Has COVID-19 left you jobless and you are wondering what to do next? Do you want to supplement your current income by increasing your income streams? Well, all is not lost since there’s one sure way of boosting your income; entrepreneurship. But how can you be sure you have what it takes to be successful in business?
Here are ten signs you are business-minded.
You don’t need to be pushed to deliver. You stay awake for hours until you solve a problem that’s been nagging you. You can work well alone just as you would in a team, and you don’t need to be supervised to deliver. You are not easily distracted. Instead, you are highly driven and disciplined, staying with a task until it’s finished.
You are not only self-driven, but you are a team player as well. You can submit to authority as well as lead a team. To you, delegating tasks and responsibilities is a sign of strength, not weaknesses. And when you delegate, you are clear about what you want to be done and what the deliverables are.
Purpose-driven people work with goals and schedules. You are clear about what you need to do to get where you want to go. You have a vision to be successful, and every day you look for ways of getting nearer to your desired destination. As such, setting goals and accomplishing daily tasks are not matters of suggestion; they are things you must do daily.
A Never-Give-Up Attitude
To you, it’s never over until you win, or until you confirm it can’t work; and even then you do your best to look for other ways to make it work. In short, failure and mistakes are not final; they are lessons learnt en-route to the desired destination.
A Knack for Solving Problems
You see solutions in every crisis. Instead of looking for reasons why something cannot be done, you think of ways to make it work. For instance, in the current COVID-19 situation where so many have lost jobs, you are constantly thinking of what you can do to solve the issues people are grappling with.
People Frequently Consult you for Advice
If people are constantly asking you for advice, it means that you have an important attribute in leadership and management. This is one of the clearest signs that you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. All you have to do is turn your advice into a consultancy business and get paid for it.
You are the Go-To Guy at the Office
Are you the office trouble-shooter? Well, this is a clear sign you are the consummate entrepreneur. How about starting your own business and get paid for solving people’s problems. If you have to keep solving everyone’s problem, you might as well get paid for it.
You are the Perpetual Optimist
If there was a believer that things always turn out for the better, that person is you. Like Steve Jobs, you believe that the people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones that do. To be successful as an entrepreneur, you must believe that tomorrow will be a better day than yesterday, and that success is just another day ahead.
You Never Pass up an Opportunity to Make Money
If you have an entrepreneur mindset, you see opportunities everywhere, and you don’t pass them up, no matter how insignificant they may look. At the office, you are known for selling stuff to your colleagues to make an extra buck. Whether it’s clothes or avocadoes, you always have something to sell.
People’s Opinions and Perceptions Don’t Deter you
You are comfortable in the skin you were born in. In short, you don’t look at some opportunities as below you. Selling vegetables off the back of your car, or becoming a mama mboga after being laid off doesn’t diminish you. You are willing to get your hands dirty to reach your financial goals. By dirty it doesn’t necessarily mean you are corrupt or dishonest; it means you are not afraid or ashamed of engaging in businesses that others would deem below their class or pedigree.
It is prudent to remember that you might have most or all of the above qualities and not be ready for entrepreneurship. Not everyone can run a business. Some people are meant to be employed all their life, and it is okay. Do not start a business unless you feel the drive and you have the capacity to see how very part of a business feeds into each other to achieve objectives.
The above section was written by Innocent Mwangi.
From Employee To Entrepreneur: Do You Have What It Takes?
Becoming an entrepreneur
Many of us dream of becoming self-employed and while not everyone is suited to entrepreneurship, those who are, sometimes find it hard to leave formal employment. Most people get used to the job security, income security, benefits and a relatively secure life that comes with employment. These comforts are easy to get used to and hence the difficulties in taking the step of faith into the turbulent and largely unknown life of self-employment.
Just browsing through the news or social media, the glamorous lives of entrepreneurs are everywhere, but the truth is, below the shiny surface lies years of toil, hard work, perseverance, persistence and constant learning. As such, no one’s journey is similar to another. All these factors contribute to the insecurity that scares most people away. But, if you have the determination and when done right, the move from employee to entrepreneur can be less bumpy than expected.
So, how do you know when it is time to make the move?
- When you have an idea that can solve a particular problem in the society
Most of the successful entrepreneurs in the world grew their businesses by attacking pain points experienced by people in their society. Entrepreneurship often starts with solving existing problems in a unique way. A scalable business idea is one which offers either goods or services to tackle the issue. Therefore, if you think you have spotted a problem and you have a scalable idea of just which solution would work best, then it is time to set up your own business.
- Your side hustle is growing
Millennials are said to be the side hustle generation. It is quite common to find employed people having existing businesses on the side which either supplement their salaries or utilises their other skills. Whatever the case, the side hustle can no longer be ignored. If your side hustle has been growing rapidly and is now demanding more time and attention from you, then it might be time to actually make it your full-time job.
