Rahab Mbugua is an entrepreneur and the founder of fashion and design companies, Ray Interior Décor Limited and Ray’s Closet.
Biggest milestone: Starting my business with zero capital is my greatest milestone. All I had was an idea. I pitched it out to a UN Agency in Nairobi and they agreed to go for it. They paid quite a good amount of money for the idea, enabling me to get my first capital. It is not always a must to have saved up some money as capital for you to start your business. What is that you have in your hand that you can offer? It could be you biggest capital!
Getting strategic investors: When I started, I was able to get 5,000$ from an angel investor, and a platform to sell my products in New York and Washington DC as an upcoming young fashion entrepreneur. The key to getting funded is to talk about your product and not your journey. Be quick to describe the specific problems that your product can solve or the innovation behind it. Angels want to bet on individuals who are out to put a dent in the universe.
Biggest money mistake: Taking out bad loans was my biggest money mistake, and I paid heavily for it. There is a very simple reason why banks give out loans. They make money off those loans. They do not give out loans because they are run by nice people who want you to succeed. That being said, this does not mean that you cannot find a good loan for your business. You only need to be spectacularly careful. Make sure you shop around and visit at least a few different banks. Compare their small business loans and work out which will work best for you.
Biggest loss: I feel like I have lost a great deal of opportunities and sales by being incapacitated by the fear of “What if’s.” Looking back, I lost a great deal of money because of procrastinating, fear of rejection or failure which significantly hindered my progress. When I was starting, I feared to bid for tenders because I felt as though I lacked the necessary qualifications and experience. I have since learnt that recognizing common fears is a great first step, as it reassures me that other entrepreneurs have also been afraid but they still pursued their dreams.
If I could start all over again: I would save more, invest wisely and avoid becoming a workaholic. I have learned that it helps to build up reserves of money and energy. They will come in handy when bad luck and critical mistakes come knocking.
Saving method: I aim for a more short term savings goal. Once I identify it, I start setting aside amounts from minimums of Sh. 2,000 to Sh. 5,000. This has enabled me to save up successfully since my goals are always in sight rather than bulk up savings for long term goals that may take too long or idle my savings. Previously, I saved money by cutting on expenses and spending less, but I realized that I was actually not saving. There’s a difference between saving money and saving money for the future. In my case, I was just cutting costs but what I saved from such costs didn’t go into any savings channel.
The key to success: You must know who you are and overcome your identity crisis since we all want to become like other people, start businesses that the people we admire have started. But if you don’t have the grace for such ventures, you will not be able to sustain. Be different and unique. Identify your capabilities and know how to harness them. Personally, my key in the fashion and design industry has been having a system of continuous innovation. Also prepare to be copied. Don’t start unless you’ll survive imitation because if your idea is truly radical, it will take minutes before copy cats check in. Stay innovative and humble enough to learn from your mistakes.
This profile on Rahab Mbugua the founder of Ray Interior Décor was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.