Mistakes Kenyan Youths Make In Entrepreneurship and How to Fix Them

Young adults have been ranked leading entrepreneurs in the world.

Most startups fail because the youth have not mastered the art of entrepreneurship.

When asked why they started a business, most youths only talk about their need for money, which is a legit yet weak reason for starting a business.

A lot of college students stress about getting their finances right; your business doesn’t solve financial problems for you leading to failure or giving up. 

Entrepreneurship is more than making money. Young professionals make the mistake of thinking that starting their own business is their one-way ticket to quick cash and riches. 

Success does not come overnight. It is a process. Entrepreneurship involves coming up with ideas, making mistakes, failing, learning, making sacrifices and facing your problems. 

A good idea and a competent team are only part of the startup success story. 

It is estimated that 80 out of 100 startups are likely to fail. Why is that? Because the idea wasn’t launched at the right time or giving up too easily. Some startups fail not because the owners weren’t competent but due to not studying 

There are common mistakes youths make when they start out in business. Always take precautions and avoid these problems so that they may not be detrimental to your success. 

Mistakes Kenyan Youths Make in Business

  1. Not having a business plan. An entrepreneur may think that having a business plan is a waste of valuable time. 

They see it as a long and boring process to write one up. 

They just want to get started.

 Everything will fall into place as they go along. 

This is a mistake. 

At best, draw up a ‘skinny’ business plan, which is only a few pages that you can rely on to give you a sense of direction as you grow. What is the name of your business?

 Where will you be located? What are your objectives? 

Create a sound business model that you can share with any interested parties like investors or partners. 

Even with a great product, you need to scale appropriately. Have a concrete plan.

  1. Setting unrealistic goals. It is okay to start small while thinking big. Take moon shots. However, be careful. 

Set attainable goals if you want to succeed. Your idea may be great, but sometimes things may not go as you had planned. 

Set your short term and long term business goals and ensure that they are specific. 

Having a goal is important to keep your focus. But do so with diligence. Be true to yourself. 

As you plan for success, also plan for failure. It may seem vainglorious but it will come in handy when you need it.

  1. Valuing your products over customers. Customers are everything in a business setting. 

They give you money in exchange for goods and services. Without them, your business fails to exist. 

Put your focus on how customers respond to your business. Get to know what they want and then build a product around them. 

Customers take the front seat to your vision.

 If you want to succeed, perform customer evaluation and seek feedback. Pay attention to what they do.

 Once you have satisfied customer needs, sales will increase. This means more revenue, which in turn means more money. 

  1. Not marketing. Most entrepreneurs think that it is enough to just build their business and people will start rushing in.

 There is no better way to influence customers to buy from you than through sales and marketing.

 A great product is meaningless if no one knows about it. Know your customer’s paying points and how to capture their attention. 

All good qualities of a successful entrepreneur are acquired when they practice good marketing strategies. 

As you market your products, you open yourself to new customers and potential upgrades in your business. 

Customers are sales. Do not let your marketing efforts fall flat.

  1. Working alone. When starting up your own business, you may feel like you know what you want and how to get there.

 You may feel like you know your business in and out and there is not one person who can get things done as well as you intend to. However, this is a recipe for disaster.

 Like we said, starting out a business can be hectic. You need to make a team. Work with like-minded people.

You cannot do it all by yourself. If you cannot hire employees, then get a legal advisor or mentor to guide you through your journey. 

Do not trust your gut. Seek validation for your idea. 

When you can align for a common goal with other talented, passionate and hardworking individuals, the journey is just as or even more enjoyable than the end result. 

Two is better than one.

  1. Hiring the wrong people. If your business is growing, make it a point to recruit quality people.

 Avoid inexperienced, unskilled or uninterested people. 

Find competitive and effective employees with complementary skills and perspectives. 

Your employees should work well together. Hire slow. Fire fast. Moreover, avoid working with friends and family.

 There are not so many success stories of people who had friends or family as their business partners or employees. 

Your family or friends may start feeling some entitlement over your business, say they deserve more pay, want more share or want to be given less work. 

You risk ruining good relationships because of that.

 Business is a serious game. Do not play it with your friends or family.

  1. Bad pricing. As an entrepreneur, you need to be averse to the pricing model your competitors are using so that you do not price too high or too low. 

If your prices are too high, customers will shy away from your products and services.

 If they are too low, you will be on the losing end as there will be problems when you want to raise the prices.

 Are your prices making customers churn? Do they say the product does not justify its cost?

 Analyse your profit margin. If it’s too small, then that means you’ll be getting close to nothing in revenue.

