Our school system and our upbringing might have conditioned us to have someone else make decisions and tell us what to do. Therefore, many people venture into business with this same employee mentality. Here’s how to change that employee mentality into an entrepreneur mentality.
Feed your mind right
Watch videos on entrepreneurship on YouTube and follow relevant pages on Facebook and other social networks. Subscribe to newsletters by successful entrepreneurs. The Internet is full of useful information so make it a habit to ask Google or YouTube whenever you are faced with a challenge.
Invest in books by successful entrepreneurs such as Antony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Robert Kiyosaki, Randy Gage, and Jim Rohn. Devote a minimum of 30 minutes every single day to reading.
Changing the mindset that has been a part of you all your life is not an easy task. You have to be deliberate about it. Change your circles. Identify business communities that you can join and forums you can attend so that you get to mingle in the right circles.
As an entrepreneur, there will be no one to give you assignments and ensure that you complete them. You will even decide when you are tired and want to take a break or holiday. That might sound great but you are responsible for everything including bringing in clients and making the business profitable.
Develop great time management skills and practice thinking in terms of exploring possible solutions to challenges rather than rushing to seek the opinion of someone else who is more knowledgeable than you.
Exercise your creativity. Look at life’s challenges with an attitude of ‘what could be done to make it better? Where can such information be found? Who can be helpful in sorting out this situation?’ Do your research before asking for help.
Develop a curious mind. Always be curious to know what is happening in the industry and in the business environment as a whole. Be observant. Evaluate what others are doing and be proactive in educating yourself about your field. Read the business pages of local newspapers and watch business news on TV.
Invest in yourself
Identify skills you will need as you build your business and invest in acquiring them. Learning is a lifelong process so never stop learning. Invest in short courses from time to time and get yourself mentors and coaches. Your self-confidence coupled with the ability to process issues and solve problems will make or break your business.
The journey from being an employee to an entrepreneur is definitely not an easy one. It comes with numerous challenges. You find yourself having to unlearn things you have learned and practiced over the years and to learn new things. If you want to quit your job and venture into business simply because you do not like your job or your boss, you might want to evaluate whether you really need to take the route to business or to look for a new job. In this article, we cover some of the things you will need to learn in order to successfully make the transition. The article is on page 29.
While at it, check out the absolutely engaging articles that will keep every lover of cars engaged, including a detailed coverage of the vintage cars show CBA Concours D’Elegance. And for the fitness lovers, check out the article about how you can achieve your fitness and weight loss goals with the keto meal plan.
“I am not good at selling. I don’t like selling.” These are common sayings even among people who are in business. You cannot build a successful business if you can’t sell. You have to sell your vision to yourself first then to others; business partners, investors and customers.
Is your business struggling?
You will come to learn that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. This means that you need to identify the 20% of activities to focus on. Customer acquisition is one of those activities that are critical in business. A business without customers is dead on arrival so you had better know how to attract customers and convince them to buy or your business just might join the statistics of failed businesses. To turn your struggling business around, you need to begin by taking time to identify who your ideal customer is. How do you know who your ideal customer is?
1. They have a need for your product or service (it solves a problem for them; either takes away pain or gives pleasure).
2. They have the ability to buy what you are offering. You have no business marketing to people who have no capacity to buy, even though they might have the need.
3. They have the authority to buy (they make the buying decision). If the buying decision is made by someone else, then you are targeting the wrong person.
Successful marketing is 80% research and 20% execution. (the 80/20 rule). You need to come up with the right content that speaks directly to the hearts of your ideal clients. They need to be convinced that you are offering value and they need it like yesterday!
So, will attending networking events help to turn your business around? I know that this might shock you but the answer is no. Who are networking events meant for? What sort of people do they attract? The people who are most likely to attend are looking for the same thing you are looking for; their businesses are struggling and they are hoping to get some customers from those events.
