Monday, April 29, 2013

Not every bus goes to your home

I had promised to advise first time business owners. I will start with basic concepts that are extremely important especially for first timers.

Back then when I was newly employed, I had all manner of business ideas; stocks, wheat farming in Narok, maize farming at the Rift, rearing chicken and rabbits in shags, I even though matatus were lucrative. And so I wanted to bite as many and I actually did. And I was still employed as a systems programmer and that comes with long nights of coding. Luckily I was still single and searching. My typical week would be packed from the first to the last hour. Monday to Friday dedicated to my employer and the weekend would be dedicated to running around and with benefit of hindsight. I can now say that I was just running around like a headless chicken just like many first-time entrepreneurs do. I actually would dash to Narok and check on my wheat, then pass by Njoro to check on the maize, then pass by my shags to check on the chicken and rabbits. Then I would realize that the weekend was over before he could get an opportunity to meet my girlfriend…a frustrated girl who could rarely meet her sabuni ya roho… I thought I was doing quite well in business until one day I collapsed on an afternoon and doctor told him to relax because I was running too fast.

I wanted to grab all opportunities and I never realized that the “opportunities” were wolves in sheep's clothing. I may have learned the hard way that juggling multiple ventures spread me thin and limited both my effectiveness and productivity. It actually dawned on me that all was not well when I made straight losses in two seasons of farming wheat. In between I had planted maize near Mau forest which had done so well till I got the shocker of my life when I went harvesting it only to find that half of it had been harvested the previous night. I attempted to recover my maize only to be frustrated by cops who favoured the local pastor cum shepherd who stole my maize; mind you we had assigned him the role of taking care of my crop.

After the aforementioned loss, I decided that I could only invest in businesses that needed the least of my time and minimal managerial issues. Now you know why I landed in real estate albeit confined to speculating with plots. Business only made sense to me when I decided to focus on one line and perfect it. You may want to know what I did with my chicken and rabbits. I got so mad with the guy who was in charge of them till I decided to donate the entire investment to his struggling brother back in the village.

What lesson can we learn from my not so good start to investing? You can never jump at all opportunities available. If you do you will be like that proverbial hyena who followed two roads in a junction until his legs broke because it could not make up its mind which road to follow. Just focus, focus and focus.

More lessons to come for first timers

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