Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Dont Just blame Boda Bodas

It’s long since I last strolled through downtown Kampala. I hardly knew what the area around the old Taxi Park looks like after so many years of having no reason to check out that hood.

Having been forced to go shopping at Gaza Land and later eating lunch at some structures surrounding the Nakivubo Stadium, I was shocked to see the bustle of economic activity going on over there. Ugandans are working their arses off to etch a living. The picture I saw was totally different from the one that social media tends to portray. People are serious about what they are doing and that is not something to be ignored.

This quickly took me back to some articles I have been reading online of the boda boda riders’ attacks on motorists. Alot has been said about what the possible causes could be and I do not really want to delve into that for now.

However, as someone that supports Small Business owners to set up their operations, I have a natural tilt towards those self employed people littered all over the city.

I do not want to summarily state that the boda boda riders are reckless before taking us back to the law of energy conservation we learnt while at school that states thus: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed – only converted from one form to another.

Energy is inherent in every human being you see around as well as all items in our environment. That energy expresses itself in different ways. It could be mechanical (just like machinery), academic, sexual (masculine or feminine), graphical, written, spoken, commercial, criminal etc.

Research has proven that the negative utterances we make tend to have a greater impact than the positive ones. Replace utterances with energy.

How that energy is utilised is dependent on one’s environment. There is a young lad I know who is very bright and charming. He could easily sell an eskimo a fridge. This guy chose to tread a path that saw him visit Kigo Prison a number of times. I had to sit him down, understand him, only to realise that he needed to exude his brilliance and unfortunately got a chance to do so with the wrong crowd. We have had sessions together and as I write this, he is on the path of total reform.

Ugandans today are faced with very trying moments in their lives, and this is happening world over. The crime we see is a sign of so many simmering tensions which if left unattended to, could very easily lead to a bubble bursting.

The energy that we see being used negatively can be converted into positive use if we chose to deliberately follow that approach. Remember, energy will never disappear. It only changes form.

Many of these youths we see out there and consider reckless are actually potentially positively productive, some have tried but failed and only need a helping hand to scale greater heights.

We spend alot of money and time on workshops and seminars that hold no meaning to that young lady making rucksacks from recycled plastic material or that young man earning a living through raising worms for sale.

Let us not bluntly follow the condemning bandwagon of the kind of criminal activities going on. We need to ask ourselves what we can do to proactively change the situation for the better.

WHile there is alot of misery going on, there in equal measure is alot of positivity that we can look forward to.

Let us be the change Makers for the change that we want to see.

James Wire
Technology and Business Consultant
Blog https://wirejames.com

Know your Business Value and stick to it

He is a young man I have known for close to 8 years. Upon completion of his university studies, he definitely fell into the unemployment abyss of Uganda’s youths. Being the hustler that he is, he tried his hands at multiple things but life was just not shifting.

One day he woke up and decided to leave the environs of Kampala for Mbale where from scratch he launched himself into the media industry. I have seen him grow his profile progressively and his achievements so far are impressive. One of the things he does currently is Event Photography as well as Videography.

We had a chat at my office recently and he confessed to me how he has been disappointed by some clients in his work. They come to him pleading for minimal charges only for them to expect services worth a million dollars. He was wondering what to do.

I have faced such before on my business journey and even today, there are a few incidents I still come across. My advice to especially the young entrepreneurs on this is:

Know your value: You are in the marketplace, it is very competitive but then again you know where your strength lies and what endears you to your customers. Get a clear understanding of the value you bring onto the table for a customer and quantify it financially. This acts as your compass when billing for work.

Target the right customers: Now that you know your value, profile the kind of customers that would be well suited to appreciate your value proposition. Remember that not everyone is meant to be your customer. Most times we compromise when it comes to relatives, friends, Old School mates etc but this is where the biggest danger lurks. Such people tend to think they are entitled to the highest quality but cheapest possible service from you. If you are to serve such and they can’t meet your rates, then offer a pro bono service maybe. You are better off having two or three gigs a month from the right profile of customers than 10 gigs a month from unappreciative low paying clients.

Stick to your standards: When you set standards, stick to them. If you offer a service that ranges from field photography to editing all the way to album compilation, ensure you do it the best way you can. Do not be led into shortcuts where the customer asks you to only take photos and share those. You shall definitely be blamed for things you could have avoided. This friend of mine told me of how a friend asked for a very low charge and upon doing the work, by the time he was done, clearly all the money he billed had been spent on the job. Matters were worsened by the fact that he has to-date only been paid half so far and the client is complaining already of a poor service.

Good pay motivates: When I take on a job and I am being paid well, I have the tendency of giving it my all. I sometimes end up doing a few extras for the customer. This is what good pay means. However, when the pay in inadequate, naturally I relegate that activity to the periphery and this even affects my creative juices. At the end of the day, I offer a product or service that only serves to dilute my brand. You don’t want that. Do you?

Document: Most times young entrepreneurs rely on word of mouth to start working on a job. This is mistake number one. It is the one that leads to the failure to receive payments as well as continuous change in scope of work to be done. It is very crucial that you agree with the client in writing on the key deliverables as well as the financial and delivery timelines. In case of a breakdown in the relationship with the customer, you can only rely on the signed paperwork when it comes to arbitration. I always receive calls from individuals and organisations regarding blogging work but the first thing I request of them is to put their request in writing and send it to my email. Only two out of ten usually follow through with the written requests. This approach has helped me sieve the jokers from the serious customers.

If you are trying to make ends meet on your own, it is important that you set a standard for yourself that the market shall know you for and be ready to pay. Remember being busy doesn’t always mean you’re making money. Sometimes two or three well targeted jobs in a month are much better than fifteen jobs.

James Wire is a Technology and Business Consultant based in Kampala

Follow him @wirejames on Twitter

Email – lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com