Business startup is a huge and potentially risky undertaking, especially when you’re moving from employment. Here’s my startup and growth story.

(Note: This is an updated version of an article that was first published on the Create Your Dream Business blog. It’s also a very long article…).

How can I write articles to help people start a business? That topic was on my mind for 3 months as I wracked my brain on how to introduce my then-new blog.

I had a number of complete draft articles and a lot more half-written ones. There were also a number of articles that were nothing more than the topic and one or two sentences.

On this particular day, I gave myself a do or die deadline to finally complete this task and get it off my to-do list. And what better way to flag off the blog than share my story?

So here’s how I started my dream business and why I teach people to do the same.

The unhappy employee

In 2006, I was on a career path that would lead to achieving a PhD. I had an OK salary and was getting exposure and credibility, both locally and internationally.

In May that year, I travelled to South Africa for 6 months of study. During this time, I got to evaluate my life and career…and I asked myself some very hard questions.

The end result: I realized that I didn’t want to spend 5-6 more years learning and travelling to build this career.

While everyone told me I needed to get a PhD, I didn’t feel it deep inside. I didn’t want to be at other people’s beck and call. Also, I didn’t want to miss out on my children’s most important years (they were 2½ and 5 years old).

Clearly, I had outgrown being an employee. At the same time, I thought I was ready to start a business and become self-employed.

By the time I came back home, I had already written my resignation letter in my mind. It took two more months before I got the guts to hand in the letter. And once I handed in my resignation, I had 6 months to complete any pending work and get out of there.

Business startup = success (or so I thought)!

When I quit my job, I was exhilarated about getting into business. My business was going to be a massive success! It would also provide me with an opportunity to show people how bright I truly was.

Looking back, I now laugh at myself because I couldn’t have been more wrong. Jumping straight into business caused a lot of pain and loss.

On the bright side, it led to the unfolding of my purpose in life and the creation of my dream business.

My first business, which debuted in November 2007, fell flat. When it crashed in April 2009, I lost all my savings (including my pension) and money that I had borrowed from my parents, sisters and husband.

The loss of this business almost brought me down emotionally and I took a year off to lick my wounds. During the recovery process, I took time to evaluate where I had gone wrong.

This process also made me realize that while my business had failed, I had helped my customers and friends grow their businesses. Later, I got to know that I had unknowingly coached these people into success.

It wasn’t an easy time because everyone around me recommended that I seek employment again. However, the fire of entrepreneurship was still burning inside, and I knew that I wasn’t going to thrive as an employee.

Getting back on board

In October 2009, I read an article by Brian Tracy where he outlined a simple process of finding your true calling.

I completed the exercise and identified my true talents, the ones that I could turn into an income. These included training, writing, researching and teaching.

When I completed the exercise, I asked myself, “How can I turn these talents and any skills I have into income? How can these become a business?”

Luckily, I had a background in research. I also had time because I was a stay-at-home mum and my children were in school all day.

The next step was to go online and research different training organizations in Kenya that matched my skills. I then visited some of these organizations to get a feel of the business.

One of the organizations gave me an impromptu free coaching session that helped me get clear about my career. At that point, I told myself, “If this is how powerful coaching is, then I want to be a coach”.

The organization later hired me as an Associate Trainer. They trained me and gave me lots of experience in conducting personal development training.

Time to start a business…in a new way

With more research, I found out that coaching could combine my skills of training, writing, research and teaching into one business.

In 2011 I requested three Kenyan coaches to mentor me into starting my own coaching business. Two of them agreed. One told me that I had to take her 3-month coaching program first.

I didn’t want to wait for three more months so I took up the offer by one of the other two. She not only mentored me but also helped me create my first coaching program.

At the same time, I trained in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) training and got certified as a practitioner.

I was at business startup once again. This time, however, I was very clear about what I wanted and how I was going to achieve it through my business.

Going beyond business startup

I moved fully into coaching in February 2011, first as a business startup coach and later as a life and business coach.

My first program was about helping people start their dream businesses while still in full-time employment. Initially, I worked with anyone that came to me for coaching. With time, I became more specific and narrowed it down to working with professional and business women.

After a few years, I compiled my business startup program into my first book: 12 Weeks to Startup: How to Turn Your Skills, Talents, Education and Experiences into a Business. This book later became the foundation of an e-course that provides me with passive income.

