Business Lessons from an Entrepreneur to Another
7 valuable lessons I’ve learned as a Creativepreneur
2014 was a very interesting year for me. I had lost my job at a well-known printing establishment and I felt that it was time to go it alone. I did not have a clue on how to run a business let alone start one. I only had a gut feeling and my last paycheck to kick start my journey into entrepreneurship.
I knew that I needed a lot of guidance to be able to pick myself up
and embarked on a soul searching mission to discover myself. I was lucky enough to have people to hold my hand along the way and was able to start making a living from my creativity. A big shout out to my family the Njuguna’s and one James Mwangi Kinyanjui of Get Noticed Investments.
It wasn’t going to be all rosy and I was prepared for anything. I had a business name registered, opened social media platforms and did marketing. I even had the opportunity to appear on a show on QTV known as “Maisha Mtaani” and this helped me position myself well.
Everything was looking up and the possibilities before me were endless. It was a time of success and nothing showed a downward spiral. It got to a point that things were looking so good that I became complacent with where I was and whatever little I was making. I got comfortable and took little notice of how self-improvement was important.
2015 and 2016 had been good to me and I was motivated to kick start 2017 with a bang. Well, 2017 was a bang alright. It started out well until election time came. The business was heavily affected and things made a turn for the worst. We had to move to a smaller office and I personally had challenges raising enough to cater to the office overheads.
I was struggling to get new clients and the few I had were having challenges in their businesses too. I took this time for self-improvement by taking courses and learning from tutorials. I did not give up though, I constantly strived to better myself and my business. I was at the brink of giving up and had sworn I wasn’t getting employed again.
I struggled for a while and pressure to get back to employment was gnawing and ripping a hole of emptiness. I had a lot of arrears in rent and no one was ready to lend me money as my credit score at the time was questionable. The few clients I was working with didn’t have enough work to sustain me and my mental health was suffering a great deal.
A break and an assurance that all will be well is what I needed. It wasn’t forthcoming and I would crush at any time. I sought advice from friends and family and most were of the opinion that I should seek employment. I was not ready to take the plunge back but I had bills to pay and needed a quick remedy.
At the beginning of 2018, I succumbed to the pressure and got a job as an in-house Graphic designer at an agency. Things were looking up but I still had that fire within me to nurture the child I had birthed, my startup. I would balance between improving it while still working my day job. It meant that I had to sleep late as I had to maintain the two, I had an exit strategy in mind. I learned a lot working at the agency and I also made sure that I would leave it a lot better than I found it. I also needed to settle down and start a family to maintain sanity and this was actually becoming a reality now. I married my beautiful wife Cynthia in May and she has been my support system and a firm believer in my Dream.
In Early September 2019, I together with some of my colleagues made a switch into entrepreneurship. It was the best decision I have ever made and even though we are still growing we’ve learned valuable lessons. The most important lesson, however, has been that vulnerability is a strength. I’ve realized that being vulnerable helps create strong relationships based on trust. Below are seven valuable lessons that have molded me in this journey of entrepreneurship.
1. You don’t have to have it all figured out.
When I was starting out, there’s a lot that I hadn’t figured out. I had challenges in building a brand, doing marketing and running the creative business itself.
One thing was certain though, I did not let these shortcomings deter me from achieving my goal. I was constantly learning from people already doing business and from personal experiences.
I’ve come to realize with time that once you set your mind on something, pursue it to the end. Have some faith in yourself but of utmost importance have Faith in God.
2. Invest in Yourself
When you become immersed in business there’s a likelihood that all the attention goes into it. There’s a tendency to concentrate all your energy on growing the business.
Business trends and ideas are evolving with each passing day and you need to stay abreast to survive. The best way to do this is to read books, articles, podcasts, and vlogs that are in line with your niche.
The internet has a lot of resources that can mold and shape you. I’ve personally taken some online courses that have shaped me to become a better creative. Some of the platforms I’ve interacted with for online courses are outlined below:-
- Zydii – This is an African E-learning platform with hundreds of courses in different areas. They have affordable rates and the experience is amazing. I have interacted with the platform a bit but I would highly recommend it.