To grow your business, you need to grow your network and attending networking events is one way to do that. However, be realistic about the results you expect to get from networking events. Growing your networks is about building relationships and if you attend networking events looking for customers, you are likely not to benefit from those events. If you attend such events as a speaker, you have higher chances of getting customers because you are able to sell yourself. People will look up to you and some will want to do business with you. This might not give immediate results but you will need to nurture the relationships.
If you attend as a participant and not as a speaker, do not have unrealistic expectations about the results you will get. Be deliberate about your participation. Focus on building a relationship with a very limited number of people, maybe two or three at most. Get to have meaningful conversations with those very selected people and learn as much as you can about each other.
One of those people might open very important doors in future, because you leave in them a lasting impression. Continue to nurture those few relationships and do not expect any quick returns. Remember that everyone knows someone and as you nurture the relationships, it is likely to open doors for you to get into that person’s networks. That takes time but could give some amazing returns in the long run.
There is no shortcut to success
There is no shortcut to success so don’t attend networking events with the aim of dishing out your business card to as many people as possible hoping to convert them quickly into clients. Most of them are at the networking event for the very same thing so you are all basically there for the wrong reasons. The successful entrepreneurs that you would wish to pitch your sales message to are unlikely to be at the event unless they are the speakers. They are likely to attract the attention of everyone at the event so getting them to buy from you is not easy at all. It is much easier for you to bring in a client using other methods than trying to convert a speaker at such an event.
It is good to attend networking events but have realistic expectations about the results you are likely to get from them. You can create very good publicity by using your participation at such events in your marketing materials. If however you have to struggle to afford to attend, then you might want to consider channeling the time and money you spend on those events to more productive marketing efforts.
Over half of all businesses don’t survive up to the 5th year and many of those that do are barely struggling to stay afloat; they are not profitable. Sometimes someone excitedly shares with me news of a new, winning business idea that will revolutionize things. I listen and ask a few critical questions only to discover that the excited new business owner does not actually have a concrete plan to turn the great idea into a successful business.
Your business is registered and ready to take off. That is a great step in the right direction. You now need to prepare a blueprint or road map for the business you wish to build. A business plan is a document that describes in detail the business you plan to build. It describes what you intend to do and how you will do it. It could be as simple as jotted down points or a sketch outlining your journey.
A business plan is a road map for your business. This simply means that if you bake yummy cakes, a business plan outline everything that takes place from the time the cakes leave your oven to the time they are on the end user’s dinning table.
How will your products or services end up with the end user? How will the end user know about the cakes and choose to purchase them and not the many other varieties available in the market? How will you set your prices?
You are at point A when starting your business and want to go to point B then to point C and so on. Just like it is difficult to build a house without a blueprint, it is difficult to build a business without a roadmap.
A business plan outlines what you plan to do, how and why. A realistic business plan covers a period of 3 to 5 years, with a very detailed plan for the first one year. Having a business plan is vital for business success.
Unless something goes seriously wrong such that you have no option but to close down prematurely, plan for the business for 3 to 5 years and commit to making it work for that long. Count the cost before you embark on the journey to building a business and prepare for a 3 to 5-year journey.
I like to use illustrations to simplify the business building process. If you are to cut down a tree using an axe, you save yourself a lot of time by preparing adequately. My advice to anyone venturing into business is that you should spend 90% of the time sharpening the axe and 10% of the time cutting the tree.
We are taught that we have to start at the bottom and climb up but adequate preparation will cut years from your learning curve and you will start somewhere that is not exactly the bottom.
One major reason for the high failure of new businesses is the incompetence of the new business owners. School does not prepare us for entrepreneurship and in most cases, neither does our upbringing. Most of us leave the school system ready for employment. If you can get someone who is succeeding at what you want to do and work for that person even on voluntary basis, that will equip you with skills that will make your journey easier. Having someone to mentor you will shorten your learning curve.
Working is not all about money. You can work to learn, which is normally more effective than paying to learn in a school somewhere. Practical experience is an effective way to impart knowledge. Sometimes you have to ask the question; “how much can I learn, rather than how much can I earn?”