- Your job no longer challenges you
A job is only exciting if you keep learning new things and expanding your skill level on a regular basis. You might be having a great job which pays you well but, it no longer excites you and changing jobs will not do that for you either. If your job seems mundane and repetitive and you feel like you need something exciting, then it might be a sign that you need to start your own enterprise.
- You think like a boss
Entrepreneurs are people who always spot opportunities and come up with ways of filling up the opportunities. If you are the forward thinker who is always seeking solutions to problems but for one reason or another, you current job does not have the ability to take up your ideas and the industry is also lacking the ability to solve the problem, then it might be time to go out and actually offer the solution. An entrepreneur thinks ahead and is always trying to find ways of implementing new ideas. Therefore, if you are full of ideas and see no chance to implement them in your job, then it is time to quit and implement the idea as a business.
So, now that you know what signs point you towards entrepreneurship let us look at ways you can achieve it
Changing gears from employee to entrepreneur
- Keep the discipline
When you are employed, there are basic rules of engagement such as working hours, keeping deadlines, honouring promises made to clients, among others. Most often than not, you will be reporting to someone or all these factors contribute to your KPIs. Well, as an entrepreneur, these skills will come in more handy than you think. Your clients will be your new bosses and they are likely to be more demanding than your boss. Therefore, unlike popular opinion, you might have to put in more hours and effort as an entrepreneur than you do, as an employee. To make it work, you need to carry forward the discipline you have.
- Think like an entrepreneur
As an employee, your worry is often around how to hit your targets. As a business owner, your worry is about how to scale up your business, how to keep the revenue streams flowing, how to run faster than your competitor, how to solve existing business problems and even how to move into the future. Well, if you have a vision of being an entrepreneur, you need to start thinking like the owner of the business and finding solutions to any problem. This will prepare you for the battle that lies ahead and give you the mental power to overcome challenges that are likely to crop up on the way.
- Develop your network
Businesses are built on networks. As an entrepreneur, you need clients, mentors, advisors and even financiers. Having a healthy network will help you have the necessary people in your corner when you eventually make the shift. Therefore, start making the right connections even before you quit your job and start your own business.
- Strengthen your side hustle
Moving from employee to entrepreneur can be taxing. It is even more challenging when you start from scratch as you have so many things to learn, little time to learn and a very limited experience to learn from. To make the transition smooth, it is advisable to start a side hustle and learn the ropes while you still have a fulltime job. Chances are, you will gain skills in your full time job which help you in building up your side hustle. With time, your side hustle will grow and when it starts demanding more time and attention from you, then you can quit your job and give your side hustle the attention it requires.
- Know that you will have to do it all by yourself
As an employee, you probably have specialised duties and responsibilities. Everyone around you has a job and this makes things run smoothly. As an entrepreneur, you might have to do everything by yourself, especially on the first few years. You will be the marketer, salesperson, accountant, administrator and even HR. You will, therefore, require a wide range of skills and you must learn how to juggle all these duties and responsibilities successfully. Multitasking is an important skill so start acquiring it now.
- Have a solid business plan
Quitting your job without a business plan is futile. It is important to have a clear idea of what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you plan on doing it. These things keep you focussed and help in shaping your plan on just how you are to achieve them. It is not enough to know that you want to start a business. You must be clear on just how to make it work.
- Have a schedule
Schedules may seem boring and repetitive but with so many things requiring your attention, a schedule will help you stay on course and focussed on the tasks at hand. A schedule makes you more efficient and deliberate about your time, which will then increase your productivity.
- Going the extra mile should be your default setting
As an employee, you might be used to just doing what is required of you and hitting your targets on time. Your job could be good but not great. As a start-up, you will have to convince clients that they should stick with you and that means going out of your way to do a really good job. You must have a constant hunger to go above and beyond what is expected to impress new and potential clients. So, go the extra mile while you are still employed and this will be much easier to do even on your own.
Moving from employee to entrepreneur can be an uphill task. The playing field is often different and the set of rules almost entirely new. But, if you have a burning desire to solve a problem and you are always full of ideas, you should definitely consider starting your own business. But, you must be disciplined, have a good plan and have the right networks in order to succeed.
Have you transitioned from employee to entrepreneur? What was your experience? We would love to hear from you!
Entrepreneurship In Kenya: Strategies to Exit your Job into a Thriving Business
While most of us seek employment and to scale up the corporate ladder, there are those who seek to become entrepreneurs and ultimately become employers themselves. The transition from employment to entrepreneurship is not an easy one. The switch from security that comes with a salary every month to the roller coaster of a business’s unpredictable nature; from the safety net of a job description to suddenly being in charge of all spheres of a business; not to mention that one changes from being employed to becoming responsible for employees. All these changes can be quite overwhelming, especially if someone is not well prepared to handle the issues that come with self-employment.
