10 Steps in Starting a Business: Lessons from the Informal Sector in Uganda

BY Stephanie Itimi:


A few months ago in the summer, I decided to leave England to do some consulting work in Africa. Most people go to Nigeria, Kenya or Ghana; and so I decided to go for something different even though I am Nigerian. In order to get a different perspective. I’ll be sharing a few of my experiences. I was fortunate to work with Balloon Ventures a UK social enterprise which aims to tackle youth unemployment through working with the informal sector equipping them with business skills as well as the opportunity to obtain an interest-free loan from the local SACCO (A Savings and Credit Co-operative). These are 10 easy steps in starting up a business; steps which I learnt from my involvement with the informal sector in Uganda.

Step 1

The first thing to think about when starting a business is your target audience. Who is most likely to use your product/service, this is crucial as it would enable you to innovate later on.

Step 2

The second step to then think about is your value proposition what makes your business idea different to what is already on the market. What extra value can you add to the customer’s experience with your product/service?

Step 3

The third step is to think about your customer relationships? How can you grab the attention of your customer? How to you keep the customer’s loyalty and how to you grow the amount the customer spends?

Step 4

The fourth step is your delivery channel, how would your customers access you and how would you deliver the services to your customer?

Step 5

The fifth step is to think about your key partners, what external parties is needed for the operation of your business’s production/service? How could you utilise the relationship with your key partners to reduce the production/operation costs?

Step 6

The sixth step is to think about the key operations needed for your business to run, and also the key resources needed in the delivery of your service/good.

Step 7

The seventh step is to think about your about your revenue and cost structure. How much would be going in and how much would be going out?

Step 8

The eight step is to create a minimum viable product (MVP) of your business idea. This is the mock-up of your business idea, in which someone would be able to easily understand the idea.

Step 9

The ninth step is research, test the assumptions you’ve made about your business idea by trying to sell the MVP to your proposed target audience. If you are able to sell the MVP version of your idea then move on to step 10. If you are unable to sell the MVP version of your business idea, query the target audience on ways in which the product can be improved and start the process again from the first step.

Step 10

The tenth step is starting the business.

Important Points to consider

  • Always start small
  • Think about your affordable loss when creating an MVP
  • Make sure you have a customer base before starting a business

Stephanie is Nigerian, she is interested in the possibilities of economics and how it can make the world a better place. She is on the path to becoming a policymaker focusing on the affairs of developing countries.

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