Hannah Karanja is the co-founder of Hacyna Training and Consultancy, a corporate training business.
We started this business with my husband in 2021. Before this, I was running my own successful training consultancy, but in April 2020, everything came crashing down almost overnight, and I found myself at point zero.
I however did not stay defeated and in 2021, my husband and I started Hacyna, where we focus mainly on Customer Service, though my husband also offers seminars on Finance for non-financials.
I can say that we started with almost zero capital, save for the business registration fees. It is possible to start with zero, especially when you work from home.
Since we started with almost zero, it did not take us long to break even. All you need these days is a laptop, internet connection and the willingness to deliver. The main challenge has been reaching out to businesses.
Most businesses had cut their training budgets, but we have seen an influx of people reaching out to us in the last 3 months or so, and I can say that things are slowly returning to “normal”.
I was employed before starting my training business. Whilst working, I became an in-house trainer and fell in love with training. I love seeing the transformations that people go through after attending a training session.
My biggest money mistake was binge-buying all the online subscriptions that I thought I needed. An example is when I subscribed for an email marketing tool that I barely knew how to use. But because I’d heard that every business should have an email list, I jumped right in and subscribed.
I subscribed for a whole year before I opted out and decided to start off with a free email marketing service first whilst I educated myself on how to use it. My lesson from this was not to always jump in and do what everyone else is doing.
I realized that there is a learning curve to everything. I think I am where I am today because of all the mistakes I made. I don’t’ think I’d want to do anything differently. The battle scars that I’ve gained in my journey are what makes me unique.
When attendees walk up to me after a workshop and tell me how much they enjoyed it and how much they learnt from it is my moment of business satisfaction. You see, business programs in the country are not teaching the art of satisfactory customer service.
For instance, we have MBA holders who are amazing at strategy but they have got no idea how to turn around an angry customer.
I believe that small savings make the biggest difference. As such, I have a lock M-Shwari savings account that I transfer 10 per cent of the money that I make from my workshops into. For bigger savings, I use a Money Market Fund.
I find that these two methods work for me because I don’t have access to the money at an instant. Previously, I used to save in the bank. That did not work because I’d end up swiping my debit card for things that were “wants” and not “needs”.
Business and employment will always go hand in hand. I took the lessons that I learnt from my time in employment and used them in my business. I always advise young graduates to get into employment first (if an opportunity arises) because there is a lot to learn about processes from a well-established business.
They both also have their advantages. For example, when I was employed, I had a stable salary even when I was sick or on leave but that is not the case with entrepreneurship. The advantage of entrepreneurship is time freedom. I love being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it.
Hard work and self-care will take you far. Life has to be in balance: your business, your relationships, your health and nutrition etc.
I have also learnt from my seniors the importance of caring for my customers. Everything will seem to fall into place if there’s genuine customer care.
A version of this profile feature on Hannah Karanja was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.