I went into business full time when I was two years out of university. I had been running the business on the side while I was employed but later went into it full time without any savings. I got burnt really good and even had to move back home.
If sharing the lessons I learnt can stop you from making the same mistakes I did, and in fact, help accelerate your growth then read this two-part blog post on what to do and not do when starting your own business.
There will be GOOD times and there will be BAD times in business
I am yet to read the story of any successful self-made entrepreneur that did not go through hard times while starting or running their business. Even if your family has lots of money and they’ll be able to finance you during the low times, it will have its hard times. Having this in mind will ensure that you don’t go into shock when you do face challenges.
Be positive and when the bad times do come, dig your heels in the sand and stick it out. Remind yourself that every business goes through lows and hard times and if you stick it out then you’ll get to see your business flourish.
A lot of people advice that you just hand in your resignation and start your business. I don’t recommend it but I believe this is different for everyone.
At the very least be wise. The benefit of not having a job or quitting is that you can throw yourself wholeheartedly into your business which is what any business requires. It’s all or nothing when you don’t have any savings or a fallback plan.
The downside is that at the beginning it may take a while to start getting constant profits. How will you pay your rent or bills? What will you eat? Your mind will be distracted by these worries which will drain you and may lower the energy that you put into your business.
If you’re employed then save, save, save. Find out how much you need to start and run the business, write down a figure and then save for it. Once you reach the mark then start the business. Don’t make the mistake of constantly increasing the amount that you’ll need or you’ll never get started.
Also, save for a year’s worth of expenses and make sure that you don’t use this money for anything else. When you do leave your job, this will enable you to focus and go hard on the business for a year without worrying about how you’ll pay your bills.
Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Find out from other start-ups where they went wrong so that you don’t repeat the same expensive mistakes. Carry out research on what people really want. One of the ways you can do this is by selling small scale to see how the good/ service is received and noting whether there is a market for it, whether you should tweak it to make it better or whether you should change the concept altogether.
For example, you may want to open an Airbnb apartment. Instead of waking up one day and furnishing an apartment that you got at a good deal in the middle of nowhere, find out from people that are already in the business, where the best location is, the hiccups of starting the business and what clients like to have available.
A lot of big companies that are interested in starting a new venture or buying a new company actually interview people that used to work in that company or experts in that field so that they make the right decision and save time and money.
“But I don’t have any money.” Come on, guys; this is the age of the internet. Excuses went out the door with its invention and current easy accessibility. There are free online courses to guide you on almost any entrepreneurial path that you choose to embark on.
Google offers free online marketing related courses. Coursera has links with universities and offers a slew of classes on a wide variety of topics. You may not pay for the courses but will probably pay to get certificates from both platforms and you’ll pay for graded assessments on Coursera. Although not always.
There are short courses that you can do at a small fee. For example, Walter Akolo, founder of freelancerkenya.com and Awesome Transcribers in Kenya on Facebook offers an online writing course that you can complete in 2 weeks. You can contact him through his website: https://walterakolo.com/
Sinapis Organisation offers a Christian entrepreneurial course for 12 weeks of which, by the time that you’re through with the class, you’ll have a business plan, you’ll know how to pitch to both clients and investors and you could win a prize of $10,000 to fund your business. You can visit their site here: http://sinapis.org
Centonomy which was founded by Waceke Nduati, an investment guru that writes an investment column for the Saturday Nation, also offers entrepreneurial courses which are endorsed by the likes of Caroline Mutoko and Peter Nduati who have gone through her institution. You can find out more here: http://centonomy.com
When we include universities and polytechnics to this list, the resources are endless.
Start your business while you’re employed
If you can, start your business on the side, while you’re employed. Your nine-to-five shouldn’t suffer in the process. This is the best way to test the market and find out what your niche should be, fine-tune the product and get constant customers. This way, by the time you’re finally resigning, you can depend on your business to pay you a salary.
This article first appeared on nyawiragithae.com