Envisioning the end of a matter is such a delight. Starting a business elicits both adrenaline and dopamine, sustaining that business is the hurricane storm. Entrepreneurs call that “the trough of sorrow”.
This year has had my eyes flip open to what the nooks of starting and managing a business are. I have never had a liking for entrepreneurship. In my school years, I had to choose between literature(rolls eyes; like I could ever give it up) and entrepreneurship and you should know by now what I settled for.
Despite the derogatory truth above, I have always harbored a dream to open up and run a restaurant– I have loudly shared this calling. I love food and taking people on a trip with spaces, art and taste. This has always been my dream investment. And to Invest I did.
For me, it took an imagination that I realize now, I didn’t give as much time as I should have–I should have constructed some more however when I saw the beginning and the end, out I came and determined to start. I had me some Dollar savings that I quickly changed into Shillings as the business was targeting a Ugandan market. I had quite a lump-sum amount of money, far and above the budget I had drawn up(or thought I needed).
My product was pizza and the target market was University Students,—the assumption was that students tend to love pizza so much and since my prices were much cheaper than what was offered in restaurants, I was on the road to enviable profit margins and success… Hallelujahhhhhh
At about this time, I had the support of my best friend who had pursued accounting and was very excited that I had entrusted her to run the business. We were on a Spiral, you should have seen how our faces shimmered.
My price list was as follows;
- An 8-slices Pizza would cost UGX. 15000 while on the market, it costs UGX. 25,000
- A slice would cost UGX. 2000, UGX. 1500 lesser than a slice piece on the market.
I willed myself to start; it was such a deep desire, it burned like a feisty romance.
On the day of Launch, I had printed out posters, and hired young ladies that would aid in the advertisement through word of mouth at the campus premises.
I had come to the judgement that Lunch period on-wards were peak hours to sell the product as most students were hungry, and would scamper for cheap pizza. I don’t want to go into the details of what happened during the hours until close of business at 9:00 pm.
But with us were 6 cold unsold Whole pizzas even after an attempt to sell each pizza at UGX. 10,000. The team was overworked with some of their voices gone with the wind, some of them were drenched in sweat, dirt and bad odor. My imagined profit had been UGX. 150,000 after investing in 10 Pizzas however I walked home with UGX. 60,000, 6 stone hard pizzas and 4 slices that my friends and I ate on the journey back home– Such a plenteous waste!!
I didn’t give up.. I was at this investing journey for 2 whole weeks each time with more losses than profits. Until I closed shop. My heart couldn’t take the disappointment and cold leftover Pizza anymore. (I love Pizza now, but not as much as before I started this business, I ate so much pizza to the point that my I reeked of it).
Working with various entrepreneurs has had me realize what loops I missed out then. I considered Downstream Marketing than I did Upstream Marketing. And if you are wondering what these stand for, Upstream Marketing involves what you would do before you start a business, like developing a clear market segmentation map and then identifying and precisely defining which customer segments to focus on. It analyzes how the end-user uses the product or service and what competitive advantage will be required to win the customer and at what price point.
On the other hand, Down-stream marketing involves advertising, promotion, brand-building and communicating with customers through public relations, trade shows and in-store displays. Downstream Marketing enhances the acceptance of a product or service that already exists.
Also, while I didn’t prepare myself as I should have. I didn’t have some of the requirements that I needed to run a successful pizza business. I hadn’t purchased a microwave neither did I have a kitchen kind of setting so things were just about as anywhere. Would you buy cold pizza? Would you trust if you didn’t see its preparation process?— All these things I didn’t consider (I actually had but I deemed them insignificant to my desire to succeed).
Since taking on my role at The Innovation Village, I have since learned a few lessons about starting and maintaining businesses.
Uganda is known as the world’s number one entrepreneurial destination, however 95% of businesses and ideas die out in their first year. My Pizza business (Until I breathe over those dead bones) is part of that static.
Also I bless the Lord for this year, the beauty with the Lord is when you ask Him, He shows you the end of the matter. Just because the Lord has shown you the end of the matter doesn’t mean that you should take the control in getting there faster. He who has shown you, shall be faithful in getting you there. Prophet Elvis Mbonye while sharing the time he was called/shown his path of life by the Lord, said that the Lord shall you the end just so you can trust him enough to lead you there without forsaking the seasons, signs and lessons.
That above is my entrepreneurship story, but it shouldn’t define yours. As a matter of fact, I know people who have started off on a great and profitable note and that can be you as well. Sometimes the thorn of pride in you may outgrow all the roses, so it needs to be cut off.
Do not let what you read here, strangle your vision, keep at it, focus on it. I could swear that the business failed because I had my focus spread out thin. I still kept my 9-5pm job (and I don’t mean to say that you can’t have a business and employment, but for who I know myself to be, I will focus so much on a particular thing that it will leave me burnt out for the next) and withheld attention from the that baby needed to grow.
Here are my 5 key lessons.
Focus; and this comes back to concentrating on a particular thing. Give it all your energy. Spreading yourself out too thin will not only wear you out, but shall leave you with little achievement. Also don’t lose sight of what you envisioned for your business.
Keep the company of those whose drive is as your own, whose journey is as your own: Proverbs 4:7-8 puts it in such a great way “Escape quickly from the company of fools; they’re a waste of your time, a waste of your words. The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track; the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch”. If you want to be a publicist, ever so often hang and learn from the company of publicists, whatever you want to be, keep company of!
If you wouldn’t want/eat/use it, the market doesn’t need it; This means you need to be the first lab test of your idea, business or product. If you don’t see how it solves a particular need, or adds value, then your target market will not see/use it as well
Meditate fully on the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit; I want to stress this out for you. You will need these more than anything else. (How about you research this for yourself so that you can read all the different versions of what these gifts are, and how they will help you uphold your business).
Lastly, let your business have accountability partners. It could be your man of God, your business-minded friend/parent, your mentor etc.. Let them know of your plans, and be accountable at every stage of criticism. Accountability are what writers would call Editors. Editors will blatantly tell you that the book you spent sleepless nights putting together is trash or grammatically unfitting(hurting right?) but will advise you on what you can do to get better (the growth once you heed shall leave you above aptitude).
And that is it from me.. Go start your business, you have been sitting on that idea way too long. Don’t forget to share your lessons and experiences too.