Many people have skills that could bring them success but only a small minority go on to become successful. An effective brand strategy sets successful businesses apart from everyone else.
There are many competing products and services in the market. Think of the world of business as having a field full of sheep. What colour are sheep? Black or white.
What would happen if you were to paint your sheep green or orange? Everyone would stop and look at the odd looking sheep.
Your products or services need to stand out from the crowd if you want to get noticed in the market place. People can only be able to tell your services or products apart from others in the market because of branding.
What is Branding?
A brand is much more than the name of the company. The most important part of a brand is the promise you give your customers.
Customers pay for the benefits a brand promises them. “Lose 5 kilos in 30 days.” “Sleep like a baby” “fast speed Internet” or “remove stains from your clothes in 5 minutes.” The convenience you promise is captured in the tagline and that is what makes your customers choose your services over something else that is similar.
The promise you make is crucial for the success of your business. It is the selling point for your brand and should be the basis for marketing. The logo, colours, tagline, packaging and name are all part of branding and they help your clients to tell your brand apart from others.
Why did you choose specific colours for your your brand? What do those colours mean? For example, some brands that deal in luxury products use a combination of black and gold in their branding because those colours are associated with wealth, power, authority, luxury and material wealth.
Colour red is associated with love, passion, desire and romance. That is why the red colour dominates Valentine’s Day, the day that is dedicated to celebrating romantic love. Brands that deal with services or products associated with love and romance are therefore likely to have colour red in their branding.
The way you present to your prospective clients the benefits of what you have to offer will determine whether they want to try out your products or services or not. Your promise even helps you to determine your price, which does not have to be the lowest in the market.
People don’t necessarily buy because the price is lower than that of the competition but because of the value they will receive. Remember that people pay for services or products in order to either gain some pleasure or get rid of some pain.
Your aim is to provide them with the best solution for what they are looking for. Focus on value rather than just price. Your competitive edge does not necessarily have to be the price.
Will your product or service be easier to use, faster, less noisy, smaller, bigger, softer or more durable? What is that benefit you are offering the customer that sets you apart from the competition? Don’t make empty promises; deliver on your promises otherwise you will lose your customers.
Why is branding important?
Building as strong brand enables you to charge higher prices than other similar products or services. It makes your company stand out as being in a class of your own.There is a lot of competition down in the valley but when you climb to the mountain top, you set yourself apart.
Think of bottled water. What brand of bottled water has built a strong brand and is therefore able to charge higher prices than bottled water that is sold by other companies?
Go back to the part of this article that gives examples of some of the benefits a company can promise customers in order to stand out from the crowd (painting the sheep green or orange). What has this brand of bottled water promised the customers that makes them stand out from other brands of bottled water in the market?
What about cars, computers, fashion items, service-based companies? What sets Apple apart from other companies that manufacture and sell computers and cellphones for example?
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“What are the main differences between the vegetable kiosk in your neighborhood and Safaricom?”
This is an illustration I use a lot in coaching sessions. I normally ask individuals to compare small businesses such as the vegetable kiosk in their neighborhood with a company such as Safaricom, Equity Bank or Coca cola, which are some of the most successful businesses in Kenya.
Small business versus big business
One major difference between the two business models quoted above is that one is a small, one man or one woman show with no business systems while the other one is a business system so it is not dependent on a single individual to run.
There is a reason why some businesses grow to become multi-billion dollar ventures and last for generations. One thing that the world’s most successful businesses have is systems.
A company like Coca Cola has systems governing every process in their operations; the process of manufacturing the product, safety in their premises, marketing strategies, hiring and firing, packaging and distribution.
Do you own a business or a job?
You have taken an important step to set up your own business. Congratulations! You probably are the heart and soul of your business and without you, there would be no business. You are on the right track.
Learn everything about your business and document each and everything to the minutest detail. Establish systems that govern all areas of your business; the people, the processes and the strategies.
Nothing about running a business should be dependent on an individual’s memory, however minor. Your business should be able to run efficiently whether you are physically there or no. There should be no need whatsoever to keep on contacting you to ask how to do a,b,c,d or who to contact to handle a particular task.
Business systems unlock the key to sustainability
Business systems refers to well documented and detailed procedures that are to be followed in order to accomplish any given task. They are written down step by step instructions about every aspect of the business.
Maybe you run a small food processing business from home. You document each and every detail from where you source the fresh foods, contacts of the suppliers, how you negotiate prices and the amounts you purchase. Do you purchase in crates or sacks?
You document the processes to the minutest detail; how you select the foods to process and which ones are discarded, how you prepare them for processing such as washing and drying, each and every equipment you use in processing including details about how each equipment is operated.
Store the information in an organized manner where it can be accessed easily if needed, a filing system that can be accessed without the need for someone to explain.
Document the procedures in detail, where you source materials, the exact amounts you use to make each product, specifications of packaging and every detail.
Document everything about your business including the staffing needs; relevant procedures like hiring, disciplinary action, firing and terms of service for staff.
Your business is a different entity from you
Build your business to be a separate entity from you, an entity that can survive even if you were no longer there. Constantly ask yourself the question; “Can my business operate smoothly if I was to be in a coma for 6 months?”
Putting systems in place is critical for business sustainability. Some businesses end as soon as the founder is no longer part of the business. No one else knows anything about how the business runs. If your business can operate even better and grow in your absence, then you have put in place good systems.
Putting systems in place also enables you to train and supervise staff effectively whether they are part time or full time. It ensures that as long as you select the right people, your business is able to run smoothly at all times since everyone simply follows clear systems.
In the initial stages of building the business, you might be the only one working there such that you do everything. That does not take away the need to put systems in place, which is very important if you are to build a solid business that will secure your future.
