How To Thrive As An Online Entrepreneur

goldfish in cart - e-commerce concept

In the last one year, a lot has happened in the eCommerce world in Africa. Just recently, OLX announced closure of their Kenyan and Nigerian offices and would be pulling back operations to South Africa. Almost concomitantly, Konga, one of Nigeria’s top eCommerce firms, pronounced it was scaling back operations in Africa’s second largest economy.

A recent survey of fintech start-ups in Africa by Disrupt Africa established that over 70% of eCommerce start-ups are yet to break even. This, sadly, is the situation despite the enormous opportunity for growth.  Jumia is currently enjoying dominance in this field and it seems is not stopping any time soon despite suffering losses in the recent past.

Nonetheless, in Kenya, Safaricom Kenya Limited announced they were launching their version of eCommerce, Masoko and followed it up with Songa, an online music platform. Be it as it may, Safaricom pegs the success of the two entities on its strong brand and it would be important to learn how a fintech like Safaricom, has built dominance in the highly competitive sector despite being new entrants into the industry.

To best appreciate this, it would be good to revisit a book by Simon Sinek, titled “Start with Why”. Simon postulates that brands that have sustained business sales over time have formulated a way to connect with their target consumers through communicating strategically.

In this case, rather than push for sales volumes through campaigns, they start by communicating to their target audience the motivation behind what they do. This is called communicating the Why the firm exists and ultimately, establish a bond with your target audience. The end result of this is an emotional connection with the buyer and this enables the target audience to buy into the product eventually, what Sinek called the WHAT.  Dominant brands employ this technique to enhance market penetration and sustain product loyalty.

Building a relationship takes time and requires patience. In all the profiled case studies sampled for failure in eCommerce, the investors were not patient to let the business grow organically and return profit. What they failed in was to push for revenues in anticipation of profits and a quick return on their seed capital. When their expectations were unmet, they exited the scene.

A properly done brand communication strategy, borrowing from the Safaricom brand story, would start with studying the target market and getting to appreciate their demographics and culture. By aligning your corporate brand to your potential clients’, you in effect are warming up to them for a start. Secondly, it would really be important to establish what challenge the society has and thereby targeting your brand communications to be in line with providing a solution to this. In this way, the client would feel at home approaching the brand for a solution. Safaricom’s big break came during times of adversity – the 2007/2008 Kenyan Post Election violence that made financial transfers and transactions a big challenge. By launching Mpesa, its mobile wallet survive, Kenyans were able, with confidence and convenience, be able to send cash and trade freely. This is what has endeared Safaricom to the Kenyan people and mad exit to be the corporate behemoth it is today, with a market share of over 70%.


Would you want to thrive as an online entrepreneur? Start with WHY you exist. Go out and interact with your target market and tell your story. Because so long as you will sell your product and push for sales, the revenues would not come.

Sustainable sales come about when you commit to build a relationship with your market and thereafter, enable them see the solution to the market gap that you offer.

Start with WHY then later, your WHAT!


The Power of Success in Failure

One of the most common scenarios I encounter on my day to day life online are queries on how to deal with failure.

Personally, I cannot count the number of times I have failed in life. It is surely normal to fail. It is given. But what happens consequent to failing is what matters. In business and professional life alike, one should expect to miss the mark once in a while.

Thomas Edison, America’s leading inventor, is said to have failed more than 9,999 times in his attempt to invent the light bulb. Any other person out there would have given up altogether in the first or second attempt but he chose to push on until finally he made the land mark discovery on how matter can light up when an electric current is passed through it. When asked how he managed to keep up the faith, he said that each time he failed, rather than he gave up, he appreciated that he had learnt one more way NOT to do it! Awesome, isn’t it?

It may seem easier said than done. But the crux of the matter is in how to deal with instances of failure. When failure occurs, what happens? Most of us focus more on the failure to hit the mark more than what is the converse – the learning point. Failure in itself, is a process of learning. Like for Thomas Edison’s case, it shows you one more way not to do it. It is a learning point of sorts.

Well, let us rewind a little. What do you do immediately you fail? There are two choices – either take it positively or negatively. Optimists do not see the end in failing. To them, they take it as a means of attaining their objective. They go back to the drawing board and re-strategize, reworking their procedure to firm up their points of weakness. This is the time they ask themselves why it did not succeed. They don’t pass the buck. They take responsibility. A person bent on success would try to re-engineer his methods to see where they can improve and make the project a success.  Would the tweaking involve adopting a new methodology? Maybe change the ingredients? Maybe involve a new approach towards solving the problem? All in all, what matters is adopting an optimistic mindset that no matter what, it just has to work! Mindset is the word.