Mingle with people in the industry. Attend the relevant forums. Read personal development material. Watch videos on YouTube and take notes. Visit relevant websites, listen to podcasts, follow successful people on social media.
Watch people who are getting results in what you want to achieve and emulate them. Above everything, practice what you learn for it is only practical experience that will help you to grow. There is a lot that can be learned through copy pasting, what is popularly known as monkey see, monkey do.
Preparation can make you be more knowledgeable and competent than someone who has been doing the same thing for years. Even if you lack formal training, you can propel yourself to the top in the industry through adequate preparation. The information you need to push yourself to the top is readily available but most people focus all their efforts on doing things and almost none on learning.
Do your market research thoroughly and understand the industry you are getting into and the trends. Timing is everything when it comes to choosing the business to venture into.
Know your market like the back of your hand. Do not venture into simu ya jamii business when affordable cell phones are about to enter the market. Is the business you are venturing into likely to be still relevant 10, 15, 20 years from now?
Who are the other players in the industry? What sets you apart from the other players? How will you dislodge some of the clients from your competitors? Contrary to what some think, you can venture into a field that already has other well established players and still make it. Think of a business such as petrol stations or supermarkets.
Once you have identified a need you can fill in society and carefully selected a business to enable you fill that gap, commit to stay with it for the next 10 years, learning and making modifications as you become wiser. Continue investing heavily in knowledge. Geniuses are not necessarily born. Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, so you can choose to become the best in the field through hard work. Nothing beats hard work and preparation.
Under no circumstances should you close shop before building consistently for at least one year and doing a comprehensive annual evaluation which should build on other smaller evaluations (quarterly, monthly and weekly evaluations), not unless you did not prepare adequately before venturing into the business.
Starting businesses and closing them to try out new ventures leads to massive losses so avoid that practice.
Network marketing is a field that is highly misunderstood. it can be lucrative if one is willing to invest in acquiring the necessary skills and to put in the hard work. Unfortunately, many people who join the industry give up and quit prematurely.
Network marketing allows one to partner with a company that markets either goods or services, as an independent representative. A major advantage with network marketing is that one does not get paid on their individual efforts alone since the biggest chunk of one’s income comes from people one introduces to a client.
Why do some people succeed in network marketing while others have nothing but horror stories to tell about it? What is the difference between the successful people in this industry and everyone else? Are those who succeed the people who joined the company first? Do they have an advantage of time?
The missing link
Network marketing is a profession like any other, so one needs to acquire a wide range of skills. To succeed in the industry, one needs to master skills such as personal branding, marketing and sales, training, coaching and mentoring teams. The more people one introduces into the business succeed, the more one earns in commissions. It is important to acquire the skills and to also pass them to their team members.
This is an industry that found its way into Kenya from other countries. No institution offers training in the field locally. Many people who venture into this business have no proper training to equip them with the necessary skills.
Roadmap to success
The first step in building a successful network marketing career is investing in skills. There are resources that have been developed to provide a comprehensive curriculum for people in the industry such as Go Pro by Eric Worre, which covers the seven critical skills for success in network marketing. Acquiring skills and becoming a professional in any line of work takes time, on average three to five years working around eight hours a day, or the magical 10,000 hours.
Get the picture right while joining. Where are you currently; in terms of income, skills, self-confidence and networks? What are your strengths and weakness? Are you suited for this work? Not everyone joins at the same level or gets equal support, so don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s. Set long term goals. What do you want to achieve and what period of time are you working with?
A misrepresented industry
Network marketing is a business; it is NOT a shortcut to riches. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and everyone would be rich! When you start a traditional business, you expect to work at least six months to a year before you break even, sometimes even longer. Network marketing is no different. Because of lack of structure in the industry, some claim that it is a scam after groping in the dark for months or years with no roadmap.
The fact that it is promoted wrongly does not help things either, with some expecting to become millionaires in a few months yet people who become millionaires take years to get there. There are skills to be learned and work to be done. There are running costs. It takes time and effort to become successful.
