Life Lessons From Mentoring Young Entrepreneurs
By Waithera Ng’ang’a,
CEO, Marketing Society of Kenya
Recently, I had the honour of mentoring young entrepreneurs in different business sectors. What started off as a presentation, became a great learning for me.
These young entrepreneurs, mostly due to necessity started off their businesses without a Plan B and their stories of persistence and determination humbled me. They started off as Chief Everything Officers (CEOs) – being the office messenger, leader, recruiter, sales person and the list goes on and now their businesses are slowly getting into their own.
As we had our conversation, some of the success factors that eventually stood out for us were:
1. Keep your mojo high: The beginning is never easy, meeting up and working with people who share your vision and values are important. Most of the time, at the beginning entrepreneurs are running on personal drive and motivation and it is important to keep your spirits up, because the world will throw curve balls at you and you need to have the energy and motivation to reach the break-even point.
2. Stumble, fall but get back up: Failures will and do happen, but how you wake up after the fall and keep going will determine how you grow your business. For most, in retrospect, we realize that where we stumbled is where we learned most.
3. Marketing is key as the final piece in the business jigsaw: Learn to tell your business story well. One of the biggest issues we realized most of my young entrepreneurs had was that they had great products and ideas, but were unable to package it in a way that investors and clients would find attractive. It is not enough to say-build it and they will come. Branding yourself as the business founder/leader and packaging the business is key as part of the route to market.
At the end of the session the biggest lesson was mine, these young people were passionate and full of belief that the businesses they were running would become great, they were working on it and creating change in the communities they operate in, they were creating jobs – they were not looking for handouts but opportunities to grow to the next level.
I admired their drive and as a business mentor I was reminded why it is so important for each one of us in business or in leadership positions to share the knowledge we have to enable others to grow.
For more information contact Waithera.