In contrast, for those who are unsuccessful, as said earlier, failure is an end to itself. They resign themselves to fate and most probably, shift the blame elsewhere. They never take responsibility. To them, failure is given and a normal outcome. And this is where most of us lay. It is said that over 92% of people in the world fail to live up to their dreams due to giving up too early. But then, who said that it is going to be easy? Your guess is as good as mine – no one!

But our biggest folly is being mindful of the views and opinions of the external environment. We pay more attention to the world. We have cultured our minds to trends and systems that exist in the world. To us, life has to be in accordance with what is happening around us. And this is where we get it all wrong.

It is therefore not given that since someone else tried and failed, we too would. The world never works that way. We are all different. We are differently abled. And as such, our uniqueness plays out in the way we execute tasks. This therefore means that we cannot be all equal. All of us cannot have a similar outcome when we execute tasks or a project. It therefore calls for a sober approach to every project we undertake to accomplish.

What are your gifts, for instance? What can you do best? How else can you utilize these special abilities to accomplish whatever you desire? That is the power of creativity that every person is blessed with. Apply these to such situations.

It is therefore incumbent upon each of us to employ these skills that we are endowed with to accomplish whatever tasks lay before us, dealing with situations of failure included. Trust me, we are all equally ably skilled to sort out any limitation that is before us!

So, does failure in life qualify to be a blessing or a curse? I am an optimist- I take them as opportunities to learn, advance and empower myself. I was once paralyzed two years ago and I could not use half of my body from the chest down for a month and a half. This presented me with the opportunity to re-examine my life and do a self-discovery of my real life purpose. From my sickbed, I vowed that if at all I would survive (from my doctor had told me all patients he had attended to with multiple myeloma had either been terminally paralyzed or passed on before me), I would pursue my life purpose with no abandon. And that gave me renewed emotional energy to heal. Indeed, one and a half months after discharge, I started feeling my legs and my miraculous healing came through.

In business too, I have failed multiple times. But each event of failure has been a learning point of sorts. I have divested from ideas, I have re-strategized and re-set plans. I cannot yet declare am perfect but every time I come out of the experience as a stronger, more refined entrepreneur.

So let us purpose to change our mindsets and take failure positively. In the entire history of the world, there is no single person who made it in life without failing. Failure is given. Your attitude at the end of the day is what will determine whether you would transform the failure to success or terminate as a failure. Use this principle to make success your signature using this mindset.

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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:

Telegram:       @Mokinda
Telegram Community:

The Power of WHY

Airtel posts a Kes. 45B loss for the last financial year. Safaricom, its main competitor in the same market, posts a reverse figure – Kes. 48B profit. Airtel, originally known as Kencell Kenya, was the pioneer mobile telephony operator in the country. Safaricom started later on, and experienced a myriad of customer service issues due to its technological challenges with its infrastructure. Give it to the then association with the then parent company, Kenya Posts and Telecommunication Corporation, a government parastatal.

But then, how comes the originator of the mobile telephony concept was beaten to the game? It behooves us to keenly look at the business models of the two antagonists and you will discover a deeper and much engrained secret: Values.

Safaricom started off as an enabler of communication with its “Get Connected” brand proposition. It enabled even the marginalized then to connect with each other and endeared itself with the rural poor and unreached. The competitor, showed itself to be elitist – marketing itself as an urban brand and only concentrated itself to its urban target market. It was considered expensive. However, the network quality was superior.

Then came the game changer – Mpesa. As we speak, Safaricom has transformed itself from a principally mobile telephony company to a cross sectorial aggregator to currently, a digital enabler incorporating data and other services on its platforms. It’s purely a hegemony! 

Airtel tried to catch up with its Zap service but Kenyans wouldn’t accept the brand. To them, Mpesa, especially after the 2007/2008 PEV crisis, proved to be a much more reliable and homely service than Zap. Mind you Zap even waived off all fees! Airtel, since its inception, has seen changes in its leadership with nine CEOs taking charge. For Safaricom, as a show of its stability, has only had one transition in its top leadership.

That is the power of a brand. If you really want to make it in business, learn your target market. Aligning your value system to the target market’s ethos and you will be good to go! Apple is the way it is not because it is cheaper, but because its users find it easy and amiable. Safaricom too, is running on this same platform of values. It all boils down to 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 GrowthBoth 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:



Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community:

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:


Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community:


To Save Or To Invest: Which Way To Go?

