Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Top 16 Great Values That Money Can’t Buy

 As I think about what the future holds for me and family, I usually take a pause and flashback on where I have come from not to regret but to find inspirational moments in my past journey to springboard into the desired future.

 ~ My advice ~ 
 As we search for money to safe guard a stable future, we should strive not to lose the things that money can't buy. Wilson Masaka~ Youth Advocate 

I find great comfort in my value system that I have inherited from my family that I would love to pass to my children and whoever we cross paths especially the young people because the future depends on them. This pandemic mode takes me back around the year 1997 - 2007, I remember those tough times with my family and I relate it to the current situation to build courage and hope for a better day to come.

I wonder how my parents made it out of those tough moments balancing family affairs, is the untold story which I would love to share with my siblings and my children. I remember my late dad lost his job and my late mum tried all forms of small businesses to put food on the table, while my dad applied for one job after the other hoping that a day would come that everything would be back on track. Being the second born in a family of eight, I was lucky to learn the ropes from my parents whereby they could share everything with us from their aspirations, current life, debts, future prospects, challenges, health, etc.

I wonder how many parents are doing this now that most of us are at home facing different challenges, I believe we can find time to learn and drive the desired values starting within the family settings. One area I source for strength, hope and determination is about my late mum entrepreneurial journey. My late mum tried more than one business supported by my late dad from selling charcoals, fish, sugar cane, bar soap, grocery, etc.

At least we could get basic especially food but on another front things like rent and education were tough balance. The sad part is that all the businesses didn't flourish to the next desired level not because of her entrepreneurial skills or approach, but because it was the only source of some form of income that supported the entire family and being a small venture established with only available capital everything eventually collapsed due to operations which were basically subjected to hand to mouth system to keep the family afloat.

You don't want to know what followed, anyway that is a story for another day. Below are some of the great learning moments I picked from my family story that that guides my daily life as parent, I hope might also help someone out there I consider them as Top 16 Great Values That Money Can’t Buy;

  1.  Resilience 
  2. Family togetherness 
  3. Grit 
  4. Discipline 
  5. Prayers.
  6. No matter what you're going through treat your children with love.
  7. Patients
  8. Never be afraid of failure trying something new. 
  9. Never compare yourself with others. 
  10. Encourage your children that one day things will be better (mental health). 
  11. Share your plans with your children and tell them the reality on the ground, especially from the age of 12 years and above. 
  12. To dream is good, but live within your means. 
  13. Budgeting to prioritize the essential from non-essential is a must. 
  14. You can miss a meal or two, but peace, love and harmony will always prevail no matter the situation.
  15. Always teach your children to live as per the desired values when you're around and when you're no more!
  16. Teach your children how to deal with finances from a young age so when one day they have money they will be driven by a common goal to better their lives and that of others. 
Thanks to my late dad and late mum may your soul continue resting in peace, thanks for sharing your journey with us, life can be tough sometimes but those values you bestowed on us will live forever.

Monday, June 15, 2020

What You Need To Know Before You Start Your Entrepreneurship Journey.

Many times I hear young people being called out to join entrepreneurship as a way of curbing the growing numbers of unemployment in a society where white collar jobs are diminishing. On 7th June 2020 on my Facebook wall I asked if entrepreneurs are made or born and I was pleased to receive different insights as follows;

“Born, everyone has an innate skills, we say people are fires to be lit not vessels to be filled. By making an entrepreneur you are filling the vase if it’s by birth then it is fire. When it is by birth the passion never runs out but if it’s by making there comes a time when burn out occurs and that’s where they quit. We all always say "this is what I was created to do" that simply means being born an entrepreneur.” - Raphael Okwama

 “Entrepreneurship is a skill and no one is born with any skills. We learn skill in the process through daily interactions with our environment. While learning entrepreneurial skills, one needs to develop thick skin, it’s no easy ride.” - Douglas Mzelo

 “Are born but you make yourself an entrepreneur. By discovering yourself and opportunities around you.” - Caleb Ndinya

 “Entrepreneurship is a learnt attribute. The mind in analogy is like a muscle by training; it raptures, heals and grows bigger. We are not born with business acumen but acquire it through operant conditioning. The entrepreneur pursues their business objective(s) with a hindsight of making profits or achieving personal feat. My Two cents on the matter.” - John Kremlin Maina

