Why Be An Entrepreneur & Not Self Employed? 


In my entrepreneurship mentorship sessions, I always float this question to my audience: why are you into business? In response, I receive an array of answers  some convincing, others not. That is normal with open forums.

In a study carried out by the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) last year in Kenya, it was established that over 2.2 million businesses had collapsed over a five year period. Even more shocking, was the revelation that slightly over 400,000 start-ups never lasted beyond their second year of operation. 46% of these firms die off within their first year. 

Youth unemployment remains Kenyas biggest socio-economic challenge. So enormous it is that it shakes the core of the countrys dominance as an economic powerhouse. Statistics put it that one in every six young Kenyans is unemployed. In neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, the rate stands at one in every twenty on average. 

Ask any Kenyan youth about their occupation and they would respond that they are either gainfully employed (in a job), or self-employed (taken to mean ‘business owners’). More often than not, they venture into self-employment as an option for lack of employment opportunities. They undertake business with neither the requisite skills nor passion for it.

Nonetheless, are these who are self-employed truly in entrepreneurship? Is there a line between self-employment and entrepreneurship? 

It has to be cherished that entrepreneurship is a philosophy of sorts, a lifestyle. Methinks entrepreneurship in being a vocation, one to add value to society. An entrepreneur would identify a challenge and consequently task himself to provide a solution. His main motivation is to fulfil a human need and alleviate a pain point. Despite the challenges they encounter, they keep on trudging on the path to their objective. 

Take Thomas Edison, he who invented the light bulb, for instance. Over 999 times, he failed and never gave up. He said that each time he failed, he discovered one way that he would not do it. His optimism paid off at last. Again, let us examine Jeff Bezos, he who for some days beat Bill Gates to be Forbes Richest Man alive. When he started Amazon, his dream was to provide a link between producers and the consumers and build the worlds largest online retailer! The business made money for the founder after six years of operation. Facebook, the worlds largest social media platform, took five years before it reported a profit. Alibaba took eight years while Tesla, the world acclaimed innovative automobile manufacturer, is yet to be profitable to date!

Coming closer home, Parapet, the regions leading cleaning company, took three to four years to stabilize and post profits. While it may seem business leadership translates to super profits, Business Daily too proves otherwise. The paper is the countrys leading business publication and yet, seven years after launch, it is yet to post a profit!

Did the founders of these businesses give up since they were unable to recoup their investments in the short term? Absolutely not. In fact, with the continued negative feedback on their financial positions, they persisted and got motivated by the need to fill their identified society gap until when their businesses broke even. Hence, entrepreneurship is a philosophy, a calling of sorts!

On the contrary, those who take entrepreneurship to be a profession (self-employment) look forward to financial rewards or compensation. As such, they would get into business to be free most of the time (or so they think), to express their bossiness around, and most popular of all, earn huge payoffs from the business! Some even start a business to be able to live a defined kind of lifestyle. To others, getting their hands into business is an express ticket to wealth generation. Nonetheless, this is getting it all wrong. 

Entrepreneurship is about value creation. The sanctity of undertaking business is to enrich the human race. Their mission in life is made complete by solving a human need. It therefore cannot be a short term affair as for the ‘self-employed’. Entrepreneurs go for the long haul. For instance, Coca Cola has outlived its founders, more than a century after its invention. When the firm started in 1896, it sold nine servings per day in Atlanta. The founder passed on two years after inventing the beverage. Currently, the firm sells an average of 1.9 billion bottles daily across the globe! 

In addition, entrepreneurs are risk takers and dare invest in a venture in pursuit of their objective. They would not fear failure. Failing is just but part of the process of success. Whenever they encounter failure, they keep on working their passion to fruition. A self-employed individual is risk averse, choosing to play safe with the intention of reaping big from their undertaking. Failure discourages them altogether.

However, even more interesting is the ability of an entrepreneur to flex with dynamics on the ground. He appreciates that there are constant shifts on the ground and as such, he/she is prepared to change in tandem to the shifts. This is the reason why those who take entrepreneurship as a calling do not give up. Their flexibility works to their advantage. For the self-employed fellow, their rigidity works against them. Like the dinosaurs of old, their rigidity causes them to fail due to their inadaptability. 

How else can we explain the findings of a study by CB Insights, who undertook a post mortem on 101 start-ups that failed recently? In this study, they found out that the major cause of start-up failure is lack of a human need (up to 42%). Lack of capital only came second with 29% of subjects alluding this to their failure. This is interesting since most business founders blame the lack of capital as the cause of business failure. 

