The passing of Dr. Christopher Joseph. Kirubi in June, 2021 ceased a moment for all industrialists to reflect on the habits that made a corporate bigwig. I have taken some time to analyze the demeanor and person in the late Chris Kirubi with the particular objective of highlighting what made him different and successful in building a business empire of his size. Through testimonies shared by some of his family members, friends and employees in memory of their time with him, I have learnt that Chris was truly larger than life. He was a man of style, class and influence. Dr. Christopher Kirubi never compromised his standards especially in grooming, driving and dinning. The polo and golf enthusiast also loved to brag about his businesses. He did all these with one single objective, to attract value.

Chris invested in value creation and value attraction. These he did perfectly by risking his money while banking on his reputation. He knew the boardroom language and negotiated skillfully with other multinationals, governments and high-net-worth individuals who possessed the value that he wanted to attract. He also attracted people to work for him, by creating employment opportunities and by leading them appropriately. Dr. Christopher J. Kirubi invested in almost all sectors, travelled to leading cities, associated with men of caliber and pulled his own sit on the national dinner table where power is designed and negotiated. He groomed his two children, Robert and Maryanne, to take after him the control, management and ownership of his businesses, a strategy to make his empire last for more than a lifetime.

He had enough controversies, but from his success we can borrow a thing or two in creating stronger businesses. Foremost is negotiation. In business one must learn to negotiate, this is the power that gives you way to networks and value. Second is the law of attraction which works well when you coordinate your strengths to your favour. Finally, Appreciate. Dr. Kirubi wanted to be appreciated just as he appreciated others. This final law could have made him a contradiction in many ways; a capitalist who truly created jobs, donated generously and paid huge taxes. The legacy of Chris Kirubi shall live on.

Rick Okinda | IGBR Editor


Book Review: Zero to One – By Peter Thiel

This book is a start-up nerd and street smart. It has a practical process of how start-ups can rise.

 “Brilliant thinking is rare but courage is in even shorter supply than genius”

Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor, he co-founded PayPal and is also one of the earliest investor in LinkedIn and Facebook. He believes that each moment in business happens only once. If you are coping people like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg you are not learning from them. “Successful people find value in unexpected places. They do this by thinking about business from first principle instead of formulas”

To move from zero to One Peter Thiel gives us some major pieces of advice:

  • Be bold : Create a totally new product for your customers
  • Bad plan is better than no plan: its better having a vision that you work toward so you can move from zero to one.
  • Competition destroys profit: you should avoid competition at all cost, the more people that enter the market smaller the profit share.
  • Sales matter as much as product: A plan may be so good but it can’t sell itself. You have to create awareness, let people know its benefits and values, then you can make sales.

Monopoly may sound like a bad idea to most people but competition is good for consumers and bad for business. Every start up should start small in the beginning and own the majority of the market share. Monopoly is the condition of all very successful business. All happy companies are different, each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problems while all failed companies are the same they fail to escape competition.

How can we protect a monopoly? Most thriving monopolies share in some characteristics. The business should have technology that is ten times as your competitors. Have a network effect by first aiming at smaller markets. Then attract more consumers as you grow. Have the advantage of economies of scale and have a strong brand which complements your product.

Important to note is the need to think for ourselves, moving fast is a tactic and not a goal and that it is much better to be the last mover that will make the last great development in a specific market. Before you start-up a business ask yourself: Can you create a breakthrough technology? Is the timing right? Do you have the right people and distribution channels? Are you starting with a big share of a small market? Will your market position be defendable 10-20 years in the future? And have you identified a unique opportunity that others do not see? You must be willing to wait for a long time if you want to build a successful business.

By Effie Odhiambo | IGBR Columnist

Opinion Column: Why You Need To Think Beyond Profits

money, profit, finance

Evolution of the world is now being fueled by technological innovations. Firms are realizing huge profits and tech-advanced countries recording a rise in their GDP. Despite the ongoing COVID pandemic, there are some bigtech players who are ripping big from the digital economy. While this kind of industrial revolution is great news to business bigwigs, it remains a threat to lives and livelihoods in so many ways and by so many measures.

Human welfare is directly dependent to immediate offerings of our planet. The downsides of the digitized world are fast endangering the future of human generations. This has instigated active dialogues and heated debates on how we conduct our businesses. Sustainability has become a 21st century defining objective for governments and corporate entreprises.

While good businesses are still in pursuit of profits, great businesses are going beyond profit goals. They are now seeking to address ecological and social concerns in the world around them. They are pursuing sustainability. Sustainability which is not an act of philanthropy nor generosity but about businesses building a growth model that will be effective now and in the long run.

Sustainability is not only beneficial to the society but also to the business itself. For instance, reducing operational losses, supporting human capital and paying attention to employee’s concerns is likely to increase labour productivity and attract more creative minds which can be a big asset to the business. Sustainability calls for more efficient products and services and this can be driven by innovation. Sustainable outlook also plays a role in boosting the company’s brand .A strong brand attracts employees, customers, business partners and investors. This helps the company to stay relevant and competitive. It is why you need to think beyond profits.