A solid business should outlive the founder. It should be able to survive several generations without hitches. Putting systems in place makes that possible.
Business systems set apart a successful business from all other players in the market. I will quote three successful businesses that we are all familiar with: Safaricom, Equity Bank and Coca cola.
The distribution channels of these 3 companies set them apart from the small solo entrepreneur kind of businesses. The services of these 3 companies are accessible to just about everyone even in the remotest parts of the country almost to their doorsteps.
You can leave your house and within 5 or 10 minutes you have access to these services. If you look clearly, you will notice that these companies utilize existing structures on the ground such as supermarkets, restaurants, kiosks and shops as their distribution channels.
These companies do not own the outlets they use for distribution but they use other people’s outlets and compensate them. This is the key to business success. The convenience of customers when it comes to accessing goods or services determines a company’s success.
There might be other players in the same industries whose products or services might actually be more superior to those of the companies I have quoted but they cannot beat these giants because they reach large portions of the population.
No matter how great a product or service is, if you had to get it from hundreds of kilometres away, you are likely to look for an alternative that is easier to access. The distribution channels will make or break your business.
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Majority leave the school system expecting to be employed probably until retirement. Times have changed and the employment route is no longer smooth as it used to be in the 70s and 80s.
Many working Kenyans know the struggle of trying to enter the job market. It can take a graduate up to 5 years to land a first job. 3, 4, 5 months without a source of income is difficult enough, leave alone a year or two.
Others find themselves pushed out of the job market prematurely through retrenchment or because the companies they work for either close down altogether or lose certain markets such as the Kenyan or East African market.
Some are employed but they either don’t like their jobs or their bosses or they simply don’t like to be at the mercy of a boss. There are people who are inspired by the idea of no longer being answerable to anyone and that is why they want to start a business.
Some feel that the hours when they are at their most creative are not the working hours for their jobs. They feel like their jobs hold them back from achieving their full potential, that they have a lot of underutilized potential and building something of their own will give them the freedom and flexibility they need to exercise their creativity.
The dream of becoming one’s own boss is definitely attractive, but self-employment is not free of challenges and disappointments especially if you do not know the way and have no one to hold your hand and guide you.
You can be very knowledgeable and experienced in your line of work and still not be able to build a successful business. There are people who say that not everyone is cut out for business. People with that kind of mentality can stay jobless and dependent on other people for years because they are out of job and are not willing to venture into business.
The truth of the matter is that no one is born knowing anything. Every skill in this world has to be learned. No one is cut out for business; those who are good in business have learned the necessary skills.
Maybe they had the advantage of being brought up by entrepreneurial parents so they learned the skills from a young age. The good news is that anyone and everyone can learn business building skills.
Hundreds of thousands of startups in Kenya close shop every year, causing massive losses to those who invested in them. The first business I built failed, causing hundreds of thousands Kenya shillings in losses, not to mention the time spent building it.
The high failure rate of new businesses might be a major contributing factor to the fear many harbor towards going the entrepreneurial route. It is therefore important to be adequately prepared for the road ahead if you decide to venture into business.
Much as entrepreneurship gives one freedom, building a successful business from scratch is normally more difficult than being employed but the rewards are worth it. If you don’t like your boss or your job, it might be easier to look for another job than to go into building a business.
The business environment can be quite hostile especially for the small business operators. I therefore always recommend careful self-evaluation before venturing into business. I also recommend business coaching if you are venturing into business for the first time or you have tried building a business in the past and failed.
Don’t expect to start reaping from the business the first 2 or 3 months if you plan to build a business with a solid foundation, one that will serve you long term. Farming is a good way to illustrate what building a business from scratch is like.
You buy or lease land, fence it off, have trees and shrubs cut off then you proceed to have the land ploughed and prepared for planting. You buy seeds and fertilizers and probably pay people to plant.
You water the crops, weed and all the other efforts to take care of the crop until it is time to harvest then you invest in storage and embark on marketing efforts. It takes time to begin earning from a business and even longer to recover your costs and go into profit.
Count the cost before you embark on this journey. Do you have what it takes to build a business from scratch and if not, are you willing to work on transforming yourself?
Being self employed is more difficult than being in formal employment
This illustration based on the Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki brings out the actual situation of the self employed individual. Being self employed often means working long hours, not earning enough and often getting into debt. It is actually owning a full time job.
If you stop at being self employed, you will not get the freedom you were looking for. You might find yourself regretting for having quit your job to go into business. Many even quit self employment and go back to being employed.
It is challenging to be self employed. Everything in the business is your responsibility. You finance the business, hire, train, discipline and fire staff. You handle all issues to do with the human resource department.
When bills are not paid on time or customers are not satisfied with the services, all the complaints land at your desk. You solve both internal and external problems associated with the business. This situation can be very stressful.
Being self employed versus being a business owner
The phase of being self employed should not last forever. Once you put the systems in place and transform your self employment job into a fully functional business, you leverage systems and the effort of other people.
You now have the freedom you were looking for. You make enough money. The work is easy for you and you have free time and can even retire without losing your income. You are now the CEO of your business or the business owner. People and systems work for you as opposed to you doing all the work yourself.
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Agnes was in 2nd year at the university when she met Kim and they started dating. They were in the same year, pursuing the same degree. Kim was a nice guy, would take her out and surprise her with gifts even when it was no special occasion.
Agnes and Kim moved in together soon after they graduated. She got a job teaching in a private school and Kim got a job in a supermarket chain. They were not doing so well financially but they were fine.
Agnes set up a clothes stall in their neighborhood. She hired someone to run it for her. She spent weeks during the school holidays working alongside the lady she hired and teaching her all about the business. Once schools opened, she would buy stock from Gikomba market on Saturdays and only supervise the business during the week since she was working.
