How to Succeed as a Startup in Kenya: Part 1

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Starting a new business can be very challenging in this day and age, particularly in the age of technology and high competition. People today are highly distracted and there are many businesses in the same niche that may pose a threat to newcomers. Moreover, building a brand and standing out against incumbents and large corporations can prove an uphill task. However, it can be done! In this three-part series, we will discuss ways that startups can stand out from the competition and have an edge over the competition in Kenya. There are a number of critical market dynamics that are vital to startups including product, finance, competition, customer, timing, and team. The market dynamics "competition" and "customer needs" will be been addressed in this article along with possible recommendations for the same.


No matter what business niche you want to enter you are likely to find other businesses in that niche that are already flourishing. As such, the presence of large companies dominating the various industries is something that one must consider as a startup. It is very rare for someone to start something that is completely new. As such, it is likely that you will find established companies in the industry you intend to build a business. That said, there are many ways to stand out, grow, and even become an established competitor.

The most important thing you need to appreciate about the presence of large corporations in any industry is the evidence that there is a market for whatever it is you are selling. Second, it is proof that it can be done! If others have succeeded at doing it then it simply means that it can be done. Don't get me wrong I am in no way insinuating that large incumbents do not pose a problem. The reality is that they do. The bigger the incumbent companies in the industry, the bigger the challenge to overcome. However, the presence of forerunners is also the presence of a learning opportunity. Not only can you learn from their successes but also from their failures. Unlike companies that venture into unknown territories, the presence of incumbents shortens the learning curve by charting out a clear path of what works and what doesn't. As such, study the competition as much as possible and understand the things that they did right and the things they did wrong.

Once you have thoroughly studied the dominant companies in the industry, you will need to create a business plan. Business plans ensure that you are clear and specific about your goals and objectives and confine you to set parameters of action. This is vital for any business. Rather than trying to do everything and thus doing nothing, having a clear road map of what you need to accomplish will increase the chances of success tremendously. It is through this business plan that a company or startup business can incorporate the things that work for incumbents and propose a unique selling point for their customer base. By applying what already works and adding unique value to it even startups can make big waves in an industry.

Customer needs and expectations

As with the issue of incumbents and prevailing competition, starting a new business requires a thorough understanding of the customer's needs and expectations. When studying the competition, do not underestimate the importance of knowing what customers say. Where are the big companies failing, and how can your brand fill that gap in the market? What makes the big companies so successful? Is it efficiency, speed, competitive pricing, customer service, or something else? These kinds of questions can help you in defining your unique business selling point. Understanding the gaps in the market is what can help a startup stand out and have a fighting chance against large corporations.

For instance, if the dominant companies are expensive, how can you provide a cheaper alternative? If the issue is slow delivery, can you deliver products faster than the dominant brands? On the other hand, if they fail in customer support perhaps you can guarantee better service. Based on the complaints of the customers. Similarly, how can you match the level of their success or be very close to it? In short, if you want to succeed in any sector, you must understand the customer needs and expectations. Be flexible in your business approach when starting out. If you're overly focused on a particular business strategy, you run the risk of missing out by lacking spontaneous responses to customer needs and industry changes.

Bulk SMS as a starting point for Startup Success

Bulk SMS has in recent years become increasingly important, particularly to large corporations. Many large companies understand the power of bulk SMS and how much it can help in creating awareness, collecting information, and marketing new products. Unfortunately, smaller businesses seem to not fully take advantage of bulk SMS marketing due to high upfront costs and a specified minimum balance by most providers. However, with SimpleSell SMS, businesses can use the pay-as-you-go model and buy as many or as few messages as they need depending on their budget. This makes it possible for anyone to leverage the power of bulk messages.

For startups, the first two years of business are vital in determining the trajectory of the business. As years go by and trends change it becomes increasingly difficult for new businesses to break even and stay in business. This is why startups should be particularly keen on their business plan and ensure they pick winning strategies such as bulk messaging to keep them in business. With SimpleSell SMS, startups can reach out to potential clients or even friends on the phone-book to tell them about their business and unique selling points. Moreover, they can use bulk messages to send thank you messages for purchases made, and inform clients of upcoming promotions, sales, and giveaways that may expand their customer base. These approaches can help customers address the key market dynamics of competition and customer needs.

By studying the key selling points of the incumbents and large corporations one can create a business plan that appeals to the customers. In turn, they can use bulk messages systems like SimpleSell SMS to inform clients of these benefits and create a competitive edge over their competition. Moreover thank you messages and regular communication via bulk SMS can further expand one's business prospects.

By Christine Njoki - Published 8th Oct 2023, 11:00pm

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