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At Collage, we nurture and promote local artisans to enhance their competitiveness and broaden their market reach.

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Category: Grow Your Business

How Consolata Ombogo Turned her Passion for Crocheting into a Viable Business

Growing up, Consolata Ombogo enjoyed watching her mother crochet colorful pieces for the home. She was instantly smitten and decided to learn the skill herself.

Thanks to this skill, she has been able to start a thriving business that is helping her to supplement her income. Her dreams are not small either, she wants to go regional and global. Thanks to Collage, she has been able to showcase her work, strengthen her business skills and expand her market.

We caught up with Consolata to learn a bit about what business is like.

Collage: What is your story?

Consolata: Crocheting, Knitting and Beading are my hobbies. Growing up, I always watched my mother crochet for me and my siblings, a skill that I ultimately admired and wanted to take on. For so long I made crochet products as presents for my friends and family. I toyed with the idea of finding an alternative source of income for some time.  Around that time a colleague approached me to make bowties for his expectant wife. I delivered to expectations. He was impressed and paid me handsomely. It was then that I knew that I wanted to do a business around crocheting.

Collage: What have been some of your greatest achievements?

Consolata: My products are penetrating markets in USA, India, Pakistan and South Africa, thanks to friends who continuously support me at, at home and beyond.

I recently signed a deal for one of my biggest orders to supply chrochet products worth 700,000 Uganda Shillings which for me, is a great achievement.

Collage: What have been the lows?

Consolata: Raw material can be a challenge. They are often inaccessible which limits the quality and variety of products I can produce.

Collage: How has Collage supported your business?

Consolata: Collage has been there for me. They have helped me to market my products and they have also provided training which helps me to improve my business.

Collage: What advise do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Consolata: Young entrepreneurs should take time to learn and understand the business they want to invest in. Many startups crush because owners didn’t invest enough time to learn and study before starting a particular venture. It’s also important that young entrepreneurs engage in businesses they are passionate about and are determined to push to the next level.

Also, start small and expand later as the business grows.


Reasons Why Businesses Fail And How To Avoid Them

Business failure is a possibility

Nobody starts a business expecting to fail. In fact, most if not all entrepreneurs will tell you that before they launched their business, they had already figured out ways in which they would recover resources invested and make significant profits.

A small number of entrepreneurs probably admit to themselves and to others that they hear a small nagging voice telling them that failure is a possibility. Passion may not be the only reason that drives entrepreneurs to work crazy hours after all; the fear of failure plays a part too.

Nobody tells you that it is possible that your business might fail when you are starting out. Often people are too scared to hurt your feelings. The hard truth is that, failure is a possibility in business. Before you quit your job to start your own business, before you invest your life savings into your dream venture, before you put your tuition into that start-up, know there are a number of things that may increase your risk of failure in business.

The good news is that with the right knowledge and skills you can be able to swim against the tide of business failure.

Reasons why businesses fail

Failure to manage finances: Financial management means that you monitor and track how much you spend, what you spend it on, how much you make and how much you borrow. This information guides decision making and budgeting. Without this information, a business owner is not able to tell whether he is making profits or incurring losses and as such is unable to take the appropriate course of action.
Sometimes entrepreneurs borrow more than they need or more than they could ever pay back because they do not have accurate information to help them forecast company profitability.

Poor customer relations: How you treat a customer today determines if he will become a customer for life. Poor customer relations will drive your customers into the hands of your competition. Communicating in a professional and friendly manner and reaching out to customers to find out whether their needs have been met are some of the steps you can take to attract and keep customers.

Failure to effectively market your products/services: If nobody knows what services or products you are offering, nobody will buy from you. Employing marketing strategies that are not cognizant of the dynamics of your target customers is not only wastage of money but time. You have to invest in effective marketing strategies including social media to make your business visible to potential customers.

Poor leadership: every business needs a strong leader who is able to effectively manage the company’s resources. Failure to manage finances, human resources and partners can be detrimental to the company. The leader has to ensure that the financial books are in order, that human resources are motivated to deliver and innovate and that partners receive timely updates on how the company is fairing.