‘What matters is not the size of the pie but what is inside of it. It is the set of ingredients used in making the pie and whether these ingredients will continue to be available in the future.’ With regards to building sustainable businesses, it is not only about economic viability but also about sustainability into the future. This kind of sustainability is attained by paying attention to human and ecological concerns.

By Daisy Tum | IGBR Columnist

THE BCG MATRIX – Why Your Business model should keep changing

There are times when the growth curve of your business takes a constant straight line. There are no new customers – only the existing ones, no new innovations, no increase in income and everything becomes usual. This stage is a red flag to the perpetuity of the business. It sends a message that the business is not a going concern. When there is no change in the way and how business is run, it becomes a question of when the business will shut down. This is because markets keep changing. The main drivers of change in the market are usually trends in tastes and preferences of consumers, technological advancements and activities of competitors. In industries that are highly regulated, government policies affect how the present and future looks like in terms of markets. The entrepreneur therefore must learn to evolve. In the concept of BCG matrix, it has been scholarly analyzed and proven that adoptive change makes the business sustainable. Your product or line of service might be currently profitable, however, to stay ahead of the competition curve and relevant to customer needs, your business model must be elastic enough to evolve with the market. Statistically, drawing from history, only 60 of the 1955 fortune 500 companies still exist. The others collapsed for failing to embrace change. This means that; inasmuch as profitability in the present is key, sustainability into the future is paramount. Your share in the market and your growth rate ought to be constant growth curves that are proportionate to each other when put in a Cartesian plane.

Columned by Rick Okinda.

WEBINAR REVIEW- Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses.

media, social media, apps

Presented by Tiffany Cox

Social media is the way to reach new customers that may not have found your brand any other way. It is an easy way to advertise your new products or information to your followers. Begin by setting up your pages. Don’t leave the “about” or “bio” sections of your profile blank. Use an exciting and compelling short bio. Use hashtags to target social media search engines. Make sure all of your contact information and website URL’s are up to date so your customers can find you. Use consistent artwork on all your pages. In SEO, content is king. Post often and actively but make sure you have unique and valuable content. Share rich content to show you understand what you do. Share interesting information about your industry. Use hashtags to highlight a topic or conversation starter. Don’t be too “salesy”. Post only 1 piece of sales content to every seven pieces of educational content. Some networks only allow certain types of content, therefore you should create a profile on the networks our business will utilize.
Like share and retweet content from other knowledgeable leaders in the industry. Gain more followers by following other people in your industry and customers. Interact with your potential clients by posting questions and then respond to their answers. Use automation tools to automate processes, this will save you time so that you can concentrate on the most important part, engaging your customers.

Review by Rick Okinda

Dynamics of a family business

The Family businesses are evident in every industry and are a vital source of affluence and growth in our economy. The most sensitive and widely discussed family business dynamics revolves around ownership, governance, wealth management and succession plan. Balancing the equation of family informality and strong governance has been a struggle for most businesses. Creating an effective board of directors is key to ensuring business longevity and transparency. This is because they will exhibit profound expertise in both the industry and functional areas relevant to the company. In addition, the businesses should develop and formulate a family constitution, code of conduct, strategic plan and shareholder’s agreement to help them achieve their goals and ensure right structural balance. When it comes to the financial health and stability of the business, wealth management must be prioritised to build a cash reserve that can sustain the company for future generations. The key components for managing wealth include developing and implementing a wealth management strategy and fine-tuning it to accommodate change. These should be aligned with the family values and shared vision. One of the predominant feature in family businesses is the strong desire among family members to retain ownership and control of the business. Succession takes time and careful consideration to plan and ultimately implement it. Every business has its own unique succession plan, therefore, it ought to be tailored to specific elements of a business such as family values and expansion plans. Most business creators are always caught in the dilemma of selling the business or passing it on to the next generation. Depending on which option is taken, the family members need to be involved in the decision making for smooth transitioning. Generational differences have an impact Dynamics of a family business on succession plans. The ongoing tussle between honouring traditions is fading out as traditionalists and baby boomers try to maintain business values, while X-gens and Millennials seek to transform and revolutionize the business model .To ensure legacy of continuity and success, these businesses ought to embrace the cross generational engagement and collaboration. Selling a business to a third party happens when there is no clear successor within the family or the business is uncompetitive. This should be structured thoughtfully and done at the right time. The owner has to maximise the value of the business before selling since it is a one-time transaction and if not managed well, the family has a higher risk of losing wealth. In as much as family businesses want to be secretive in their business model and build a legacy, everything should be done professionally. Since businesses undergo various cycles from their formation to exit, they should seek help from professional business advisors to help them strategize, implement and monitor progress and performance.