Kim was happy with her efforts and decided to support the initiative. He would give Agnes some cash to buy stock. He hardly ever had time to get involved in the business since his job kept him away most of the time. Life went on well for the family. They were blessed with 2 sons.
6 years after the couple moved in together, the supermarket chain Kim worked for got into financial problems and laid off staff. That was how Kim found himself jobless. Being at home meant that he was available to assist in the business even as he sent applications for jobs.
Within weeks Kim decided that paying a full time employee to run the business was a waste of money especially at a time when they were struggling since he did not have a job. He got his sister who had completed form 4 and was yet to go to college to run the business, dismissing the employee his wife had hired and trained.
It did not take long before disagreements started between Agnes and her sister-in-law, who not only worked at the business but also lived with the family. Agnes could neither train nor supervise her since she was uncooperative. The business went down and was closed down 3 months from the time Kim’s sister started working there.
The family could barely stay afloat surviving on one salary. Life became more and more difficult and they relocated to a cheaper house. Kim’s sister was still living with them. By good luck, Kim got a job with a bank and things got better. Agnes was very happy that finally things were looking up.
Kim decided to pay for his sister to attend a hair dressing college. He also decided that the family needed to move to a better house since the one-bedroom apartment they were living in was small and they were squeezing.
Agnes was of the idea that they needed to give priority to stabilizing their financial position before they could increase their expenditure. She wanted Kim and her to pool resources and start a business which could supplement their income.
The issue caused conflict between them and Agnes let the idea go. She did not have enough cash to set up a business since she was paying loans that she had taken when Kim was out of job.
Cracks started to appear in their relationship. Kim was making decisions without involving her and any effort to raise the issue with him would lead to arguments. He decided to build a house in his rural home through a loan from the bank where he worked.
Agnes was of the idea that building a home in the village was not a priority. Their two children were in lower primary school and there was a long journey ahead taking them through school. A home in the village could not earn them income even if they found themselves facing tough times as had happened when Kim was out of job.
Kim got angry with Agnes for finding fault with his decisions. Quarrels became the order of the day and degenerated into violence. Agnes found herself a victim of domestic violence, something she never imagined could happen to her. She was bullied into silence and became a silent observer in her own home.
In the meantime Kim made a lot of mistakes. As he climbed up the career ladder at the bank, his expenditure grew. He started projects with his parents, all which failed. He would buy stuff without involving Agnes in decision making. He would buy furniture or an expensive flat-screen TV before budgeting for the children’s education.
The relationship between Kim and Agnes was strained and he was in an extra-marital affair with a young lady who was a student in a local university. He would spoil his mistress as he neglected his own family. He totally ignored his wife and did whatever he pleased.
Marriage on the rocks
Ten years into the come-we-stay marriage, Agnes moved out with their two sons. Kim was doing well in his career at the bank buy he neither saved nor made good investment decisions. He had built a home in the village which was being occupied by his elder brother and his family. He still lived in a rental house in the city and had 3 relatives living with him, whom he was supporting.
Kim’s job ended suddenly through retrenchment when he was 52. He had been in 2 other come-we-stay marriages after Agnes left. None of those marriages had lasted. He did not have any investments so he relocated from the city to the village.
Conditioning from a young age
Kim’s parents had parted ways when he was in primary school. His father remarried. Kim’s step mother mistreated the three children that her husband had before he married her; Kim, his elder brother and younger sister.
Their father worked in the city while the family lived in the village. He was therefore away most of the time and was therefore not in touch with what his children were being subjected to by their step mother.
From a young age, Kim was told how he was good for nothing and would never amount to anything. These messages were deeply entrenched in his mind and however much he tried to become successful in life, he was always sabotaging himself. He sabotaged his marriage and his financial success as well.
The mind is very powerful, determining our feelings and emotions which in turn shapes our actions. Change is threatening so whenever something that is different from what one is used to comes one’s way, the normal reaction is fear and resistance. Kim might have wanted to get ahead, to become successful but his conditioning could not allow him to get out of his comfort zone, the environment he was used to. A dysfunctional family was his familiar territory. A successful family was unfamiliar territory, uncomfortable. A life of struggle was his familiar territory. His wife’s efforts to get him to become successful would be a threat to plunge him into unfamiliar territory. Change is threatening. Kim was fighting success though he was not conscious about it. His mindset, his subconscious mind was conditioned for failure and that manifested in his decisions, actions and the results those action produced.
The case of lottery winners
Have you ever wondered why majority of people who win large sums of money in a lottery, sports careers or some other sudden good fortune blow up all that money within a few short years through bad decisions, poor choice of investments and reckless lifestyles? Have you ever tried to advice someone in that state and what was the reaction you got? People with a mindset conditioned for failure find fault with anyone trying to make them move out of their comfort zone and create a life of success. Failure is familiar territory for them and success is uncomfortable, even threatening to them. Any efforts to get such a person to make decisions that will lead to long term success are met with resistance and hostility. This is because such ideas threaten to remove the person from familiar territory to unfamiliar territory, like being lost at sea.
Does fate conspire against you?
Do you sometimes feel like however much you try to get ahead, fate seems to conspire against you. It is like there is a huge invisible weight that is always dragging you backwards and you just can’t get ahead. You make money and lose it through bad decisions. You get into a good relationship and sabotage it yourself. You do things over and over again that make you lose the good guy or good lady in your life. You feel comfortable and kind of at home with people who take advantage of you, encourage you to waste your money and even mistreat and abuse you. You destroy your career and just mess your life. You feel uncomfortable among successful people, people who could actually help you to make your life a success. You even feel like those guys are no good, they are proud and so full of themselves. You have a negative attitude towards people who are successful, the people who could hold your hand and guide you to real success yet you wonder why your life does not get any better.
