Thursday, February 29, 2024

Phanice Kwamboka: I started my cleaning business as a side hustle with Sh. 10,000

Phanice Kwamboka is the founder and owner of Malvo Cleaning Services, a corporate office and home cleaning business. 

I started this business in September 2019 as a side hustle. I was employed at a flower farm at the time. My starting capital was Sh. 10,000. After running the business for a couple of months as a side hustle, I took the plunge and decided to run it as my main venture with my full focus on it. 

It took two years before I could completely and confidently say the business was self-sustaining. The cleaning industry has a number of challenges but the major one for me was convincing potential clients about my services and gaining their trust to work in their offices and households. 

Pricing my services correctly was a major challenge when I started this business. At one point, I undercharged a client so much that we had to pay my workers from my own pocket. I had to go back to the drawing board and figure how much my rates would go for. I realized that in a bid to appease a client, it can be very easy for you to burn your fingers with the wrong prices. 

Referrals are very critical when running your own business. They are derived from absolute customer satisfaction. Sometime back I served a client who was so satisfied with my work that she referred a prominent private hospital to my services. This was one of my biggest contracts and it taught me why putting your customer first and ensuring you give them the best services from the get-go is important for future references.

Mobile money has been a boon for my business and the way I handle money. I have a till number and a mobile banking app. I have interlinked these modes of payment such that I am able to make deposits from my till account straight to my business bank account without visiting a physical bank branch. I also set aside amounts in mobile pouches for investment, my own salary, and my personal budget without dipping into my actual business cash flow.

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I used to reinvest every amount I made back into the business. Then I learned that I needed to view myself as an employee who needed to draw a salary. Looking back, I would say I should have saved more intently than I did before embarking on investing. At times, it has been straining to harvest from an investment that was not well catered for as a startup.

I find entrepreneurship to be more fulfilling than employment. It has fit well into my work and as a mother, has allowed me to juggle running my business and parenthood quite efficiently. In contrast to my days as an employee, I can say that the unpredictability of entrepreneurship is not only thrilling but challenging. There’s a unique satisfaction that comes from the rewards of the sweat broken to break even your own hustle.  

Over time, I have learnt to always be bold and take a step even when I am not sure about the outcome. From the successes and shortcomings of this boldness, I have found myself moving forward, improving myself, my outlook in life, and my financial position. Money alone will never be enough. You need other components of life and this only comes by being bold and charting new paths and territories. I try to live in the moment as positively as I can.

A version of this profile feature on Phanice Kwamboka was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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