After completing my bachelors at university, I was determined not to get a job. I encouraged my close friends to join me in starting a company. They agreed and we opened an IT company.We lacked the skill we needed to run the company. Fortunately, I went for training on mobile applications development, which included business training in Kenya. This was the most informative time in my academic life; I even wondered what I had learnt at university.
I learnt a lot about business and couldn’t wait to go back to Rwanda. After the training I came back to Rwanda more determined than ever. I called for a meeting with my business partners and friends.
From the skills I had gotten from the training we developed the idea of the IT Company, developed our services and we were good to go, we even opened up an office.
Things got really hard. The reality is entrepreneurship is not as easy as people have painted it to be “quit your job and be an entrepreneur”.
My partners and I all had a background of IT, we were all running the company, and this was the first mistake. The second mistake was that we did not have a product. We didn’t know that we would need someone to market our services and someone to do the finance. Maybe we did, but we thought we could handle it. This is the biggest myth among “techies”.
I learnt a few lessons. Before you start a company, get business partners, don’t go in alone. When choosing a business partner, think of what value that person is bringing to the company. If you have an IT background maybe you need someone to do marketing, you need an investor not another IT person.
The second mistake is starting a company without a product. Like us, many young entrepreneurs have started companies but without products, this cannot work out especially if you are to go for government tenders. It is better to develop a company around a product; a company with a product is easy to market.
Some young entrepreneurs think they can form a company then look for a product, it may work out sometimes but it is very difficult. The best way is to develop a product then start a company around that product. I made my mistakes, I hope you can learn from me and not have to repeat them.