How To Proactively Grow Your Business

How To Proactively Grow Your Business

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As an entrepreneur, do you find yourself continuously blaming the state of the economy when your business plateaus or shrinks? Do you blame the high taxes, the customers, the competition?

As humans, we have a tendency to cast the blame everywhere except towards ourselves.

But to grow your business sustainably, it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive. To understand the difference, let’s first discuss the concept of Circles of Concern and Influence that author Stephen Covey introduced in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Everything that might affect you and your business lies within your Circle of Concern, while everything that you can actually control lies within your Circle of Influence.

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Covey writes, “Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging, and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase. Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts on the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control.”

So what are some ways you can do to proactively grow your business in a sustainable manner?

Focus on one unique value proposition, know your customers and become obsessed with them

Unfortunately, it’s common to visit a small business’s office and see them working on three or four separate products and/or services. While that might be acceptable at the experimentation stage of your business to determine the market-product fit, if you’ve been in operations for over 3 years, you need to focus on one value proposition. Besides building a positive brand name associated with one area, developing a core competency also ensures you’re not spreading yourself too thin and scattering your resources.

Having one unique value proposition also helps you understand your customers better, and cater for their needs. This would enable you to respond faster to their changing needs, and stay ahead of the competition.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is known for saying, “Start with the customer and work backward.” A manifestation of this obsession with the customer is how at every meeting, Amazon is known to reserve an empty seat for the customer so it’s impossible for them to forget.

Build Long-term Trust

At the heart of any business are people; employees, clients, and stakeholders. And any people-centric entity requires trust; trust that promises will be honored, that goods and services will be delivered as promised, that customer’s needs and expectations will be met.

Trust is one of the hardest things to build, and the easiest to break.

As a business, trust is the most important brand asset you can manage but the challenge is, you can’t buy it using money. It must be earned by building a customer-focused brand narrative, as well as positive social and service interactions with your customers.

Unfortunately, because of the tough market conditions, it’s very easy for entrepreneurs to do everything in their power to acquire new customers; even resorting to delivering poor quality products and/or services or overpromising on things they can’t deliver at all.

How many customers have found themselves signing contracts with providers they wouldn’t recommend even to their worst enemies because of how bad the post-signature customer experience is?

Because they do not want to lose business, some might find it unfathomable to tell a potential customer that they do not have the capability to deliver as per their specification or send them to their competition, the idea being, “Let them sign it, and then we’ll cross that bridge when we reach it.”

However, we no longer live in a world where if one customer is dissatisfied, that information will stay within the realm of their family and friends. Instead, we live in a world dominated by online reviews where one bad experience gets blasted everywhere.

As a business, you may not just lose one customer, but the entire market.

Operating with honesty means telling the customer the truth about your product or service even if it might hurt your bottom line. The rule here is simple; deliver on your promises and don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. That way, you make sure you’re operating on a long-term strategy rather than a short-term one.

Educate Yourself

A lot of people find themselves at the helm of entrepreneurship without a lot of knowledge, and while it is effective to learn by doing, and learn from one’s mistakes, who said those mistakes must be yours. There are several programs out there targeted towards entrepreneurs that can give you proven strategies to build your business. An example is ISBI’s AEP program.

To learn more about the program, comment below.


Sales and Marketing leader based in Nairobi, working across East Africa. Currently focused on enabling tech startups scale in Kenya and the region




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Cash remains king as Kenyan SME’s deal with Covid-19

Cash remains king as Kenyan SME’s deal with Covid-19

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When the clock announced the arrival of 2020, I was very optimistic. After a few years of iteration, I could finally articulate my value proposition as a sales consultant and had 2 running contracts get extended, and 3 additional projects added to my plate. I anticipated winning 4 more projects by September 2020, and that would have put me at the same net revenue levels as I had when I was running a marketing consultancy 7 years ago.

But then the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a grinding halt, infecting at least 600,000 people (and counting), crashing economies, breaking healthcare systems, and disrupting modern society on an unprecedented scale. As countries are going into lockdowns and curfews are put into place, people are told to stay home, practice social distancing and avoid congregations to slow down the spread of this pandemic.

Just like many Kenyan entrepreneurs, I immediately felt the impact of this virus on our economy. Only 2 weeks since the first case of Corona was announced in Kenya, and I am back to only 2 projects with the 3 new projects suspended. And if the pandemic continues, those 2 running projects would also fold.

My experience is not unique. I recently talked to 6 entrepreneurs running businesses in the IT and tech sector in Kenya, and the reports have been grim. One entrepreneur in hardware and maintenance had her contract suspended. Projects that require the physical presence of staff have been suspended, and 3 of the entrepreneurs have been negatively impacted by supply chain disruptions. The entrepreneurs are yet to decide on how to handle their employees, and none has developed a detailed restructuring plan to guide their businesses in this uncertain period.

According to UN estimates, African countries have so far lost an estimated $29 billion to the coronavirus economic disruption, despite reporting the very first continental case in Egypt only Feb 14, 2020.

In other words, compared to other countries, we are still at the first stages.

The suddenness with which the Covid-19 pandemic has come and the consequent prevalent fear and anxiety means that as an entrepreneur, you need to be agile to survive this. I believe that business planning during a time like this revolves around one major theme; cash is king.

Given that it is highly unlikely we’ll have any financial assistance from our government in the form of an economic stimulus, any short-term plans for your business should be based on the following cash-related scenarios:

  • Take stock of how much cash you’re holding in your bank account that is at your disposal.
  • Collect cash from debtors that have made commitments to pay in the current economic climate and have historically come through.
  • Identify new sources of income: these could be projects you can complete under the current working conditions of remote working and lean staffing, and you have a guarantee that clients would pay you despite the uncertain economic conditions.

