Kenya

How we have managed to successfully run our business as a couple

We started our operations last year with a capital of 1.2 million. We financed our capital through a bank loan that we guaranteed using personal guarantees. When I was researching for a viable idea, I realised that the demand for computers and their accessories is still there but few sellers are actually offering these products at an affordable price. Many sellers are also not keen on educating their customers on the technology that suits their needs. We wanted to fill this gap. We were motivated to enhance technological absorption by offering affordable but quality gadgets.

We started breaking even after about six months of operations. Our biggest challenge so far has been to find the right footing in marketing our products. The competition in the world of computers is very stiff. A business needs to keep innovating to attract and keep customers. We are however glad that we have continued to learn along the way and we are now able to navigate the market more dynamically. The other challenge has been the high cost of living in the country. Clients treat computers and accessories as luxuries at times such as these, which means less purchasing power.

I have never been employed before. I have always wanted to try my hand in business. I love offering service to people based on my hospitality background. Since getting started, I have made a few errors. The biggest has been to mix business and personal finances. We made this mistake early on in our business. That made it impossible to finance some orders leading to lost opportunities. Luckily, we made this mistake quite early and learnt our lesson quickly. We however had to dig deeper into our pockets to refinance the business. We now have a very clear distinction between personal and business finances and know that an entrepreneur ought to earn a salary just as any other employee.

We invest money in money market funds. This is because the product is highly liquid and we can withdraw business money whenever we need it. Much of the investments we do are short-term as our business still needs to grow, and this includes ploughing back the profits. 

With family, we would advocate both employment and entrepreneurship. One partner can do business while the other one is in full employment. That has worked well for us. Covid-19 offered all of us very valuable lessons about diversifying our sources of income. Employment is good as you are assured of a salary to pay your bills every month. However, business offers unlimited opportunities when it is doing well. One just needs to be patient, trust the process and be to be authentic with customers.

For anyone who wants to venture into a business, I would suggest you start early and fail forward. This means that you will learn valuable lessons whether you sustain the business or you close it down. Go into the trenches and learn along the way. Remember business should not be a retirement plan but a full-time career to be enjoyed just like employment. Finally, the higher the risk, the higher the return!

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