The power of the subconscious mind
Our reactions to situations and the decisions we make are largely determined by the subconscious mind. The choices we make are not necessarily based on logic but are shaped by conditioning that dates back from childhood and upbringing. Maybe you would like to make better choices in life but you always find yourself making bad decisions over and over again. You want to get ahead in your career but you make bad decisions over and over again. When you make money, you want to do the right thing so that you can secure your future but you find yourself unable to stop making the decisions that sabotage you. You do things that take your money away from you instead of doing the logical thing that would safeguard your money and secure your future. You feel regret and shame about the decisions you make over and over again yet you seem not able to make better decisions. The truth of the matter is that any mindset can be changed. You do not have to be a slave to your mindset for the rest of your life. You can change your conditioning, reprogram your subconscious mind. I have put together the program Awaken the genius within you for people exactly like you. This program helps individuals whose subconscious mind works against them to change their programming, changing the way they make decisions and as a result, changing their results. Click here for a free session.
We hear so much about quitting employment to venture into self employment as the key to financial freedom. So you have taken the bold step to build your own business. Congratulations!
What is normally not told is that being self employed can be a life of working long hours, struggling financially and getting stressed. It can be lonely, even scary. You can find yourself in debt, without any assurance that your business will ever break even.
Sometimes you question the wisdom of having started your own business, looking back with nostalgia to the days when you were employed and had a salary to look forward to at the end of every month.
At least you were credit worthy those days and could borrow against your pay slip if you faced tough economic times. Now that you are self employed and with no assurance of a regular income, you cannot even borrow cash, not even during emergencies.
Are you self employed and feel like you would jump at a chance to go back to employment if such an opportunity were to avail itself? Do you feel like you made a mistake to start a business, like you could have just looked for a job? This coaching program is for you.
Who is this coaching program for?
Solo entrepreneurs or professionals who are building their own businesses: lawyers, doctors, beauticians, nutritionists, psychologists, website designers, graphic designers, software developers, consultants, writers, transcribers and other professionals who are in service-based businesses.
The two-day Turn your business into a cash cow coaching workshop will take place in Nairobi the first week of December 2018. Booking is on a first-come-first-served basis. Only 20 slots are available.
What is in it for you?
Learn how to:
Create multiple streams of income in your business
Create products that customers can buy
Get paid over and over again for the same effort
Leverage the efforts of other people and systems, earning more while working less
Earn money from your business on autopilot
Transform yourself from a solo entrepreneur to a business owner. Transform your business into a system that is able to pay you even when you are not working.
Are you 100% satisfied with the life you’ve got? Are you living life to your full potential? How do you define success? Do you consider yourself successful? You can only know if you have arrived at your destination if you know clearly what that destination is.
What does success mean to you?
Success means different things to different people. For some, owning their home is a sign of success while for others, achieving a certain income makes them successful. The unfortunate thing is that many people go through life borrowing someone else’s definition of success hence they do not know for sure whether they are successful or not.
Success begins with setting clear goals. I am at point A. Success to me means reaching point B. Once you know exactly what you want to achieve, then you come up with a road map about how you will move from point A to point B. You then invest in yourself to become the person who is able to achieve what you are aiming for.
Maybe you want to become a public speaker. You then invest in your self confidence, knowledge and other skills that are in line with public speaking. You put in hours every day into activities that are consistent with your goals. You might even invest in a public speaking course.
Unsuccessful people are those that have no clear goals in life. They follow the flow of things. They have no specific purpose in life. Life happens to them and they feel like victims.
Have you set goals for your life?
All accomplishment begins with a clear picture of what is to be achieved. To live a purposeful life, you need to first decide what you want to achieve in life. What is important to you? Maybe you want to make a difference in the lives of widows or orphans. Come up with a clear main purpose for your life then break it down into small targets.
“To succeed, you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.” – Tony Dorsett
We are just about to begin the final quarter of the year 2018. This is the perfect time to evaluate your achievements so far and examine whether you are working towards your goals or not. Do you have clarity about what you want to achieve in life? What goals did you set for 2018? Are you on course?
What will it take to make your goals a reality?
Many people who are not living the life they desire for themselves don’t set goals. Others set goals but they have no accompanying plans and strategies to make those goals a reality. Little is going to change if you set goals to double your income in the next 12 months yet you do not come up with a clear blue print how that is going to happen.
Will you take up an extra job? Will you introduce a new product in your business and aggressively market it? Will you change your marketing strategies? How exactly will you achieve the increased income?
Transforming your life begins by setting clear goals and coming up with a road map how you are going to get there. “I am going to lose 5 kgs in the next 12 weeks” is a good goal. What strategies will you use to make that goal a reality? Will you jog every morning for 1 hour? Will you sign up for gym membership? Will you cut out specific foods from your diet and reduce the portions of food by a specific amount?
Identify the skills you will need to enable you achieve your goals and how you are going to attain those skills. Many people sabotage themselves by expecting to achieve big goals within an unrealistic period of time.
Are you ready to bring about change in your life?
You might not achieve much in a year or two, but with clearly defined goals, your life can be transformed tremendously in a decade. Whether you plan where you would like to be in 10 years or not, the time will pass anyhow. So if you are not 100% satisfied with the life you’ve got, it’s time to bring about change in your life through clarity.
“All successful people, men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day towards their distant vision, goal or purpose.” – Brian Tracy For a limited period of time, I am giving away absolutely free one chapter of the Transform your skills into income in 90 days coaching manual. The chapter I am giving away covers goal setting in depth.