- Eduonix – Eduonix is an online learning, training, tutorial platform with many online courses on web development, machine learning, data science, marketing, etc. They have e-degrees which is an added advantage. I am currently taking a course in Full-stack Web development from this platform.
- Gumroad – Gumroad is an online platform that enables creators to sell products directly to consumers. I have taken on two courses from Kevin Carden via this platform. This are: ‘The ultimate guide to blends‘ and ‘The ultimate guide to glows‘.
- Domestika – This is an online e-learning platform full of courses for creatives. The courses are mostly in Spanish but with English subtitles. The courses are taught by world-class tutors with experience working for big brands such as Apple and Nike.
3. Don’t take Business Personally
When I was starting out, I had a hard time taking criticism. I was offended when I got corrected as I felt that I was my own boss. With time I realized that I grew more through criticism than on my own. It helped me make better and well-informed decisions.
4. Provide Value
When I was starting out I had so many fears. I was putting so much effort into getting as many clients as possible and charging very little. I would end up doing a lot of work, most of which I did not enjoy doing but rather getting paid for.
Over time, I had a ton of clients who mostly did not return or whom we would have issues over payments and deadlines. I also learned that customers don’t care how much something costs you to make or your competitors, they care how much value they’re receiving at a particular price. I thus made it my purpose to always strive to be the best at what I do so that the customer/client will feel the value of what I offer.
I worked on having a well-streamlined onboarding process. This meant that from the first interaction to when the deliverables are being presented the client is involved at each level. I took on projects that were exciting and cut short those that were beyond my scope or seemed uninteresting since I wanted to produce freshness, pure Gold. I now have clients who would be willing to pay twice what my competitors offer simply because they want value for their money.
5. Maintain your Health
Your health is your wealth. For you to be able to be effective and to provide the value you need to take care of your health. Your body and mind must be well-fed, exercised and well-rested. In view of this, you need to watch the food you eat, how much sleep you get and what you feed your mind on.
6. Enjoy Yourself often
Work without play makes Sam a dull boy. You’ve worked hard to be where you are, you’ve invested your time and energy in growing your business, what about yourself? Don’t you need to reward yourself too?
I’ve realized that most business owners concentrate so much on business development that they barely have time to unwind. I take time out of my busy schedule to unwind and enjoy myself from time to time. It can be as simple as a picnic with friends and family or a road trip to an unplanned destination. Enjoying yourself however doesn’t necessarily mean drinking yourself silly. Enjoy yourself in moderation knowing that there’s always tomorrow.
7. Leaders Eat Last
This sounds crazy. I know. Most people who are in a position of leadership have a misconception of leading from the front. The best form of leadership is from the back. Leadership means putting others’ needs before your own. It means making sacrifices for the benefit of the entire team. It is not easy but it is very workable.
I must admit that this was a huge struggle for me when starting out. Many overheads plague a business, there were times I’d opt to prioritize some things at the expense of those who made it happen. The morale at work was at a low and business was doing badly. I am an avid reader, I read Simon Sinek’s book ‘Leaders Eat Last’ and it changed my perception. I now understand the importance of Eating Last and would advocate it for any true leader.
Entrepreneurship is a journey. All journeys commence with a step, it’s sometimes good to take the road less traveled to make a discovery. Every person, business or brand has its own unique story to tell.
Whether you’re starting out or have been in business for a long time, learn, unlearn and relearn. Share your experience and do not be afraid to become vulnerable. There’s strength in vulnerability.
Do not be afraid to seek help when stuck. Look for people within your industry, your niche. Acknowledge those who help you in any small way and always strive to provide value.
If this article helped you in any way, inspired you or encouraged you, kindly share it. If you have any questions or you’d like to get in touch with me, kindly do so under the comments section and I promise to be of help.
What’s your story? what lessons have you learned from your experience as an entrepreneur? Share with us we’d like to know.
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