Lessons from GES

H.E President Barack Obama (First left) and H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta (Middle) at the Opening of GES2015 at United Nations Complex, Gigiri, Nairobi

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi just came to a conclusion and for the keen follower of the summit, it leaves a bunch of lessons on entrepreneurship in its wake.

The GES Summit saw the gathering of entrepreneurs who were open for investment, mentorship, and business development. It particularly focused on the youth where it sought to support startups and forge a way forward for small businesses to thrive with the aid of key government officials.

Some of the prominent lessons that I take from the GES summit include:

Grants:
While one of the panelists discussing entrepreneurship challenges discouraged people from using the word ‘grant’ but to use the word ‘investment’ instead, it was a consensual agreement across the board that every entrepreneur should take advantage of grants. The less you can spend while starting out, the better for you.

Before accepting a grant, it was stressed that it is important to have an elaborate plan on how the money will be allocated to your business to make sure that the money is put into good use. Ask yourself, if you were the person giving out the grant, would you be willing to invest in you?

Mentorship:
It is important that you get someone who is in business to weigh in on your decisions. Learning from the people who’ve been in the business will help you anticipate challenges and know how to go about facing those challenges.

Entrepreneurship is not an individual enterprise:
You don’t need to do everything. When your business is still young, you might have to wear many hats because of the financial instability of the business. But once it grows, you have to take off some of the hats and assign them to people you know can add value to your business.

A business does not stand alone; it is influenced by consumers and by government and one must learn to work together with these entities.

Failure is part of entrepreneurship:
I am sure every business-minded individual who had felt discouraged was glad to hear this sentiment repeated by almost all the (very) successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is in fact, a series of failures. Expect to fail and from the failure, learn. The more you fail, the more you learn and the more your chances of success.

Passion will take you the extra mile:
Passion for what you do is what will keep you in the business. It is what will make you try again and again after every failure. You are likely to do well if you pursue a business that you are passionate about.

Invest in something that will serve a large population:
This is all logic: You are likely to succeed if you invest in something that will serve say 70-80 percent of the population, as opposed to a product that will only benefit 5 percent of the population. It is crucial that you find out what a majority of people need.

Understand your target audience:
Research widely on your target audience since what you believe is a consumer need is not always true. You have to fully understand your target audience in order to understand their needs. You have to get into their space and understand their thinking in order to be able to produce something that will be beneficial to them. Ergo, something that they are willing to spend on.

Entrepreneurs were also encouraged to seek out the government for support since it is the entrepreneur and not the government who fully understands where the business ‘shoe’ pinches. They were reminded that the impetus to make the government understand what ails their industry lies squarely with them. The government might not necessarily know if the laws and the policies in place are working for you or whether those laws are stifling your growth. Make the government care enough about you to work with you in growing your business.

 

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