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Angela Kariuki: Customers’ credit book almost killed my business

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Angela Wanja Kariuki is the founder and owner of Angie’s Closet, an online and physical clothing line business that styles the modern woman.

My boldest move: Quitting my well-paying job as an investment banker to concentrate on my business which I started as a hobby and later as a part time job. That took the business to another level. I gave it all my attention and the risk has paid off.

On building a career: Doing something that you are so passionate about is such a game changer. It is the fuel that keeps you burning for hours without end. It is the passion that drives you on days when you want to quit (You want to quit every once in a while). I started it off as a hobby and have been slowly building it up a step at a time. I am not there yet, but I have my goals clear.

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My success recipe: The phrase ‘Identify a problem and provide a solution’ may sound cliché but it actually works. The competition in clothing business is quite stiff, but adding some value to it gives it a competitive edge. If you start a business just because your friend seems to be doing well in it, you will tire at some point and lack the zeal to continue.

Biggest money mistake: This was opening a debts book. A small scale retail business, especially one that deals with goods, requires you to keep your cash flow in check. I started sinking the minute I started releasing goods on credit or on partial payments. Luckily, I learnt my mistake fast enough and bounced out of it. My biggest fear was losing my long term clients, but that could not be compared to losing a business. Eventually, I closed the debts book and no, I didn’t lose my clients.

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Biggest career loss: Writing off bad debts, especially the ones incurred from close friends. You end up losing capital and all your effort goes to a drain. To mitigate on such losses, I’ve set up a side fund, where a small amount goes to every month (ploughing back a portion of profit). This fund comes in handy when upgrading aspects of the business.

If I could start all over again:  I’d probably move faster, take less time thinking of whether to or not to. I’d take bigger risks. Just jump, and keep moving.

My saving method: I wouldn’t say I save per se. At least not in the conventional ways and not in huge amounts like I’d love to! What I find more efficient is taking up a loan facility to buy an asset or do a project or buy education policies, then pay it up in bits. That way, I get a real need to commit to, which is equivalent to saving.

Entrepreneurship versus employment: Each of these money makers has its ups and downs. They are both suits for different people. Some will fit in and some won’t. But let no one cheat you that one is better than the other. You can excel and make a difference in people’s lives through any of them. Just evaluate yourself, give both a try and see what you are cut out for. Remember that you can always change, so don’t get stuck. Life is full of choices.

My parting shot: Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. Be you. Your original form is what the world needs and you can easily prosper through that. Just simply do you.

This story was first published in the Saturday Magazine. Saturday Magazine is a product of Nation Media Group. More info email: [email protected]
Copyright @Nationmediagroup

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