If you work hard and are consistent, you can have a comfortable income in three to five years, just like in any other field. If you keep doing what needs to be done and you don’t quit, you can be rich in 15, 20 or even 30 years. Network marketing is a viable business but lack of a structure in the industry is a big challenge. It is a business, so it takes time to build. It also requires skills and expertise, which take time to acquire.
You can make flour from all sorts of food products, from grains and nuts to squashes like sweet potatoes, butternut and pumpkin. The good news is that flour milling doesn’t have to be done on an industrial scale – you can run your own outfit on a much smaller scale using simple equipment. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Cassava flour is made from the whole root of the cassava plant. It needs to be processed while still fresh – that is, not more than 24 hours after it’s been harvested. The cassava is cleaned of soil and then peeled. The strings in the middle are removed before the peeled cassava is washed and then grated into fine pieces.
The grated cassava is wrapped in clean kitchen towels and liquid is squeezed out of it. If it’s being done in large quantities, cleaned sacks can be used instead of kitchen towels.
The wrapped cassava is placed on a lifted table that has gaps to allow any dripping liquid to pass through. Containers are placed beneath the table to collect the liquid. A drying table can be constructed using sticks.
When there’s no more liquid draining from the cassava, it is placed on baking trays and spread out to dry in the sun. It can also be dried in an oven set at low heat or using solar dryers. Drying needs to be done immediately after grating as delays could cause the cassava to ferment.
Once the cassava is completely dry, it’s crushed into powder either in a food mill or using a pestle and mortar. The flour is sifted using a big stainless steel sieve and then packaged in sealed containers to prevent absorption of moisture from the atmosphere.
Other types of flour
Flour from squashes is generally made by peeling, boiling and mashing, and then leaving the squash to dry before crushing it into powder either using a food mill or a pestle and mortar.
Flour can also be made from rice by grinding it using a blender. Rice flour needs to be stored either in airtight containers or in the refrigerator otherwise it could absorb moisture and get mouldy.
You can start by milling small amounts of flour from your kitchen, consuming it within your family and selling the surplus within your circles. Dealing with food requires high levels of hygiene, however, so never compromise on that.
Should you wish to grow your food processing business to a commercial level, make sure that you operate within the law. Register your business and get the necessary licences required for a food processing business. An enterprise or business name is the simplest form of business registration, and costs about Sh1,000 and takes less than a month to process.
To operate a commercial flour milling business, you’ll need to operate from premises that are approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs). Your business will also have to be issued with a public health certificate.
You’ll need to invest in commercial equipment for washing, peeling, wet milling and dry milling, drying, sifting and packaging. Kebs requires that you provide samples of your products for testing before you’re issued with Kebs stickers. It is illegal to sell to the public products that are not approved by Kebs.
The bureau further requires owners of food processing businesses to purchase a booklet that outlines the required code of practice for food handling hygiene. The requirements, as per the booklet, include ensuring that food is produced in premises that are equipped with handwashing facilities, both sanitisers and soap. All employees who handle food must have food handlers’ medical certificates and wear protective clothing.
Sales and marketing
Consumers are very sensitive about the quality of foodstuff. If you’re not a name brand, they can be distrusting about the quality protocols followed and processing procedure. It, therefore, will take some work to educate the public before they can trust your food product and unfamiliar brand.
Plan your marketing strategies carefully and be prepared for slow uptake of your product when you initially go commercial. You’ll need to invest in advertising and public education. You might consider starting a YouTube channel where you record the production process of your products to showcase your hygiene standards. You can also share recipes for different foods made from your flours.
Use the videos to give your potential customers a behind-the-scenes look at how your products are produced and used. You may also consider opening a restaurant specialising in the food products you produce.
Don’t get into the food production business with supermarkets in mind as your distribution channel. You might waste a lot of time trying to get accepted by major supermarket chains. Be creative in your distribution efforts. Target small outlets in the initial stages. Explore the option of working with smaller distributors and cereals kiosks.
