Tuesday, February 20, 2024

I lost my job, started a business with Sh. 10,000, took 3 years to break even

Chris Munyao Kioko is the founder and director of Risvo Enterprise, a business that offers professional graphic design, printing and branding services.

I was employed at a business that supplied printers before I started my business. The idea of launching my own business came when I lost my job in early 2018. After searching for new jobs in vain, my friends encouraged me to start a small printing business to keep me going.

I had Sh. 10,000 at the time. I used this money to register the business and make some marketing merchandise. I got a reprieve as I could outsource any huge work that I couldn’t handle on my own, especially since I didn’t have a physical office when I started.

It took me 3 years to break even. Although I started my business over four years ago, 2021 was my best year of business. The year 2022 was also not bad as it was an election year, and I had strategically positioned the business to align with the heavy branding that goes hand in hand with an election year.

Running the business has not been without challenges. My biggest challenge after starting the business was a sustainable working capital to keep the business.  I can also add that delayed payments and total nonpayment after work has been delivered have also been challenges.

With money, my biggest money mistake has been to mix business savings with personal savings. In my early business days, I found myself using all the cash I earned from my work on personal expenses.

We were traveling to Canada on visit visas, got denied boarding at JKIA

I had not drawn a line on what amount I’d be paying myself and how I would maintain the operating capital. Inevitably, this suctioned capital from the business to a point where I had to either change tact or shut down. Today, if I were to start all over again, I would put more effort on bookkeeping, savings and customer service.

My finances began to streamline when I opened a separate business and personal money. This was not hard when I realized how important it was. I started by opening two accounts; one for operating capital and one for savings.  I also joined a Sacco that has been highly effective in accelerating my business growth and expansion, and providing funds on short notice for any bulk orders.

Having been employed and now being in entrepreneurship, I have found business to be much better and safer than employment. Yes, employment will give you the comfort of a monthly salary. However, there is no guarantee that you will not wake up tomorrow and find yourself jobless.

If you can hack entrepreneurship, go for it. I have found that there is a freedom that goes with running your own business, making mistakes without feeling like your whole life is coming to an end, and reaping the fruits of your hard labour.

Always put yourself first. When you start taking care of yourself, you start feeling better, you start looking better and you even start to attract better.

I have learned that discipline and trust are some of the key catalysts of business growth. And if you save money today, it will save you tomorrow.

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