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Blog Archive


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Divergent Thinking is the Key

The RSA clip in this post addresses inadequacies in our education system, which I feel are directly linked to the general weakness of entrepreneurial will in this country. Granted there are some excellent examples out there of genuinely amazing business people, but why is it that the majority of us are lukewarm to the idea? The key thing to take away from the clip, I think is the concept of Divergent Thinking

Monday, December 5, 2011

Does your business have a bat problem?

Sometimes in the rush to get your start-up off the ground you cut some corners when evaluating prospective investors. An equity partner can provide the capital that you need to cushion your business from early shocks as well as provide fuel for growth. Selecting investors is tricky business, mainly because the budding entrepreneur isn’t usually in a strong bargaining position. The potential investor has something that we want,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Don’t do business with this person….

Sometimes the people you ‘like’ doing business with are the worst possible people you should be doing business with. We all know what it is like when you are starting a business; sometimes initial volumes are so low, we panic and cave in to pressure and reduce prices. So early in the life of your business this is the last thing that you need.

Friday, October 14, 2011

You ARE being paid enough!

Whether you like it or not, the truth is that your job really does pay you enough! You see employers will only pay you enough money to keep you working, and not a shilling more. The fact that you show up every morning means that you are, in fact, being paid enough. It sounds harsh I know, but this simple rule applies whether you are making minimum wage or six figures. The business is all about maximizing the return on investment, and this is why no prudent businessman would knowingly overpay for production inputs. In a sense, you are that input because to the business

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Has your investment group lived up to all the hype?

Firstly if you haven’t asked yourself this question at one stage or another, then it could only mean one of two things. Either the group is performing extremely well or you don’t really care if it drops flat on its face. Sadly the second scenario is true for many of us and to find the reason for this all we need to do is take a quick glance in the mirror. You see, it is likely that ‘we’ are the reason our investment groups have stagnated.

Am I bad for my investment group?

There is no question that the rationale behind investment groups is sound. Shared risk is music to any investors’ ears. Pooling resources, skills & knowledge is good for business and having diverse membership means a wider network of business contacts to tap into. The success of the group depends entirely on

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

2 solid reasons why you should outsource your financial accounting

Reason #1: Quality - Leave bean counting to bean counters!
Apparently not even the bean counters themselves enjoy number crunching, but since it is what they do for a living they tend to be better at it than most of us. Outsourcing your financial accounting and other finance related functions to a specialized company improves the quality of the financial records that your business keeps which in turn enhances your ability to monitor performance, make better decisions and assist you to access financing.

Reason #2: Cost
The early phases of any business are often characterized by massive internal competition for scarce resources. Ironically the phase that needs prudent financial management the most is the one that can hardly afford it. So unless one of the founders is an accountant you will find it makes more financial sense for a small business to outsource their accounting function than it would to hire a full time accountant.

Contact Alpha Advisors to find out more about outsourced financial services

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why appropriate land use is the answer ….

In an earlier post I asked you to consider for a moment if we thought that converting prime agricultural land into housing was a wise thing to do. Now I would like you to ask yourself the same question, but before you answer let your mind reflect on the plight of 1,000’s of East Africans who are at this very moment fighting to survive the famine. Still nothing? Don’t worry, you are not alone, ditto the guys who own Tatu City & Migaa. Now, would we be up in arms lobbying government to stop the developers from happily replacing rich red soil with concrete mix if the Tatu land was under maize & wheat instead of coffee? Maybe not, but we should be! Some time ago I read an article that gave a number of reasons why Kenyan farmers should uproot their coffee bushes. The main difference I have with the writer of that article is that I am convinced that the uprooted coffee should be replaced with food crops like maize and beans, not housing. This is because a coffee plantation was already an inappropriate use for the land.

An exercise in futility

Monday, July 18, 2011

The secret to making millions

…is in being one of the leaders, not one of the followers. As far back as the 80’s when the harsh reality of downsizing and retrenchments begun to bite in Kenya, local businessmen have shown an amazing willingness to flock from business to business, merely because we heard that someone had made money from it. It was irrelevant that we didn’t know anything about clearing & forwarding or poultry farming, or if I couldn’t tell a bromide from a photocopy. If Mr. Kamau Otieno next door looked happy and well fed in his ‘new’ car, then whatever business he was in, was perfect for me (take a minute to think of all the guys who tried to sell you calendars and printer paper in the past). Just like in a pyramid scheme,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Secret to Making Millions in Real Estate (part 1)

Time travel. According to certain Kenyan ‘experts’ the only way to start making money in real estate in Kenya is to travel back in time. Well, based on that premise and the fact that scientists have yet to come up with a device that can facilitate such travel, the only logical conclusion is that it is impossible for you to start making millions in real estate today.