Institutions like schools and colleges can be a good market, too. Do your research and find out how you could sell to them. Do they use the tendering process to source for supplies? Get listed. Such a market can also help you save on packaging costs since you can pack your flour in sacks as opposed to smaller packets.
You are echoing the words of many other business people; “Business is not doing well right now” until you have convinced yourself that it is actually true. You have allowed yourself to believe that statement so you are not doing what you should be doing to bring in new clients. After all, business is down for everyone and not just you.
How does that consolation help you? Does the landlord still expect to collect rent from you at the end of the month? Do your children’s school heads understand that business is down right now so they are going slow on demanding for school fees payments?
Is business down for the school heads, for the landlord, for the owners of public vehicles, for owners of supermarkets? Are clients paying them or is business down for their clients? If there are business people who are being paid in this same economy, it means that business is not really down but there are some things that you are not doing right and that is exactly why your business is not getting enough clients.
You have not demonstrated enough value
Why are people still paying rent and school fees for their children yet the economy is doing badly right now and business is down? Because the pain of missing out on what they are paying for is much bigger than the price they are paying.
When value exceeds price, people will give money. If people are not paying you because the economy is doing badly, it simply means that you have not spoken to their toothache, the problem that your services or products solve.
You are not visible to enough people
In business, it is out of sight, out of mind. If people don’t hear about you, then they stop thinking about you and the competition starts to gain ground. Your business might be struggling financially but one thing you cannot afford to do, is to slow down on marketing.
Cut down on some non essential expenditure and free some money for marketing. Get out there on social media and be visible. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and Quora. Just get your message before your target market.
Every successful company in the world spends a lot of money on advertising. You have to reach enough people with your marketing message or your business will not achieve any success to write home about. Post content that your target market finds useful and promote your page. You’ve got to reach those numbers. When it comes to business, you either go big or go home; you can’t afford to play small.
Your message is not effective
People are always trying to gain pleasure or lose pain. Is your marketing message speaking to their emotions? Does it touch a soft spot in them? Or do you just go on and on about how great your product or service is?
People are not interested in stories. They only want to know how the pain they are experiencing will go away or how they will gain pleasure. Turn the spotlight on your marketing message and find out if you are speaking to the hearts of your target market.
You don’t know how to sell
I remember when I started my career in sales. I was selling nutritional supplements. If there was something I hated, it was selling. I could spend my time doing anything else as long as I did not have to go out there, show my products to people and face rejection.
The fear of selling is a major cause of not getting enough clients. You approach the market crippled by fear and end up sabotaging yourself. From the moment I discovered that every experience comes loaded with valuable lessons, I no longer fear selling. Even if someone tells me ‘no’, I learn some valuable lessons that help me to get better. The more I am told ‘no’, the more I learn. ‘No’ is not a bad word in sales. It is part of the learning process.
You are wasting time on the wrong people
I know that there are many people out there who have problems and you are in a position to help them. That is very good. There is just one problem however. You are building a business, not a charity. Your business needs to make profit otherwise you will close shop and go home.
Learn to be selective about who to spend your time and efforts on. Every time you say ‘yes’ to someone who is not a suitable client for you, you are actually saying ‘no’ to someone else who is your ideal client.
Yes, you are helping people in one way or another but if that is taking away time that you should be helping your ideal clients to solve their problems and pay you for it, then you are sabotaging yourself. You need to be selective about where you focus your efforts.
The next time your landlord knocks on the door or your children come home with a slip reminding you about school fees balances, those who will be demanding payment from you will not be interested in knowing about how many people you helped but they did not pay you.
No matter how poorly the economy is doing, you can still get your ideal clients to buy from you. Find out what you are doing wrong and make modifications and you will completely forget the song about the economy doing poorly and business being down.
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You have amazing skills that people can pay for. You know that there is a demand for them. But maybe fear holds you back. You rehearse in your mind all the failure cases you know. So and so went into self employment and failed. Maybe you even tried it in the past and failed too.
