As promised last week, I’ll be sharing things I’ve done to help me as an entrepreneur with little or no employment experience
- Get mentors
MENTORS, not a mentor. I’ll explain why. For me, it’s been incredibly beneficial having 2 mentors, one who is in entrepreneurship and another who’s lived most of her life in employment. My dad is one of my mentors and he has never been in formal employment. He lived in the days when companies would go to campus to get employees but he declined all offers, I definitely got that from him. He’s now a successful businessman. My other mentor is a lady called Catherine who worked in E.A.B.L. for 25 years. She helped me a lot when it came to creating structures around my businesses and many of our meetings and conversations revolve around applying what she learnt in employment into businesses.
I’m a strong believer of mentorship because it allows me to humble myself and learn. Entrepreneurs can be very strong willed. It helps having an older person who is able to guide you, correct you and tell you things as they are.
I actively volunteer in my church and this has taught me so much. I don’t know where to start! I serve in the youth ministry. Serving there has taught me how to work in a team and also how to lead, because I’m led in that team as I lead in other ways. I’ve been through the process of creating a strategic plan, reviewing the strategic plan, starting an entire youth service, planning for events and activities, facilitating groups, creating curricular for various programs etc.
I’m also in an investment group serving as the treasurer and I love it! This role has taught me integrity, good record keeping, how to prepare reports and presentations and also how to listen to people and give sound advice.
When I was in university, I volunteered to work for one of the most well-known online gift shops in Nairobi. It’s from there that I learnt social media marketing, how to handle customers as a small business and also how to manage staff. Seeing things work for them made me believe in my journey.
- Create a routine
A day moves fastest when you have nothing planned! Procrastination manifests itself the most when there’s no plan and a routine is part of planning. I know this because I spent a good amount of time this year not planning my days and it did not end well. My productivity was low!
I’d wake up late in the day, tired. Have you ever slept so much that you wake up tired? That was me almost every day. Then I’d say to myself, “It’s too late to do anything productive”, or, “I’m not feeling it today, let me watch a series”. I don’t know the IT moment for me, but I was tired… tired of lying to myself and feeling defeated every day because of laziness and procrastination. So, I created a routine for myself. I started with a morning routine. Before I knew it, I had less time to watch series and more time to work, plan and even read a book. Part of my routine is to set a day of rest and on such a day I don’t carry my business phone and won’t reply to anything. I rest, catch up with friends, go on a date, watch a series etc. If it writing down your routine helps, then please do it. If creating a full day routine is hard, start with a morning routine. Before you sleep, know your morning plan for the next day. Plan your breaks and rest days. It really helps!
But I assure you, you can have the best routine on paper but without discipline, it’s a waste.
Don’t let pride stop you from achieving your dreams. Consult…ask! What you don’t know, ask. Consult with your peers and mentors. Consult even with people in the same industry. I have 2 friends who sell phone cases and accessories. They each have their own businesses but those guys consult each other. At first this was so foreign to me, I didn’t understand how competitors can consult. But you see, those 2 brilliant men think abundance. They know the cake is big and helping the other person makes them lose nothing. You don’t know how to do your accounting? Consult! Need to learn more on marketing? Consult! You’ll be surprised just how many people are willing to help only if you ask. You don’t have the advantage a big company has of hiring different people to run different departments, so as you build your way there, consult.
- Read books
A lot of knowledge is hidden in books. You just need to read them to find it. I used to say that I’m not a big reader until it hit me that I’m the one setting that limit in my mind. My sister loves reading and I’d see her building her collection and reading a book almost daily. I really admired that about her and I still do (thank you sissy!) So, I challenged myself to read a book every day at a certain time and it is now part of my routine. I’ve read 3 books since September, now on my fourth and I’m glad I started making reading a habit because I’m learning so much and developing positive personal and business skills. If novels will make you get into the habit of reading, then by all means start there! I didn’t start with novels though, I went straight into financial literacy books because that’s what I wanted to develop at that time. This month, as mentioned in a previous blog, I’m reading books that will help me shift from a scarcity mentality to one of abundance and I feel like I’ve learnt more on that subject in one month than I have in my entire life 😀. All because of books.
I must be honest, I’m really working on this 😂. I used to sing it but not actively do it. My mentors are always talking about the importance of having good networks but for some reason, I’ve never really owned it. But that’s changing. I’m in fact attending my first networking ‘gig’ this coming Friday at Nairobi Club and I’m trying to get excited about it. It’s still a W.I.P so by all means, help me! I want to be more proactive, channel my money from going to fancy restaurants to attending events that give me an opportunity to network. I want to expand my contact list from only having family and friends to having my networks. Someone I can call up for an interview, when I need to market something, when I need legal guidance etc. Now that I’ve put it out in the public, I really have to work on it.
I’d love to hear from you, what has helped you as an entrepreneur gain skills outside employment?
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