More seriously though, the reality is that the recent real estate boom in Kenya has made millionaires out of ordinary folk and billionaires out of millionaires, all in the last decade or so. Understandably, everyone else wants to jump on the bandwagon, but the question on our communal lips is, “Is it too late?” Well my answer to that is

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What I learnt about Mastering Entrepreneurship

2 weeks ago I attended a very enlightening workshop entitled Mastering Entrepreneurship. The event which was sponsored by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) was intended to expose accountants to the idea of making the transition from employee to employer. Being one of them, I have perfect knowledge of the difficulty that accountants have with taking on risk in an uncertain world. You see in our world everything is ordered and logical, every credit has a corresponding debit, rules are made to be followed, particularly rules that have been refined over years by wiser greyer heads than our own. Not surprisingly the room was packed to the rafters with curious souls who all wanted to hear from the seasoned entrepreneurs who made presentations, all hoping against hope that they will be transformed miraculously from a timid bean counter into a brash swashbuckling wheeler-dealer.

What it takes to Succeed in Business

The presentations were captivating, with speakers like PMS’s Joanne Mwangi and Adopt-a-light’s Esther Passaris, taking time to highlight the high and the lows of their growth as business owners. My personal favorite though was the candid talk given by

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The No. 1 reason why you will not start a business

Fear. People nowadays are just simply too scared to do anything different with their lives, too scared to try and start that business they’ve been dreaming about  every night since they were a child. Too scared to leave that multinational and accept the equity-for-skills offer from that promising start-up. The saddest thing is that the level of fear often appears to be directly proportional to the person’s level of education or social status i.e. the higher your level of education or social standing, the greater the fear of failure and thus the lower the chance that you will risk starting a business. (NB. the dynamics change somewhat if you have inherited so much money that it doesn't matter if your start-up thrives or not)

What would a cave-man do?

Long time ago, at the dawn of mankind what do you think would happen to a cave-dweller who was too scared to go out and hunt for food?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stop hustling for a minute and take a step back

I remember the parents of a friend of mine fretting 12 years ago that the major bank their son worked for wasn't offering him a permanent & pensionable job i.e. in spite of the swelling sea of unemployment in Kenya his job with a reputable bank still wasn't good enough for them because it wasn’t permanent & pensionable. Well 12 years and significant bonuses/gratuities later he is still on 1 year contracts and doing really well by any standards. The main problem is that our parents and sadly many of us, still judge our career success by the ancient standards. Many of our parents graduated from college/high school etc. over 40 years ago and in those days employers would literally line up and compete to offer them jobs, a far cry from today’s reality. These days not even the village choir bothers to show up at the new graduates homecoming party because chances are the young chap will be living on their hand outs for the next few years. Besides the villagers’ soon realized that their ululations are better used at gatherings organized by the local MP’s than wasted on poor fellows with limited chance of getting permanent & pensionable jobs for their kids.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stop wasting money!!

I’d like you to picture for a minute all the people you know who cleared university 1-2 years ago and are yet to find a job. Without exception I can guarantee you that all of them have taken or are planning to take a short course in one thing or another. Millions of shillings are spent on these courses that we are led to believe will increase our employability, while the truth is that, in the shape and form that they are today, most of these short courses are a big waste of money. The tragedy is that this cycle will continue for as long as they are tarmacking and stop as soon as they get a job. If the course you spent 4 years studying in Uni isn’t enough to get you a job I doubt a 3 week business writing course will make any difference. Now, IF the course was to exploit the graduates’ prodigious writing talent, with a view to launching a freelance writing career, then I am all for it. I hope you see where I am going with this. Accumulating piles of certificates will no more increase your chances of getting a job than it will improve your sex life although some college professors may disagree. Having said that, I take my hat off to the entrepreneurs who developed a very lucrative market by convincing us that joining their college will enhance our chances of getting a job. 