The truth of the matter is that the school system prepares us to be employees, to work for someone else. Unfortunately, there are not enough jobs to absorb the hundreds of thousands of Kenyan youth who join the job market from tertiary colleges and universities.
This is further compounded by the fact that the skills to equip people to employ themselves are intentionally left out of the curriculum. That explains the high failure rate among those who start businesses, with over 400,000 businesses closing annually in Kenya.
The good news is that just like any other skill, the skills required in order to become successfully self employed can be learned. Do not risk taking the route to self employment when you are clueless about what it takes to build a successful business. How will you structure your business? How will you finance the business until it breaks even? How will you get clients?
Another major contributing factor to the very high failure rate of startup businesses is unrealistic expectations. Someone starts a new business and wants to be making profit before the end of the first month. If money is not flowing by the second or third month, they close shop and go try something else. After repeating the same cycle 2 or 3 times, they conclude that business does not work.
Know what to expect
I like to compare building a business with farming. You buy or lease a piece of land. That costs money. Then you fence the piece of land and hire people to cut down trees and bushes and to landscape the land. Cost. You still have not started earning yet. You buy seeds or seedlings and fertilizers and pay laborers to plant. Cost. Zero income yet.
Probably six months are gone since you embarked on farming and you have been spending money without earning yet. Then you nurture your young seedlings, weed, water the farm, keep away pests and wild animals. Then when the crop is ready you invest in harvesting, storage, marketing and distribution of your produce. All that costs and still you have not earned anything.
A new business takes on average six months to a year to begin paying you and longer to break even and move into profit. The first 2 years of a new business are characterized by uncertainty. It is actually a time of survival only. If you had not prepared yourself adequately for the journey ahead, you are likely to give up and quit. Many new businesses close at this stage.
Increase your chances of success
It is critical to prepare adequately before venturing into business. Market research will make or break your business. Is there a market for what you want to offer? Is the industry you are getting into growing, stagnant or is it going down?
Relying on the opinion of just one or two people who are in that line of business is not market research. You need to be clear about the market you are targeting and who your potential customers are.
You also need to understand the customers you are targeting so analyze some dynamics about them such as age bracket, geographical reach, income bracket, lifestyle, what motivates them to buy, who they are currently buying from and how you plan to dislodge them from the competition.
Analyze who your competition is and how you plan to position yourself in order to beat them. You will need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the competition in order to be able to dislodge some clients from them.
Far too many businesses fail because people embark on the journey blindly, basing their decisions on another individual’s business only. Do not venture into a certain business simply because you saw your neighbor or a relative succeeding in it.
Do your research properly before you make a decision to venture into business. It is your business to research everything there is to know about the industry you are venturing into. Never grope in the dark and expect to reach your destination safely.
Doing market research does not have to be complicated. You can spend a day online researching through Google, social media and other online sources. You can visit the website of other players in the industry and their social media pages. You can also take note of what is reported in the media.
You could also conduct the research physically. Maybe you want to venture into the beauty industry. Visit a number of beauty salons and make your observations. Listen to conversations about the business too.
Make a point of visiting those places for a period of time and not just a one-day thing. There are different seasons in a business and also diverse factors at play so do your research over a period of time.
Learn from people who have succeeded in the business as well as those who failed. Pay special attention to those who failed because you want to avoid the mistakes they made. Wise people do not wait to learn from their own mistakes; they learn from the mistakes of others.
You can learn a lot simply by making observations and engaging people in conversations as well as taking note of relevant discussions on social media so do not be intimidated by the idea of doing market research.
There is no shortcut to doing market research. You have to do it if you want to increase your chances of success. You do not put your money, time and effort in something you don’t understand. Knowledge minimizes risk.
Building a successful brand takes time
If you have done your homework well and know that there is a need in the market place for what you are offering, keep going even when it takes months before you first customer makes a purchase. That is why it is always advisable to either have adequate savings to take care of you for at least one year or to start a new business on part time basis and only go full time once it can sustain you.