The 6 entrepreneurs had voiced their concern that healthy cash flow was going to be their biggest challenge though with so much uncertainty about the future in the air. In my next article, I’ll share how you can plan your next 3–6 months using the projected cash to keep yourself and your business above water.







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Why Every SME Needs a Sales Process

Why Every SME Needs a Sales Process

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Last month, I reached out to 3 different IT hardware suppliers to make inquiries regarding laptops. I had a clear budget, basic technical requirements, brand preferences, and a timeline. If you were to assess my situation according to the BANT framework that looks into Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline, I was what you would call a qualified lead.

The responses were as follows:

  • One promised to send me details via WhatsApp but didn’t, even after sending them a reminder.
  • One sent me a quote with two options: a new machine or an ex-UK machine.
  • One sent me 2 options, both of which were ex-UK machines.

Sixteen days later, and none of them had reached out to follow up to close the sale.

This made me reflect on how easy it is to lose opportunities for closing a sale without a proper process in place, one that is preferably not managed by the business owner themselves as they tend to wear many hats.

Remember that you only grow when you maintain the business you already have while closing new sales. So build a sales process regardless of how small your business is.

Article also available on Linkedin.







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You Need To Build Your Skills to Grow Your Business

You Need To Build Your Skills to Grow Your Business

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“My focus right now is business growth and not skills development.”

It is a statement I often hear when I’m talking to entrepreneurs, which makes me wonder, how can business growth go without skills development? Shouldn’t the two go hand-in-hand?

I’ve always believed that if you were to grow your business organically through selling directly to clients, it is important to master several vital skills, among them:

  • Strategic thinking and planning: This is the process of crafting the direction you want your business to go within a three-to-five-year framework.
  • Team building and management skills: Unless you are a Solopreneur, it’s very hard to attain operational excellence without a team to deliver your product/service.
  • Customer service skills: You need to ensure your customer’s expectations are met and they are kept happy. It would be really hard to grow a business if you keep on losing customers at the same rate you’re acquiring them.
  • Financial Management skills: Cash flow is the life-blood of all growing businesses and is the primary indicator of business health.

These are a diverse set of skills that you would need to master through experience as well as business courses such as the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program(AEP) by ISBI at Strathmore Business School.



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Smart Sales

Smart Sales

Smart sales is a Kenyan-based sales company working with entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies by increasing their capacity to sell.

We are a team of Go-To-Market veterans supporting our clients’ growth ambitions by developing and executing customer acquisition programs for digital products and services for tech startups as well as traditional businesses.

Do you have a startup that’s struggling to get off the ground financially? Maybe you keep on pouring time, money, and effort into it without seeing much returns. As the CEO, do you spend months attending investor meetings but have failed to secure funding, and now your burn rate is threatening to kill your startup?

What if you could make your startup revenue positive? What if you could be so profitable that you don’t even need to set up meetings with investors because they seek you out instead?What if, together, we could all join hands in creating jobs for the growing youth population?

You’ve landed on the right page. Visit Our site

How Do We Help Startups Become Profitable?

Our programs are built to reduce our clients’ acquisition costs by achieving high sales on the same shilling. We do that by doing the following:

  • We immerse ourselves in your business and ecosystem to understand your value proposition and target customer.
  • We identify strategic partners that give us access to your customers consistently.
  • We combine performance marketing with Offline Customer acquisition Programs reducing the technology adoption gap thus growing our clients base of paying customers faster.
  • We recruit, train, and manage high-performance sales teams to convert prospective customers into active customers, delivering more customers per shilling and time spent on the program.

Meet our Founder, Edward Ndegwa

Our founder, Edward Ndegwa has 20 years of experience setting up at least 6 different businesses in the East African market. He believes that the growing tech small and medium enterprises culture is missing a basic fundamental ingredient: offline business growth.

“After all those years building his businesses, my mission is to help the small and medium enterprises ecosystem succeed because it would lead to exponential job creation within the African market. Every year in Kenya, 50,000 graduates are churned out of public and private universities, adding to the 2.3 million unemployed youth in the country. The amount of potential within the hearts, minds and bodies of these young people is limitless and a successful small and medium enterprises ecosystem would be able to absorb them.”   – Edward Ndegwa

But all of us need to start getting serious as entrepreneurs.

We need to build small and medium enterprises from the ground up, we need to run sales-driven businesses and not funding-driven businesses, and help our employees break the mental barriers to sales so everyone of them can sell.

Our services

Sales leadership training

We support entrepreneurs managing small and medium enterprises in Kenya to develop their sales leadership skills.This is one of the most important steps to take their businesses to the next level.

Recruiting and training sales talent

Having built expertise recruiting and training sales people, we provide support to companies seeking a specialist firm to do this on their behalf.

Managing sales projects

We have specialized in managing outsourced sales resources for leading companies in Kenya successfully. This mostly happens when companies are launching new products, expanding into new territories or running short-term sales activities like promotions.

Some Of Our Projects & Case Studies

AirtelMoney is the mobile money is 3rd largest mobile network operator in the world with over 438 million subscribers.

We recruited, trained, and managed a team that piloted the proof of concept in a model market in Nairobi that was adopted for a national roll-out in a record of 60 days.

Showmax is Africa’s leading online subscription video-on-demand service

We developed and are executing a Go to market model that includes managing strategic partners as well as recruiting and managing growth teams involved in customer acquisition




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