The curve is not flattening as was expected and deaths are now closer home than never before going by the figures being released daily by the WHO.

A counselling psychologist Becky Gitau in one of her posts wrote and I quote, “Fear and stigma of covid-19 will be the next thing that could kill us”. I agree there is lots of fear and some innocent Kenyans and their families already stigmatized.

But could we be giving too much of our thoughts into this pandemic than it deserves? If we know that covid-19 is real, it kills and also preventable, Wisdom now is, therefore, to keep social distance, sanitize and wash hands, wear a mask when in public and where it’s possible to keep at home. That’s enough better than worrying. Can we now refocus and engage our thought processes into catching up with our dreams, return to productivity in our small ways and make our lives and those of others better.

Bishop David Oyendepo in his book ‘The force of freedom’ wrote and I quote ” You can’t get more from this life than what your thought patterns presents” You had a job, now you don’t, you were jobless before covid-19 now what? You had a business but now can’t sell to anyone or you closed. You are a teacher now it’s clear you have another 5 months to January 2021 to resume. While all this can be blamed on the pandemic, coming out of it better or worse of will entirely depend on thought patterns that we will present for ourselves going forward. “As a man thinketh, so he is. Proverbs 23:7. Think COVID-19 and you are COVID-ed.

You ask me, is it possible that we can still conceive and give birth valid and sustainable business ideas this time around? My answer is a big YES. 

In the summer of 1896, 25 years old Orville Wright contacted a deadly typhoid fever that took him a month before he could sit up in bed and several weeks more before he could get out of bed. Now bedridden, his brother Wilbur who was looking after him got an intense interest in human flight. Now with Orville Wright as his captive audience, he read to him their father’s book titled: ‘A Treatise on Terrestrial and Aerial Locomotion. By the time Wilbur finished reading aloud the book to his sick brother, they had discovered their destiny. “Humans could fly”.

With an average education, no crowdfunding, and no friends in high places, all the brothers had was a dream coupled with a tenacious stick-to-it-iveness. Over and over again they failed to fly but refused to give up but learned from every failure. On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers defied gravity for twelve seconds.

To cut the long story short, in the summer of 1896, human flight was science fiction. Today, in any given day, Thousands of aeroplanes carrying millions of passengers are flying through the sky at over three hundred miles per hour, and it started with a dream well conceptualized and understood in the most difficult moments (A life-threatening typhoid fever attack) for Wright brothers.

Lately, we have innovated ventilators, Specialized ICU hospital beds are now made locally by our artisans, look at the multi-million mask business that has breathed life to our textiles technicians and tailors only a few months before were being imported. Look around and see the number of handwashing machines at the entrance of every office, banks and other institutions, our local artisans are making these not to mention the Ksh. 22,000 Garden chair/Table whose orders are hitting the roof. Just before you forget we now have a BJ 50 saloon car produced in Nyahururu, Laikipia County by our own. Isn’t this amazing?!!!! Are you not thinking of something even now?

If you are there and looking for a business idea, or have the idea but not started, want to change into another line of business or even expand what you have and are wondering how or where are business ideas made, this free lesson is for you.

1. Any unmet need in the market is a rich ground for a new service or product Idea. There has always been a huge demand for pure pishori rice in Kenya, but what people get is Pakistan rice mixed with few kilos of true pishori or with Pishori Aroma. Can you be honest enough and provide pure pishori grain to grain? If yes, you have a business.

2. Unavailable products or services in market B but are existing in market A. How do you explain a Coconut fruit selling in Meru or Nanyuki yet they grow at the coast? It’s out of a business idea they are made available.

3. Any inefficiency in the market which you think you have an idea of how to fix. This is how Telkom Kenya created a fertile ground for Safaricom to thrive. If you notice any inefficiency with a certain business, fix the inefficiency and you are in business.

4. Franchising: You are working with or know a certain strong brand that doesn’t have an idea interest in taking their business idea outside there area of operation. You can propose to be licensed to operate under the brand in an area the brand owners have no interest in starting a business. First food retailers are known for this including Ken chic, etc.

5. Listening to customers: what they want, where they want it, at what price they want or how and when they want a product or service supplied. Any of these questions is a source of a business idea. If you choose to sell what customers want: If you chose not to sell, you can transport the products where they are wanted, this is a transport/courier business idea.

6. Brainstorming sessions. Some of the laid-off people have sat in management meetings where business ideas were brainstormed. Laid off or not are you asking yourself whether similar markets could be existing elsewhere for same services/products which you can exploit and start your own business. What about those IT solutions you are employed to provide? Do you ever think others elsewhere would be needing those same too?

7. Academic papers. That business idea/Project you believed in and strongly defended in front of the panel now lying in the university library shelves could have been your destiny. Fred Smith knew this better than most of us. He submitted a paper on the idea of a global logistics company and after graduating from the University of Yale, he took his idea with him, started Federal Express in 1971 now known as FedEx. 

40 years later, the company has the world’s largest airline in terms of freight tons flown and is the world’s fourth-largest in terms of fleet size. The company has almost 300,000 employees and a sales revenue above $ 40 billion.

Let’s say you now have a business Idea. How do you test the viability of your Business Idea? You will need to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the Market real? Ask yourself

 a) Who will be your customers? Men, women, children, neighbours, travellers, students or everyone or another business. Are the numbers of targeted group/customers making business sense?  

b) Are they in the neighbourhood or you have to take your services/products to them by opening an office or shop there? Are they in the native country or abroad? Will you be able to profitably deliver to your customers at an affordable rate?

c) At what Price do they get the product/service or are willing to pay? Do you have a justifiable reason why your customers should spend more than they do on your product?

d) Where do they want the product or service received or delivered? At home or in the office or at a supermarket near them, are you able to do exactly that profitably?

e) When do they need the supply? In the morning, evening, once daily, weekly or all the time? The best time to sell milk is either early in the morning or late in the evening for example. Do you have the discipline and the resources required to do this in time?

2. Secondly, is there competition for your products or services from other suppliers or are there, competing substitutes of your product/service and how are they likely to impact on your offer? Understand the gaps with the competition and know how to leverage your offer and compete.

3. Analyze on the attractiveness of the Industry you want to get into. If it is IT for example, how strong are the players in the area, are there entry barriers that may hinder your startup, say the size of capital or a technical skills you may not have? You can’t start a computer training classes if you are computer illiterate despite the attractiveness. You may need to hire a competent trainer adding to your startup capital. Eventually, you may sell your services at a higher cost to pay the trainer. Another important consideration is whether the industry is growing or shrinking. For example who would talk about starting a bar or an event management company now? Not a bad business but no longer, practical.

Also, some products or services are highly substituted. People interested in doing genuine bottled water have to think of the backstreet Packers selling their low-grade products at half prices.

4. Fourthly, get to understand if the industry is regulated. Are there Industry regulations that your business may be subjected to, are there compliance requirement before you start or continue? Some businesses require membership to a professional body with registration and annual fees, others are subject to regular inspection by an authority with heavy penalties for non-compliance. You need to check and understand this part very well and do the needful.

Covid-19 has provided the sharp-minded business innovators with the opportunity to explore new opportunities. You should not sleep on the golden chance. It is time to wake up and grab the opportunity.

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