There is a lot of talk of late about reviewing the year that was 2016 but then again, as most of us are, we have nothing to report about on the resolutions we made at the beginning. I know we will repeat the same ritual all over again: Get down with a pen and paper and pretend to be serious and note down “resolutions” for 2017.
One such resolution is creating a financial bubble for future contingencies. I have been involved in a lot of online banter about money and it’s good to note most are warming up to the idea of creating a hedge fund.
But then again, we have to get back to the drawing board and ask ourselves: why do we save? Literally speaking, why do we deny ourselves the pleasure of enjoying our earnings?  To spend or to increase its value?
And this is where we all go wrong. A pal of mine recently boasted to me that he had joined a chama that was involved in savings and lending. He contributed religiously every month and at the end of the financial year, he received his dividend of Kes. 30,000. Quite a tidy sum if you asked me. But he went ahead and used all of it in the Christmas festivities, flying to the coast for holidays. And I asked myself: what if he took 50% of the dividends and re invested back into the chama or better still, invested in some other portfolio like the money markets that are risk free and flexible? Another case I encountered online was a fellow who was wondering why anyone would save for an entire year and go chasing plots of land to buy. He opined that chasing the plots has become the norm nowadays. But then again, doesn’t land appreciate in value as opposed to the luxuries we go spend our cash on that bring in nil financial returns? Which still brings us back to the original issue: to save or to invest, which is the best way to go?
Saving involves putting cash away for a period of time completely safe and can be accessed after some time together with accrued interest. It is risk free. Investments are risk prone. The cash is put into some asset with the hope that you will get it back with some interest. However, the returns or compensation are higher than just saving. For instance, you can choose to put money under the mattress for some time, periodically topping up and get it back as it is in total. Or you can choose to buy into an investment vehicle and let professional managers manage it for you and earn interest and dividends.
Apparently, and sad to be true, there is no right way to manage your money: it all depends on your circumstances and your needs. If you want to keep money over the long term, investing would be appropriate. But note that there is a risk to it. Hence this should be the most critical factor to consider when choosing an investment option. Whether it is starting a business, buying stock, buying property, it is all about putting money away in the hope that the price of the asset will appreciate and you can get back your cash including accrued compensation. If you cannot afford that risk, then outright saving would be appropriate –either in a simple home bank or a savings account, whichever will deem fit.
Personally I recommend both savings and investments. Savings cater for short term needs and for collection of earnings and later, once the target is reached, invested to grow your net worth. At the end of the day, ensure your money is growing.
The biggest problem with holding cash is inflation. Money value deteriorates with time. Putting cash for mid to long term periods degrades its value and hence the importance of ensuring your money grows. It also would be beneficial in a way because the sum total value of your assets versus your debts (net worth) should always be increasing on the positive side. Financial freedom only comes when your sum assets can service your debts comfortably. Hence, to ring fence yourself, you have to ensure you are always growing your asset base as a safe landing in case any future eventuality.
Some people opine that it is necessary to save and spend after denying yourself the entire year. Well, why would you go the length of denying yourself in the moment anyway? Just earn and spend. But remember, no one knows what the future holds. The wise plan for generations to come. The unwise look forward to Saturday nights (and end year) to spend!
Life is short and you only live once (as generation Z say). YOLO is ensuring you make the right decisions now to live well even in your old age. It will start now by the choices you make. After you break that piggy bank or literally bust your savings account at the end of your saving period, apply wisdom. It will be worthwhile.


How To Be Known

Recently, I read a really encouraging snapshot of some corporate news- that McDonald Mariga has been appointed the Brand Ambassador of Safaricom Kenya Limited, Kenya’s top corporate and flagship telco and Fintech Company. The worth of the contract was undisclosed but I bet it was some good dough!

And I thought to myself, how comes Mariga was picked. Why not you, or me? At the end of the day, it was not because Mariga was the first Kenyan to play in the English Premier League. There must have been something that out of all the international starts our dear country has; it picked on only one  Mariga. It is his brand. The Mariga brand is what makes any corporate worth its salt is able to pour millions of shillings just to be associated with it.

I did a book on passion and I was amazed at the many prominent personalities who have employed the power of passion in the attainment of their life dreams. Take for example Michael Jordan. He is agreeably the best basketballer of all time. But apparently, he earns much more than the full time employees of Nike who work in its Malaysia factory eight hours a day, yet he has never been in the site for more than a few hours on any day. You would ask yourself how? He has apparel with his signature name and by playing his sport well, he endears himself to his fans and this in turn boosts his sales. In actual sense, he commands his payroll. And there are many examples of people who have discovered their passion and employed it to earn as per their life dreams.

To get back to the start, we ought to ask ourselves what really matters in life. Most of us are concerned with how the world perceives us. To most therefore, what is crucial is being accepted by the world. We always want to be seen to belong so that we are accepted into the social circles we hang out with and in effect, earn psychological satisfaction.

