Njuki Moments

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friends with benefits

We are always told to friend up the ladder, network with people who are more progressive than we are to pave way for our own progress. It is all in good faith. When you are running a business, chances are you will look through your list of friends from the Golf Club, Fathers’ Union, and Old Boys (Girls) Association for business partners and suppliers. Heck, you may even have a few employees sourced that way.

At work and in business, we would like to achieve the best with the least of resources, also knowing who you are dealing with has its advantages. There is trust already built and you are likely to spend less establishing how genuine they or their businesses are. There is also an implied trickle-down effect that when one of you gets ahead the rest benefit, however indirectly.

When a business relationship with a friend goes well, the resulting dynamic can be very rewarding. A true friend always has your back, and when that friend is a key business supplier or partner, they have your back -- and your bottom line!
One of the best ways friends can support you is to buy stuff from you to help keep you in business. There are many cultures that are centered on this very idea, which is why those cultures tend to do well in business.

But sometimes the results may not be as rosy. It is wise to develop business guidelines and stick to them whenever you are dealing with stakeholders. These guidelines are meant to protect the business. Friends and relatives who may be suppliers or doing business with you need to follow the same guidelines.

It may be hard enforcing difficult clauses in a contract for example when a supplier does not deliver or delivers defective goods. You need to show them right from the start that friendship may have got them the business but trust and mutual agreement is for the good of everyone. That is how business is.
You may feel obligated to give them a cheap deal, which means you lose money and time, so you put them off and procrastinate getting their project going. But this is a mistake to feel this way, because your friends may just want to support your business and may feel great being able to pay you for your services.

For starters, don’t expect or demand of a friend who also runs a business that which you would not expect any other business partners of. It is not fair and once the business suffers as a result, so will the friendship. This is regarded as taking undue advantage of friendship. Even with great friendship over the years, do not demand that one gives you a contract or tender which you do not qualify for. You would not want the same demand made to you. It is not business-like.
In cases like these, it’s important to take the friend factor out of the equation and consider if you would really work with the person or their business if they were a stranger. That's because running a business is much different than maintaining a friendship.

So when a friend asks you to quickly draw up a masterpiece logo for their consulting business, work up a price quote for them, in writing. This will avoid the problem of a possible misunderstanding and eliminate wrong assumptions that can embarrass you as well as affect your friendship, the reason you got to work together in the first place.
Sometimes acquaintances are hoping for a freebie without coming out and asking for one, by putting it all on paper, it takes away that uncomfortable conversation that could possibly happen – paperwork keeps the transaction business-like and professional. A professional price quote helps the “client” remember that is what they are when asking for work – a client, not a friend.

If this fine line is well balanced, you will all prosper and so will your friendship. I mean you have more reason to be together and share. But that is if you drew the line right from the start to avoid any bruises both to business and to friendship. If you focus on doing things right as well as doing the right things, the friendship may flourish along with the success of your mutual relationship.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Talking business

Last week,while attending the YouTube Uganda launch, I met a lady I have always admired,for her writing. She makes Technology sound so everyday,which in reality it isn't, according to my farmer's mind anyway.
While we talked,she mentioned my earlier articles in the Daily Monitor and how she scoured my blog all through to look for inspiration! Really? This blog?
And how I had stopped writing entrepreneurship after a while,and she stopped visiting.

I have two types of guests here.Those who come looking for some business sense and those who enjoy the banter. I respect them both equally. But I have always had a conflict of defining the blog and who I write for. Being the nature of blogs,I tend to write for me,what comes to my mind,but the readership is definitive.

So this week I made a decision,to split the blog. I will keep writing entrepreneurship and business here,with a light touch of course,but I will take the humor and bizarre stories to www.njukimoments.wordpress.com
That will be my other home.
You are welcome to stay.

I believe that no one can teach you about money. You have to do it yourself and money matters have never been fair,you are either at an advantage or you are being taken advantage of.That is why I choose to learn about money.
Writing about money and business does not make me an expert.Not at all. I am merely sharing my experiences. My successes.And most often, my failings.My mistakes.
So I will share here as well as there.Take your pick,though I hope you pick both.Because they are all thoughts I put together hoping someone will either enjoy them or learn from them.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Nothing happened

When we completed our senior six exams,we had already planned to go dance in Ambiance discotheque,to celebrate the end of Secondary school.
So,evening found us rather engaged,toasting to a new life at University,and enjoying our new found freedom.
When night came,we were still dancing and drinking.But it was also then that we realized some boys are sharper than others. They had female company. In the same hotel. Now don't you get your hopes up,my daughters read this blog.So there shall be no X rated descriptions.
But with such interesting species joining the party,things got a little hotter. Remember ours was a boys only school. Of course they claimed it was all just coincidence,nothing planned. Even in the morning when the same people were sighted doing the walk of shame,it was just our imaginations playing,we were assured. And then that famous line,'nothing happened'. We are just friends after all.

