International Labour Organisation

10 start-up pitfalls that young entrepreneurs ought to avoid

There is a need to work for someone else before starting your own business.

10 start-up pitfalls that young entrepreneurs ought to avoid

Once you are off, don’t walk alone: you need advisers, friends, and mentors. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Today’s increasingly interconnected world has opened up millions of new opportunities for entrepreneurs. From the development of niche markets to offering familiar services and products more cheaply and efficiently, many are afforded chances to pursue dream of being own boss. Given Kenya’s youth unemployment rate, recorded at 26.2 per cent in 2017 by the International Labour Organisation, starting and growing a business is a potentially enriching career path for a young person to choose, financially, mentally and socially.While entrepreneurship is an exciting career option, the youth need to know it is a difficult path.There are 10 common pitfalls of starting and growing a business, and what young entrepreneurs can do to avoid them.

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1. Over-thinking your idea: Planning is crucial to business development, but over-planning can be paralysing. Many of the major risks cannot be predicted and, as such, cannot be planned away. At some point, entrepreneurs have to confront risks by implementing plans.2.Getting stuck behind a desk: Once a business has launched, entrepreneurs are required to be in the office regularly to plan, think and re-evaluate. It is key to survival. However, be careful not to get stuck there, because some of the best business thinking is done on the job, informed by practice of managing, operations, marketing and administration. New entrepreneurs have to stay visible on the shop floor and in the market.3. Timing: Timing is important, but it is never as simple as waiting for the economy to improve. Starting a business in a difficult economic environment can create various opportunities, such as cutting start-up costs by, for example, buying second-hand equipment at auctions from businesses that have gone under.4. Same old, same old: Entrepreneurship is about doing things better, sometimes through a radical new idea, but other times by providing subtle differences in the customer’s experience. The key is to differentiate from the competition, while also constantly improving business processes and operations.5.Neglecting your tech-savvy edge: Technology can make business quicker, easier and more efficient – providing a definite advantage. Younger entrepreneurs must be aware of the natural edge they hold by being more in tune with technology and exploit it as much as possible.6. Being an island: While many entrepreneurs may be the sole owners of their business, it’s difficult to successfully grow a business completely on your own. Staff are needed, but just as important is having a support network of experts, professionals, mentors, advisers and friends. Expertise in areas like legal, labour and accounting services are expensive, and in the beginning, young entrepreneurs might have to rely on more informal forms of advice. But you need to network.READ: To increase odds of success network like you’re on a date7. Neglecting training: In the beginning, most businesses employ people with minimal experience and train them up on the job. The monetary value of their pay package might be low, but an implicit part of the deal with such workers is that they will gain skills specifically in line with the business. Ignore training staff at your own peril.8. do everything yourself: At the start of your business you are probably going to have to do everything from watering the pot plants to doing deliveries. Not only does this save scarce start-up capital, but it also provides a good sense of what the work entails before appointing a worker to do it or outsource it. However, move away from operational tasks by delegating or outsourcing the work as soon as you can to get time for marketing, networking and think strategically.9. Living out of the till: Those who fail to separate business finances from personal cash rarely last the distance.Budgeting and cost control is crucial to business survival, and an important part of the discipline is to pay yourself a fixed salary and to stick to that.10. Underestimating work experience: Young entrepreneurs might be so eager to get started in business that they forego work experience.There are some crucial examples of entrepreneurs who have never worked for anyone else, but they are the exceptions.The majority of successful entrepreneurs start off by working for someone else, and using the opportunity to learn how an organisation works from the inside out, before they set out to build their own.

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