Lindah Mbaisi is a versatile entrepreneur. “Queen” Lindah, a public relations professional, founded Hans J. PR and Communications. She also works at Performers Rights Society of Kenya as the member relations executive. An expert in intellectual property, she also helps brand upcoming artists in Kenya.
Mbaisi has been part of many startup businesses, knowing how they can excel and what kind of assistance they need to succeed.
“It is encouraging when startups get endorsements from well-known personalities,” she said. “This means that there is someone else who believes in the business venture and what it can potentially achieve.”
“Because of amazing technology and connection, the world has become a global village,” Mbaisi said. “The connectivity has made crowd sourcing and crowd funding easier. Many people are now venturing into online spaces when it comes to startups.”
Overnight success is a nice dream but not a viable business plan.
“For you to successfully transform a startup into a fully fledged business venture, you need to be patient,” Mbaisi said. “Be persistent. Skillfully know when to act and when to wait.
“Even Rome was not built in a day,” she said. “It takes patience and persistence to come up with something that will survive the test of time.”
As she explained to Africa Tweet Chat, Mbaisi has found good ways to crowd source for business concepts.
“Share your business idea with the public,” she said. “Ask them through market research what they would want. They will make contributions to your business idea to helps you to identify gaps. Host contests and giveaways on the business idea to generate engagement.
“In short, startups require you to involve others,” Mbaisi said. “You could crowd source for innovation, efficiency or problem-solving. You can do so by asking a few people what they think of your idea and how you can make it better.”
Many startups seek investors, which has plusses and minuses. Mbaisi began with the pros:
• Investors bring in money, hence financial freedom.
• They contribute ideas, hence value to the business.
• Credibility and potential of your business is boosted.
• Investors have great networks you could use to grow.
Then there are the cons:
• Commitment of the investor depends on profitability of the business.
• You will owe investors. There is no free money.
• Micromanagement: You might need approval from investors before making decisions.
“Investors are very strategic,” Mbaisi said. “They will be quick to jump from one startup to another as long as companies do not address their intentions and needs.”
Setting expectations with new staff members when hiring for a startup also differs from that of an established business. Mbaisi cited startup musts:
• Job descriptions should be crafted to match the staff’s expectations.
• Have strong values to encourage potential employees to stay.
• Assure the growth of staff in terms of job scale and remuneration.
• Set guidelines, but be flexible because a lot changes.
“Ever heard of, ‘Work for me. I will give you exposure and experience,’” Mbaisi said. “Most startups do not pay their staff. Don’t start a business without a proper plan.”
With that in mind, entrepreneurs ask at what stage of a startup should they start to pay themselves. Mbaisi questioned the suggestion that entrepreneurs should wait until they achieve three-quarters of their goals.
“Three quarters?” she said. “I feel like this might take longer for most startups. I could be wrong because some have outdone themselves. Pay yourself even if it is pocket change kind of money. I believe this will encourage you to do better to earn more.
“We have short-term and long-term goals,” Mbaisi said. “After all these are achieved, embark on setting new goals that will take you to the next level. The sky is never the limit. Make your better, best.”
She summarized the fundamental questions a startup should answer:
• What problem are you solving? Identify the gaps in the product.
• Who are you solving it for? Know your target customers.
• Who are your competitors? Know where they failed.
• What makes you unique? Be able to last longer. Know your vision.