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2

Get off the Internet and Write!

Oh, I’m not yelling at you – I’m yelling at myself.)

Every day procrastination threatens to steal my dreams and erase any hope of ever achieving my goals.

I know this, but regardless of that knowledge there are still times when I’ll sit down to work on accomplishing goals and then the next thing I know, hours have passed and so many things are still left undone. How do I still manage to let the time slip away?

When I need to write, it seems like everything else is begging for my attention. I don’t know what it is, but everything else seems so much more interesting than using my brain to write a new blog post.

Seems like that’s the only time I actually feel like emptying out my inbox after months of letting both read and unread messages accumulate to an astronomical number. It’s terrible, I know. It makes no sense.

When mindless activities like checking my email spam folder or compulsive stat checking become more interesting than writing, I know it’s time to do something.

At this point, you’re probably thinking…”therapy” or at least some other psycho analysis to prove that I’m safe to be around children, but I assure you, it’s just the evil procrastination demon trying to steal my success.

Well, I’ve got news for him, I’m not going to surrender that easily. I refuse to let the tempting allure of the internet keep me from the most important thing I must do for my blog. Yes, it’s time to get off of the internet, exit out of the Reader, Twitter, Facebook and yes…exit out of the internet browser entirely.

When nothing else works to curb meaningless distractions that threaten to kill my blog, I have to totally shut down Firefox, Google Chrome or whatever other browser I might be using at the moment to avoid the temptation to check my email every time I get a notification.

I have to stop myself from rushing to respond to every tweet I see. Sometimes I have to slap my own hand whenever I get the urge to start reading every new blog update that pops into my reader (they always seem urgent until you read them).

It’s strange how the very activities that help me support my blog can become the very activities that threaten its survival. Social networking is wonderful, but if social networking and promotional activities are allowed to get out of control, they’ll devour your whole day. It’s easy lose track of time and totally forget to write something new to promote. It can become a vicious cycle.

So until I get my writing for the day done, I’m sorry, but I’ll have to shut this thing down-…!

So what do you do to force yourself to stay productive? How do you filter out all of the distractions?

19

Meet the Crop of Young Graduates Who Are Turning Their Backs on Corporate Employment

They are young, full of life, and egotistical. But what really sets them apart from the youth of yesteryears is their indifference to corporate employment. While their parents went to school so that they could later find a good job that would pay them an average salary till they retired at 65 or 70, the Y Generation seems to have a totally different perspective on education and its co-relationship with careers.

“I cannot stomach the thought of working for someone from 9-5,” says a newly graduated 22-years old Mercy Njoki.

Mercy’s words are an incredible contrast to every young person (or parent) who cannot stop howling about the government’s failure to create employment opportunities for the youth. It is a story that is in direct contradiction with the more popular Hakuna Kazi version. Hers is the other side of the story that is rarely told; a story of young graduates who, for the love of their lives, cannot imagine spending the remaining quota of their productive lives locked in an office cubicle or chasing story leads in the field.

Mercy’s story is not an isolated one. Droves of young graduates, many with outstanding academic qualifications, are turning their backs on corporate employment. Some cite the low salaries paid by employers while others are concerned about losing the freedom of how they spend their time.

According to Mary Muchemi, a leading recruiter and headhunter in Nairobi, more and more young people are shying away from the perpetual pursuit of corporate employment, opting for the less traveled paths of self-employment and freelancing.

Mary says that a number of factors are responsible for this new crop of graduates.

“Most of them witness the struggle which their elder peers go through as their try to land jobs. Psychologically, they have already given up on the notion of landing corporate jobs even before they’ve graduated,” says Mary.

“Others want to feel that they have total control over their lives and how they spend their time. They do not want to answer to anyone but themselves, something which makes them an automatic mismatch for jobs in the corporate sector,” she adds.

Finding Joy Working Online in Kenya

So, where does this breed of corporate-employment-shunning fresh graduates go, and what do they want to do with their time?