The more the reason we allow the external environment to influence us to an extent that we lose track of our reason for living and we ape others to live their dreams. I know of several acquaintances who had bright ideas for life but when they started out and got carried away by other people, they chose to abandon their life dreams and started copying what others were doing and got lost. Actually they have failed. It is a fact that one cannot ape another and succeed. The underlying reason is that each of us is wired differently and hence, therefore, our abilities are distinct. By copying another, one abandons his strength for the other and that is how they fail since they cannot perform as the originator of the idea.

But the worst cause of failure is lack of focus. I have seen many urge about the merits of undertaking several life dreams at nice. But it has been proven these serial dream chasers have slim chances of success. Focus gives you power to concentrate on one line of pursuit, learn to execute it perfectly and deliver.

It all is underscored by the reason why you exist. It is time we sat down and did an honest evaluation in order to better appreciate ourselves. Why do you live? Once you understand the reason why you exist, you will strive to live for that reason and that is when passion is created. You can only derive power from passion if you truly have discovered the reason why you exist. And that is what makes winners like Mariga to be who they are winners. A winner in life does not need to prove to be someone. His passion shows him to the word why he is and becomes his brand. Even businesses whose underlying principles of operation are values are the ones that become dominant.

Let your WHY be the reason you are known and you will not regret. Because your WHY is your personal brand. Let I sell you. So, what are you known for?

The writer is the author of ‘Passionpreneurship Demystified’, ‘Business Networking’ and ‘Face The Elephant’, all acclaimed business books. He is also the Lead Coach at PBL Africa, a firm founded on the Passionpreneurship principle. 

​The Story Behind The Story: How To Effectively Sell and Inspire

Whenever I am walking in the streets of Nairobi especially at night, I love going by those side walk hawkers who display an array of wares to the passersby. I came to notice that am impulse buyer to these hardworking Kenyans, at times, even purchasing stuff I did not need. I guess this is the reason why my little Princess has a lot of toys and usually celebrates whenever I travel back home from those trips!
But I came to realize that the buying is never out of a need to spend, nay. It is out of a conviction by these hawkers doing the selling. I read somewhere that we ought not bargain with these sellers since to them, the profit margins made is what makes them survive from day to day unlike supermarkets and other established retailers that have a fixed price and have economies of large scale supplies to run on.

So how comes I always come to buy from these street sellers? It is because, whenever they have an opportunity to face anyone, the first few minutes they indulge with anyone is to convince you about why they are doing so. To most, they say it is about survival, that the sale is about feeding their families and such and out of it, you feel obliged to spend to help them meet their basic needs! 

This brings me to my pet subject – entrepreneurship and administration. Why is it that some products are too hard to sell? Why are some leaders so uninspiring? Where do some products and businesses sell more than others albeit effortlessly?

Most probably the reason is they do not connect with the potential buyer.  People are never curious about just a story, but the story behind the story. A television channel once rode on this as its value proposition and everyone trooped to it to watch the story behind the headlines since they felt more satisfied with behind the scenes happening away from the normal stuff in the name of news. The story behind the story is the why of what is happening. It is the motivation or the reason why something is happening.

The WHY is the reason behind the creation of a product to satisfy a specific need. When a consumer goes to buy a product, all he is looking for is that connection with the motivation for the production of the output. If the motivation resonates well with the need he has, he seals a deal and completes a sale!

This therefore means that the seller has to find a way of communicating to the potential buyer the motivation for his product. And this is best seen in the company values. What does your company stand for in terms of consumer satisfaction? Is it efficiency? Does it appreciate the fact that inflation is high and that is why it produces cheap products? Then find a way to communicate that to the customer FIRST before going into the details about what the product is and how you will produce it.

Selling they say is an art it therefore can be learnt as a skill. It is also human  it is emotional. The seller has to connect emotionally to the potential buyer and inspire him enough to facilitate the buy off of the product. Where we normally go wrong is we start by rapping about what the product is and its features and it ends there. That is not inspiring enough  and hence, most people find it hard to sell.

Proper selling must start with communicating to the customer the motivation behind the production of the product. What motivated you to develop the product or service? How does that product deliver value to the customer? And lastly, all presentations should end with what the product is, in that sequence.

If all people, leaders included would start with the story behind the story, sales and inspiring members of an organization would not be a hard nut to crack. For the street hawkers, they have perfected this art  they start by invoking your emotions about how the products they hold is their way to survive and from it, seeing as it the product is what you need, you buy into it and hence a sale! It all boils down to the WHY of an organization- define it, communicate it and you are good to go!

It therefore means that people do not buy what you offer, but WHY you do the things you do. The more the reason we should never be concerned about WHAT we do, but WHY!