To receive your copy of the free chapter on goal setting, go to: https://www.susancatherineketer.com/ and book a free session. Indicate in your message that you want the free chapter on goal setting. This free chapter is a step-by-step guide on how to set goals.
One dream a lawyer harbors upon being admitted to the bar is opening a law firm. One important thing to note is that the school system does not prepare us to build businesses so it is very possible to have professional qualifications, be good at what you do and still not be competent to build a successful business.
Maybe you have been working for other lawyers at their law firms and are doing well in your career but would still like to establish your own law practice. It is perfectly okay not to be contented to work for someone else all your life and to desire to build your own business. Here are tips to help shorten your learning curve if you have the desire to build your own law practice from scratch.
It helps to come up with a very comprehensive budget for the first one year. A plan on paper does not always go as planned so double the amount you have on paper and that way you will be prepared to take care of any unexpected turn of events.
Fixed costs: rent, transport, Wi-Fi, full time staff salaries, website hosting, insurance, bank charges
Variable expenses: part time staff costs, buying office supplies such as stationery, maintenance or replacement of equipment, publicity and getting yourself noticed in the market place (not advertising)
One-time expenditure: purchase of furniture and equipment, preparation of the business premises such as partitioning and painting, design of company website.
Solo law practice versus big law firm
You may have worked for bigger law firms and that is what you have in mind as you set out to set up your own practice. The truth of the matter is that a solo law practice is not a smaller version of a big law practice. Do not start out by having a smaller version of the big law firms; having a full fledged office with a conference room, different departments and staff.
A new business takes money from you and might take time to give returns so it makes sense to save money as you prepare to take the self-employment route. Savings will keep you afloat in the initial stages of building a business so start small and build gradually as you grow.
Keep your overheads low. The location of your law practice is important but go slow in terms of the facilities until you can afford them. You don’t want to run out of money before your business has stabilized. Ensure that your office environment is comfortable and professional looking without necessarily costing an arm and a leg.
You could consider sharing office space with another lawyer. This will ensure that you have offices in an appropriate location without spending too much money upfront or getting into long leases which could prove inconveniencing should your needs change before the lease is over. Sharing office space can also come with arrangements of sharing some costs such as security, cleaning services and a receptionist.
Virtual offices are a viable option when getting started especially if where you live is quiet and conducive for working from home. This means that you do most of your work from home and only use the virtual offices when you need to such as when you have clients to meet. This can save you a lot of costs before your business picks up.
You might start out working alone and doing everything yourself, outsourcing only services such as security, cleaning, running errands, accounting and taxation expertise. If you have worked for a big law firm before deciding to start your own, you might face challenges having to answer your phone calls, maintain your dairy, book appointments and take care of administrative staff such as invoicing clients.
Doing everything yourself takes up a lot of your time that you could be devoting to more productive work. Also, when you are in court or in meetings, no one is able to reach you on phone, which could cost you business.
You will therefore need to hire at least a receptionist right from the beginning. Hiring staff comes with costs that include office space, salary, furniture and equipment. It also comes with responsibilities. It means that you have to come up with job descriptions of staff, train, mentor and supervise them. You still don’t have a human resource department so you are responsible for solving employee related issues.
Hiring the wrong staff can inconvenience and also cost you so you want to select staff carefully. Start by giving short contracts such that you do not end up with issues that come with firing staff in case you discover that they are not a good fit for your practice. You simply let them go at the end of the short contracts. It can take some time to get the right staff.
Document everything about staff; job descriptions, hiring, training, evaluation, disciplinary measures and firing procedures. This will make your work easier when you have to replace staff. It will also improve efficiency in your practice.
Everything should be documented such that an employee should be able to go about their duties without having to seek your advice every now and then. You need to focus on the most important aspects of building your practice rather than wasting time micromanaging staff.
3. Building your practice
The key to your business survival is getting enough clients to enable your law firm stay afloat. Probably in the big law firm where you worked before the issue of getting clients never bothered you because it was not your responsibility. You need to be able to get clients.
The number one way you are likely to get clients is through referrals. There are many people who need the services of a lawyer but they don’t even know it so you would do well to educate people around you about when they need to talk to a lawyer.
Get word out about the sort of services you offer and come up with a way that makes it easy for people to refer cases to you. Educate people in an effort to help them make the right decisions and not just in an effort to make anyone and everyone a client. Someone might not be a client right now but sooner or later they just might need your services. The more people out there who have good feelings about you, the better for your business.
Make it easy for people to work with you. Answer phone calls and if you miss calls, call back promptly. Be courteous when dealing with people and genuinely care about them and offer advice and helpful tips when you can.
Before people can help you, relationships need to be nurtured. Be a person of integrity, someone that people can trust. Go out of your way to be helpful to people and you are the first person who will come to mind when they need a lawyer.
The legal profession still faces restrictions about marketing and advertising. You cannot advertise your services as happens in some other professions. There are ways that you can get your name out without contravening any law. You can have a website of your business and also brand yourself online.
Ensure that your profiles on social media are professional, having a professional looking photo of yourself and indicating the name of your law firm, where you worked in the past and where you studied. Post content that people especially your potential clients find helpful.
You can get word out without advertising your services. In this technological age, clients might also want to do an online search to crosscheck what you say. Keep your online presence clean and professional. Be careful about the sort of online communities you join and the way you conduct yourself online. Do not do anything that would compromise the dignity of the legal profession.
Additional help as you grow your business
You can benefit from identifying suitable mentors who can help you find your way as you grow professionally, people who are successful in the legal profession. Business coaching can help you as you learn how to build a business. A business coach is like the manual that comes with a new piece of equipment, giving you a step by step guide to building a business.
