Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Forget Superman, I'm not even Clark Kent

In Form Two at the height of my adolescent self-importance I felt that I knew much more than the (what I thought at that time to be) idiotic teachers who wasted my day when I could be expanding my mind reading Plato. One exception which was sharply brought home though was my American english teacher who had a Belgian name, Ms Koch (we called her Ms. K though, because pronouncing her name for the mandatory greeting of the teacher would have wasted half a lesson). Ms. K knew her stuff and when I tried to impress her by saying that creative writing was my favourite type of writing, she reminded me that all writing is creative.

I remembered Ms. K today as I finally finished today's article of my new daily business blog (blog.my-shillings.com). In deed all writing is creative, and is more than just stringing together letters and words. A belated apology then to my "colleague" at Business Daily who I tore into some time back with a post in this blog. On second thought, I take back that 'sorry', the article was crap, there is no redeeming it.

So what was I saying, oh yes that's it. Writing on startupkenya is so much easier because I don't really have to research or interview anyone. As the blog description says, this blog is all about what I think and my thoughts when fired come pretty thick and fast, so its pretty easy to blog.

blog.my-shillings.com is a bit more objective though and I have to ensure that I get all facts correct before I click on publish. Today marks the 3rd anniversary of blog.my-shillings.com (3rd article, yayyy!!!) and I never imagined it would need such super human effort! I'll keep soldiering on though, because there is still so much more to share.

So today, hats off to all those journalists (even the Clark Kents) out there researching and preparing a story to be published to the world through their creative writing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Introducing My Shillings Blog

Starting today I will be writing for a fresh new business daily blog called My Shillings (blog.my-shillings.com). The daily will have an article running every day with a unique perspective on real Kenyan stories about new businesses, products on the market, investments for you, and startup successes.

As a business blogger since 2006 I assure you that my reporting will be focused, and unbiased and intended to make earning, spending and saving shillings in Kenya easier and more informed.They’re your shillings so read, enjoy and be wealthy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Wrongs and Rights in Business in 2009

I'm just sitting in the office on a friday evening without plans (the life of an entrepreneur - a story for another time) waiting for the chaos (police and Muslims) to subside in the city center so that I can go home and watch TV. A bit sad yes but hey I'm consoled knowing we are many out there.

Anyway I digress, the purpose for the introduction is to explain how I got into thinking about my wrongs and rights in the year 2009. Well, to be honest, I'm also a bit bored and really have nothing else to do right now.....so I got to thinking about my rights and wrongs or better still my wrongs and rights in business in the year just ended and unfortunately the wrongs are as many as the rights. I will list them down to share them with you and if you commemorate on any with me just shout yeeeeaaahhh!!

1. First and foremost, I really didn't have a proper direction for my business. I was really moving with the wind. Thats not good and its something I seriously intent to rectify this year. Not in the form of a complicated business plan but a 1-2-3 list of what I want to achieve.

2. Believing I am the business. After taking stock, I discovered that although I have employees I still micro-manage overly much. I'm in the office at unfathomed hours doing what....work. Why? Am I the business? If I am, its never going to grow. I have to let go and concentrate on strategy....ohhhh not as easy as its sounds. The business is my baby....working on it though.

3. My records to put it simply...suck. I have got to work on that. I can't plan without proper records. I don't know how I've been performing or what i should change...I'm just existing.

4. Cashflow is KING...my cashflow has been a pauper. I've been looking at sales as cashflow when in real sense its not and I'm bleeding myself by not collecting debts. This year goodbye Mr. Nice Guy hello mean, lean debt collecting machine.

Ok that was not easy, admitting all that to myself. But its not all been wrongs in 2009, there were also some rights. For instance:

1. I listened to my client's feedback. I found this so useful especially in making the quality and service delivery better. After all, at the end of the day, my clients are my reason for being in business.

2. I knew what I didn't know and tried to learn. No one knows everything and its important to know that. For me my Achilles heal is my record keeping and accounting (BORING). As I said above it sucks. But its important, so I've taken up alot of reading, attending courses, getting expert advice and this time I'm confident I'll sort it out.

3. I try to know my market and keep myself up to date of the changes in the market. The market is dynamic and if I don't keep myself updated with what my competitors are doing, I'll not know how to compete. This is something really important to me and I've been making sure I do it right.

4. Finally I try to spread the risk. I try not to have one client or supplier hold me at ransom or have just one product supporting my whole company so that if it ever fails....well you know what would happen. So my risk management is not all that bad.

All in all 2009 was a year of trials and I learnt a lot from it but I am now ready for 2010. Ready to make 2010 more rights and less wrongs....let me go home now and watch TV but watch this space because..."I GOTTA A FEELING THAT 2010 IS GONNA BE A GOOD YEAR".

a.karanja@afribusinessdevelopment.com