Below are some strategies to consider as you make plan your next steps;
- Learn everything about the business you are currently in.
Why? The principles will help you even in a different business. You will learn mindset and what to keep your eye out for when you transition. At the very least you can understand the landscape and what not to do if the business is in your hands. It will also make you a better employee, as you will no longer be compartmentalized in your work and thinking but will be looking towards a bigger picture. ‘What is best for the businesses will become your song. By the time you do this effectively, your employer will get more value out of you and if he notices, and you will have gained invaluable practical skills in different leadership aspects. For advice on how to handle the transition, Sign up here for ‘before you quit your job’ and view a free online webinar.
- Save your money
Plan your finances so that you can have a buffer as you transition into your new context. How much do you need to live on each month when you spend on essentials e.g rent, transport etc.? So if you needed a 6 month buffer for example, how much would you need? Consequently, how many months do you need to save for? What expense can you put aside for your greater good? Make decisions about your finances and plan accordingly e.g whether to continue paying medical insurance even after you leave your job etc
- Strategic Crowdsourcing.
Tell family and friends you are transitioning. Use wisdom, as some family will out of concern scare, persuade or guilt you out of your decision. It may prove an opportunity to reassure them and even mention some strategic moves you are making to ensure your success. And that, no you are not mad to leave a perfectly safe job with insurance, pension and benefits. Stay calm in the conversation. Give them time to see the mature individual you are, as they may still see you as ‘little cousin who needs advice and protection’ or ‘another family member I’ll have to send money to each month’. Let the conversation steer away from the emotional reasons ‘I feel stifled’ to the logical ones ‘I am practically the entire business, so I’d rather benefit from it’ or’ I have innovated a new tool or a new way of production’ etc. Maneuver them out of advising you to stay at your job and get them into the space of ‘Here’s what you can do to help, send referrals my way, I’m sending you my profile/work samples.’ Sound and be confident and organized, so they are assured you will not ruin their reputation should they send you work. Set up a commission structure or reward system if necessary. Get your feet wet doing a few gigs as you learn best practices and set up systems and processes to ease your work, and for the time you hire a team. Meanwhile when you have a lot of work outsource strategically before you are ready to hire a full time team.
- Outline your business structure. Do this, even if it is just a diagram on a serviette that you restructure as you figure stuff out. Outline the key roles in the business, and their job descriptions. The book, the e-myth revisited, helped me structure and organize my business, defining roles and simple job descriptions for each. These are later re-assigned from the business owner to new hires when the business grows. Have an outline or an idea about targets for each month or each quarter for the 1st year, with room for flexibility or to pivot based on what you learn that’s important for your business. If you need to hire, decide whether to start with interns as they are cheaper, or hire a professional directly, on a freelance basis. An intern means more time spent training, do you have the time? A professional means investing more money but you should have better quality results, question is, where will you source the money? Or you could hire graduating students and grow them as the business grows. Either way, figure out which resource you need to prioritize and assign them accordingly.
- Develop your work plan
This is developed alongside the business structure. Plan out what percentage of your time will spend on Business Development and Marketing and what this actually entails. What percentage will be in doing the actual work you are being paid for or in delivering the promise.
If you need assistance developing your Marketing strategy, send me your burning question and I’ll be happy to help out where I can.
- Schedule your day’s activities
This way you know what you will be doing with your days and working hours to avoid wasting time. This also means you will not be shocked by the transition and find yourself with a lot of time and uncertainty about what to do with it, meanwhile your revenues suffer. Your work plan will also guide you into when it is time to hire, as you will notice a trend when there is more work than the hours you have in a day to do it, or observe the trend of delayed delivery times.
What time do you rest and have meals, etc. Ensure you schedule time to exercise, relax, meditate and socialize with family and friends. This is essential because if you fall ill or get imbalanced your entire business will suffer. In the early stages your business really needs you as a key player in every aspect. Also plan for time for other important priorities such as networking which is an avenue to meet potential clients and gain exposure to further your business. Sign up here for a free networking checklist, to help you network like a pro even if you are an introvert.
- Justify the move.
To justify your departure either your business revenues should be equal to your current salary, or what you need to live each month, or you have more clients that you can serve in the weekend and evenings as you have been doing, so you need to dedicate more time to your business. Otherwise it is usually smarter to keep your job for cash flow and even hire someone to help you run it until the business picks up. Organize well and be clear on your targets so that you don’t have to go back into employment; which can be awkward.
- Explore if you can become a supplier to your current job.
