HerBusiness has been around. In this time, we’ve spoken to over 25 women entrepreneurs. We always looked to learn what it is that they do, of course. But we have pressed them further to reveal what it takes to become and remain competitive.
Competitiveness is an edge all women entrepreneurs in Kenya need. You may feel that you don’t want to be too aggressive, cold in your business, but many times it’s your best course of action. The benefit is that you become more effective and efficient, which reflects in your financial statement.
And it’s true, this issue of competitiveness is outward-looking. You don’t need more than one look to know how other women entrepreneurs position themselves. Hopefully, others need as few looks to understand what you are up to. I find it funny, where you get to have lunch in Karen tells the market segment you belong in. All within a few metres of one another.
Just because it’s outward-looking doesn’t mean you forget the most important thing in business, and life, which is context. Your positioning should depend on factors specific to you. There’s no one like you except you, right? Or are you like other girls?
If you stick around, we will share some strategies to fit your competitive advantage agenda to your life and business needs. Today, learn from the collective wisdom of accomplished women entrepreneurs who have been featured on Herbusiness (it’s actually a privilege, tell your people to email our people *wink*).
So what have they told us about competitiveness? We asked them about what they wish they knew before they started, business, and arrived at a summary of 4 from their experiences:
You have to play devil’s advocate before anyone else comes to doubt your business ideas. This will put you over the pitfall of romanticizing how things will turn out.
Liz Lenjo concluded that partnerships struggle, “… especially those owned by women.” She wondered, “I am not sure why most women have a hard time working together.” This pushed her to figure out what sustains a good partnership, beforehand. Julie Okonda, herself, said that “I wish I asked more questions and educated myself by reading books. Running a business is very technical, it’s not just about sales.”
TV is not always bad. I did learn from a show that you should not start a business anyone else can start tomorrow. Nevertheless, this is no excuse to be caught in analysis paralysis.
Listen to Uma Nnenna and just do it. “Start now, or loose the benefits of being among the first.” Is pioneering more important than the innovation game? Maybe, probably, hmm. That’s a thinker. But there is surety in Thiitu Karega’s words, “I wasted a lot of time letting fear dictate my indecision.”
You should not be afraid of a heart-break or a betrayal. These can be undone by a few songs. What you should fear is stagnation, followed by regression. You should always find momentum by setting milestones. You may not even meet them (hurts) but you will have moved forward.
Our women entrepreneurs reveal that momentum comes from work – hard plus smart. Michelle Ntalami was surprised. She said she didn’t know that her “social life will literally go down the drain…I did not think it would be this crazy.” But Christine Odero gives respite that you “keep trying and see what works.”
Ask for help
Just because superhero films are the biggest thing nowadays (good god), you don’t let it go to your head. When you come unstuck, there are a number of ways to seek help. Yes, entrepreneurship is a lonely journey but like-minded people are all around you.
Finding help is like getting rest. It can look silly, lazy but it gives you marginal gains you’ll be thankful for later. As Rita Oyier said, “don’t be an expert when you are struggling.”