Business coaching can help you with business building skills such as how to set goals for your personal and professional life, to overcome procrastination, rise above limiting beliefs and develop a mindset that is conducive to success. A coach holds you accountable to do what you said you would do, helping you to stay focused on the path that will lead you to your goals and avoid distractions.
Would business coaching help you as you venture into building your law firm from scratch? Book a free session here and find out if our services can add value to your young practice.
Maybe you have just received the unwelcome news that you are on the list of employees who are going to be retrenched. You are in a state of panic wondering how you are going to stay afloat without a job.
Probably you are stuck at a job that you no longer enjoy. Maybe the management changed or you got a new supervisor and things are no longer what they were before. You might have worked the same job for years and you feel that you are not growing anymore or you have simply suffered burnout.
Transition from employment to self employment
Transitioning from employment to self employment can be terrifying. In fact many end up wasting all their hard earned cash because they jump at businesses they know little or nothing about because they are terrified of finding themselves without a source of income.
Business coaching is a structured program that helps you to move from point A to point B and to achieve specific objectives. If you have been an employee all your working years and have never designed and built a business from scratch, you can save yourself unnecessary struggle and losses by engaging in business coaching as you get started on the road to entrepreneurship.
An employee mindset versus an entrepreneur mindset
An employee mindset is very different from an entrepreneur mindset and changing the mindset can take years, even decades. Investing in business coaching can shorten your learning curve as you transition from being an employee to an entrepreneur.
With the structured and confidential engagement that you get from a business coach, you can learn how to confront and conquer your fears, get clarity about your long term goals and come up with a road map to make those goals a reality.
Unlike mentorship which is largely guidance that is given by someone who is more experienced than you in the area you need to be mentored about, coaching is made up of well structured and regular sessions which are geared towards a specific objective.
Business building skills
Many people have amazing skills; they can bake cakes, make home-made detergents, make shaggy mats, knit, crotchet, offer advice and guidance to others, write articles and so much more. What they lack is the capacity to package their skills into a profitable business. They lack skills in areas such as branding, marketing and sales as well as distribution channels for their services or products.
Building a successful business takes much more than having the skills to accomplish something. That explains why many new businesses fail. As a new business owner, you will shorten your learning curve and increase your chances of building a business that lasts in the long term by investing in business coaching.
Are you venturing into business for the first time? Book a free session here to find out if our business coaching program is what you need to equip you with business building skills.
Maybe you have a really amazing business idea but there is just one hitch; you don’t have sufficient capital to make your idea a reality. Lack of capital is a real challenge facing many who would wish to go into business. Some end up setting up small hustles that might not give them the sort of returns they are looking for or they close down their startups prematurely because they run out of funds.
Benefits of Chama
Pooling resources together with other people is a great way to overcome the finance hurdle. This is the philosophy behind the chama or self-help group concept. Coming together with others to form a chama has numerous benefits.
Pooling resources together allows for bigger and more viable businesses than when one operates alone
Sharing of knowledge, skills and expertise
Shared load or burden. You do not have to carry the entire burden alone
Reduces fear and stress since you have moral support from other members
You have people to bounce your ideas on
The chama concept is not new in Kenya. Many chamas are started as table banking or merry-go-round platforms which is especially popular among women. It means that members of the group meet regularly, make the agreed contributions which is borrowed immediately normally on a rotation basis.
Where do you get the people to form a chama with?
When forming a chama either to save money together, build a business or go into investment, it is very important that you know the people you are partnering with. Do not risk forming a chama with strangers. You could team up with:
Colleagues such as if you get retrenched together
People you fellowship with and happen to have known one another for some time
People you have lived in the same neighborhood with for some time
You could be doing business together such as selling in the same market or doing boda boda or taxi business in the same locality
Parents in the same school
Old boys or old girls of a school or college
It is important that you know one another beyond being just acquaintances. You might have overcome some challenges together, stood with each other during challenging times or supported one another in some way. The more you know about each other, the better.
The failure rate among chamas is normally high, which makes those who would like to go that route to be fearful. How can a group of people form a successful chama that serves them long term?
Ensure that you know one another. Avoid bringing in strangers unless they are properly vetted. To be able to work together long term, you need not only to know one another but to also get along.
Have some rules about the kind of people who are welcome to the group such as the requirement that every member must have a source of income. That is the only way you can be sure that the members’ contributions will be consistent. You may also have a rule that every member must have professional skills and limit each profession to one member, to minimize competition.
Clarify your agenda from the beginning and set clear goals. Are you coming together to do table banking, to start a business or to invest maybe in land or houses? Ensure that you are all on the same page in terms of expectations.
Get your chama registered. Do your homework well before you choose the type of registration to go for; a trust, a limited company, a partnership, a community-based organization (CBO) or a self-help group. You need to be sure that the registration you choose will not hinder your agenda.
Come up with a very strong constitution or articles of association that will govern the group.
Allocate roles and responsibilities carefully, guided by individuals’ skills and expertise as well as strengths and personality. Avoid overlapping of roles, which can lead to unhealthy competition.
Identify a bank or sacco where you will be saving your money, choose officials who will be authorized with running the bank accounts and put measures in place such as ensuring at least 2 or 3 officials sign before cash is withdrawn and that withdrawals can only been done after the group has met, agreed and minuted that decision. Choose a bank or sacco that gives professional advice to their members.
Hold regular meetings for purposes of getting to know one another well and to bond as well as to plan and also report on the group’s activities.
Work with independent professionals such as an accountant and an auditor, who should not be members of the chama.
Put structures in place. Document each and everything in detail; the processes, the people and the strategies. Don’t leave room for misunderstanding.
Build each other by buying from each other and recommending each others’ services or products to third parties. The more you all grow, the better for the chama.
What kind of businesses can your chama get involved in?
