The entrepreneurship series – Prepare for success

Over half of all businesses don’t survive up to the 5th year and many of those that do are barely struggling to stay afloat; they are not profitable. Sometimes someone excitedly shares with me news of a new, winning business idea that will revolutionize things.  I listen and ask a few critical questions only to discover that the excited new business owner does not actually have a concrete plan to turn the great idea into a successful business.

Road map

Your business is registered and ready to take off. That is a great step in the right direction. You now need to prepare a blueprint or road map for the business you wish to build. A business plan is a document that describes in detail the business you plan to build. It describes what you intend to do and how you will do it. It could be as simple as jotted down points or a sketch outlining your journey.

A business plan is a road map for your business. This simply means that if you bake yummy cakes, a business plan outline everything that takes place from the time the cakes leave your oven to the time they are on the end user’s dinning table.

How will your products or services end up with the end user? How will the end user know about the cakes and choose to purchase them and not the many other varieties available in the market? How will you set your prices?

You are at point A when starting your business and want to go to point B then to point C and so on. Just like it is difficult to build a house without a blueprint, it is difficult to build a business without a roadmap.

A business plan outlines what you plan to do, how and why. A realistic business plan covers a period of 3 to 5 years, with a very detailed plan for the first one year. Having a business plan is vital for business success.

Unless something goes seriously wrong such that you have no option but to close down prematurely, plan for the business for 3 to 5 years and commit to making it work for that long. Count the cost before you embark on the journey to building a business and prepare for a 3 to 5-year journey.

I like to use illustrations to simplify the business building process. If you are to cut down a tree using an axe, you save yourself a lot of time by preparing adequately. My advice to anyone venturing into business is that you should spend 90% of the time sharpening the axe and 10% of the time cutting the tree.

We are taught that we have to start at the bottom and climb up but adequate preparation will cut years from your learning curve and you will start somewhere that is not exactly the bottom.


One major reason for the high failure of new businesses is the incompetence of the new business owners. School does not prepare us for entrepreneurship and in most cases, neither does our upbringing. Most of us leave the school system ready for employment.  If you can get someone who is succeeding at what you want to do and work for that person even on voluntary basis, that will equip you with skills that will make your journey easier. Having someone to mentor you will shorten your learning curve.

Working is not all about money. You can work to learn, which is normally more effective than paying to learn in a school somewhere. Practical experience is an effective way to impart knowledge. Sometimes you have to ask the question; “how much can I learn, rather than how much can I earn?”

Mingle with people in the industry. Attend the relevant forums. Read personal development material. Watch videos on YouTube and take notes. Visit relevant websites, listen to podcasts, follow successful people on social media.

Watch people who are getting results in what you want to achieve and emulate them. Above everything, practice what you learn for it is only practical experience that will help you to grow. There is a lot that can be learned through copy pasting, what is popularly known as monkey see, monkey do.

Preparation can make you be more knowledgeable and competent than someone who has been doing the same thing for years. Even if you lack formal training, you can propel yourself to the top in the industry through adequate preparation. The information you need to push yourself to the top is readily available but most people focus all their efforts on doing things and almost none on learning.

Market Research

Do your market research thoroughly and understand the industry you are getting into and the trends. Timing is everything when it comes to choosing the business to venture into.

Know your market like the back of your hand. Do not venture into simu ya jamii business when affordable cell phones are about to enter the market. Is the business you are venturing into likely to be still relevant 10, 15, 20 years from now?

Who are the other players in the industry? What sets you apart from the other players? How will you dislodge some of the clients from your competitors? Contrary to what some think, you can venture into a field that already has other well established players and still make it. Think of a business such as petrol stations or supermarkets.

Once you have identified a need you can fill in society and carefully selected a business to enable you fill that gap, commit to stay with it for the next 10 years, learning and making modifications as you become wiser. Continue investing heavily in knowledge. Geniuses are not necessarily born. Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, so you can choose to become the best in the field through hard work. Nothing beats hard work and preparation.

Under no circumstances should you close shop before building consistently for at least one year and doing a comprehensive annual evaluation which should build on other smaller evaluations (quarterly, monthly and weekly evaluations), not unless you did not prepare adequately before venturing into the business.

Starting businesses and closing them to try out new ventures leads to massive losses so avoid that practice.