This means they become your client number 1 as you service them in addition to other clients as well. This move would take some finesse and good planning. In some cases there’s not enough goodwill to achieve this, but try your best. E.g if you are the office graphic designer, can they remain one of your clients as you service a larger staple of clientele? Work it out carefully and you might just win the contract and get the best of both worlds. This could mean you get paid for doing what you used to do, plus more for serving other new people as well. Whoop!whoop!
- Brand yourself well.
Prepare and test your marketing material beforehand. Look and sound professional, prepare your logo, one page website and business cards. Get your portfolio professionally designed. People need to trust you to work with you, help them to believe you are serious and you are here to stay. This is how to build trust as your reputation continues to grow. Speak at events, attend industry activities, introduce yourself properly, none of “I’m just a startup ‘. At least be a ‘Startup in an exciting new venture that designs leading edge 3d graphics never seen in this market before’ Get your elevator pitch ready. Speaker training is available on www.linaconnect.com or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for tailor made coaching services to help you get you pitch ready, super fast. Tell the truth about yourself and your business, but package it well. E.g an all women business is ‘A group of 5 powerful gals running an a fully-fledged women-led business”
- Be a top notch supplier or client
Be a good client to your supplier while you are employed. Keep your promises, tell them the truth. None of the ‘Your cheque will be ready tomorrow’ when you know full well that it won’t. This was helpful for a graphic designer who transitioned into publishing cook books. She used the same supplier she used to use for her employer, and he gave her credit facilities because she always kept her word and was trustworthy. That meant she could pay him right after she got paid by her clients. How cool is that!?
If you are good to your clients and give them the best service you can, they might choose to move with you and become among your first clients, or follow you when your-soon-to-be former employer, the service provider, can’t match the level of top notch service you have consistently provided for a while.
Skills Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Learn
Important Skills for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Getting educated in the field of entrepreneurship is a great way to give yourself a head start in this ever-evolving industry. A career in the fast-paced world of business tends to be a great endeavor to undertake, so you should always be prepared for what it has to offer.
If your dream is to become a successful entrepreneur, such as Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, you might want to consider acquiring some, or even better all of the skills listed below.
Learn to Code
Knowing how to develop ideas into a website, application or algorithm is a very important trait in today’s world. Many successful entrepreneurs are former developers and programmers themselves.
Programming is not only about knowing HTML, Java or Swift, it’s a way of thinking that allows developers to see things outside of the box and make quick and credible fixes to occurring problems. Even Steve Jobs once said that the future holds no place for those that don’t know how to code.
The Importance of Management
Management is a very wide term, but come to think of it, management is nothing else than controlling processes and people in the most efficient way possible. This means you should know your business’ strengths and limits inside out and how to use the resources available to grow your company. Management is what makes CEOs great leaders and gives investors a reason to believe in them.
Management can be divided into several branches – finance, HR, operations, IT, marketing, strategic management, and a few more – so if one of those isn’t quite the fit for you, consider mastering skills in one of the other branches to increase your knowledge and ease future management problems.
Acquiring some level of knowledge in the accounting field can prove to be very useful for young business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Knowing the basics of accounting will help you understand where the money is going, what to do during tax season and how to handle your cash flow.
Learning accounting skills goes hand-in-hand with learning how to use the software and apps that make any accountant’s life easier. If you’re not already familiar with MS Excel or Primavera, consider adding these to your courses- wish-list.
Learn a New Language
It is well known that some of the most successful people in the world speak more than six or seven languages. Mark Zuckerberg learned Mandarin not only because of his wife’s heritage but also because China is one of today’s top emerging economies.
One language that has become an absolute must-know is the English language, which is spoken and understood in over 100 countries. Knowing a foreign language can be a very useful plus when talking to foreign clients, as well as additional knowledge of their history and culture.
Make a Big Deal
The art of negotiation is what makes sales one of the most attractive skills to have if you want to become a successful entrepreneur. Knowing how to make a deal, how to balance the scales of a bargain between two sides is what makes great entrepreneurs achieve the highest goals. Having strong sales skills can take you a long way, just look at Alan Greenspan – according to him, everything is about making deals.
Get People to Love your New Business
Making people know about and love your new business are the toughest challenges you’ll face as an entrepreneur.
Marketing is about so much more than just advertising and commercials. With search engines, social media, blogs, and mobile taking over people’s lives, you should aim to improve your skills not only in traditional Marketing techniques but, most of all, you should master the most effective digital marketing strategies.
Gather the Best Team
Behind every great business, you will always find a great team. But, as in everything related to your business, hiring employees who are talented and share your company’s values might require some extra dedication from you.
By improving your human resources skills, you will be investing in a more efficient hiring process, you will know exactly how to welcome and, most importantly, how to retain the talent that pushes your business forward.