I normally do not consider a business failed unless I have done it consistently for at least a year and I have given it my all; learning, growing and making modifications as I become wiser. If you are not getting the results you desire, you might need to invest in some skills, outsource some functions or probably get yourself a coach.
Working hard at your business day after day is not enough to unlock the doors to success. To become successful, you have to constantly invest in yourself. The number one reason why many new businesses fail is the unsuitability of the business owner(s). To become successfully self employed, you need to work on yourself; your self confidence, resilience, mental attitudes and they way you think, your communication and interpersonal relationship, networks, etc.
You have to constantly push yourself and get better; manage your time better such that you accomplish more in the same period of time, become disciplined such that you do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not. You complete the most important tasks first before you move to any other activity. You become more efficient, get things done faster, achieve more, make better decisions, etc.
If you work hard doing things the same way day after day, month after month never learning new skills or improving yourself in any way, then you should not be surprised if your business fails.
Bringing in a strategic partner, someone who will bring more value and complement you, might turn the business around. If a business is failing evaluate all aspects of it before you give up on it and quit. Take a hard and honest look at yourself. Do you have what it takes to build a successful business? Don’t continue with things as they are then expect different results.
I have put together a 90-day coaching program for people who are ready to venture into business. Book a free session here to assess if this program is for you.
Margaret looked burdened as she pulled a chair and sat opposite me. She actually slumped in her seat like someone who was relieved to finally put down a heavy load. We had lived in the same neighborhood more than a decade earlier and we had finally reconnected and were meeting after many years without communication.
Margaret’s children had been in the same school as my children in lower primary. So much had changed over the years. Our children were now young adults. As we did some much needed catching up over a cup of coffee, Margaret opened up to me that she was really burden about her children. Her marriage broke years ago and she raised the 3 children – 2 sons and one daughter – all on her own.
She had struggled to give her children a good education, often taking bank loans to pay the school and university fees. Her 3 children were all university graduates. The tragedy was that none of them had managed to get a job, the huge investment into their education notwithstanding.
The daughter worked in a supermarket, one son operated a vegetable kiosk in their neighborhood and the business could barely sustain itself. The other son was teaching in a private school in their neighborhood where he was paid a salary of KShs. 15,000/- a month. His training was not in education.
Education should open doors to freedom
I listened to Margaret’s tale of woe. When she was done venting, I asked her what career each of her children wanted to pursue. All she could tell me was the specific degrees they pursued. I patiently explained to her that what we study in the school system gives us power to go for our dreams and it should not restrict us from doing what we want in life.
I come across many young people with similar tales of woe about how they pursued training in particular disciplines but they have never got jobs. This especially affects university graduates. It is difficult to help these young people without the cooperation of their parents.
Having a university degree in a particular discipline does not mean that one is restricted to a specific line of work only. There is a world of opportunity for those who are ready to unleash their creativity.
One thing that parents need to understand is that graduating from the university is not necessarily arriving at one’s destination. What happens if the young graduate does not get a job? Does that mean that he or she is doomed to go through life as a failure?
I encounter many young graduates who shudder to hear the word self employment. They rush to let me know that they have no capital to start a business. I keep calm and ask for clarification what exactly the capital is for and I get answers such as office space, buying stock to sell, etc.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about what self employment really is. If for example a young lady is qualified as a nutritionist or , she can find ways to earn income from her expertise without the need for office space, stock, etc.
Technology has made it easy to package, brand and market one’s skills and expertise working online from home. It is possible to come up with digital products based on one’s expertise and sell them online. The world wide web enables one to reach millions of people without necessarily meeting them in person.
People with professional skills don’t have to be desperate for formal employment. They can package their skills and expertise into successful careers outside formal employment. There is no need for someone with professional skills to start a small business that is unrelated to his field such as a vegetable kiosk, not unless that is the line of work one wants to pursue long term.
Whether you get absorbed into the job market or not, set long term goals for yourself and whatever you do to earn income, let it not take you away from your chosen career. Every bit of work experience should build on your long term career goals.