 “My take is made especially with the surrounding their brought up in or situation. For me, I grew up with a mother who was self-employed and was always involved in her business even if it’s cleaning or delivering on the process was learning tips. After I cleared high school started vegetable farming getting ‘kiasi’ cash from it and from there I have been an entrepreneur.” - Oduor Gaudencia

All insights are right, and in my perspective entrepreneurs are born, made and educated. Meaning;-

  • Born – This is where you find the inborn desire to make change as driven by your passion, grit, dreams, attitude and generally your values. We can’t underestimate the self-drive and discovery in becoming an entrepreneur and that to me means it comes from inside out. If you are lucky, one can be born is a family with entrepreneurial DNA that eventually shapes their entrepreneurial mindset and the entire journey. 
  • Made – At this level you are guided by an experience, family or mentor on what you need to do after developing an interest in a certain subject which eventually graduates into the next pursuit to create a change and solutions to an existing problem. 
  • Educated – Either you are born or made at the center of everything is education which can be acquired formally or informally. The interesting part as an entrepreneur, you have to be a lifelong learner in pursuit for the best solution at the moment. 
There’s in no one size fits it all, because new problem emerges that will require fresh look and solutions.   

Is there a right time to start your entrepreneurial journey? Well, it depends on many factors from availability of resources, the type of business or project, environment, product, timing, the need, your expertise, interest, the size of the business etc. It is a catch 22 moment, take an example at this rate of pandemic, many have been left unemployed, including myself as a freelance consultant trainer. My overall goal is to train youth in 21st century skills, creative entrepreneurship and personal branding in different youth-led institutions which are currently closed.

One would think the next level of entrepreneurship is the way out during this difficult time, but hold on, it is never that easy to take a quick dive into new territories that you have no clues, no knowledge, no support, zero skills, no resources etc. there are things you need to learn or unlearn before you kick-start your journey.

I have developed an entrepreneurship framework after many years of interaction with different kind of entrepreneurs which I believe can be one of the guides to be considered by the newbie entrepreneurs. This isn’t to say it is the master framework, but it is what I see from a different angle of my interactions and entrepreneurial journey.

#MyTopFour #theFormula Identify and address PAIN + GAP + NEED/WANT = GAIN

1. The PAIN

Identify the most painful part as experienced by your target group. This can be monopoly of service that isn't responsive to client needs for example long queues, inconsistency, insecurity, pricing, poor services, delays, etc. Remember the pain can be at any point within the production line or customer segment, just identify the area you want to be involved in and provide a solution. A good example is M-pesa services which changed the banking industry.

2. The GAP

This can be for example, low quality service or availability of a product that the customers aren't aware, the lack of information, lack of knowledge, etc. It can be what your competitor isn’t doing which isn’t at the pain level that if introduced as an extra would create a niche for you thus the creation of unique selling point. Alternatively, there might be a good supply of the product, but still exist underlying issues like lack of client feedback, adaptability with changing trends, competitive price, etc. It can also mean introducing a supplementary product that goes with already existing one e.g. bread and margarine, you can have bread without margarine but it tastes different if you combine the two. Another great example in the community is the milk automated machines.

3. The NEED and WANT

Identify the things that are in high demand and must be used by the customers or within the production line. A want can be following the trails of a trend which means identifying things that people desire but can still live without. The underlying issue can be where to source for the product and not even the cost.

4. The GAIN

Making money is one thing, but being part of a wider solution circle is much more valuable to ensure sustainability, wealth and growth. Always aspire for something bigger and money will come along the way. Be an expert, think-tank and pacesetter, build valuable partnerships etc.

As I write this post I'm also in a catch 22 moment, thinking about how to make both ends due to the pandemic. I hope sharing my thought process and journey might help someone in a similar situation. Feel free to share your advice, a must watch video, story towards entrepreneurship journey.

Great further reading; 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245628 https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/entrepreneur.asp 

Inspiring Quote Life Series...

  • "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts" - Winston Churchill 
  • "Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth" - Mike Tyson #LoveYourSelf #PersonalBranding 
  • “If you don't have a cheering squad, remember to pull a crowd starts with you as the cheerleader of what you DO, loving what you DO and Doing what you love.” ~ Wilson Masaka, Social Entrepreneur and youth advocate.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A walk Into the Unknown Future

One thing we can do as young people in this awkward situation we have found ourselves, is to use the time we have to reflect on where we have come from, where we are and where we want to be in building a career pathway or a future that would survive any shake ups like shrinking economy, pandemic, technological evolution, job loss etc.

