How I Became A Great Entrepreneur In 3 Months
Written by Kevin Karanga, a student at JKUAT pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Telecommunication Information Engineering:
More than 50% of start-up businesses in Kenya fail within their first three years. But why? Well, this was a question that always lingered in my mind. However, over the past three months, I have undergone a life changing experience at Lapid Leaders Africa (LLA) where not only did I get the answer to my question, but I also learnt how not to fail in mine. If you told me to start a business four months ago, I would do so quickly but I can assure you that it would have just contributed to the failure statistics. Tell me to start a business now and I can do so with shear certainty that it is going to withstand all the pressures that come its way.
The experience at LLA was a one of a kind. I would like to elaborate on some of the many take outs I got on entrepreneurship.
It starts with a change in the entrepreneurs mindset – A person wishing to start a successful business should first change his mind set to be that of an entrepreneur. He must be ready to do whatever it takes to grow his business. The first three years are said to be the toughest and qualities such as: perseverance, patience, innovation, aggressive and passionate will come in handy. The start is the hardest part and the entrepreneur must be willing to take the plunge if he wishes to see a successful business future.
Entrepreneurship is about solving a problem – After an entrepreneur sees a business gap in the market, he thinks of a product that he can develop to bridge this gap. One thing to note about a good product: ‘A good product offers a solution to the society’. The entrepreneur gets his innovative mind in set to design how best his product can work for the society. The entrepreneur assesses and analyses existing solutions so as to maximise on their weaknesses and shortcomings. He comes up with a unique value proposition which he offers his customers. The unique value proposition is what sells the product. The entrepreneur must ensure that his solution appeals to emotionally and mentally to his customers.
Develop your business model – To build a start-up. A lot of work is done before you can even say “Go!” A potential entrepreneur must first put his house in order. He must start on a white-clean page and design his business. This is where Design Thinking really comes in handy. An entrepreneur decides on various features of his business. We used two very important tools for this: The Lean Start-up Model and the Business Model Canvas. These are tools that play a key role in defining your business. They help the potential employer to cultivate the staying power of his business. They help in identifying key players in the business, potential business partners, customer segment, customer specifications, unique value proposition, marketing strategies among others. All these ensure that when the business kicks off, it does so in its robust nature.
Then build your brand – Now, once the entrepreneur is certain that his business is set and ready, he starts the engine and steps the accelerator to give it a push. The entrepreneur must ensure that his business endures the test of time. This is done through branding. He must ensure that he creates a brand that people want to associate with once he starts. The Swahili have a proverb that says, “Chema chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza.” meaning that a good product sells itself. Branding is what has kept companies such as Apple at the top of the food chain amidst all the competition. Fight to have the product of choice in the market. Have a quality brand. A brand is built through continuous product development, company values and customer service.
Business development should also come so as to ensure that your business grows. A business should have a growth plan with milestones that they set to achieve. An entrepreneur must work tirelessly to ensure that his business meets the set targets. The sky should be the limit for him. He must work to ensure that the business can function independent of him. Meaning that the business and he are separate entities. This is what gives his business perpetual life. He must be a ‘Cathedral builder’, have a vision that outlives him. The business has the potential to grow enormously to even a multinational. He must let it spread its wings and fly. Nothing is too far out of reach.
It is with this knowledge, among much more that my team, Jabali Groove, came up with Nomadi Milk.
This is a new business which targets: Diabetes Type 2 patients, Lactating mothers, Lactose intolerant patients, and people who value healthy living. Our product is ‘Camel milk and camel milk based products.’ We have established a business that utilises the knowledge that we attained through the experience, to deliver a cheaper solution to control diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.
We look forward to growing this into a great business. We are looking for partners and mentors that we can work with to scale the business further. Join us in using local products to deliver solutions for the problems that our communities are facing today.
I am a Lapid Leader.