  1. Fear of failure. An average person would not want to think of the possibility that they may bot succeed. 

Most entrepreneurs only plan for success. 

Starting a new business is daring and quite scary. 

It is the determination that counts. 

You may worry about running out of money, not being able to outmatch your competitors, not being good enough, failing, being overwhelmed with work or what lays in store for you in the near future. 

Ask yourself: Can I pick myself up when I fall down? What do you do when things get tough? 

Should I have an exit plan? Always remember that in business you have to take risks.

 Challenges will always be there. Do not let fear be a hindrance to you pursuing your mission. Fear is the enemy of progress.

  1. Poor money management. An entrepreneur wants to make money and save it. 

Use your money wisely. Money is not an infinite resource. Do not spend too much or so little on your business.

 Focus on getting quality equipment with your money and hiring high-cost employees.

 Whatever you invest in hiring quality people, will get you paid hundreds of times over. 

This is very beneficial in the long term. 

Do not invest too much money in your startup as well, so that you can minimise losses. Use your money efficiently.

  1. Not knowing your audience and what they want. Who is your target market and what do they want? 

What are their needs and how is your business equipped to help them?

 Youth entrepreneurs jump into the wagon without understanding who they want to sell to or what their customers want. 

A business owner understands that success comes from understanding and meeting customers needs. 

  1. The focus for youth entrepreneurs is on the money. You cannot chase money because money and success run away from you.

 Entrepreneurs aren’t chasing money, they’re committed to adding and proving value no wonder they started their businesses.

 What value are you committed to providing? 

  1. Can’t define your business. Most young professionals cannot answer the simple question, what solution do you bring into the world. 

Because the first thing they saw was Ferraris or Lamborghinis they forgot to answer simple questions like what their business is supposed to do. 

  1. No growth strategy. A growth strategy means having a plan for unforeseen success that makes you grow a bit too fast.

 Growth may seem like a great thing in any business, but how about when the youth didn’t see it coming or plan for growth?

 Accepting to grow means accepting to let go of some things you came knowing, asking for help, letting go of some of redundant staff and personnel and sometimes, an increase with the finances.

 What do you do when you have an influx which you don’t know how to use? 

  1. Mixing business and pleasure is the New Rich or Rich Lifestyle that commands respect from peers. 

While flamboyance and riches signify the rich life, don’t get pulled in. Live your life as a young entrepreneur not paying attention to what others do. 

  1. Doing everything. You cannot do everything, I thought once upon a time. You have to get a team and delegate your duties to people you hire. 

Youths believe that because they have the energy they can do everything. What happens when you try to do everything? 

You burn out and stop working towards your business success. 

  1. Having no mentor. Getting a mentor doesn’t mean meeting Jeff Bezos, if he is your mentor.

 His schedule is busy and to get his attention would take the time or until you become a billionaire. 

Stop wasting time inspiring yourself or drawing inspiration from people that aren’t running a business, look up to gurus/mentors.

 If you cannot reach your mentor, read a book written about their lives. 

  1. Investing without researching. Investing is a good thing but investing without researching makes you go nowhere. 

Understand where you are about to put the money you earn and if it sounds too tricky or a bit more time to think, then don’t invest in a hurry. 

  1. No networks. 

Every time I speak of establishing a network, I think of my dad, he advised me when I was in my teens to invest in my network. 

If your network is too small, then you need a new circle of friends. 

Teens don’t think of investing in a network or what a network would do for them.

 A network proves your net worth and as a teen entrepreneur, ask yourself, who is in your circle of friends? 

  1. Giving up/ impatience

I started this blog in 2012, I wrote another blog, Indomitable Woman earlier and have excerpts of my plans for the blog but gave up when I hit a hundred thousand readers a day. 

The blog was on free WordPress.

 I didn’t know how to monetise and was still hung on the idea of someone picking up my writing and giving me million-dollar writing for their company no one did because I gave up and started this blog. 

Youth entrepreneurs give up before seeing the fruition of their ideas because they start their business without a business plan, goals or vision. I did. 

Stop letting go of your dream because another person told you or you saw them fail, that’s not your story. 

  1. Not investing in themselves. 

Just because I knew I could write, I didn’t want to invest my time in knowing how to write online and made a million mistakes. 

You can see the mistakes from my earlier blog posts. 

The same goes for youth entrepreneurs, they believe they know because they have a natural gift or talent and believe they know everything without learning. Invest your time, a youth entrepreneur in learning your industry. 

You can read books written about your industry or watch videos or read blog posts. Consume all the material you can within your industry. 