I ran this second business as a solopreneur until 2017 when I teamed up with other coaches to form Biashara 360. That partnership didn’t work as expected, but it pushed me up to the next level of business growth. This experience had a lot of lessons so my former partners and I shared the Biashara 360 story in this series of articles.

As I write this article, I’m amazed at how things have fallen in place. It’s not been an easy journey and I’ve fallen more times than I can count. But the strong focus on achieving my dream keeps me moving forward.

I get paid to have fun doing what I love, work from home, set my working hours and have time for my children. I get paid to work with people who want to bless the world with their skills. And I get paid to build my dream business.

Steps to starting your business

This article would not be complete without a summary of some critical steps I took to start and grow my business. Here are the steps.

1. Make a decision to start a business

It’s no longer about trying to start, it’s about doing it or not. You can’t afford to sit on the fence anymore.

Also, commit to hanging in there until the business succeeds. Life will happen and you will get some knocks. Your commitment will help you get through the hard times.

2. Conduct an evaluation of your passions

Evaluate the skills, talents, knowledge and experiences you’re passionate about. Specifically, look for things people ask you for advice about and those that you do effortlessly. The fact that people ask for your advice means that there is potential to develop that into a business.

3. Turn these passions into a business

Start by researching ways in which these ‘passions’ can be turned into a business. Find other people who are doing it and either model them or ask them for help (to teach, coach or mentor you).

Entrepreneurs are very good at sharing information. There are also millions of blogs on the internet and books that can help you move forward if you cannot get physical helpers.

This blog is also a place to get free information and education so bookmark it and sign up for updates.

4. Identify your gaps

Identify your skills, knowledge and experience gaps. Create a plan to overcome them.

With time you’ll be able to hire people who are strong where you are weak. For now, you may have to be everything in the business. Luckily, the internet is full of ‘how to’ tips and resources so make Uncle Google your friend.

5. Start your business ASAP

Don’t spend a lot of time researching, planning, and getting things right. As Nike clearly says, “Just do it!”

The best teacher about your business is the business itself. Most people fear failure so much that they end up not starting at all.

6. Find like-minded people

Start hanging around people who have started and are running their businesses. You can also join those who are starting and are committed to making their businesses successful. Business networking events are a good place to start.

7. Enjoy the process

No matter how lucrative an idea seems, don’t get into a business you aren’t passionate about. This is your life and your business.

You’re also getting to decide (maybe for the first time in your life) how it’s going to be. You can only enjoy the process if it’s your passion and not other people’s idea of what you should do.

The end is a new beginning

That’s my business startup story and some advice to help you start a business. The first business went under, and I merged the second one into Biashara 360.

Each business has taught me amazing lessons about myself, my career and the business arena. One of the key lessons is that building a successful business is more than just work. It requires effort, persistence and commitment.

Hobbies and interests don’t make good money, businesses with systems do. If you don’t take your business seriously then it will be a waste of time, money and energy no matter how many people you’ve helped.

Once you get clear about your motive for starting the business, then you’re already in the process of setting up a strong business foundation.

Finally, the more money you make from your business, the more people you will be able to help. Also, the more people you help, the more money you will make from your business!

I’d love to hear from you so please share your experience or ideas in the Comments below.

(Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at Free Digital Photos)

Caroline Gikonyo
Caroline Gikonyo

Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at Biashara 360. She's an avid blogger and also oversees our content creation. This ensures that we give our readers quality and well researched information and tips.

    2 replies to "Getting Started on Your Dream Business: Here’s My Story"

    • Caroline Gikonyo you are my senior in the coaching field. You are really authentic and such an inspiration!

      Sometimes I read your stories and find myself laughing out aloud. Your journey so resonates with me and my journey as a coach it is just incredible! I am forever encouraged by the way you open up about your story; the good, the bad, the mistakes; everything.

      Keep doing what you do. You have no idea how many people you give the courage to keep going no matter how tough the going gets.

      • Caroline Gikonyo

        Thank you Susan! It’s great knowing that you benefit from the stuff I share. I also appreciate your responses to the blog posts that touch you. Getting this feedback gives me motivation to continue sharing my experiences.

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