Esther Katiba is the founder and director of Career Route Solutions Limited, a Human Resource Consultancy firm which was registered in 2008 and incorporated in 2010.

Biggest financial milestone: Since I launched my business, there’s probably nothing that ranks higher than the growth from my initial loan start-up capital of Sh. 100,000 which I invested in a side-hustle boutique business. This loan, together with a few additional lines of credit eventually enabled me to finance the inception of my firm, up until it became profitable and financially self-reliant. I wouldn’t have pulled through if I’d diverted any of these funds. Capital must be used for the right purpose at all times. Where loans are involved, repayments must be done without fail. Loans can help you start and build a business, but should only be taken when there is a clear need to do so.

Secret to business success: Over time, I have learned the importance of re-investing into the business, especially in its start-up years. Avoid high salaries even for yourself. Hire talent and retain it. Reward performance and don’t get attached to non-performing staff. Always ensure that your employees have bought into your vision. Above all, start and maintain healthy and personal relationships with your clients. They are the reason you’re in business. Personally, I started a business that I’m passionate about; that I would otherwise comfortably do for free and still feel content. As a result, my driving force was not to fight competition in the HR industry but to offer these services differently.

Biggest money mistake: I did not engage a financial advisor in my early earning years. This hindered me from understanding my numbers in terms of profits. I have since also learned the importance of running separate personal and business bank accounts. Never jumble the two.

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Building wealth: To many, wealth is in the form of money. In the world of business though, a growing clientele is worthier than a bloated bank account. The more value you place on your clients, the longer lasting wealth they create for you.

Saving method: I currently use investments as a form of saving. There are also times when I have saved through banks, even though they are not the most effective way of saving. This is because over time, they hardly add concrete value to your money.

If I could go back in time: I would hire human resource experts from the start. I would be considerate of value addition as opposed to affordability of staff.

Entrepreneurship versus employment: Entrepreneurship will always take the crown. In fact, business seems to be the final landing place for many people after retirement: be it the selling of tomatoes and cabbages, firewood, or large scale formal businesses. On the contrary, in most cases, employment will only give you enough to come back tomorrow. It is the best learning experience though. For example, I learned current business skills from my former position as a HR employee.

Client loss in business: In over the 8 years that I’ve been in business, I’ve discovered that losing a client can be one of the most tremendous losses a business can incur. Though every business loses clients at one point or another, clients on the verge of fleeing could either bring you more business or cost your business depending on how you handle them.

The side-hustle: While it is wise to consider starting a side business, it will not be wise to drop your stable job for an unstable new business. Instead, find a way to make your employment drive your budding business before you take the big jump into full-time entrepreneurship. Remember, before taking the plunge, if your fresh side-hustle finds the going too rough, you can afford to cut your losses and still get cushioned by your job!

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