The crux of the matter is the motivation for an individual to get into entrepreneurship. That is what determines whether a business will last or not. Of particular noting is the fact that all the mentioned businesses that have outlasted the times had one common denominator  their founders had the right mind set. To them, business was not a means to earn a living. It was a calling, a vocation. If we re-evaluated our motivation to get into business, we would reverse this failure rate of businesses in our country and region and reap big from the ripple effect in terms of economic growth and sustainability. 

So then, would you rather be self-employed in business or choose to be an entrepreneur? The better choice is quite explicit!

-Ends-

This article was first done for publishing in the Cytonn Investments Plc Blog by Michael Okinda,  the author.  

He is an acclaimed personal branding & business coach under his PBL Africa initiative. 

Advertisements

To FLY or LAND – WHY DO YOU EXIST?

Plane disused2

I was once privileged to work in Northern Kenya, in Turkana County at a town called Lokichoggio. It was my first time to serve in a hardship area in my ten years in banking and finance. The experience had its own challenges alongside merits.

For once, I could interact with flora and fauna I only read about in my Geography classes.  But the presence of the international airport as part of the town’s infrastructure is what fascinated me most.

During our time for rest and recuperation, we would use flights to and from Nairobi. The presence of many planes on the airfield, disused and in bad shape attracted my attention. So when an employee of the facility invited me over to the watchtower for a visit, I obliged.

Once up in the control tower, he showed me how they directed and managed flights in the airport. It gave me a chance to question why so many huge planes were parked on the tarmac on the fringes of the airfield, disused and abandoned. He informed me that most of those planes were left abandoned by their owners after the government banned their use in the country.

The discussion progressed on. I also questioned why, in such a short time, most had rusted and were literally falling apart. He told me that a plane is made to fly. Its life should be spent mostly in the air and not on land. As such, when packed on land, vagaries of weather work on it more than when it is in the skies. Likewise, my friend went on, a plane is safer when it is in the air than on land! And this shocked me to the core…

In Nairobi’s biggest airport, JKIA, the turnaround time for a plane is two hours on the maximum. This means, every two hours, a plane has to be in the air to minimize its wear and tear when aground.

Plane disused

It made me to start thinking: what was I created for? Was I really living the life I was meant to? Am I harnessing the potential in me to the maximum? What was my gifting? How was I using it?

In this world, many of us are like those planes on the ground – living a life they were never created to live, with unexplored potential lying idle in them. Many of us are leading lives to fit into our clichés and gangs. We do things to belong. We do things because we feel that is what society and those around us expect us to, oblivious of the actual reason why we were created in the first place.

Plane disused3

Look around social media for instance: we are literally competing against ourselves on who looks more fly than the other. But then, were we all created to be similar? Life would be very boring if all of us did the same thing, living similar lifestyles!

It is upon us to dig in and have a conversation within ourselves to find out why we exist. Unless we do that, we will be like those planes I have spoken of – wearing off and disused, useless. For we will never find meaning if all we do is sit on the ground when we were made to fly! When you time on earth comes to an end, would you look back and regret that you never lived the life you were supposed to? Would you, for instance, blame doubt and fears as some of the things that stopped you from exploiting your life potential?

So, then, fly – each in his own unique way as we were created or lie down and die disused and wasted. It is your choice. True success only comes when you live your purpose – living as you were intended to. So make the right choice!

***** Ends******

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Speaker with PBL Africa and a Cytonn Entrepreneurs Hub Mentor. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                mokindah@gmail.com

LinkedIn:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community:      https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

 

I CAN IS ALL YOU NEED

maasai2

Sometimes back I visited the Maasai Mara courtesy of an old customer of mine who insisted on giving me a complementary package for the support I gave his business. Since I was then working and living in Turkana, a desert County, I found it appropriate to take time off and so we flew to the Mara with my fiancé then.

Well, on the second day we went for a game drive in the morning and it was awesome seeing the animals in real life. All along, we had gotten used to seeing them on the silver screens and so it was awesomely exhilarating interacting with them one on one.

We passed some plains and onto the river basin of Mara River and I noticed many cows being herded by a small boy. I tried to look for another herder but funny enough, the boy took care of the animals on his own, in the vast game reserve. Maasai Mara is famed for the big five, including predators like lions and cheetahs that hunt and would not spare any herbivore they see around. Actually, a few metres from where the cattle were grazing, a pride of lions were lazing by, maybe enjoying the early rays of sunshine from the horizon.