Failure to investigate the market: not understanding the market dynamics, what products and services are needed and what is trending could lead to failure of your business before it even launches. It is important that you understand the market dynamics, what is trending and what is not. It is also critical to investigate whether the product/service you want to invest in is needed, what your competition is and what solutions they are proposing.
It is important for entrepreneurs that one failure should not mark the death of your dream. Whenever you fail, learn from it and move on. Remember that persistence always pays off

Starting Your Own Business: Here is How

Today, many people are turning to self-employment in order to achieve their career and financial dreams. Increasingly, even people employed in conventional systems are establishing side businesses to realize more financial freedom and to pursue their passions.

Have you failed to find a job? Do you want to start a side business to supplement your income? Regardless of your reasons for wanting to start a business, this guide will help you to understand the fundamentals of starting a business. Here are some of the issues to consider when starting your business.

1. Do something you are passionate about

A saying goes that if you are not passionate about it, do not do it. This holds very true for business. You should know that passion often translates into quality and commitment. It is therefore important that you identify and understand what your passion is. You could be passionate about beauty, sports, food, travel- name it.
After identifying your passion, research about it. What have others done about it? What businesses have been started on it? What gaps are existing? How can the industry be improved? Research is very important as it will help you understand how you can improve what is existing and avoid past mistakes.

Make use of the internet! You will be surprised by how much information exists on the internet. Invest time in research.
Remember, a successful business must be grounded on accurate and up to date information. Moreover, you will need information to be able to write your business plan. Be an expert at what you do, research!

2. Identify the need that you want to address

During your research, you will realise that certain gaps exist in the industry you are targeting. You could exploit some of these gaps to your advantage. For instance, it could be that there are so many fashion houses but all of them are targeting the higher-end market. In such a scenario, you could venture into quality fashion for the low-end market.
Successful businesses address valid needs. In fact, this is what will drive the demand for your product or service. You can find out whether your product or service meets a need by talking to others about it. If you can, give out free samples to a few individuals and ask for their feedback.

3. Spreading the word

Do not wait to launch your business to start scouting for customers. As soon as you have the concept together, start talking to people close to you about it. Do the networking. Encourage your family and friends to spread the word. You can give out free samples of your products.
Other avenues you can use include social media. You can write a blog about your product or service. You could also create a facebook page which you can use to let others know about what you have to offer

4. Planning and growth

At the heart of a successful business is a good business plan. A business plan is a great tool for attracting partners and investors. Note that a good business plan will help you ascertain whether your business idea can actually work. It helps you analyse all the factors at play and as a result, you are aware from the very start what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can address each of them.
A good business plan should not be static. Economies change and so do market dynamics. You should evaluate your business plan from time to time to identify what is working and what is not. This will help you to address challenges as they arise.
Importantly, a business plan can act as a basis for growth and expansion. It states what your vision is and helps you to lay down strategies to help you achieve what you want. So, whereas it can change from time to time, it provides you with a blueprint for your business thereby defining direction.

5. Partnerships

Partnerships are very important for the success of any business. Partners do not have to necessarily be investors. It could be individuals or companies interested in providing you technical expertise in areas such as branding, marketing or processing depending on what your business is about.
Strive to build strong partnerships based on mutual respect and common values. Partners can bring onboard a wealth of information and expertise besides tangible benefits such as capital. Remember, you can achieve so much by working with another person because each one has their own unique contribution.

6. Understanding the legal environment

Find out what the legal requirements are for operating a business in your country or state. In fact, we encourage you to register your business with the relevant authorities as soon as you have the paper work in place. Consult a lawyer if you are not sure of what the procedures are.

Beware of idea thieves. We advise you to register your idea in order to protect it by copyright law. Sometimes, even the people close to us can steal our ideas. Therefore, before you share with anyone your business idea, have them sign a form indicating that that is your idea and they will not take it up or share it with somebody else without your permission.