When one gets a business idea, there is usually this urge to do alot in so short a time. We live in a world where overnight success is highly celebrated simply because of the fast pace at which we expect to do things and achieve results. The regulatory environment has not made things any better. When you see the official requirements to set up a Garbage Collection business in Kampala for example, you just as well might not be able to start at all. Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) does require:
- A registered business entity
- Human Resource capacity (Skilled and unskilled staff)
- Logistical capacity (kind of machinery and vehicles available)
- Financial Capacity (Assets, Financial statements and Tax Returns)
While I am a believer in compliance with authorities, I also believe in harmonising textbook requirements with the reality. If you want to start up a venture and believe the requirements from above are going to bog you down, then you seriously need to consider the option of operating below the radar. By this I mean, test your idea even without undertaking company registration, acquisition of the Trading Licenses, an Office among others.
How do you do this? With the garbage example, you could start by providing services to family, friends, relatives and neighbours. This will help you understand the dynamics involved, make mistakes on a clientele that is likely to correct you before abandoning you, acquire some operating capital as well as help you identify the right human resource and operational machinery that can operate at a bare minimum.
Of course you have to be shrewd when approaching business this way and don’t expect any business book to give you such knowledge. What am sharing is ‘street knowledge‘ based on my and friends’ experiences. This stealth approach also helps you build confidence, understand your pitching points, identify the gaps in the competition as well as position your service provision in a more competitive way.
Due to the lean operation that tends to characterise this approach, price competitiveness can easily be achieved in case you want to break into the market from that perspective. Another benefit of doing it this way is the gap you get to operate before your competition knows about you. Many times when you jump into the market with a big bang, you don’t only grapple with the need to offer services but also have to counteract the assault that your competition puts upon you. So, use the element of surprise, pursue some ignored market niches such that by the time the competition wakes up to your presence, you have a stronghold.
A young lady with the dream of being a Publisher set up her publishing business two years ago and has been supplying different kind of books under her own brand name. She has been operating below the radar all this time but now that the business case is viable and she’s starting to eye the regional market, she’s ready to get out of the woodworks.
A visit to Nasser Road and Nakawa will reveal many small business owners operating below the radar. Printing, Clearing and Forwarding, Design, Software Development and Event Management are some of the businesses one can easily operate below the radar.