  1. Don’t listen/unwilling to admit to mistakes. 

If you have ears but cannot hear, you won’t hear and will never develop. Youth entrepreneurs believe they know it all.

 They won’t listen to the elders that came before them. 

My mum saw that I struggled to understand what my gift was because one day I got committed to writing on this blog and researching. 

Tomorrow if I didn’t get any comments, I gave up and started learning how to crochet or refine my knitting skills. 

A week after I would be busy learning how to sew and a month later I gave up. Sinking into depression. 

She said, ‘STICK TO THE ONE THING THAT COVERS THE REST, THAT ONE THING WILL BE THE COVER FOR ALL THE OTHERS. WHAT’S YOUR ONE THING, AKINYI?.

 I didn’t believe God gave me one thing, that He made me so awesome and gave me too many talents.

 How wrong I was, I spent time working as a freelance writer for others but never finding joy or purpose because I wasn’t living my best life. 

Are you willing to admit to your mistakes and work on them by listening to the voice of reason?

 Some voices of reason, though, don’t speak like my mum’s but discourage you. 

Know what information to take for yourself as a youth businessman/woman. 

  1. Waste time. Are you wasting your time doing everything and at the end, doing nothing? 

Do you realise your purpose as a youth entrepreneur? 

Stop wasting time enjoying yourself with alcohol after toiling hard to get to where you reach. 

Use your energy and free time on earth not to drink or catch up with your buddies that inject things to get the next high but to develop your talent. 

Because who knows when they die? 

What legacy do you have when you die? Death sounds like a scare but it’s the reality of life, we all die. Identify your purpose and live every single day fulfilling it. 

READ MORE: How to Live Your Purpose and Become Who God Created You to Become

  1. No financial planning. Do you have a financial plan in your business as a youth professional? Do you know what money you need or have in your business and how to spend that money? Do you have money to help expand your business? 
  1. Build a brand a business is a brand. Branding means getting your startup story straight. What do you want to achieve with your business? Who will buy from you? What is your target market? What’s your marketing message? Do you have products that match your customer’s interests? Unfortunately, youths entrepreneurs think of the money they make and not develop a unique business that reflects their values or beliefs. It takes years to build a successful brand and the lack of commitment in some youth entrepreneurs make them abandon their dreams before they can see their brand mature. 

What are the Top Startup Mistakes?

Hiring the wrong people 

Not having a growth plan 

Chasing investors not investors 

Not asking for help 

Lack of market research 

Not paying attention to design 

What are the Biggest Mistakes Make in Business?

No budget 

Using credit cards 

Having loans and debts 

Paying for high rent apartment 

No savings to invest 

Luxury cars

No emergency funds 

Common Mistakes Entrepreneurs First-Time Entrepreneurs Make

Forgetting competition 

Constant advertisements 

No plan for scaling 

Not hiring the best talent because of money 

Lack of delegation want absolute control of everything 

Not knowing customers and their needs 

Not paying yourself 

Profit margins too small 

Why Do Most Startup Fail?

Though youths believe the easiest way to financial freedom is by beginning a business, they don’t understand how a business works.

The aim of the majority of youth is is to cash in so that they can purchase a private jet, have a yacht and sip champagne at the ocean while surrounded by a bevvy of beauties.

The youth professionals only see the outward of business success. They don’t think of the journey that is starting a business.

A business requires nurturing like you do a baby.

So, while imagining the yacht and champagne life is awesome, prepare yourself for the tears that happen, the threat of failure and the sleepless nights you undergo before you arrive to become Jeff Bezo, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Phil Knight, Bernard Arnault, Rihanna or Oprah.

Focus on the solutions your business provides or is going to provide; what’s the value you bring to the table?

While some youths entrepreneurs take the ship and ride on some sit on their ideas waiting for someone to come rescue them.

Taking action and failing forward is the best way for entrepreneurs, youth or not. Let the failure motivate you to keep finding the voice for your business.

If failure doesn’t motivate you, then, finding success will be hard.

As my mum said, find your one thing. What‘s your one thing and is it tied to your purpose or can you find your purpose in the one thing?

Your purpose is your driver, the pilot that never stops until you get finished.

And stop wasting your time looking for encouragement from youths that tell you you’re too young to have a headache as a startup owner.

Look for new friends and in my dad’s words, find a new network, a network that keeps telling you to keep trying and moving forward.

Are you a youth thinking of beginning a business and changing Kenya?

What are you waiting for? Or are you a youth that started a business and are almost giving up or discouraged because it’s not as it seems? 

If you started a business as a youth, a teen what mistakes did you make as a youth entrepreneur?  

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Online Businesses / Work in Kenya