Most of the young graduates who have shunned corporate employment are finding solace in online freelancing. It is the new way to find work and get employed, and, according to Mercy Njoki, if you you have not tried online freelancing, you are seriously missing out.

“I seriously get perplexed by guys that constantly cry ‘hakuna kazi’. There is so much work online. There is so much that you can do. You don’t need anyone to employ you, make you report to the office at 8, underpay you, and treat you like you are under their mercy,” Mercy rants.

Mercy, who works as a freelance writer with an online marketplace she identifies as Upwork, says that there are jobs for everyone online, and the best thing of them all is that the employers in these places do not concern themselves with your qualifications. You might be a form four dropout but as long as you can get the job done, you will get hired.

In Kenya, the idea of working online started a few years ago, but the information remained a reserve of a select few.

However, over the past two years, thanks to the wide penetration of low-cost internet and online social communities that are generous with information, the notion has gradually caught momentum and it looks as if there is no stopping it. Young undergraduates are being recruited into the movement years before they graduate. Apparently, there is a large market for their services in overseas countries where startups cannot afford to employ full-time staff. The startups turn to countries like India and Kenya for ‘cheap labor’.

However, what is cheap in overseas countries is a jackpot in Kenya where the cost of living is relatively low. Working online, Mercy pockets between Ksh. 90,000-150,000 per month. The lowest she has ever earned was 30K, and that was when she was young in the industry and still learning the hoops and crannies of the industry. On a good day, she makes about 5000/=, working for only 6 hours.

However, while the romanticism of working online is definitely attractive, HR professionals are afraid that the trend could shove the country into a labor crisis. Mary says that the country faces a possible worker-shortage problem.

“With the prospects that young people are finding online, it will soon be difficult to find qualified employees who are willing to work at the current salary rates in Kenya. Employers will either have to up their game or also resort to hiring online,” Mary explains.

The online jobs market also poses a nightmare for the revenue authorities in Kenya. While every individual is supposed to accurately file tax returns annually, many freelancers do not bother themselves doing so, and are, in fact, proud of flaunting the mantra ‘tax-free income’ to anyone who cares to listen. The government could be losing a substantial amount of revenue in terms of undeclared income.

Starting an Online Business Like Steve Jobs Would Do

Statistics collected by Bloomberg indicate that 8 out of every ten startups end up collapsing before the start of their third year. That is a whopping 80% of startups that crash and burn when they are still in their infancy.

As entrepreneurs, we should be asking ourselves why so many startup businesses fail. If you wish to turn your next startup into a flourishing success, you should be learning from the amount of failing startups.

What do these businesses do or fail to do that contributes to their untimely closure?

In this article, I share the five common pitfalls that are usually the death knell of many startups:

Failing to keep in touch with their customers

What usually happens when a businessman has a brilliant idea that he or she thinks is the next big thing in the enterprise world?

Many entrepreneurs retreat into a shell. They hibernate in their work caves and get busy implementing their ideas.

This is the wrong approach to business.

You need to get out there and talk to your potential customers. Not through 140 character tweets but a sincere dialogue that seeks to understand what your customers’ passions, fears and strengths are.

Holding a dialogue with your customers is the first key to business success.

Lacking real differentiation in the market

How unique is your business idea?

One of the reasons why your startup will fail is if you are trying to do what everyone else in the market is doing.

Since most of the business do not have real value that they are adding to the market, they end up closing their doors and wondering what went amiss.

Failure to communicate your unique value proposition clearly

Communication is an art and science. Unfortunately, if you do not know how to communicate your business goals and mission clearly, it doesn’t matter how brilliant your business idea is, it will end up with the 80% that never celebrate their third year anniversary.

The above three mark the most common pitfalls that lead to the crumble of many startups. Now that you know the reasons why businesses fail, I trust that you can come up with ways to salvage yours from joining the colossal statistics.