Business 302: Weathering the storm

Running your own business is a lot like being stuck in Nairobi in 2010. El Niño, La niña, miracle babies, global warming, and several unnamed cults have urged the gods to kill our weather patterns, so no one really knows when it should rain anymore. It’s mid-May, and our showers of blessings are yet to slow down. This unpredictable weather comes with both blessings and less-than-blessings.

Rain means filled up dams, which logically equal lower electricity bills. It also means more greens, less dust, less hunger, and more umbrella sales.

But the rain has some downsides too. Tomato and onion gardens are being flooded, so they’re not maturing well and are getting pricey. In my neighbourhood, I buy one [fairly large] tomato at ten bob, which is ridiculous really.

The roads are getting eroded, and so is our good sense; have you tried moving in the CBD when it’s raining? Don’t even get me started on the burst sewers. Nairobi is a lot cleaner and greener than she used to be, but we still clearly has a massive drainage problem.

Business is sometimes like that. We all itch and ache to go entrepreneur and do our own thing, but when we get there, it’s not quite what we expect. When we are starving in drought, we beg for rain, but when it gets here, we have to deal with wet feet, muddy shoes, and malaria.

When you work for ‘the man’, you may have a crazy boss, but you can always transfer or quit. When you’re working for yourself, you often have annoying customers, but they’re paying the bill. And no, you cannot bash your clients on twitter.

But just as you enjoy rain while cringing at the potholes, you can harvest your business as you hide from giant mosquitoes.

Yesterday, I got stuck in the rain, and learnt a few lessons that can help you build your business. So here are my survival tips for rain – and business – in 2010.

  1. Always  trust your instincts: When I looked at the sky at 4.30 yesterday, I considered staying in the office and waiting it out, then decided to try to beat the clouds instead. Had I stayed at work, I’d have been stuck until 8.00. But then I’d also have been warm and dry, and got a lot more work done.
  2. Always have a backup plan: I carry a big blue knapsack everywhere I go. It’s loaded with endless junk, cables, a bottle of bubbles, a yoyo, three novels, purple lipbalm, spare bullets, ten teabags and three handsets. But nooooo, it doesn’t have an umbrella. ‘Nuff said.
  3. Wear sensible shoes: You never know when you’ll need to have an emergency meeting in a high class restaurant with a new client. Or when you’ll need to run in the rain.
  4. Learn from others, but don’t envy them: I have always admired girls that can walk in high heels, and I’ve even toyed the idea of ‘upping my business image’ by getting some skirt suits and Louis Vuitton. But yesterday, I saw good-looking ladies in litty-bitty power-skirts surviving the cold and rain while I breezed it in my Northstars and jeans. Score one for the tomboy!
  5. Always have an emergency fund: You never know when you’ll need to kill some rain-time by having a hot pizza instead.
  6. Timing is everything: When I finally got to my bus stop, the rain was pretty bad and there was a shortage of matatus, so I hung out in the semi-shelter for a couple of hours. I saw some people rushing off to Bomb Blast to get transport, but they had to get soaked through and use some serious rugby skills to get there. I waited until the rain was a drizzle before I calmly headed that way, and I found a matatu ready and waiting. Yay!
  7. Stay positive: If you have to be stuck in the rain, it helps to have a big red jumper, heavy blue denim, canvas shoes, and a waterprof hairstyle. But even without the protection, try to keep smiling. The bad times, like the rain, will turn to rainbows eventually. Just ask Donald Trump and Noah.

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through

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  1. This is a really interesting and creative way to look at things!

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