There are diverse businesses that are suitable for chamas. Here are some examples of businesses that are suitable for chamas.
Green house farming
Making briquettes from agricultural waste
Chicken or pork butchery
Courier services or taxi business
Landscaping and flower business
Cleaning services for homes and offices
Laundry and dry cleaning
Curios and crafts
What does coaching do for your chama?
* Help you to evaluate your journey so far and set clear long term goals
* Work on a road map to make your long term goals a reality
* Evaluate what has been holding you back and take corrective action. Do you have the right skills and expertise in the chama or do you need to invite some new members who will bring specific skills, expertise and strengths into the chama?
Benefit from weekly or fortnightly coaching now!
Are you already established as a chama? Would you benefit from business coaching as a group? Do you harbor the dream of building a business but you lack the resources or the know how and would benefit from pooling resources with others?
Our coaching program for chamas helps groups of people to come together and build a chama that eliminates the major reasons why most groups fail.If you would like to know how to put together a chama for purposes of growing your income, book a free session here to sample our services and find out if they could be just what you need to transform your life.
Just about everyone has expertise in something and can guide someone else to become better in that area of life. As long as you are a step ahead of someone else, you can bring value to that person, make their journey in life easier.
Any business is started because there is a need for the services or products it is offering and not just because someone wants to make money. Money is a reward for doing something successfully.
Life coaching is inspired by caring about people and genuinely desiring better lives for them. A life coach basically helps people to improve their lives.
Is a life coaching career for you?
Here are some pointers? You:
·Have a deep caring for people and a desire to help them make their lives better. You don’t simply shrug your shoulders and walk away when you encounter someone struggling with issues. Your normal reaction is to try and explore ways to help the person find solutions.
Have a high level of self-awareness, meaning that you have processed your own issues, maybe overcome some challenges and grown through that journey.
Have a curious mind. You don’t take things at face value but question things.
Have a high level of integrity and trustworthiness. People can trust your word.
Have emotional intelligence and empathy. You are alert about other people’s emotions and also your own and are able to connect with people’s struggles.
Invest in personal growth and development; you are ever learning, constantly work on becoming better.
Are a good listener (have active listening skills).
Are a good communicator (verbal and written communication skills).
Are self-motivated and entrepreneurial/able to be self-employed.
Many people get into life coaching because they overcame something and would like to help others not to go through the same struggles they went through, or to minimize the struggle.
It starts with sharing of one’s experience then other people probably who happen to be facing similar struggles reach out. If that helping is structured into a business, it can grow into something bigger than just helping people informally.
Life coaching is one of the most lucrative fields in countries such as USA, second only to technology. It is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Coaching is a great way for professionals to create a secondary stream of income without interfering with their work, or to build a successful career after retirement or retrenchment. They can pass on their skills to others, shortening their learning curve.
The expertise you have accumulated over the years does not have to go to waste once you retire. You can build a successful life coaching profession. There is no retirement age for coaching, with some successful coaches actively coaching people into their 80s and 90s.
Training and Certification
To develop the passion for helping people into a successful business, it is very important to begin by joining some credible coaching program in order to get the right kind of training and exposure.
Much as one can invest in good books and watch online tutorials about life coaching, it is worth it to undergo formal training where one gets exposed to the practical aspects of the career and the ethics of the career, which shortens the learning curve. Untrained people in any field can end up making costly mistakes.
There is still no formal training for coaches in Kenya though there a lot of globally recognized training programs available online, some which have franchises in Kenya. Studying online is also a viable way of doing it as the programs rely on technology and are very comprehensive, incorporating even practical sessions conducted via Skype or other video conferencing platforms.
You do not need certification to practice as a life coach in Kenya but you definitely need to be good and professional at what you do. At the end of the day, people need to get results from your services otherwise you won’t have a business to build.
Invest in a good coaching program or get yourself a mentor to hold your hand as you learn. Invest heavily in personal development too and include training and certification among your long-term goals. You might want to invest in training and certification within your first 2 or 3 years of getting started as a coach.
It does cost quite some money (can cost up to a million Kenya shillings though you might find some cheaper trainings) so you need to plan how you are going to finance it. You do not have to wait until you go through training and get certified before you can help people.
Training normally takes around a year or slightly shorter followed by years of practice in order to perfect the skills.
Skills and expertise
A life coach needs to have excellent listening and observation skills as well as the ability to bond with clients from diverse backgrounds. Transforming people’s lives requires balancing between inspiring and motivating clients and challenging them to push themselves to get better without looking down upon or belittling them.
A coach has to be skilled in getting out of a client what holds them back, then helps them to believe where doubt or fear originally existed. Fear, conditioning, belief systems and mindset are some of the factors that hold people from going after their dreams, so coaching can turn one’s life around. Many people leave this world without having lived to their full potential and a coach is the person who helps people to open their minds to the world of possibilities and develop the courage to go after their dreams.
There are many people who invest in coaching training but never go on to build successful life coaching careers. This is because just like any other business, there is a lot that goes into building a successful business and not just having skills in a particular field of work.
Life coaching is entrepreneurship meaning that one needs not only to have the coaching skills but to also have entrepreneurial skills. This means that one needs to be conversant with issues such as branding, sales and marketing, cash flow and other aspects of building a business.
How soon your life coaching business becomes profitable depends on your ability to structure your coaching skills into a business.
Step #1: Invest in relevant training and register your business
To register a life coaching business in Kenya, you need professional certificates to qualify you as someone who is competent to teach others something. Much as training in life coaching is important, you can register your business using certificates in specific areas of expertise.
You might be a human resource manager, a doctor, an engineer, a nutritionist or a teacher and want to venture into life coaching. Your expertise in that particular field can make you qualified to do career coaching.
