How to Succeed in Business in Kenya

“Our greatest weakness is giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

I had the priviledge of hearing Joanne Mwangi, whose company, Professional Marketing Services, was voted the best of the top 100 SMEs in East Africa. Joanne spoke at length about entrepreneurship and how to start/run your own business. Here’s some nuggets of information shared by her:

First, the most important thing about starting your own business is that you have to choose the right type of business to start. Your choice needs to be:

  1. Something that you are very, very good at
  2. Something that you love
  3. Something that can make you real money

Do not copy what others are doing. Joanne gave an example of the ‘phenomenon’ that a few years back it was it was almost a “fashion trend” for people to go to Dubai to buy things and come sell them in Kenya. Most people who did this did it only because they heard that it would make them a lot of money. Starting a business by trying to copy someone’s success is not a good idea.

Think Big. let your dream be as big as possible. if you think small, you will find that there’s an upper limit to the amount of success that you can enjoy.

Other pieces of advice:

  • Do not give up until you have been running your business for at least 18 months
  • Hire right
  • Take intelligent risks
  • Accept failure and move on
  • Never stop learning
  • If you help others, it almost always comes back. Therefore, share your experience and advice with others and train and mentor others if you can.
  • Pay yourself a salary. A real salary.
  • Pay your taxes!
  • Embrace God in everythign you do.

Additional Resources


  1. Ken Thumbi says:

    Theoretically interesting… this is Kenya (though I would prefer referring to it as East Africa) you are talking about, right? Are we talking sme’s or large scale commercial business or industrial type of businesses? I would definitely like to read your ideas on each of these.
    My main reason for interest in your thoughts are directly related to a hobby I kind of stumbled into, this hobby entails understanding how countries developed (which is basically how businesses were successful over time). My reading has taken me back to 1800’s and covers countries from Bangladesh, Finland, Singapore, China, Germany, and the USA…
    So when I read your templates on how to run and succeed in business, it is only natural that I look back at some of these developed countries and see if the same formula was applied. Its pretty easy to compare for some of their small businesses have ended up being dominant globally e.g. nokia, Ducati etc . etc.
    I will often sambaza your site…

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