I asked our guide if the boy is not afraid of the lions and other predators. He said the boy does not.

Ideally, Maasai boys are usually initiated into adulthood after proving their mettle. Before they are listed for initiation, they are sent into the bush and they are required to only come back with evidence of their fighting off a lion or other predator and coming back home with evidence of the conquest. In Kenya, they are required to return home with the head of a lion as trophy.

maasai

Because of this experience, the young morans (boy warriors) grow up with resilience and strong belief that they are capable of achieving any feat. Self-belief is ingrained in them.  They grow up that they can, no matter what. And it is this same spirit they venture with into the wild, with nothing but a spear in hand.

In the same vein, this is what we need in life. Most of the times we shy away from making advances in life because we are too afraid to take risks. Risk prevents us from making the ultimate step into our destinies and moving up. Like the Maasai morans, we need to train our psychologies that even if we are aware of the dangers out there, we still can overcome them. They say our dreams are always on the other side of fear. It is until we learn to conquer fear that we will win.

That interview, that business engagement, that venture you are thinking of undertaking, that girl or boy you fear saying hallo to, that one step you fear taking is the ultimate crossing point into your destiny. Gather up courage and still your heart with the ‘I can’ call and go ahead!

Do it.

***** Ends******

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Speaker with PBL Africa and a Cytonn Entrepreneurs Hub Mentor. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                mokindah@gmail.com

LinkedIn:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community:      https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

HOW TO GET THAT PROMOTION EASILY; A PERSONAL TESTIMONY

How does one earn a promotion faster than the others? How comes very few of us get those raises so easily at the detriment of others? Read on to discover this secret that very few know of and start working with utmost satisfaction.

How-to-Get-Promoted-What-the-Boss-Looks-For

Whenever I get the opportunity to give an introduction about myself to young and upcoming professionals, the audience stands in awe at how fast I rose up the corporate ladder of success. Yeah, I became a manager for a multinational financial institution at the tender age of 28, three years after joining the firm as a junior clerk!

The first question I am always asked is how I made it and if I really had “connections” to enable me ascend the ranks. But my answer is always in the negative. Neither did I work hard to earn the rising…but I chose to work smart.

The avalanche of queries led me to do my inaugural book, “Passionpreneurship Demystified” (available on Amazon and via https://mokinda.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/passionpreneurship-demystified/ where I elucidated clearly on this secret.

Well, it is common notion that for one to be noticed at the workplace, one must have the appropriate papers or be known to some authority that would prefer favours on them to rise.  Others take it that one has to really work hard to deliver and overachieve to literally earn a promotion.

When I got employed as a graduate clerk back in late 2007 (October 11th to be precise), I realized that I was not on boarded to the company because of my qualifications, but my capabilities. I underwent rigorous aptitude testing and interviews until I eventually made the cut to be a graduate clerk and posted to a remote area to start off my career. The irony of it all was that I was a medical degree First Class Honours holder yet the banking industry required educational skills in banking and finance related subjects.

I set out to learn my job well and develop passion around my job roles as a way of having an easy time in the organization. It was a choice I had to make, including adjusting attitude and putting myself to task about my expectations in the office.

Promted

Now where do we go wrong as employees? How comes many of us stagnate in one position for years?  The first misconception as I have mentioned is the notion that for one to employed or promoted for that matter, one has to be a thick curriculum vitae of academic qualifications. But then, place yourself in the shoes of the employer with several employees and direct reports with huge files of qualifications but minimal delivery….what will be your next reaction? Sack all of them, or is it not? Well, that is how useless it is to be so learned with nil skills and competencies. Employers do not employ for papers. They do because of the employees’ potential to deliver. It therefore means what sells are not the academic qualifications but abilities or competencies. It is your skills that sell you not the papers you hold!

The world has come to appreciate this fact: a few years ago, leading business consultancy firm, Ernest & young, removed the requirement that for one to be legible for employment, one has to have a degree. PricewaterhouseCoopers too have followed suit. This is a strong pointer of the importance of anyone keen on rising up the ladder of corporate success, to work on improving their output delivery ability.

How then do you go about boosting your ability to perform so that you get noticed? I will answer this question exhaustively in the second installment of this article. Keep tabs on his blog for the second part of this!