Step #2: Identify your target audience and your niche
Coaching is a very wide field so you need to identify your target audience and the specific area you will focus on. Some of the niches possible are:
Nutrition and lifestyle
Life transition coaching such as retirement, divorce or widowhood
Health and wellness
Leadership (for entrepreneurs)
Executive coaching (for executives or top management in organizations)
Parenting (Focus on specific age bracket: babies up to age 3, pre-teens, teenagers or special categories such as step families or blended families, parenting of children with special needs, single parenting, widows/widowers parenting, etc.)
The possible niches are too many. Focus is very important if you want to be effective in your coaching business. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Select a sub niche in your selected niche and specialize. For example in the parenting niche, the needs of babies are different from those of teenagers and so are the needs of parenting children with special needs. The more you specialize, the more effective you become. The medical profession brings out the issue of specializing clearly. A specialist earns much more than the general practitioner.
An individual’s education, career, skills, expertise and life experiences help in the selection of a niche. A successful CEO or business owner can focus on executive coaching. An experienced nutritionist can choose nutrition and lifestyle.
A mother who overcame parenting challenges can choose parenting coaching. A long serving human resource manager can settle for career coaching. A parent in a blended family can choose coaching of blended families.
If you have had a successful career, you can structure your expertise into a coaching business, becoming a lighthouse to others who are seeking success in a similar career path.
However, the issue is not cast on stone. You may still settle for relationship coaching or parenting coaching, your successful career notwithstanding.
Step #3: Give people tasters
A lot of coaches maintain an online presence and get at least some of their clients from online sources. Life coaching is a business that is based on trust so put out free content and let people sample what you have to offer. Public speaking is a great way to market a life coaching business. Get opportunities to speak about topics that are of interest to your target market during school, church and other community events. Get your name out in the market place. On top of that, purpose to show your opportunity to 2, 3 people every day without fail. Each one of us interacts with people every day so have your coaching business in mind at all times and in the course of interacting with people, let them know about it.
I have made it standard practice to be helpful. I ensure that I help 2 or 3 people every day, without fail. It is not enough to just let people know that you offer coaching services. Give them a taster. Help them solve a pressing need in their lives and not only are they likely to seek you out when they will need paid services, but they are likely to recommend your services to others too. You will be amazed how much helpful information and referrals people can give you if you just let them know what you are doing and go out of your way to be helpful and supportive. Pay attention to people and their needs. Be helpful. Make deliberate effort to be noticed in the market place. Start a blog or a YouTube channel, send out a regular e-newsletter or hold free online or live events. Start a Facebook group addressing an issue that is of interest to your target market.
Many people will never just sign up for life coaching simply because they visited a website and there was a name and a photo of the life coach there. People either resonate with you and the way you handle issues or they don’t.
You are the product so put yourself out before the people for them to sample. A life coach has to be authentic, cannot afford to be fake. People have to know you if they are to trust you enough to do business with you. In life coaching, your name is the brand so carefully develop “Brand You”.
Before there is a demand for your services, you are not yet ready to practice as a life coach. The sign that you are ready to build a business is people consuming and benefiting from your free content. That gives you the sign that you are ready to move your coaching to the next level.
Come up with a way to collect contact details of people you will be marketing to, such as the people who sample your products. You can collect emails addresses or people who consume your free online content which you can easily achieve by giving them something free such as an Ebook or report in exchange for their emails.
You can also use creativity to enable you collect contacts from people you interact with offline. The key is to add names to your contact list every day.
Step #4: Structure your program
You have passion and expertise in helping people to make their lives better but success loves structure. You must have a framework or system that you use to guide people. Your coaching program needs to be a clear, step-by-step process. This means that your program is broken down into a number of modules or milestones. Put your expertise into a coaching manual, an eBook or a video series. A coach without a structure is unlikely to build a successful business.
Step #5: Test your program
You can only build a successful life coaching business if your system produces results. That can only be proven if you actually take some people through the program and evaluate the outcome.
You will need some volunteers to serve as the ‘guinea pigs’ of your coaching program. You coach them for free or for a minimal fee to cover your costs, in exchange for their honest feedback and testimonials. That is the way to know what is working and what is not, what needs to be improved. The testimonials help you to market your programs.
Many people are knowledgeable, have skills and expertise yet they are still stuck in certain areas of their lives. It is their fears, their beliefs and their conditioning that hold them back. That is what coaching helps to change.
It takes practice to be able to understand people and where they are coming from in order to help them transform their lives. A coach cannot afford to be judgmental.
Step #6: Roll out your program
Life coaching is an art which means that the more experienced one is in coaching, the more competent they are. In life coaching just like any other field that is dependent on personal expertise, your fees goes up the more experienced you become. This is partly because self-confidence is critical for success and that comes the more you practice and get results.
When you get started as a life coach, start charging a modest fee. Work hard, learn and improve your skills. Give your clients 200% no matter how much you charge them, if you expect to build a name for yourself in the field.
Do not expect to charge what those who have been in the field for decades charge. It will take you some time to get there but your effort will determine how fast that happens.
Step #7: Improve your programs and raise your fees
Once you are confident as a life coach and you have track record, refine your programs, charge what your services are worth and focus on the right clientele.
Once you settle for premium clients, you will serve less clients, give them personalized service and earn more in the process. Pay attention to detail and give more than what you are paid to do if you expect to serve premium clients.
Commit to lifelong learning
As a life coach you have to commit to a journey of continuous learning. You have no option but to continually grow and evolve in line with changes in technology, the economy, the education system and society as a whole.
Stay ahead of the crowd if you expect to join the world of successful coaches.
Could you benefit from life coaching? Book your free session here.