Four tips on starting and growing a business
In all my speeches I insist that impossible is a myth. I don’t say that just to motivate but because I have experienced it first hand.
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The experience that led to my first business being born took place in Maringo estate where I grew up. Every weekend, I would convince my mother to let us visit one of our relatives.
After we visited all the relatives who lived nearby, we moved to those who lived a distance away. Among the most intriguing homes I went to was my uncle’s, Uncle Davie. He had a 4 bedroom house with a huge compound, kept a fancy dog, and had two cars.
It felt like being in a movie, considering we lived in a dingy room in Maringo estate, which could barely fit a double deck bed, a small table, a sofa and what passed for utensils. Once I went to Uncle Davie’s, I kept going back. Returning home from Uncle Davie’s had me expectant with thoughts of how I could change the situation at home.
Experience is the best teacher
I was just traveling to see new places but in actual sense I was exposing myself to new experiences. You can have all the good reading materials and stories from world greatest motivational speakers but without experience you have nothing.
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For me at that tender age, the mingling with my uncles was the experience I needed.
In my mind, I knew that the only way to change the situation at home involved capitalising on the opportunities around you for that forms the first market for your business.
That, plus one of my uncles always pointed out that there is never a right time to start. Just start and you will learn along the way.
Everyone who grew up in Eastlands knows that there was an informal market for pets. So I started my first business when I was in class one; selling rabbits (if it wasn’t obvious already, this was where my first stage name ‘Kaka Sungura or Rabbit’ was coined).
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I went to an old construction site and got some of the building materials that had been disposed and built a hutch. By the time I was done with construction I had started research into the rabbit business.
I found out that my competitors were selling at high prices and that’s where I came in.
I charged considerably lower prices for the rabbits. Although my profit margin per rabbit sold was small, I sold many rabbits.
The ripple effect was more customers and eventually a rising turnover curve. Of course, besides the attractive pricing, my communication skills had to be on point as customers respond to how your treat them.
I now realise that the pricing only could not have been the reason I sold so many rabbits.
Unknowingly to my young self, most people would buy rabbits from me because it was a class one kid selling. I was selling so many rabbits that I had to source for three more suppliers just to keep up with the demand.
It was unheard of for such a young person to be in business.
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It is important to realise that whenever you get into business, do not be fooled into thinking that the business is new.
There have been people doing it before you.
The trick then is to find your X factor; that which makes you tick. In other words, your customer magnet or your selling point. In my case it was my age.
To date I have always looked for the X factor before venturing into any business.
Now that you have succeeded in selling this customer today, how do you get them to come back? As it is, getting customers is hard enough but maintaining them is even harder.
I read somewhere that the consumer is two things; very loyal today, betrays you tomorrow. Remember we are dealing with human beings who get attracted to new things.
The relationship between you and the consumer is a critical one, and you have to regularly spice things up, just as you would a romantic relationship for instance.
That’s why all these telecom companies are introducing products and offers daily. Happiness of the consumer is growth for the business.
From rearing rabbits to selling kaimatis in school, to my clothing line to music and talent management, I have learnt the hard way, but mostly I have dared and enjoyed while at it.
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The trick is to love what you do and put your heart into it.
The beauty of business is you can always start again.
It’s not unheard of to strike wealth in your 50s. Just know you have time which is the most priced. All the best as we walk into ‘The Wealth Street’.
The writer is an entrepreneur and award-winning artiste.