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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Fridah Kuria: I learned a bitter lesson after trusting too much in business

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Businesswomen in Kenya: Fridah Kuria is the Director and Co-founder of Kurarts Designs & Digital Printers, a general printing press, outdoor advertisement and 3D and 2D company.

Biggest loss: There was a time I had an order to service for a corporate client. However the person who approved the work had not consulted the end user. Normally after approval you are sure that the client is satisfied and so delivery is the next thing. After going through all the stages and having completed the order it was now time to deliver. Paper work all done. On arriving to the client’s office, he was shocked that the color didn’t match his specification. He immediately revoked the contract and cancelled the order. This incident cut my teeth as an entrepreneur. In most cases business people think that business is a game of profitability. But losing is highly possible. Nonetheless, as Robert Kiyosaki says, no one is doomed to bad luck. Always analyze the situation and circumstances contributing to business loss. Where did you go wrong? What did you do wrong? What caused it? What can you do to prevent your business from losing more in future?

Biggest milestone: This has been the continuous improvement of my personal and professional skills and the continued growth of Kurarts as a brand in the printing industry. Printing is known to be hands-on, and for this reason many women will settle for the design field rather than the press itself. Many people in my field wonder how I can do things like, operate machines, do maintenance for the machines myself and when I have time, design artworks for my clients. The tradition in my organization informs where we have come from and lays the foundation of who we are, even as we look for ways to innovate.

Biggest money mistake: When I started, I subcontracted an order to another person, who I barely knew. I trusted that he would deliver because he had the capacity.  I proceeded to pay for everything but he did not deliver as agreed.  In the end, I lost money, client confidence and from it all, I learnt that growth in business is important but also investment in capacity and efficiency is key.

Secret to making it: You must work hard and know how to make smart decisions more often. Be accountable to the business, yourself and your employees. These are your biggest stakeholders. Also make sure that everyone in your business fully understands and shares in your vision. This will require you not only to be lead, but also open up to feedback and criticism from your employees and clients. Do not forsake the growth of those who work for you. Seek to improve them in the process.

Building a business: My secret is in building relationships. When you have a relationship with your clients, both corporate and everyday clients you are able to serve with confidence. People want to do business with people they know and trust. It’s about cultivating those relationships. I have come to learn that in the service industry, it’s more about farming connections with new contacts than hunting for them. Believe in client service and customer satisfaction rather than just delivery.

Saving method: I have always saved with the bank. This has been my most effective method. It has also instilled a saving discipline in me.

If I could go back in time: today I would tour three countries that inspire me in line with the printing industry. South Africa, Germany and China. This would help me build better skills, especially in handling technical problems.  I would also hunt for more contacts on where to source for raw materials and machine spares at affordable rates. As a result, I would not only be regionally competitive, but would be at a better place to place myself internationally.

This feature was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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