Graduating from the university is not necessarily arriving at a destination
Building a career takes time. This is something that parents need to understand so that they give their children the support they need to build their careers. When your son or daughter graduates from the university, that is just the beginning of the journey to building a successful career; it is not arrival at their destination.
To build a successful career in this economy where the job market is not able to cope with the demand, people who graduate from the university and other tertiary level colleges are likely to need support for 3 to 5 years after graduation. They will need coaching, mentorship, financial support and probably even investing in some short courses to complement the degree.
Parents should therefore not put pressure on their adult children who have just graduated to become self reliant immediately after graduation. That can work if one gets absorbed into the job market but what happens if that does not happen?
The road to building a successful career is not always in a straight line. Pushing those who do not get jobs to end up starting small businesses or accept whatever job they can find yet those routes have nothing to do with their long term career goals might just rob them of long term career success.
When do children outgrow parental guidance?
Parents have supported and guided their children from the time they were born up to adulthood. Sometimes the support needs to go on a little longer in order to help the young adults get into the right career path. The support should not stop immediately one graduates from college or university.
There is no shortcut to success and by rushing the young adults to accept whatever is available in order to get a quick fix to the unemployment problem, they may just end up where they did not want to go. Some parents are stuck with adult children in their late 20s or even 30s who are still struggling to find their way, still searching for jobs that are not forthcoming. Some adult children never find their way; they get stuck for the rest of their lives yet they have a good education.
Do you have professional skills and are either out of job or you are doing something that has nothing to do with your long term career goals? Hit this link right here and I will help you learn how you can package, brand and market your skills into a profitable service-based business free of charge.
Economic times are hard right now and it would be a perfect time to create an extra stream of income. Many people are struggling right now and you can help some of them to make their lives easier and earn yourself some income in the process.
Turn your expertise into income
Think of the problems that many people are going through right now. Identify a problem that affects many people that you can solve. This should ideally be something you are well versed in such that you are competent to show someone else the way.
Maybe you have had a successful career in sales for 5, 10, 15 years and have learned practical skills and strategies that can help others who are struggling to become successful. The expertise you want to share with others could be weaning a baby, setting up a business from scratch, setting up accounting systems for a business, improving time management, overcoming procrastination, etc.
How will you help people to find solutions to this problem? What has worked for you and how can it be adapted to other people’s situations? There is a lot of information inside of you that can benefit other people. You only need to get it from inside of you so that others can access it.
Your solutions can’t be applicable for all people so identify your ideal client and focus on providing solutions to that particular client. Think about who your ideal client is in terms of age, income bracket, lifestyle, occupation, etc.
Select carefully the people to work with, keeping in mind that you are likely to surround yourself with that kind of people for decades to come. A message directed at no one in particular is nobody’s message so be clear who you are addressing as you promote your program.
Get yourself a coach or a mentor, someone experienced who can hold your hand as you find your way. This will shorten your learning curve. Trying to find your way on a road you have not walked before could see you unnecessarily waste a lot of time and resources.
Structure your business
Success loves structure. Come up with a simple, clear step-by-step guide to help your ideal client solve the specific problem you are addressing. Document the steps you will be using to work with clients such as the weekly emails and reporting forms for your clients. You can get free samples online and adapt them to your coaching business.
Come up with the structure you will use for your coaching sessions. Will you use phone call or video call for coaching? Will you have face-to-face sessions? How will structure a single session? How much will you charge for your sessions?
Success loves speed. If your business takes too long to get customers, you will go out of business. The product you are developing is important but getting word out the earliest possible is one sure way to attract customers. Do not devote all your time to perfecting your product while neglecting the marketing and sales aspect of your business.
Start promoting your program as soon as you have your outline ready, even as you continue to perfect it. Get word out about the service you are offering even before the products are ready for the market.
Look for opportunities to give talks about the problem you are helping people to solve. Join relevant online communities and get yourself noticed as you help people find solutions to this specific problem.
To help you turn your skills into income, I have put together a coaching program that places the right tools in your hands. Book a free session here to assess if the program is for you.