It is Not as Easy as it Seems

Starting a business is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. In mid air, the entrepreneur begins building a parachute and hopes it opens before hitting the ground.”Rich Dad

On the morning of 31st December 2011, i woke up with a dream and vision  in mind- I was going to start a new business venture and a blog to go with it. I was going to do a weekly post on the blog as to the progress of my business venture. It was easy, i mean, how hard could it be post weekly on a blog with regards to my business progress? I am a professional writer, and i had the perfect business idea and zeal to start a business, so that was more than enough, right?

How wrong i was. As you can probably see, i have been unable to do weekly postings on my business’ progress, not because i have a writer’s block, but because three months down the line, i still have no headway as to my entrepreneurial ventures! Most first time entrepreneurs, those who look to find their footing in the business world and hope to become business moguls like Steve jobs,  Donald Trump or Richard Branson, face numerous challenges when starting a business from scratch. There are other serious challenges we face as small time wannabe entrepreneurs.

1.  Developing the vision of the Business Idea. 

It is one thing to have a business idea, to have a dream, to see it in your mind how the business will grow into an empire, it is on the other hand, another thing to actually develop this idea. A while back i wrote about having a vision board to outline the steps one has to take in accomplishing their set goals. Well, a vision board is just but a guidance tool, what is or important is the will and means to develop the idea, to transform the vision into action then to visible products/services and finally to profits. How do you hone the process of creating ‘value’ out of ‘nothing”, out of ‘a mere notion in the mind’? Well, as i discovered, this can only be done through the creation of a business plan, that gives you an insight of the future of your business. This helps you envision your business, and develop your visions.

2. Raising the Capital

So you have developed your business plan, and put your vision in paper and realistic scenarios in terms of marketing, risks, management plan, Financial plans etc. What next? As an entrepreneur who knows the needs of your business, you need to figure out how you will get resources to jump start your business into life.  One of the ways to raise capital for your business is ‘borrowing’ money.

But there is more to raising resources for capital than just walking to a bank and applying for a loan or approaching a business man and asking them to fund your capital. It is not as easy as it seems. For the seasoned investors, investing in something that doesn’t exist is much more harder than investing in something that is established, because established businesses present minimal risks, and maximum returns, as compared to green and virgin enterprises. And the reason why most business ideas never progress past the capital stage is mainly because the entrepreneur lacks means of raising the needed capital.  So how do you counter this problem?

Develop your selling skill. Know how to sell your business idea and vision to potential investors. Identify these investors, then wow them with your business story, your excellent business plan and your persuasion abilities.

3. Finding the Right Management Team

Why has my business idea stalled? Because i lacked the judgement to choose the right team that could help me brainstorm on ways to grow this perfect business idea i had. See, i had handpicked 3 friends of mine whom i thought were perfect for the management roles. Rule number 1: please keep friendship out of business, because friends will either steal your idea, or derail your plans in one way or another.

Find a team that will help you raise capital, a group of people that are bound to share your passion and business ideas, one that envisions the future of the business with you, one that believes in teamwork, and a one that is comprised of various specialties- the financial, legal, and marketing specialties. A business can never grow with an individual, you need a team to help you grow, and a good and professional team for that matter. Don’t worry how you will pay the team, you will figure this out once you have established your business.

4. Competition

Competition, though pegged as a disease in start-up enterprises, are actually an engine that motivates the business to grow, if handled well. Competition breeds innovation. In-fact, the basis of my business idea was as a result of the realization that a certain industry in Kenya was monopolized and that it needed just a little competition. Competition should be handled with care, because it is the curtain to which makes or breaks your targeted customers.

5. Changes and Trends

How fast a company can respond in an emergency is a measure of its corporate reflexes.” – Bill Gates

Change is inevitable, and as a business person who is just starting up, you should keep that in mind. Your business should be tailored to adjust to current trends.

6. Sustainability

In the world of business and investing, your exit is more important than your entry. A good thumb of rule is this; exit before you enter.” – Robert Kiyosaki

As a business entrepreneur, you have to think about your exit strategy, to make sure that the business will be sustainable, and continuity will be assured, even after the death of its founder. Many huge businesses crumble because of the lack of an exit strategy.  One has to identify specific targets, that will be used to exit the business.

Exit strategies can be ensured either by placing a policy of handing the business over to professional managers once you exit, or selling it to or merging it with a private investor, or publicizing the business. Key is to remember that the exit of the business is more crucial than its start up.

I am sure there are other challenges one faces when starting up a business, like finding market for products, or finding good employees, or ensuring growth,  but as a personal gesture, these are the ones that i am struggling with at the moment.  I guess the trick is to stand strong in the face of these challenges and push on, arming yourself with the know how on how to make your business prosper past the capital stage.

As the Chinese proverb goes,  “He that is prepared has half won the battle.

So prepare yourself businesswise.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Business venture

The Vision Board

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
Walt Disney

There is this thing we humans do a lot called talking. We develop ideas in our minds and talk about them constantly, every time, without stop. We talk about them verbally, textually, in writing, and at the end of the day, all we do is talk, not doing. Few people put their thoughts into action- not the talking kind of action, but the doing kind.

