Monday, May 27, 2024

Leah Awiti: It took my business 5yrs to break even after starting with Sh. 250,000 capital

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Leah Awiti Omil is a Certified Human Resource Manager, Career Coach, and the Founder of Omil Staffing Services, a company dedicated to connecting jobseekers and companies. We have up to 30 social media units to help connect job seekers with open positions.

We provide job application services, from career building, coaching, interview coaching, mentorship, customer care training, resume writing services, career transitioning, and human resources consultancy.

I started with the idea of helping job seekers to secure opportunities in 2014. I started the business with an estimated capital of Sh. 250,000. Having worked in different sectors from age 19, I had garnered vast experience in human resources management.

A friend’s sister secured a job through my social networks, thereby, encouraging me to start a staffing agency.  I conducted market research with the help of a friend I refer to as a mentor.

It took 5 years to break even. At first, I failed. That was in 2017, when I first delved into the staffing business. We signed engagement agreements to assist us with the placement strategies. However, the job seekers blocked us immediately they got paid. The experience was excruciating.

For that reason, I closed office and quit.  Other challenges I encountered included lacking a proper structure of work, and methodology. It derailed me completely. However, I bounced back up when I met my mentor who assisted me to implement structures such as the modern recruitment systems and an interface we use to monitor performance.

I was employed from the age of 19, straight after graduating from high school. I first served as a brand ambassador for Professional Marketing Services, then Project Manager, Kaskazi Network, Topline Marketing, and even served as the Personal Assistant and Administrator for a currently serving cabinet secretary.  All this between 2009 and 2014.

The one unique quality that kept me afloat was my ability to hop from one company to another in search of what I can now define, a safe haven. I always felt like I never fit into the work places.

My biggest money mistake has been robbing Peter to pay Paul. I worked as a writer at some point and boy, didn’t we make money!!! I saved nothing at all. Never joined a Sacco or split my money into 3 accounts. As long as I saw cash in the account, and expected to receive more at the end of every week, I felt like life was good enough for me.

Like that was it, until when I lost all the writing accounts I owned and had zero savings. I remember reaching out to a sister in law to lend me money to buy food for the week. I wish I started saving at that age 19. I also wish that I learned the split method at that same age. Today, I receive money, split into 3, then keep some for my daily use.

My greatest moment so far has been meeting the big wigs of business, such as Vusi Thembekwayo of South Africa. See, when such events are brought home, people tend to ignore them with the hope of listening to mentors and coaches online. I mean, someone would reason; why pay Sh. 40,000 for such an event when you can listen to them at a podcast?

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Attending that live event, sitting right in front of him, last year, August, may have been the one thing that changed my work methodology as a Career Coach, and Mentor.  I learned how to share a room with my customers, how to pull them closer to my tables. And yes, it was a worthy investment for my business.

If I were to start all over again, I would save money and invest it in stock market and other businesses. I would have expanded mine to a different level by now, of course. But then again, time and chance happens to everyone, and I got a second shot at this. I would also trust less than I did.

I use the split method to save money. The split method could be 60, 20, 20, or 50, 30, 20, where the amounts are saved into different accounts, and items are budgeted based on priorities. Trust you me, you really do not want to run behind with bills and inconvenience people with your financial emergencies.

In the past, I would run into money emergency after emergency. I am glad I have since sorted that out.

I advocate for entrepreneurship because it offers you the opportunity to be your own boss. You also have the freedom to work on and implement new ideas. But, it takes a unique sense of mindset for one to delve into this journey. Starting and running a business requires continuous learning and personal growth.

There’s no guarantee or cushion of a monthly salary such as the one provided by employment. But when it turns profitable, the rewards and satisfaction of your own product or service breaking even will be incomparable to employment.

I would say, be painfully persistent, consistent, and courageous enough to do it alone! Do it whether tired, exhausted, failing, and giving up. You must learn the ropes of the business you are about to delve into and master the art of going over and above, for your customers. Most importantly, discipline rules the world of business for me.

While tricky to always show up, just remember that it is the one thing that will stand between your life at the moment and the future you wish to have.

A version of this profile feature on Leah Awiti Omil of Omil Staffing Services was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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