Columned by Helima Kemboi

Post Covid-19 Opportunities

While economic depression is real, many businesses have shut down and industries are recording losses. The growth rate of economies the world over is decelerating and those with savings are hoarding money from investment. This review identifies with the common cliché that says, “Industries close for new ones to rise.” Safaricom began by selling air talk time then it diversified to short message service and later to M-PESA and internet data bundles. This has kept the company up float for over a decade now. Today Safaricom is positioning itself as an internet data seller and as a gateway payment platform provider idea to profit www.igrandbp.com because the world has changed. This is just but an example, not mentioning the new market opportunities in healthcare service delivery, media content creation, online learning, online working, online shopping, flood control, railway construction, property management and waste management. Our review points the investor to industries that will not collapse any time soon. These industries include food production, taxi services, healthcare and construction. We conducted a recovery journey survey of companies from effects of COVID-19 pandemic and noted the following.

  • Re-opening of companies will happen in phases.
  • The first step for most companies will be to change the business model, which requires new considerations into already existing business plans and drafting of fresh business plans.
  • Re-calling of employees is not definite and there is a likelihood that many laid-off workers will seek new jobs elsewhere.
  • Workers who will be fortunate enough to be called back to work are likely to be given new job descriptions that fit in the framework of post COVID-19 business plans.
  • Just like traditionally a company could not survive without a messenger, new business models demand that a company must higher or subcontract a socialmedia manager, digital marketer, IT experts and establish a call center to manage customer relationships.
  • It will be very important for companies to create Lipa Na M-PESA accounts as their payment platforms as many payments will be done online.

This review indicates that a time is coming when the definition for factors of production (FOPs) will change to include internet as the fifth factor thanks to COVID-19 for catapulting the digital migration.

Starting Without Capital

From the wake of the covid-19 pandemic there has been continuous disruptions in the economy. Consequentially, many have lost their jobs and others have been forced to adopt new business models. Those whose jobs are lost must find a way out of the broke puzzle while those whose businesses have reduced income must seek to survive in hope of normalcy after this pandemic. Imagine you have been employed for more than half a decade or even two, Imagine the salary you have been earning, the knowledge you have gained from industry, the skills you have sharpened, the networks you have built and the potential you hold to do something similar to what you have been doing but now as a boss of your own. The most likely reason why you are not starting is lack of seed capital. Yes, you need money to start your own business however small it maybe. You need money to purchase internet data bundles and open a social media account to market yourself. You need money to be licensed and to open a Lipa Na M-PESA account. There are many more reasons why you need seed capital from one growth level to the next, but it is possible to start anyway. Inasmuch as money is essential, there are factors that make you more ready to open your business than money. The skills, knowledge, experience, networks of goodwill and reputation portrayed by your personal brand are super-essentials. All these, you must have accumulated as an employee if you worked well. What therefore are your next steps? If you have been an hotelier you must have learnt hospitable etiquette and by this time you understand the value chain. You know when and where purchases are made, how stock is managed in the store, how the kitchen takes orders, how quality of food is controlled, the licenses required, convenient modes of receiving payments, digital marketing and customer service. It is also likely that you have half knowledge of how some departments were run and you may need to refer with your colleagues for assistance. This means you have all it takes to start a similar enterprise except money.

It is less risky to start small but very important that you try an industry that you understand so well. Starting small makes it possible for you to bank on your limited credit worthiness to buy hotel furniture. It allows you freedom to carry some of your unused equipment at home to the premises. Such equipment could be the extra gas cylinder that your daughter returned home when she graduated or basically the largest sufuria that is often not used in your house. The point is, starting small is doable to the very extent of asking your children to manage your hotel’s social media accounts if not deejaying. I have used the hotel example to bring the point home. The modalities could be different to an accountant who has to start an accounting firm or to a laid-off flight attendant who wants to venture into travel agency but the principle is the same. It is easier to convince a credit institution to lend to you when you are operating well than when you are not operating. Your character will speak for you before financiers but people invest where returns on investment are predictable.

Investing in Business Relationships

During COVID-19, business relationships have been disrupted in many ways. Unlike before, meetings and daily staff briefings are no longer the norm. Social networking events have reduced in size and frequency. Business trips are not as many either. In summary, business relationships can no longer be sustained in conventional ways. It is important to put all efforts in guarding your business relationships as building new ones is not always as easy. Remember meaningful relationships are those that are cultivated around genuine of interest, enthusiasm of both parties and mutual benefit. To protect such relationships during COVID-19 pandemic, deliberate efforts must be made. Best suggestions to keep your business networks alive in such times include: sending thank you messages, sharing interesting articles, introducing useful contacts, asking for advice and networking through social media. Plan your get-in-touch strategy with existing and new relationships in your business. Removing old contacts is also important to keep your customer database fresh. Also ensure new contacts are admitted to the database by day consistently. Getting involved with business councils and other networking groups to mingle with others on the same journey as you is another good approach. Mentor smaller businesses as you get mentored by those ahead of you. Lastly, convert your contacts to business assets. Use them to make new sales, referrals, inkind services that you would otherwise pay for, benchmark and get updates on information releases. Sometimes the only thing that can sustain you in business is great relationships. Therefore invest appropriately in business relationships for from them are your suppliers, customers, next employees and associates.
Columned by Rick Okinda.