The Independent (Kampala)

25 January 2013

Uganda: Biz Lab

Biz Lab is a new section aimed at supporting business start up with information, advice and tips. Starting this week, we bring you the Top 10 Business Startup Mistakes.

1. Under-estimating or over-estimating yourself

The entrepreneur must have lots of self-belief to start a business, says Nigel Ball, who has worked with over 100 start-ups and small, growing businesses through Mara Foundation. If you doubt yourself, you will not achieve as much as you can. But on the flipside if you think too highly of yourself, it will prevent you from seeking the help you need and listening to the constructive advice of others.

"Believing in yourself whilst being open to constructive feedback should be the balance you aim for," he says. Ball holds the Mara Foundation founder and vision-holder, Ashish J. Thakkar, as a great example to aspiring entrepreneurs in Uganda.

Ashish started out by selling computers to his friends at school at age 15, and his entrepreneurial energy has seen the Mara Group expand out of Uganda with a footprint in 18 African countries today.

Great belief and conviction mixed with the humility to receive advice and mentorship from others, has been key to his (Ashish's) success, Ball adds.

Charles Ocici, the executive director of Enterprise Uganda, agrees. He says under-estimating oneself is a big mistake people make in business start ups. He however says desire and the humility to learn is crucial.

Key lesson: Get a mentor!

Ball says no matter how much business experience one has, there is always someone out there who can offer one precious advice, help him/her think through challenges, and make key introductions that can help the business start up. "If you think you already know everything you need to know, you are bound to fail," he warns.

(To be continued next week).

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