 It is an open ended journey with many different answers and pathways to take depending with your situation. I believe in research, reflection, observation, evaluation, planning and a meeting with self in understanding how best to cope with existing and emerging situations. This is the time our capacity will be stretched to the limits while learning essential skills like creativity, innovation, problem solving, communication, critical thinking, budgeting, etc. will help us navigate the rough terrains towards survival mode and adapting into new territories which will eventually define our new normal.

 Sometimes life brings a bundle of uncertainty which can break us down completely, strengthen us, unite us, uplift us from the comfort zone into power zone or leave us paralyzed with no options. It is very clear we are in that moment due to the pandemic and the shrinking economic situation in Kenya. It is tough, but the last thing to lose is HOPE which I’m not ready to let go. A walk into the unknown future.

“I rather walk slowly on the right path, than to sprint in any direction. Don’t take a risk, but go for calculated risk.

 Picture from archive: Training at Oasis Mathare before COVID-19

 It’s now two years since I took the leap of hope into self-employment as a youth consultant, trainer providing training in life-skill, digital courses (social media, graphic design and photography) and entrepreneurship. I must admit it wasn’t easy as many would think from dealing extra ‘free’ hours, sometimes no assignments, pursuit for new connections, follow ups, re-branding, researching, understanding what it means to be self-employed, self-learning, exploring different things, keeping a balance between community charity work versus investing time in future prospects and searching for paid work etc.

Landing the next job or paid assignments can be very tricky and frustrating affair, especially in a struggling economy like what we have in Kenya. Now that we have COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted many things creating anxiety in an already struggling economy makes life tough for the self-employed, employed and worse for the unemployed.

Many have been forced by the situation into temporally unemployment and to some their jobs are at a higher risk of disappearing because it doesn’t require special skill to be maintained by the employer for a certain unknown period until the pandemic is over or it is linked into a business ecosystem that has been hit the hardest, forcing the company to either cut the workforce and operations or even shut down until further notice.

1st June is my birthday, which is a special day for me not only because it’s the day I was born, but also more important because it is the date I do an annual self-evaluation, celebrate achievements and set new goals. Yesterday I had a deep dive into evaluating my past two years in the world of work, especially as a job seeker and self-employed while also putting into consideration what’s happening in the country giving a general outlook.

At this rate of uncertainty, many jobs are at the highest threats of diminishing if it isn’t happening already and I have come to learn what it means to be in an essential work force during a crisis, my work has been cut out of the bracket, leaving me with the biggest test for survival after all the youth spaces where I offer on-site training services were shut down to an unspecified time.

Online would be a great avenue to explore, but there are many factors to consider whereby in some areas as per my situation analysis doesn’t provide best business case, especially by not having any subscriptions to break even while I empathize with what my target group are going through. We need to live in the present with the future in mind and sometimes we need to take small baby steps into a new life making sure we learn out of our situations.

Below the self-evaluation exercise which is part of my annual routine, especially during my birthday, if you like it crown it! I want to share with you five important areas that I consider important if you need to know as a self-employed or you want to pursue job opportunities as an employee in the wake of a ‘melting’ economy and uncertainty in all the sector. -

Here we go! 

1. What do I know?
 - Think about your areas of expertise, skill and knowledge.

2. What do I need to learn?
 - What are the must learn skills in my chosen sector.
 - What gaps do I need to address?

3. Who do I know?
 - Your network comes handy to offer guidance, opportunities, support and referrals.

 4. How good am I at what I do?
 - As much as you can carry a self-score card the best analysis is through external testimonials, resume, contracts, mentor’s feedback and portfolio of work done.

 5. How does my career pathway look like?
 - Are you within the essential service sector should a crisis arise?
 - What about evolution and disruption of new technology would you still survive?
 - Which way to take, the hybrid or master of one path?
 - Does your chosen career promote self-employment?


 I believe there’s a lot to learn and share after the pandemic, use the moment to reflect, learn and strategize while you’re still on your feet with the greatest hope that this pandemic will end soon. I’m looking forward to sharing my learned lessons post COVID with a class of youth groups under skill-up sessions. I'm obeying all the directive; stay at home, wash your hands, social spacing, etc. On my business model I can’t do the usual routines from community soccer initiative and the on-site training for the youth, which means I have been automatically been forced from self-employed into unemployment taking me back to drawing board at the center being self-evaluation and strategies moving forward.

 Inspiration quote;

 " If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." - Martin Luther King Jr.