Have you ever asked someone how they manage to sustain a business? The answers given will confuse you more. Most of the answers are usually “Ni kujaribu tu” or “Ni Mungu tu”. Others will go ahead and tell you “it’s hard work” and “knowing what you want”. Does this mean there are no recipes for sustaining a business? Does this mean since my business died, I missed hard work?
Our coffee bar session was able to create a space for people already in business and those who want to venture in business. The discussion was on how to sustain a business and some of the challenges business owners face on their daily basis. We hosted Willie from Vaa Kenya, who is a street fashion designer and has been in the field for the last 4 years. His business is among many businesses that were hit hard by the pandemic. However, he got a way to make sure that his business stands during the Covid19 pandemic.
Sticking to your passion has been a challenge to many people in business. Willie pointed out that most people would want to open a kibanda to sell vegetables but because of the competition, the person would opt to sell something else. Most people were brought up knowing that kibanda or selling vegetables is a woman’s business. This makes it hard for those with passion to defect, forgetting that there is a market for everyone.
“Tushajua kibanda ni ya mama nani, tailor ni kazi ya baba nani, tushajua hoteli ni ya baba nani. Hii inafanya hatuezi weka those businesses as young people. That’s why utapata vijana wengi hawafanyi jobs za vibanda.” Participant said
Most participants contradicted the fact that your business should be motivated by your passion. Others argued that a business should be as a result of necessity of a product/service and not passion. However, your business or venture should be able to solve a problem. You should be able to study the necessity of the product or services you want to sell to the people around you. It was also clear that people venture into business without understanding the market.
Fear of the market is something that hinders many people venturing into business. The fear of bringing something new or something that already exists has been the cause for many dead businesses. Most people will not invest in a market where they don’t see the same product/s.
Not being able to do something extra is also something that has killed many businesses. You’re selling the same product with 1000+ people, what would make customers come to yours leaving others? In running a business, you should always make sure you introduce or have something that will entice your customers. This could be packaging, offers and discounts, mode of delivery, good customer service, free delivery or at subsidized fee.
There’s freedom in running a business, you can decide what time to open or close or even when to open. As much as running a business comes with freedom, consistency is vital. Lack of consistency is something that came out loud. Most people want to open a business but they won’t open it every day making it hard for customers to come back.
Family and friends could be the reason why your business would prosper or be closed. Most people close to us would take advantage of the business leading you to closing it. This was pointed out that most people don’t know or understand the need to have boundaries when it comes to business. Being able to set boundaries with your business would really help in sustaining it.
“mama yako atakuja bila unga na bado ukose kumpatia? Utaamua aje kumpatia considering that anabeba faida na stock ya duka?” Participant said
From the conversation, business is a good venture for discipline. It helps you to understand that you won’t make money if you don’t do something extra, you will lose customers if you don’t open your business daily, your business won’t survive if you don’t create a boundary between your business, friends and family, connect your passion to solving a problem through your product or service. Finally, business is not a walk in the park and sustaining it needs commitment, hard work and going the extra mile to make your customers happy. See you on Tuesday!