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How to Start a Bookshop Business in Kenya

Daisy Neema
Daisy Neema Kenyan SMEs

A bookshop is a good business if you identify a good business location. Bookshop business in Kenya thrives well in towns with education institutions like Nairobi, Thika, Eldoret and Mombasa. You need to identify your target customers so that you can stock the right education materials. If you are targeting primary schools, then you need to stock books relevant to primary school students. 

In this article, I will take you through the process of starting a profitable bookshop business in Kenya. 

Prepare a Bookshop Business Plan

A business plan will guide you on how to start and run your bookshop business. Things to include in the business plan include startup capital, how to raise the capital, target market, pricing, projected business revenues and marketing strategy. Talk to people in the bookshop business. They will help you understand the risks in the business and how to overcome them. 

Read also: How to start clothe tailoring business from my experience

Acquire the Necessary Skills to Run your Bookshop

If you want to run a bookshop successfully, it is important you learn some business skills. Among them, how to find customers, books to stock and where to source books at cheaper prices. You may also need to know how to get orders from institutions and how they pay once books are delivered. Without this knowledge, it is easy to get conned. 

Identify your Target Market

Every business owner starting a business must have a market that he or she is targeting.  The bookshop business is not different. You need to identify who your target customers are.

Your target customers can be kindergarten kids, primary or secondary school students, or even campus students. Knowing your target customers helps you stock books that are relevant to them. If you choose to operate a large scale bookshop business, you can target institutions.

Choose a Strategic Location for your Bookshop

Your bookshop should be in a strategic location that is easily accessible and visible from a distance. It will be best if you locate your bookshop in an area without other bookshops to minimize competition. Locating your business around learning institutions will help draw customers to your bookshop. Besides, you can set up your bookshop in a neighborhood with school-going children.

When you decide the location to set up your bookshop business, you also need to rent business premises. The size of your operating space will depend on the size of your bookshop business. Rental spaces are expensive in urban centers.

How Much Capital Do I Need to Start a Bookshop Business in Kenya?

This should be among the first things to ask yourself when you think of starting a bookshop business. If your funds are not enough to start the business, you can look for alternative sources of capital like:

  • Financial institutions
  • Borrow from family and friends

You can start a small bookshop with Ksh 100,000 and expand it as your customers and revenues increase. The following is capital breakdown for a small bookshop:

  • Bookshelves - Ksh 10,000
  • Business Name Registration - Ksh 1,000
  • A Single Business Permit - Ksh 3,000
  • Fire Clearance Certificate – Ksh 5,000
  • The Kenya Booksellers and Stationers Association Membership fee- Ksh 12,000 (Renewable every year for Ksh 5,000)
  • Books - Ksh 50,000

Acquire Business Licenses and Permits

You need to register your business name through the eCitizen portal. It costs around Ksh 1,000 to register a business name. After registering your bookshop business name, you will need to acquire the following business permits:

  • A Single Business Permit. Cost vary from county to county and it also depends on the size of your business. However, a business permit will cost around Ksh 5,000.
  • A Fire Clearance Certificate. Inspectors and public officers will need to visit your business premises to carry out inspections. They will also advise you regarding the guidelines of protection against fire, after which they will certify you with a Fire Clearance Certificate.

Find Reliable Suppliers

You will need to find suppliers for your bookshop. These can be book publishers or authors. You need to be a member of the Kenya Booksellers and Stationers Association to buy from publishers. Also, ensure you are conversant with the supplier's terms and conditions. 

Read also: Starting a school after my retirement

Market your Bookshop Business

Business marketing is important to attract customers to your business. There are different methods you can use to reach your customers, like social media or visiting institutions. You can also decide to use posters, newsletters, pamphlets, referrals, sponsored adverts on social media, or giving discounts. 

Read more: Sales and marketing strategies for businesses. 

Is Bookshop Business Profitable in Kenya?

Bookshop business is a profitable venture especially if you sell books directly to institutions. However, you can still make good business revenues if you target the right customers. You just need to determine the market segmentation in the area you want to start your business. Then stock books that are relevant to your target customers. 

Final Word

A bookshop business can earn huge profits. All you need is to offer exceptional customer service, have excellent managerial skills, a good business location, and a clear vision. Having a good marketing strategy also plays a critical role in the success of your bookshop business .