Edwinah Achieng’ Combar is an entrepreneur and the founder and director of Combars Beauty House, a business that deals with beauty and wellness. She also runs an events business in Nairobi.
The secret to success: You will hardly find entrepreneurs revealing the things that brought them success. Their recipe, though, always revolves around the traditional pillars of hard work, resilience, grit and the passion to keep going when it all seems too foggy or dark to proceed. Do not give up on whatever you have started, whether it is big or small.
I have learned, though, that running a business in a saturated industry is not easy at all. In my case, there are so many beauty shops and spa hotspots. I have only made it this far by being unique in the kind of products, services, and customer care relations that I offer. There is always something different you can do to be unique and successful in your field.
Biggest money mistake: I once entered into a business partnership agreement in Kenya. This turned out to be a costly mistake. It was not because partnerships are bad, but because my partner and I did not share the same vision. Over time, I realized that I was putting in a lot of effort and investment into the business while the other party contributed little or nothing.
The partnership venture ended up crumbling. This taught me the essence of carrying out due diligence on possible partners, who I share my business ideas with, and who I ultimately choose to invest with. I also learned that it is never wise to go into a business whose mode of operation you have zero clues about. You will end up failing.
Biggest lesson on losses: The failure of my partnership venture also turned out to be my biggest loss. I had to start from the scratch all over again even though I had invested myself in the business for five years. Once I left the business, I went back to school and took a course on salon and beauty business management.
This is because I had learned from my loss the importance of enriching my knowledge base about the beauty business if I was to succeed on my own. It is never easy to just count losses and move on. The pain lingers for long. But one of the best remedies I have discovered is following in the footsteps of prominent entrepreneurs who fell, stood up, dusted themselves, and began the journey all over again.
If I could turn back the clock: I would do a well-documented business plan. I would then give myself a projection of about three years on where I would want the business to be and how I could take it there.
My money saving method: I find it safe to save through a Sacco. I have been using the Sacco as my saving tool and fortunately, my Sacco has in turn walked with me through my business journey. Prior to joining a Sacco, I tried saving through chama, but that did not work out well for me.
Business vs employment: Being an entrepreneur myself, I am a firm believer in the power of entrepreneurship. Running your own venture does not limit your capabilities or the grounds you can cover, and the limits you can stretch. I also feel that entrepreneurship is more thought-provoking in terms of innovation, and more challenging than employment. Nonetheless, it is not everybody’s cup of tea.