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Know Your Business

January 7, 2013

The other day while waiting on a friend I decided to find a place where I could have a nice cool beer. I stumbled upon a restaurant located about a block away from where I was meeting my friend and thought this is the perfect place. So I climbed the stairs to the second story of the building and promptly realized, upon entering, it didn’t serve beer. So, of course, I turned to go. However, an eager business owner stopped me and asked what I needed. So I replied, ” You don’t sell beer, do you?”  To which he replied, ” For you, we will sell some. ”

Now, this should have been an indicator quickly leave, but it was hot, I didn’t want to walk any further so I decided why not. Ten minutes after I had ordered the beer, the gentleman informed me that he has sent someone to go and get one for me. About three minutes later a girl walks in with an empty beer bottle, in order to go to her neighbor (who apparently sells beer) to retrieve the cold drink. Five minutes later the beer arrives…..lukewarm.  Now we are fifteen minutes into this ordeal in case you have lost track.

After setting the beer down on the table, and not opening it up, the guy disappears for another three minutes. Finally he surfaces with a glass smiling and sets it down on the table, “Here is your glass, are you ok now?” I simply pointed to the bottle. “Oh,” he exclaimed and started looking for a bottle opener. Finally after four minutes of his searching, my friend called to say they had arrived, so it was time to go, and, yes, I was  just as thirsty as when I came in.

Of course, he tried to convince me to stay as I was walking out, explaining that they hadn’t started selling drinks at the restaurant, but I simply explained to him that I was meeting a friend who was picking me up – all I wanted was to drink a beer.  I also told him, ” Drinks aren’t your business you should have just said so.”

Now, what lesson can the African entrepreneur learn from this? Know your business. One of the biggest challenges you will face as a broke African entrepreneur is not over extending yourself and your business. There are too many times where African entrepreneurs try to offer complimentary services or products before they have the capacity. Yes, you do have to meet your customers needs and demands, but you should only focus on those you know you can do well. If you know delivering a product or service is not what you typically do and it may create an extra burden on you, be wise enough to let the customer know that is not your area. In the end it will keep both you and your customers happy and satisfied.


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