Martin Murithi is the founder of Autotronix Services Limited, an automotive security and fleet management firm based in Nairobi.
The economic effects of Covid-19 have been devastating to the general economy and the individual citizen. I have not been spared either. However, a money saving method that I have been following for the last few years has come in handy during these tough times. This method involves saving at least 40 per cent of all my earnings from the business. To ensure efficiency, I automated this percentage so that it is banked or invested every monthly due date. In return, the funds I have been pooling together have helped me build up a capital buffer zone that has kept my business operations running amidst corona. With everyone’s pockets running empty, Covid ought to serve as a lesson on the urgency of setting aside an emergency fund.
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I started my business as a trial idea. Today, the business has been able to reach the whole of East Africa. In addition, it has managed to establish business connections and networks in a number of other African markets. For example, awhile back, we had to travel all the way to Malawi to meet up and attend to a client. On getting there we realized that Malawi was an untapped market that we could venture into. We established a contact there and have since launched a joint, profitable business. My faith and trust in my ability to get business done, and the desire to produce tangible results in all my business responsibilities has been my fuel to growing my enterprise beyond any set limits.
Patience is a mandatory requirement in entrepreneurship. A business that is started today can take as many as five years to return profit or break even. My secret to sustaining my patience has been through mustering the art of failing forward. Since failure and setbacks are inevitable in business, I have learned to get up as quickly as I can and to run away with the lesson. I have never learned from success; only failures.
Borrowing to start a business is the worst mistake you can ever make. I have learned this from observing colleagues in the industry. If you are able to start small and reinvest your earnings, chances are that you will increase your growth rate exponentially. Only borrow money when the business is stable and with a reliable extra income stream that can fund debt repayments without forcing you to dig out your business operating funds.
I will do it when time is right. This is a statement that has held many people from venturing into investments that can have resounding success. What I have learned from my time in business is that there is never the last time. You only need to get the market and the target customer right. Personally, I think I should have taken more risks when I started getting income. So start today with what you have and be patient. Every seed takes its time before it can germinate and shoot buds.
Have you ever been told that you need to quit your job and start a business to get wealthy? Well, never swallow this line of advice hook, line and sinker. It is not entirely factual. Don’t quit your job if it satisfies you, pays you well, and its owners respect you. In fact, while you can build wealth by managing the salary you earn wisely, quitting a job to start a business could very easily leave you bankrupt. However, if you have a thick and resilient skin, a good business idea that is translated into a revenue generating startup can be very rewarding and satisfying as well.
This feature was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.