Alibaba
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Fail
Jack Ma
Kaka Empire
Kennedy Ombima
Mark Zuckerberg
Sales
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Even the giants make mistakes

Don’t be so hard on yourself. There’s another side to the stories of people like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Alibaba’s Jack Ma that’s not shared much with the world.

The media will mostly concentrate on achievements because that’s what we love to embrace. But we all make mistakes. These are some of the ones I made while building Kaka Empire.

The good thing about entrepreneurship is that you mostly have the control. Most people want to be in the lead, but when they hear the recipe for being number one, they end up giving up.

When I started my first business, I was laughed at and that almost killed my confidence. The good thing is that my mentor gave me hope for he’d been an entrepreneur all his life and at that point in his life, he’d achieved a lot.

He told me to use that laughter to fuel my drive. And to surround myself with good energy; avoid the detractors. Remember, it’s not about having resources, but being resourceful with what you have.

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When we start this journey, we’re mostly excited about showing the public that we now own a business, and at times we use titles that may lead to our downfall.

I remember a time my card read ‘CEO’. I had no office and basically no money. The good thing with that is that it challenges you to work towards deserving the title.

I later learnt that the only way I could become a CEO is if I worked for it. So the next batch of cards that I printed were written: ‘Kennedy Ombima, Sales’.

To date, the media calls me CEO, but I’m still in the sales department. Maybe, just maybe, the next batch of cards will read CEO.

Taking advice is not bad. We should learn from others, but what that means is that someone had to experience something the first time. And from that, he or she was qualified to share lessons from this experience as advice.

What we don’t know is that we’re all different and we handle situations differently.

The best advice I ever got was ‘do you’.

In the beginning, I took advice from four different people, and at the end of the day, I noticed they were offering conflicting information.

So attend the class, but at the end of the day, figure out the path that works for you.

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Remember your own unique selling point is your main attraction. We go to certain restaurants because they make the best chicken or they have the best fish or service, and that ladies and gentlemen, is what is called a selling point. Be brave enough to try new things.

When I was around 20 and my CEO cards were going round, I met a businessman who was about 10 years older than I was. I was curious about the profits he was getting, so I asked him about it. The following week, I started applying what he told me.

After months of application, I noticed that the modules he gave me were not working. What I didn’t understand is that the formula he gave me was from the perspective of ‘10 years older’.

I wasn’t ready for his guidelines – I wasn’t at his level.

Still, I wasn’t ready to give up, so I went back to him and asked why I was failing. We figured out that I should have first told him the phase my business was at.

I learnt that timing is a factor; on some things, you have to put in the time.

I’m sure by now you know most of what I sell, from talent and water to clothing and much more. In the early days, I still had the same dreams, but my execution was poor. Until I learnt another valuable lesson.

It’s good to dream, but it’s better to plan. I was getting the minimal return on investment, so to be practical, I focused on one product at a time. And with a checklist, I’ve managed to put out more than 10 successful products over the years.

The bottom line is that it’s alright to fail – it’s an opportunity to learn. I have learnt that mistakes are key for an entrepreneur. Fail so that you improve in your craft.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

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