousands of job seekers! Out of that I have been able to help a few Kenyans secure jobs, meet new interesting people and get business out of that. Thank you Wainaina!
3      3.Quality work attracts good clients- DanNduati
When I joined Brand 2D; a digital agency I met the most awesome people on earth, (Still miss you guys) one of them is Dan Nduati. I learnt a lot of things when I worked at the agency and from Dan specifically, he taught me first how to do good presentations and reports! Simple right? Those soft business skills most of us lack cost you a lot of business. You may have a great idea but if you can’t present it out there properly then people won’t buy it. He even ensured the tone and wording of my emails was right! I was that dumb (Juakali). Dan is keen on details, very patient and wants to ensure everyone does the right things. Anyway the most important thing I learnt from him is the power of delivering quality work. He charges quite a good amount for services they provide but most important they ‘wow’ the client. When you do something nice, deliver beyond their expectation your clients will recommend you to others  (attracting the right clients). Working with specialists (the best people in their game) isn't an easy task, first they don't come cheap however in as much as managing and retaining these talented employees can be tough, don’t hire cheap interns or zombies. Thank you so much Dan and keep on doing it!
      4. Personal Development- Ande Kenya Team.
Did you know that people buy people before they even buy your service or product? Do you look or sound trustworthy? Can you deliver? Do you have the right mix of skills? By attending the monthly Kenya Youth Coaching Forum series organized by Ande Kenya I was able to develop as a person, network and gain valuable knowledge. For you to climb up that ladder, grow regionally as a business you need to sharpen your skills as a person. More MBA’s and PHD’s may help but if that education doesn’t develop you as a person then it’s useless. Multi tasking doesn’t mean doing more; it may translate into reduced effectiveness. Ande Kenya team (Bikundo, Rex, Carl, Dick Omoro, Juliet, James etc) taught me all this. Just to sum it up they also helped me understanding the position of the brand called ME! My very own personal brand! Guard this jealously, because if your personal brand dies, loses trust or credibility then you’re good as dead! Invest in your personal image and place your place in the right places.
        5.  You’re the Best-My Mother!
I am the only boy/ man in my family so that tells you that am really close to mum. My mother is the best, I know you’ll say the same about your mum; so anyway let me show you why my mum is awesome. She has stuck with me all through, when I had problems in high school she managed to negotiate all through and plead with my case. Thank God I managed to score an A in KCSE. Come to campus, I got into partying so much, mum still believed am the best! She never gives up on me, this year in December I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce marketing major…! She’s very happy by the way! To cut the long story short, my mum gives me all the support I need, once in a while when debtors don’t pay on time I turn to her. She terribly believes in my vision and my dreams. Ooh did I say that we also celebrate our small achievements in a big way? Having a support framework as an entrepreneur is very important, could be your spouse, business partner, mentor, pastor, VC etc. For me my mum does it for me, so go out there and look for a person who can stand by you through the thick and the thin of this world. Business can and will always be tough, you need someone you can talk to when you’re stuck so look around for a genuine person who will always be there for you.
6    6. Give Back To the Society- Evans Muriu.
This is one guy I admire, he’s a young brilliant Kenyan but most important I like him for what he does for the society. Back in 08 I used to be part of a programme called C4C (Communication For Conflict Resolution) in an NGO he founded called Kuna Vijana. Today he still runs it alongside Wanadamu Initiative, a blood bank database that helps match blood donors to those that need blood in Kenya during accidents, operations, terrorists attracts etc. Besides all this, the 20 something year old entrepreneur runs a successful business. Check out all he does here
This guy taught me to give back, not just money, but my time, skills, expertise and knowledge. I joined Mama Watiri Trust Fund to help alleviate poverty and educate kids, currently the fund is building a school and a dormitory for the physically handicapped and deaf kids in my village! Do I feel good? YES! Am I happy? YES! When I started this blog I wanted to share what I knew on entrepreneurship, careers, and marketing with the young people, to share content and information with the world to make the globe a better place. I also started MK voices to nurture and equip students in universities with skills on social media and blogging. By giving back in one way, first of all you feel good about yourself, you also help one or two people out there. By doing that you meet new people and network into a deal.By giving back you get more in return, giving to God doesn't always mean tithing in church! You should place your money where you are sure it's going to be used properly.
7.  Just DO IT! START- James Karundu
James is an amazing success coach, Motivational Speaker, Business Growth Mentor for Entrepreneurs,
Author of 7 Keys for Success Beyond Chance, GO FOR IT and Stepping Stones for Top Achievers
The reason why so many people remain poor and in bad jobs is because they don't want to let go what they are currently holding on! Sad right? Do you have an idea? ambitions? big dreams? start working on them right now! Think BIG, start SMALL and most important James taught me to START NOW! Be ready to pay the price of achieving your dreams....
I have certainly picked a lesson or two from everyone I meet, each one of us is beautifully and wonderfully created, this is just but a few people that I could write on today. Follow me @KenyanMarketer, lets have a chat over there.....kindly follow our social tweets @SocialAfrika and lets help you engage the world on social media.


  1. Inspiring me!

    I was in the sky, just finished reading, and fell with a loud thud!

    Lovely brother

  2. awsome!think big start small