Proverbs 14:23  says that “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” Mere talk will never lead to success. In fact, mere talk will lead to others adapting your ideas and running away with them, and in the end you will feel betrayed that the person you entrusted with your ideas has turned it into his. The mouth, as they say, should be kept in a leash, it should be contained and the ideas in our minds turned into visions and actions.

That is why I like using a vision board. The vision board helps me map my ideas electronically using mind mapping softwares like Xmind or Mindjet. What I do is set the overall goal, then I proceed to make the specific objectives and map the results I want to achieve in each objective, the financial implications I will concur and the challenges each objective is set to encounter. I then do a SWOT analysis of each objective, analyzing myself as an individual, as well as the business venture I want to pursue. I then put a timeline in each of the set objectives and find someone I trust to keep me accountable in achieving the set goals and objectives in the required time set in the vision board.

I find the vision board a very reliable tool in helping green, virgin and young entrepreneurs like me find their footing in the business world, and as a tool that helps on the “just talking” about wanting to do and achieve something, but actually doing that something. I, as a green entrepreneur, believe in action. That an entrepreneur, however experienced or amateur they are, should learn how to speak less, hear more (especially advices from the gurus), and act. That is the only way that one is going to achieve success.

So, if you are a young entrepreneur who seeks to start and develop a business idea that will eventually turn into a business empire, then have a vision, translate the vision into actions, then follow the advice i learned from a friend of mine a while back, which i will post next week. 🙂

Till then,

Gre3ntrepreneur

1 Comment

Filed under Business venture

It is Never Too Late to Make a New Start

Quote: “It does not take a brand new year to make a brand new start. All it takes is the will in your heart to do so.”

 

When we were teenagers at the peak of our education, we had dreams. Some were realistic and others were not. We were forced to have these dreams because every now and then, a higher authority over us, our teachers and parents mostly, constantly bugged us with one question: “What do you aspire to be when you grow up?”  And then they proceeded to instill ideas of what they wanted us to become when we grew up. They insisted on the high flying careers such as medicine, aviation, dentistry, engineering as some of the careers we, as their sons and daughters, ought to take up to make them proud, to show them that the fee they paid went to a worthwhile cause. Forget that some of these careers are a calling! That was not important. So we built castles in the air, of what how we were going to be; pilots and doctors, and engineers, because these thoughts were planted in out psyches. Careers such as teaching and farming were not acceptable during my times, if you ever mentioned to your parents or teachers that you aspired to be a farmer, they would deem you non assertive, one who lacked ambition, crazy even. The teachers would then contact your parents and convince them to let them tutor you in sciences, so that you could become ambitious and change your crazy dreams to something more worthwhile like wanting to become a doctor.  And when the time for filling our university applications came, our teachers guided us on what they thought would be best for us.

 

That is how I came to dream of being a pilot when I grew up. At first, I wanted to become a professional musician. I was put down and told that I would die of hunger because in Kenya, musicians were nobody’s. Then I changed my desire, and when asked the question of what I aspired to be the next time, I thought I had a valid answer. I said I wanted to become a farmer or an artist. I was good in drawing and painting and rearing animals was my fascination, this, I thought, is what I loved and I would become the greatest artist or farmer there ever was, the Kenyan Picasso or some great farmer. But once again I was sat down and told the previous bla blah’s concerns. And then it was suggested to me that since I was very good in physics, my career choice should be centered on the subject. My dad was called to school, we discussed it, and “Abbot” was bought for me to enhance my love for physics. And everything aviation came to mind, and for once in my life, I had an “authentic” career choice that would please everyone, everyone but me.

 

Well, everything didn’t work out as planned. Yes, I did pass very well in physics, but not in mathematics (which everyone tells me I strange), so I didn’t get the credential to enroll in aviation school. I went ahead and got enrolled however in a public university and pursued a degree in Information Technology, and got a job doing Project management as soon as I finished campus. It is funny how life turns out. The things we are sure will pass most often are the ones that don’t come to pass.  It took me a year in my employment to realize that I was not happy with what I was doing and that I needed to do what would make me happy- farming.

 

I love music, but since I dropped my music lesson, that is a path I cannot revisit. Neither is art since the last time I held a paintbrush in my hands was 11 years ago. These require talent nurturing, and mine, weren’t nurtured at that tender age. But I can pursue my 2nd love, my love for animal farming. And I know it is not too late to do this. It is never too late. I am equipped with an iron clad will to start this, and I know by the end of the year, I will have accomplished that which I set out to do in the beginning of this year- to start my business in animal farming, production and distribution. All i need is enough capital, a business plan to source funding from and to guide me, a vision board to track my progress, and lotsa information on this.

 

And advice to teachers, parents and those parents to be: do not force your kids on any one career path. The best gift you can give them, second to education and love of course, is your belief in them and your support in whatever they may want to pursue. Nurture their talents, and then support them as hell in whatever they do.

 

Till next time: Green Entrepreneur.

3 Comments

Filed under Business venture