***** End of Part 1******

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

 

The Art of Denial

I  come across this phrase of ‘burying the head in the sand’ a couple of times. So today, i made up my mind to dig it up and appreciate it better.

Apparently it is based on a myth that the ostrich, when faced by an attack from a more powerful predator, would rather than face its opponent, it would burry its head in the sand and wish the attacker would not notice it. But then, as big a bird it is, the body part above the ground would show itself. Is that an effective way to face the situation? You agree with me its not! Running or fighting out the aggressor would be more helpful.

But then it would be worthwhile to accept the fact that most of us are good at exhibiting this behaviour of the ostrich. Rather than have a stand in anything,one would gladly live and thrive on the grey zone where we are accepted and make others happy. In actual sense, rather we live our lives as we our hearts are at peace with, we do stuff to make the others happy and warm.

But then, at the end of the day, are we really doing what is right and acceptable? Is this what we were created for?

Psychologically, people who survive by sitting on the fence would lack a stand on any issue, however much moral authority demands that they take a stand. Three truths come from this:

(1)If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. 

(2) Those who stand for nothing fall for anything. 

(3) When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. This adage is attributed to Alexander Hamilton, Peter Marshall, and other famous speakers of old times.

Fence sitters, also known as ‘sand head buriers’ are known to lack a stand and are unprincipled. In the practical sense of this all, it implies that when all we want is to please everyone, we fall for everything and lack the moral fabric or ethic to have a defined identity. When all you do is fall for everything, you lack a personal brand.

The world is made what it is today by people who chose to stop sitting on the fence and taking their positions and making them known , regardless of what those around them thought. Jesus was an example. He was labelled as the carpenter’s son, others as the King of the Jews. Others called Him the Law Breaker since He challenged the Jewish tradition. 

If i may ask: what do you stand for?  Will you, like the proverbial ostrich, be known for hiding your head in the sand when you are required to take a stand? The society more than ever needs world changers and  influencers who would stamp their feet down and plant seeds of optimism, principleness and purpose. Otherwise, you choose to fall for everything and stand for nothing, ideally, an ostrich! For nothing can be solved, neither would any solution be provided by ignoring the issue at hand and wishing it away. It would just make matters worse. 

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Does Past Accomplishments Guarantee Future Success?

vision

The past two months have been a depressing time for me, being a celebrator of local ingenuity in business. Indeed, nothing is as depressing as seeing a business entity, you have literally grown with it since childhood and now, when you are almost in your midlife, you see it gradually go down.

Nakumatt is one instance. I first encountered Nakumatt, then known as Nakuru Mattresses as a small store in Thika in Pilot Estate while still a pupil at Thika’s Kiboko Primary School.  Then, we would sneak from school during lunch hours to go and wander in between the shelves just to awe at the marvelous displays of commodities. It even made Pilot based pupils to puff up their pride since there was no other supermarket nearby that equaled Nakuru Mattresses.

As we aged further, the outfit grew in leaps and bounds to be East Africa’s biggest retail outlet by branch footprint. It opened over sixty outlets in number across virtually all of East Africa’s countries with a workforce of over five thousand employees with most of their branch outlets operating 24 hours daily.

success

Indeed, the conglomerate that grew from a tiny shop in Nakuru with a few sales calls, had gross revenues of almost US D 500 Million. Conservative estimates put their market share five years ago at 20% in Kenya with their Brand Equity Index hitting a high of 55%. With it came many accolades and awards. These include the Price WaterhouseCoopers East Africa Most Respected Service provider for the year 2006 and 2007, Planet Retail ranking as top retailer outside of South Africa for 2008, Planet Retail Award as Second Most Innovative Retailer in the World for 2009, East African Super Brand for 2007 and 2010, recognition by the East African Community as a pioneer East Africa Investor in 2011 and its CEO recognized in the Financial Times Top 50 Emerging Market Business Leaders for 2010.

With all these accolades lining their cabinets, it was expected that the enterprise would be much more stable and vibrant. However, beginning over two or three years ago, cracks started to emerge. Suppliers were paid late, eroding the creditor confidence of the firm. In a flash, stores in the home country and away started closing up as most stores within the domestic market and beyond, further eroding the public confidence that was celebrated before.

But then when did the rain start beating Nakumatt? Many theories have been put through and deliberated. From their strategy to compete their suppliers through their ‘Blue Label’ strategy to their ambitious expansion plans which choked their working capital outlays.