My turn was to come years later,in Mombasa.
I shared a cottage with this guy who so loves his bitter. Well,he earned a living brewing it.By some coincidence,my girlfriend,now my wife,had been booked in the next cottage,with other girls. Mutual friends.Or mutual haters I should correct.
Now,I have issues with heat.Mombasa heat or is it humidity is not good for my health. I can't drink,unless I do that from the pool. I tend to sleep early.
So after just a few drinks,I was in bed when everyone else was simply starting their night.
It is at that time that room mate decides to throw a cottage party to polish up our stock of Uganda Waragi. He came with company. I had the only key.
Now,the way those cottages were built,everyone looks into everyone's door way.So when party people came by to my cottage,huffing from the heat,longing for the Waragi to quench their thirst,they found the cottage and liqueur store locked.
Those were the days before roaming,or it must have been expensive so there was no need to use it.If someone traveled to Kenya,they instead bought a Kenyan line,instead of using their Ugandan line. So my known line was off.
They knocked and called. I was dead asleep.
They called my name. Nothing.
They banged the glass doors at the balcony,only nearby monkeys yawned.
The neighbors woke up instead.
Trust the girls in the next cottage.
" He must have binned you.That guy must have imported."
Girl friend was woken up to come see the drama. A good night to meet your boyfriend's other girlfriend,they reasoned. The crowd grew at my door.
After a few minutes,girlfriend decides to call my Safaricom line,the one I was using for the trip. It rang

the first time.Then the second. Then the third time I was awakened by this incessant noise only to find the phone ringing.
I pick up. I open the door to be welcomed by over thirty people surging into the cottage.
In my boxers,rubbing my eyes out of sleep,I did not understand why the excitement.I only listened long enough to hear wa-ra-gi,dr-i-nk,pa-r-ty before I blacked out again even as the party went on.
Seeing me alone in the cottage caused a lot of disappointed faces,who went ahead to search the bathroom and drawers for some invisible girl who had been keeping me busy.
I guess it was this moment where I was expected to say,'Nothing happened'.But I was alone.

But life never cheats any one of opportunity. My full moment came in Bagamoyo a few years later.
I shared at cottage with another drunk who insisted that we throw midnight parties every day.So we did.
Four days consistently.
On the third day,I was done in by the heat.So when everyone else went to Hunters night club, I staid in and slept.The party soon returned and began getting drinks out of the mini bar.
They argued as a host I could not sleep while they drank. I adamantly pulled the covers more to my head. They wheeled my bed to the balcony.I got out of bed and wrapped a towel around me. I served drinks. The party went on till early morning.
Robbed of my beauty sleep,I decided to wish every one good night fast. One girl decides her room is far away and she is afraid of the dark,or whatever is left of the dark. She needs an escort.I was nominated as the best,being host and all.
Since it was still dark and warm at night,I did not put on a shirt or get a sheet to cover me up. Till her room.
Saying goodnight at the door,I wish our guest a good what was left of the night.
Then a chorus from her room-mates who were meant to have been sleeping with lights off.
"Hi, you two!"
Apparently,they had been watching us walk till the door,me barefoot and only towel wrapped around my midriff.
Up to now,I am still trying to plead to whoever cares to listen,"Nothing happened".

being young and enjoying it:making the best out of your teen years

A while back I was asked to write for school children.
Speak to them.
Inspire them.
This is what I managed to put together.
Share it with a youngster you know ,if you think it communicates.

I write this with an honest heart, because I was once a teen, they tell me. Don't laugh. It is at this time in one's life when life should be at its best. When you enjoy what you need to enjoy and more. Responsibilities tend to come much later. We are in school, yes, but who said school cannot be fun! At this point, we have all the support we have, (I assume) from parents and teachers.

No one though wants to think like we do. It's annoying to be struggling to find belonging. I mean, at this stage, you are neither young nor old. When you act childish, you are rebuked as such. 'Grow up'. They shout. If you act old, they beat you back into line. 'Don't get ahead of yourself boy! Let the elders talk'. I know you can relate.
And yet I am telling you this. This is the best time to be free and to start enjoying your life. At this stage you are at your best in creativity. Don’t let on. People begin to nurture talent at this level. They decide who to be now. Don’t waste this time. Because of this, since your parents won’t tell you, let me, this is their most worried time too. Sadly, those who lose the way and decide to be losers, they start right here.

But let’s face a few facts too. I assume you have a dream at this point, take time to ask and research and think seriously just how much you can grow it. Leave the fear go. Great minds and talents have been built at this level. Ever heard of Michael Jackson? He started singing as a young boy. He is a legend. Or may be let's talk today. You heard of Justin Bieber (I suspect you have). Take the inspiration. It is not just music you can do. Write, play all you can, create, dream, imagine being who you want to be and start now.
In all this, study well. You have something going there. Use the opportunity.

Of course the reality is that sometimes we don’t get all the support we need (from family and school) people are struggling to understand us. Don’t lose hope. Learn to study them first. That way you have opportunity to relate relevantly.
At this point we also get challenged. We get kicked out of schools. Whether performance or discipline, don’t let it kill you. Start again and determine to be the best. Sometimes we lose family and friends. Fees payments fail. We may not be as smart either in class or famous on court.

Be yourself. People respect people who know who they are not trying to copy anyone. The most humbling experience for me was when a not-so popular girl gave her best in class for her reading and writing teacher. But the teacher had a bias and she never believed said girl could ever achieve anything. Determined to prove her teacher wrong, even though it took her years after she had left school, she wrote an article for the Daily Newspaper and she was published in several magazines and her only dedication was, ‘to my English teacher. Who never believed in me. This is me saying, I can write well.'

Don’t give up either, no matter the discouragement. Wherever it is coming from. 'Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve’, Andrew Carnegie said. And if that does not light you up. Come closer home.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You’re playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson (author A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles")
also attributed to Nelson Mandela at his inauguration as the first black President of South Africa, 9th May 1994.
Think about it and act about it.