So, You Want To Start A Business?

Updated: Feb 18

Welcome to Mo's Guide! Your one-stop spot for all things business for the young entrepreneur. This is a weekly series that will serve as a guiding hand as you wade through the sticky muck that is entrepreneurship. So be sure to tune in every Monday for your weekly dose!

At Arielle, we have a goal to create 113,000 jobs across the African Continent. We chose to do this by ensuring successful and sustainable entrepreneurship. Like a tree that grows from a seed, so does entrepreneurship. The seed is an idea that requires nurturing. Our mission revolves around nurturing this ideas to fully grown businesses.

Who needs this guide?

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, Arielle for Africa program applicant, or a curious mind keen to wade the world of entrepreneurship, this guide is for you. Whether you have a running business or you are simply grappling with a myriad of ideas wondering which one is scalable, you may not want to miss an article.

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We begin with the entrepreneurial ‘seed’ in its most basic form -The Idea.


We are often inspired by different things in our environment and from them, ideas arise. The process of choosing an idea that could potentially be a business is lengthy and tedious. For some, ideas are easy to come up with, while for others it’s a struggle. Whatever you case is, these guidelines will come in handy.

After all, we hope to see you take next step: Start The Business.

One commonality surrounding idea generation is the step from a conscious effort to notice problems and identify needs. Building on this, I came up with these 3 types of ideas.

1. Ideas to solve a problem.

There is a high chance that a problem you experience as an individual is common to a group of other people. It does not matter what the size of the problem is, if you can give a solution, that can be the beginning of a business.

Think about it, anything you see around you was invented to solve a problem, even the gadget you are using to read this. Communication is very essential. It was harder in the past, and today it is much easier because there were people who came up with a solution to make it easier. From mobile service providers to handset manufacturers, all these are ideas that began to solve one problem: Making communication easier.

A single problem can therefore be approached from multiple dimensions to solve it.

Keep in mind, you need not overwhelm yourself trying to pick all the dimensions. It is absolutely fine to pick one and run with it.

It really does not matter whether you are working for someone else, job searching or freelancing. There are always points of pain you can identify in whatever environment you are in. You, however, need an open mind to see these things. The more active you keep your brain, the easier it is to find new ideas. Write them down as they come no matter how crazy they sound, that could be the start you need.

2. Ideas that build on an existing product.

A business idea doesn’t have to be about inventing a new service or product. It could simply be about introducing a new angle to an existing product to make it more efficient and in turn make life easier. This is different from solving an entire problem, it mostly taps into human emotion to make life easier. Most luxury products are made with this in mind.

Getting a cab a few years ago was costly in cities across Africa. There was no choice to the kind of car you got, and sometimes all you could hope for was to get to your destination however way available or possible. Enter Uber and it revolutionized the entire taxi industry. Did you as a taxi user really think you needed all that Uber provided (besides lower pricing)? I doubt you did, but you wouldn’t have it any other way today.

Think of anything no matter how small that could make the use of anything easier and you would be surprised at how much of a difference it could make.

"The way to get started is to quit talking & begin doing." Walt Disney

3. Ideas Based on Passion

You have probably heard about this one over and over again but did you do it? The good news is, you can still do it. I am often glad to meet people who have done this and I will endeavor to get an interview with a few who can share their experiences with us. I know a number of people who have also be held back by the fact that they could not see how their hobbies or things they are passionate about could make business sense. Others are held back by the feeling that these things they are so passionate about are not cool enough and other reasons as such.

Marc Anthony’s famous quote ‘If you do what you love you will never work a day in your life’ should be a gentle reminder to how much you are capable of achieving. Stop the self-sabotage and go for it.

In Nairobi, you have probably noticed various supermarket outlets with unique and very appealing displays in the recent past. A design firm going by the the name Renova is behind that revolution. The firm was started by one Joram Gatei with nothing but a dream and a passion for design. Today, the character of his work is distinct.

Whatever it is that sets your heart on fire, dare to take it to the next level and you are bound to enjoy what you do. While the list is not exhaustive, it entails tools at anyone’s disposal that they can chose to utilize. Besides, an individual’s exposure and attitude contributes greatly to the generation of ideas. The more you read, the more you travel, the more positive your attitude is towards life, and the more willing you are to take risks and try out new things, the easier it becomes to generate ideas.

Pay attention to what inspires you, write down ideas as they come, write them down as you visualize them, and have no fear while at it. So no matter how wild it gets, write it down that way.

Next week we discuss a different aspect of Business Ideation, till then, have a great week and tune in for MOre with MO.





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