But I beg to differ. I guess the management realized like the iconic Titanic, the firm was too big to sink. And they became lax with time. Internal weaknesses in controls went haywire and losses started building up. Corruption, inefficiency and lack of corporate governance ideals took over. In a way, it is not external factors that brought down this beloved retail giant – internal ones did.

Which brings me to what I needed to communicate – we most of the times take pride in our past achievements to the detriment of forging ahead and firming up our strengths.  Do past milestones surmounted give us a guarantee that our future would be rosy and good? Not at all. The past belongs to where it should be – the past.

Past vs future

This is the main problem most of us have – looking back and taking pride in past achievements and forgetting that we have a life to live ahead. We most of the times blame the external environment – the economic situation, the government, etc. for our own-caused failures.

To avert this, we need to always focus ahead and be mindful of the red flags raised as we trudge along this journey of living. And as I said, ignore what is past. Let it remain where it should be – in the past. Future success is only guaranteed when there are solid plans and commitment to realize the future vision. For whatever achievements you made back then is not significant in the present times. It is history! So do not make the mistake, either as an organization or at the individual level, to glory in past achievements.

 

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

What Is Your Price?

I always wonder how premium brands sell yet they do not advertise neither are they cheaply priced. For instance, how many have seen an ad on television for Ferrari? But Toyota and other Japanese brands are a permanent resident on our screens. And how comes Ferrari turnovers are higher than Toyota Corporations? Or Apple being much more appealing to sell than let us say Nokia phones?

I bumped onto this analogy online as i was browsing, and i copy paste here for illustration purposes:

A friend once went to promote an new soft drink in a rich kids school. The drink was going for 10 bob (promotional offer) while Coca Cola was going for Sh. 40.

He realized very few were buying the soft drink at Sh. 10 and they were all flocking on Coke’s stand.

He quickly changed the pricing from Sh. 10 to Sh. 60 and the tables turned. People started buying the drink even more.

When sending bids, note that rich clients may NEVER even check your bid if you price too low. If a client is looking to pay someone Sh. 20 per 500 words. High chances are that he won’t even check the Sh. 2 – Sh. 10 bids. He’ll consider them desperate.

Therefore, NEVER bid too low for projects in bidding sites. Always check the client’s budget and bid either at their price or slightly lower. I’ve seen that even bidding slightly higher can work wonders. Aim to get to at least Sh. 10 per 500 words as soon as possible.

Are you surprised as i am? Yeah, i am sure you are. We expected that the cheaply priced items and bids would have a higher number of users than the premium priced but then, practically speaking, it is the premium priced ones that outdid the cheaper ones.

The secret herein lies:

People never buy the product for what it is. They buy the motivation behind the product. What touches the human soul of the potential buyer is what moved the producer to produce to manufacture the final product. That is what makes them buy. If it was pricing, we would be seeing the cheap products’ turnovers being much more than the cheaply priced ones. How then does Apple, premium priced as it selling more than Nokia, which is cheaper? The motivation for the manufacture of course!

In the same vein, we always reach a point that desperation make us to just accept what life brings our way. I always get so many inbox messages from people looking for jobs and when i ask them which job they desire to linked to, all they would answer is ‘any job’! And i tell them off that there is no job titled “any job”. You must know what you want and be psyched to go for it. That is what one who has a vision and is principled carries himself. Now worse off, are those who when they go for interviews, they quote a low amount of cash as monthly pay. What the interviewers see is that you are desperate and you have no intrinsic value attached to your skills.

I remember when i got employed, i had a perfect career development plan. That in five years, i should be made manager from being a graduate clerk. And yeah, i exceeded my expectations and was promoted in two years to be assistant manager and two years later, a unit manager. When i landed into my new position, i set a target to work and if am to move, my new employer had to add a specific amount of cash on my monthly pay if successful in convincing me to. I achieved that. And since the game was sweeter by the day, i purposed that my next employer would have to double my pay on poaching me out of there. And yes, when the time came a year later, they did exactly that. And how did i achieve all this? By building a track record and using it to sell to those who needed my skills and services.

Clients pay for quality. If you know you have something worth being paid for, do not undervalue it. Because the price you attach to a product or skills speaks much about the motivation behind the service or commodity you are selling.

So, what is your price? Let it reflect the worth of your WHY.
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:
Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda