Last Updated on 2 March 2021 by Gertrude

I want to start a business in Kenya but don’t know what to do

Owning a business is glamorous. We see Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and other business owners living the good life. And we believe that owning a business will be glorifying.

The reality of business owners is that behind the scenes, there are a million and one tears.

You want to give up and many business owners give up. So, what must a business owner know about beginning a business and why? 

33 Quick List of Things Needed to Start a Business in Kenya

Before beginning a business in Kenya, you need to take care of a few things from as simple as taxes to as complex as your mindset.

The following is a list of things needed to start a business in Kenya and become successful and they include: 

1. What will you offer and why? What are you going to sell and why?

You cannot begin a business without knowing what your offer will be. Your offer could be a service or a product solving a problem for others.

When beginning your blog for your business, you help customers make wise purchases before giving you their credit or debit card numbers.

Ask yourself, what is it that makes me worried or we lack in our area and how can I fulfil the need? Entrepreneurs begin with a lack and an aim to fill.

What do you lack and wish you had in your daily life? That’s the simplest place to begin when searching for a business idea. 

Related: How To Come Up With Business Idea(s) as an Entrepreneur in Kenya 

2. Are you going to sell a service, merchandise or manufacturing? 

You need to know what you’re going to sell whether a product or a service. You could get into manufacturing because we don’t like to manufacture our products in Kenya.

Or you could decide to provide a service according to your skills. Whatever you decide on, ensure you begin from a place of solving a problem for the consumer. 

3. Who is your target customer?

You cannot sell anything without knowing who your buyer is. If you want to take it a step further, don’t throw it out there, ”selling to Kenyans”, expound.

Kenyans earning $1000 or more a month, living in affluent areas of Nairobi like Lavington, know a lot about eCommerce, own a credit or a debit card and more.

The more specific you are defining your target customer, the easier it gets to market to them and to know what problems they need to be solved. 

Related: How to Identify Your Target Customer 

4. Where are you going to locate your business? 

You cannot have the location of your business anywhere you feel like.

You have to ask if your target customer lives nearby and whether they will know of your existence.

The location of your business matters and varies depending on your business. One coffee shop or cake shop may be in the middle of a busy street or at the corner.

People love cake and sweets and buyers will come, you cannot say the same for a beauty shop. 

Related: How to Choose a Profitable Location for Your Business 

5. Is it a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation? 

Don’t begin a business without knowing if it’s a corporation or a sole proprietorship. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. 

Related: How to Choose What Type of Business Entity in Kenya 

6. Where will you get the capital for your business? 

Are you funding the business from your pocket or are you going for external funding?

What are the pros and cons of funding the business from your pocket and what’s in it for getting funded? Use the option that works for you. 

Related: How to Fund Your Startup Without Borrowing Money 

7. Who will your suppliers be?

If you are dealing with a product business, who will supply your business with the goods needed? Where will you find them and are they reliable? Do they live nearby or do you have to source for them?

You have to find suppliers that have been in business for years and won’t go anywhere. You want suppliers meeting the demands of your growing business. 

8. Operating expenses 

There are on-going expenses in any business whether done online or offline.

Operating an online business doesn’t seem like there are on-going costs, the irony is, there are.

The cost of broken computers/laptops, wifi costs, hiring, travel. And offline business may vary with options like rent, hiring and payment of workers.

When pricing your products, remember to factor in the operating expenses for your business. 

9. Outsourcing 

Will you hire workers and why? Do you know that hiring workers is the most daunting task of a business? Will you outsource this laborious role to a company or an individual/recruiter? 

Related: How to Hire and Fire Fast as a Business Owner 

Recommended: Starting a Recruitment Firm in Kenya 

10. Registration 

Registering your business means operating your business without a headache.

I see people getting chased by the council workers because they refuse to pay $6/600/month! For licences. Why?

Do you want to spend a whole day closing and working in darkness because you believe the council people are thieves who don’t deserve to earn any money?

How will the country progress when you run away? Others offer bribes so as not to acquire a Single Business Permit certificate.

Before beginning a business, factor in the cost of operation first and lose the unnecessary headache. 

11. Marketing 

The most feared part of any business is marketing. It freaks you and intimidates you, right?

When you fear your products or to be seen by your customers, how do you expect customers to appreciate the hard work that went into creating your business?

Remember the sleepless nights you spent working the business? A business owner is proud and shows up to the people you are selling to.

Approaching marketing, not as a chore but as a way of connecting with your customers endears you to customers. 

Related: An Introverted Guide to Amateur Marketing Any Business 

12. Taxes 

My, My, Kenyans don’t like paying taxes. It’s a way of developing the nation. 

13. Financial analysis 

You cannot operate your business without knowing what gross profit, net sales are. You have to know your numbers and what you sold. 

Related: Simple Business Terms Every Kenyan Running a Business Must Know 

Personal Traits to Pay Attention To Before Running a Business in Kenya

The other traits that pay for you to have when running your business, are personality or personal traits.

You cannot run a successful business when you don’t have the following traits: 

14. Patience 

Businessmen aren’t sprinters, we’re marathoners. If you want to be rich in running your business, you have to wait.

It takes time for your business to grow. Don’t measure your success saying that in 6 months if it doesn’t happen how you want it, you quit.

I have waited for a decade for this blog to make money and I will work on it until it does.

It takes determination and knowing that truly hard work pays. Don’t give up no matter what people tell you.

It’s hard to be patient when you have bills to pay and are in debt. But, you don’t want to live your life asking, what if, do you?

Patience cannot be taught, you learn it and go back to your why always. 

Related: How to Develop the Patience of a Hunter as a Businessman in Kenya  

15. Research that what you want to sell is in-demand 

Always research. When you tell people to research, they believe it’s daunting.

You know begin by yourself what do you wish you’d sell and why? Is it available all over the Kenyan markets, if so, why inspires you to sell it?

Is it something unusual you have to teach others how to use it? 

16. Take action immediately there’s never a perfect time 

There’s nothing like having an awesome and sitting on it waiting for a perfect time. There’s never a perfect time for anything.

The time is now. When that idea jumps, take action on it immediately.

Not because you’re scared someone else will grab the idea but because the more you wait it out, the harder it becomes to pursue the idea. 

17. Be prepared to change by listening to your customers 

Yes, you begin your business by research and knowing that you developed the best product in the market.

Problem is, consumers are the final say. They tell you a few things they’d want to see and why.

Follow your customers and what they say about the product. Tweak it for and to your customers. 

18. Listen to your customers 

If you have the best product and customer service, great for you. Do you know why businesses keep saying, ”We did it for you?”. Or you said or asked and we delivered?

It takes a lot of time, effort and money to change to your customers taste.

But who did you begin your business for? Listen to your customers and adjust according to their taste.

The more you listen the more your customers recommend you to others which develops trusts. And customers who trust you, buy from you and bring others to your business. Isn’t that what you want as a business owner?

19. Have a passion 

People are consistently saying that it’s not about passion.

It’s about many other factors like money.

You may have a passion for food or eating. Turn that passion into a business.

I see people watching others eat on YouTube and there are YouTube channels like those ones.

What passion do you have and how can you monetise it? We see unique and weird business ideas popping all the time as the internet enables it all. 

Related: Extremely Weird Things You Could Do For Money in Kenya 

20. Get a mentor 

A mentor doesn’t have to be Steve Jobs, May he rest in eternal peace. You can borrow mentors from your parents or your kids or siblings or a neighbour.

Look around you who inspires you the most and why?. If it’s Steve Jobs, he does inspire me, read every book written about him.

Let him mentor you indirectly.

If you can reach your mentor, follow them on social media or Linkedin, but don’t be a pervert stalker. Pop them an email and ask them if they can mentor you. Make it professional.

21. Start small think big 

Nobody wants to live small, we want grand houses, cars and the best parties. We want the centre stage. It’s good to think big but are you prepared to start small?

Are you prepared to wait out, learn before your wealth becomes an outward wealth? If beginning a boutique, begin by getting inspired by Zara or Versace, for example.

Then jump into reality; how do I become a recognised brand from where I am? How do I improve my products and services to reach what I aspire to? 

22. Understand the market 

There’s nothing as complicated as knowing what the market wants.

