Running a business in Kenya and enjoying tremendous success is a difficult thing. But the truth is that enjoying tremendous success in anything is difficult.
At one time or another, we all look for formulas, shortcuts or sometimes ‘feel-good’ sentiments to keep us on the treadmill. This is especially true for anyone with aspirations of running a business in Kenya. You probably want to be the next one on a newspaper spread about making millions in a bad week. I wish you all the best, haha.
Here’s a list of 6 things you need to stop believing:
The truth of the matter is that not very many people are lucky to make money, enough to live on, off their hobbies. You can still do that in your free time. Secondly, passion is irrelevant. All the gains are in good decision-making. Noam Wasserman (Wall Street Journal) said that passion only “blinds entrepreneurs.” You find them either overconfident or with a tendency to extend criticism of their work to their being. Read on how this Kenyan woman entrepreneur handles rejection.
2. Personal attributes
Remember when guys and girls sat on grass to listen to Jack Ma? I’m not hating. This is called the Fundamental Attribution Error. We like to believe that the successful entrepreneurs achieved that because they are better people (‘10 thing rich people do that the poor do not’, etc.). In truth, what goes into success is a dose of a little bit of everything. Several studies agree with this, including one that showed that there is no difference in potential for success between first-time entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be advocating for equal opportunities for women and youth in running a business in Kenya.
3. Formula for success
Have you ever read anything on or sat to hear about “10 easy ways to get rich?” Shame on you. There are no formulas but there are best practices in this field of entrepreneurship. For example, proper financial records help you make better decisions which improve your prospects of success. Even so, the best practices must always be put into relevant context.
4. Business lifestyle
I get it, “it is not enough to succeed, others must fail.” But must everything be about one-upmanship. There are many who feel that being an entrepreneur, in itself, makes you better than an employee. Whatever side of the divide you are on, understand that most people never become rich or live their dreams. Don’t buy into a facade about what being an entrepreneur is about. It’s mostly hard and that’s why you’re advised not to start a business because you want to become rich. Instead, identify an opportunity and exploit it. We’ll hold your hand if you want. Entrepreneurship doesn’t get easier because business becomes more complex.
5. Entrepreneurs are born
Related to point 2 is the myth that entrepreneurs are born. There’s no such thing as entrepreneurial people. All the suggested qualities that you must have to be an entrepreneur are also useful in other facets of life. Every single small business owner in Kenya will list financing as their greatest headache. Experience may help you appreciate the rigors while talent can help you lean your way fast but it’s about getting past the post first.
6. You’re owed success
The push for equal opportunity should not be misconstrued to mean equal outcomes. Running a business in Kenya is not like prosperity gospel, where we’ll all walk on golden pavements (just pavements, will do in Nairobi). The measure of success is also relative. You should only put your head down and try to succeed.1