Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Phil Muhia: My business broke even when I created a team that aligned with my vision

Phil Muhia is the founder of Phine Safaris, transport, and tours and travel companies based in Nairobi.

Saving method: I am in the co-operative movement and save money through a Sacco. It is in the Sacco and Co-operative that I have seen the most benefits. The sacco has been an easy way for me to access credit for business growth compared to banks which place stringent requirements and bureaucracy. The co-operative movement where I am a member invests in real estate.

When I started out, I used to save through a bank account. This did not work out too well for me. Nevertheless, apart from saving through the Sacco, I also have fixed deposits that I use to secure overdraft services. I use these as collateral for the financing of my business.

Biggest money mistake: As the business grew, we started having good cash in the account. This gave us spending confidence. One time, we made the mistake of spending projected income and overshooting it such that when the invoices were due, we found we were close to Sh. 1 million short yet we had a major client whose services we needed to meet.

To avoid ruining our business reputation, I sold one of our vehicles to plug in the hole. This set us back two years. Poor budgeting is risky in business, and so is spending your anticipated income.

Losses in business: It was during our second year in business. The accounts were good and sales were decent. But the business did not have operational systems and processes. It relied on one key employee. A rival company took note and approached her numerous times with huge offers.

At some point, she got a very lucrative offer that I had to let her go. This awoke me to the risk of tagging your business growth on an individual. Since then, I have always been wary of the key-man-risk in business.

The secret to making it: Value addition is the recipe to business and personal growth and wealth. You must add value to progress. Be intentional. Put in place systems and structures that help you run your business in the most effective manner possible. Aim for your business to run in your absence.

My construction business took 4yrs to break even after starting with Sh. 1 million capital

My business did not start to see real growth until I was able to create a team that was aligned to my vision of travel that is both experiential and of value to our clients.

Biggest milestone: I am proud to have started Phine Safaris, but my fondest milestone is developing the team behind it. A business is only as good as the team behind it. In our first year, I struggled to do everything all by myself. I quickly learned that I could not handle all by myself.

Whenever I took two jobs, one would end up suffering. I had to create a team to accelerate growth. Four years later, the team has grown to 10 employees. My wife also quit her banking job and joined the business. Her expertise helped plug financial leakages and streamlined our financial and operational systems.

If I could turn back the clock: I would be bolder in my attempts. I would also embrace failure as a learning example. The fear of failure made me shy away from business deals that I thought were too big for me.

I used to delay in submitting proposals or turn away altogether. Starting all over again, I would want to fail sooner, know what doesn’t work, and get a team of people who are smarter than me in order to accelerate business growth and target scores.

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