The market, customers, in other words, change their taste and preference.

Some don’t like online shopping or work, some do. What does your market want and how can you stay ahead of your customers to consistently and constantly impress them? 

Related: Understanding the Market to Beat the Odds as a Businessman in Kenya 

23. Have a business plan 

Before beginning my pillow business, I was so busy writing a business plan which I didn’t use.

I copied and pasted everything from the executive statement to financial analysis.

Some words were too big for me to understand. A business plan doesn’t have to include words and terms for the marketers.

It must be simple for you to understand. It’s a plan for running your business. Grab one of the simplest business plans on the planet, hahaha. Email me on GERTRUDE DOT AKINYI AT GMAIL DOT COM for this business plan.

Read More: How to Write an Easy Actionable Business Plan You Will Follow in Kenya 

24. Blog about the business 

These days I advise business owners to advertise their business with the power of the blog.

Kenyans are getting acquainted with the power of the internet and use the internet to purchase houses, clothes, shoes or anything they fancy.

If you have a business offline or online, why are you not using your website to write a blog to describe how your products or services work. You don’t have to be a writer, hire one but pay them well. 

Related: How to Begin a Blog That Pays More Than Your Online Business Step by Step in Kenya 

25. How do you pick the right idea when you have too many ideas? 

There’s nothing as confusing as when an entrepreneur has a million and one ideas.

I suffer from this abundance. Instead of wondering what you must do, ask yourself, what among your ideas is the one you are the best at?

What can make you become the guru? The others fall under the umbrella of what you love doing the most. 

Related: How Do You Pick The Right Idea When You Have Too Many Ideas? 

26. Use social media to market your business 

You cannot be on social media without using its power to enhance your business as a Kenyan.

Make sure that you’re on social media you love the most. Is it YouTube or Facebook?

Your messages across social media platforms must be seamless. This means, branding.

If your customers find you on Facebook and you are friendly and connected to them, make it so on Twitter. Let the logos and other messages blend well.

27. Conduct market research to find who your competitors are 

Who are the competitors in your industry? Do you know why it’s important to know your competitors?

Because knowing who your competitors are, enables you to copy what makes them successful, not the model of their business, mind you.

You stay abreast with what makes the competition the best. You also come to know about their weaknesses.

For example, you want to begin a business blog in Kenya, Business Daily will be your biggest competitor. But what are they not doing?

They also have news unrelated to business; they are spread too far. This is where you come in with news focused on business. 

28. Focus on providing excellent customer service and customer satisfaction 

There’s something wrong when you have the best product or service but the poorest customer service.

Customer service is the soul of your business, focus on it.

Customer satisfaction is having great product or service, a nice website design and letting your customers leaving without questions.

Customer service is following up with your customers after the purchase of a product or service to inquire if the purchase is going good.  

29. Brand and branding 

When people hear branding, it becomes a scare or a nightmare rather than an opportunity to shine. A brand is about you.

Your marketing, product and easy website design and awesome customer service for your customers make a brand/branding.

Look at the customers what are you not telling them. What are the questions they ask when visiting your business? 

Related: Simplified Branding: Everything You Need to Know About a Brand in Kenya 

30. Grow your business getting the first customer is the beginning 

After getting your first 1000 subscribers, then what? After getting your 1M followers on Instagram then what?

If you aren’t dedicated to your 100 or 1000 how then can you reach a huge number like 1M?

You have to go back to your why for getting started. Are you satisfying your customers?

Do you provide quality for them following you? Are you benefitting them in any way? 

Starting a business or coming up with a business idea isn’t the major hurdle.

It’s the continuity or the life of the business that an entrepreneur needs.

You need to have goals and plans for your business. And your mindset needs adjusting.

You need to beware of the numbers not mathematician style numbers, simple terms and calculations in order to take your business to the next level.

Don’t stop when you get 100 returning customers, attend to those 10 or 1 customer like there’s no tomorrow.

Satisfy one customer and you attract a million others. What business do you want to begin?

Are you confused about where to get started? Grab your lean and simplified business plan to get started in any business in Kenya (offline or online). 




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Online Businesses / Online Work in Kenya