So before you start stuffing all that hard earned money in the college bursars pocket, take time to REALLY think about what it is that you are good at and whether or not the course will enhance how you can maximise that gift.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why a 9-to-5 job is the wrong place to seek job satisfaction & financial independence...

There are a number of reasons for this, but in a nutshell it boils down to the fact that very few corporates have actually figured out how to identify and nurture the real performers. Often what happens is that the guys who get all the breaks are usually the ones who have raised their profile in the organization by talking a lot, sending the most emails, lobbied more effectively etc, while somewhere in the dungeons is a guy who actually does the work. Indeed, hundreds of books have been written about how to climb the corporate ladder and the bulk of the advice is about managing your personal brand, image and other people’s perception of you. In other words your destiny depends NOT on how good your work is, but rather on if someone else THINKS you are working. I know a guy who spent close to 2 out of 5 days a week, playing office politics to the extent of taking clandestine trips out of the country to meet with his boss’s superiors. Today this individual has reached the top of the food chain in his organization without ever having to actually do anything apart from undermining every boss who was unlucky enough to cross his path on the way to corporate nirvana.

Corporate Parasite!

You all work with at least one person like that and I am sure it frustrates the daylights out of you. Take a good look at them and start sucking up because the reality is that

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mt Kenya University sets up business incubation program

In a move that should be lauded for its timeliness, MKU launches a programme that will attempt to bridge the capital gap that young entrepreneurs face. His call to private sector to come on board with local universities is particularly pertinent because as I have often highlighted, entrepreneurship development in Kenya is hampered by the apparent lack of interest from the private investors. In their support, perhaps some of that apprehension could be attributed to a lack of structured vehicles through which to channel their investments. Maybe this is where MKU will strike gold. See full story by Evans Wafula here

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who wants to be a billionaire?

Very few of us would answer NO to that question, yet it’s puzzling why almost none of us actually do anything about it.  

The reason for this is quite simple really. For decades now, it has been drummed into our heads that you can only have a good life if you have a good job and that the only way to get a good job was to spend as much time as possible in the classroom. So just like the well behaved boys and girls that we are, this is exactly what we did. What I’d like to do is show you why you shouldn’t make the same mistake with your kids.

My big break

Let’s look at me for example. It was only after 21 years in the classroom and close to 16 years in the rat-race that I finally realized that self-employment was the answer. When I look at how long it took me to finally understand that fact, it saddens me to see how so many people slog away endlessly at jobs they don’t enjoy, just hanging in there waiting for that magical (mythical?) big break!. Well let me save you a lot of time and anguish by telling you right now that’s it’s not going to happen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Google working on mobile payment technology

An android app that does this may be handy, but don't a number of smartphones already come with in-built NFC technology that facilitates mobile payments at participating merchants? How soon (if?) this will catch on here is not clear, but as one who detests carrying wads of cash in my wallet, I am all for it. Google working on mobile payment technology: report - Yahoo! News

New from Facebook!

Facebook is to launch a site to enable advertisers to view and comment on advertising campaigns on the social networking site.

The site, dubbed Facebook Studio, promotes the concept of social advertising, in which consumers are targeted based on their social network and are invited to interact with marketing campaigns.

See full story here from Computer Weekly.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

The secret to what makes Entrepreneurs tick?

I want to share this article with you because it sheds light on one of the true mysteries in business. Can entrepreneurship be taught? Are entrepreneurs made or are they born that way? I hope you like it...What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial - Fullscreen

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I hate to admit this, but Safaricom is right

Please understand that this isn't easy for me to sit here and admit that our big green friend is right to resist efforts to regulate pricing for cross-network transfers. We all know how Safaricom has milked the 'Club effect' for years now, killing 2 birds with 1 stone i.e. on the one hand making supernormal profits from charging it's own customers exorbitant rates to call other networks and at the same time making them think that it is the 'other' networks fault. Well the focus has now shifted to money transfer with the smaller players agitating for cheaper cross-network transfers, basically an attempt to piggy-back on the vast network of mpesa agents i.e. it aims to make it cheaper for non-Safaricom customers to withdraw cash at mpesa counters. A number of prominent people have already spoken out in support of them and I grudgingly lend my voice to their chorus.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rocket Science it is not - Password tips

In this classical article, Thomas Baekdal shows you how to generate robust passwords that are easy to remember. Driven by faster, cheaper and more accessible connections, internet usage on Kenya is expanding rapidly. Frequently touted as the magic pill for economic underdevelopment and unemployment in Kenya, I.T. is HUGE right now. As with most things of this world however, the Good often comes with the Bad and we are faced with the very real danger of fraud, identity theft etc from cyber criminals and I'm not talking about the odd emails we receive from time to time from an african 'prince'. The good news is that the technology to protect us from cyber attacks is available, the bad news is that even the most sophisticated safeguards can be rendered useless if the user chooses a rubbish password. Read Baekdal's article here for smart tips on how to make a good password. It is that simple.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strongmen are good

When I think of the word 'strongman' the picture that comes to my mind is of that muscular guy every troop of acrobats has. You know, the guy who is always at the bottom of the shaky human pyramid, carrying all the scrawny guys with dreadlocks. Well political reporters have done the word a huge disservice by associating it with aging dictators who hang on to power for too long. Just think about it a circus strongman supports all the other guys in the troop; his strength is an asset i.e. the stronger he is, the safer his people are. His strength allows them to attempt and perfect bolder and more creative feats. Looked at in this context the so-called political strongmen are the opposite. Their 'strength' is used to bully, stifle creativity and the stronger they are, the less safe we are. What's worse about this breed of strongmen is that they demand that we carry them  instead of the other way around!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is it too late for Nokia

The Finnish giants recent move to appoint a Canadian to head their business has been hailed by many as timely. My concern is that it may be too late. You see the first handset I ever owned was a Nokia 3210 and what appealed to me then was the modern styling. Ok, I couldn't afford the Ericsson T18s, but who could question the 3210's innovative antenna free design. Apart from a brief flirtation with a tiny clam-shell Motorola, my love affair with Nokia continued for the next 6 years or so. A little like what happens in marriage I started to notice that Nokia models kept getting chunkier and chunkier while their rivals got slimmer and lighter. Understandably Nokia's popularity started to wane as people like me strayed from their warm embrace.

What went wrong?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is Your Business Blog Making These 10 Deadly Mistakes

After reading the checklist I see how easy it is for a new blogger to lose hope and pack it in. I know this because, being a beginner myself I have often wondered what I'm doing wrong. The decision to start blogging came naturally when I realised I needed a place to put down my thoughts in a way that my clients would find useful. With the availability of numerous free applications that will automatically tweet your blog post and update your facebook status for you, blogging became the logical starting point for me to tap into social media. Now all I need to do is learn how to make this blog more effective.

This months 'To Do' list

This month I will work on creating stronger headlines and making my blog more scannable.

See here for the full article from Entrepreneur.com

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It may be small but SME owners must keep their house in order

The value of keeping good records can't be emphasized enough. If I had a shilling for every time I've said this to my friends who run small businesses I'd have a drawer full of coins. What I'd do with a drawer full of coins is a mystery but this article from the Business Daily is just plain common sense. It may be small but SME owners must keep their house in order

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How big is HUGE

Seeing attached stats helped me to put some perspective on kenyan stats. FYI total registered .ke domains as at Jan 13th were only 15,438 while kenyan facebook users at the last count were around 1.1 Million. Don't do the math if you're fond of comparisons. At least it gives some idea of how much more room there is for us to grow. I think 2011 will be a great year for internet related business. Royal Pingdom » Internet 2010 in numbers

Get ready to make some money trading in .KE domains

This post by Moses suggests that 2011 could see the kindling of an aftermarket for .KE domain names. Already we know what happened in 2009 when certain speculators invested in 100's of domain names only to let them lapse as if on second thoughts. As an entrepreneur with an ear close to the ground, it will pay to watch the space closely. Kenya is on the cusp of a local .KE domain aftermarket. | Moses Kemibaro

Thursday, January 6, 2011

They don't call it the school of hard knocks for nothing

Serial entrepreneur Neil Patel shares his experiences. What is remarkable is that he did all this in the span of only 2 1/2 years. The lack of appetite for the risks associated with start-ups among Kenya's high net worth individuals is really holding us back! What can we do to loosen their purse strings. Anyway see what Nel has to say in What I Learned About Entrepreneurship Through 15 Angel Investments

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