Yvonne Khasoa: is the founder of GirlBoss Clothline, an online boutique which deals with wholesale and retail ladies and kids wear. Yvonne also runs a business mentorship program for textile and clothing entrepreneurs under her clothing brand. A version of this story was first published in the Saturday Magazine, which is a publication of the Nation Media Group.
I was so desperate to make sales when I started my business that I would often make losses. This is a trap that many young entrepreneurs fall into. You want to start selling your goods or services, and in desperation, you sell at a loss. Customers will always sniff out a desperate seller and eke out maximum discounts, sometimes at your loss. When I started, I also didn’t have business systems and structures in place. This meant that things like cash flow, bookkeeping and revenue management were not adequately monitored. These are a must, especially in a field as competitive and fluid as the textile and clothing sector. It has been a journey of learning and sometimes unlearning. And despite those early losses, it has all been worthwhile.
I am investing more than I am saving. Although the Sacco is the saving option many people are going for nowadays, it is not a saving method that I would consider. I was part of a Sacco that collapsed last year. Apparently, the Sacco’s operations were extensively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Sacco management failed to update members on the challenges they were facing. So we kept saving and investing with it. Alarm bells went off when the management changed its headquarter offices. We tried to withdraw our savings and investments to no avail. In the end, I lost a substantial amount of money. This experience was a bitter lesson on due diligence. If you have an investment somewhere, keep tabs on it and the status of the institution managing it.
I have chosen to exercise leadership through creating impact in what I do. Nobody will place a demand on me if I am not valuable. Can I bring out my deepest devotions and be good at what I do that no one will want to ignore me? Scaling my impact has forced me to take full responsibility, think faster, under promise but over deliver. And that is what a leader does; Taking an audience on a journey of wowing them. All of us have an obligation of being leaders through our careers or businesses. We have exquisite capabilities within us that need to be utilized. You’d go further than you imagine if you stop seeing your limitations and start creating networks that will unveil new opportunities and possibilities for personal, career and business growth.
Each business comes with its fair share of risks. I have previously opened clothing bales and gotten the exact opposite of what I had ordered. I have opened clothing bales with what I ordered and found extremely bad quality products. Although such setbacks are costly, I do not allow them to throw me off the tracks. I believe the most successful people experienced more failures as they climbed the mountain of success. Expect failures somewhere down the line. You really cannot win a game that you have not even played. How you emerge from failure is what will determine the level of success you will scale.
No money is too small for a brain that has a vision. Just start with what you have and things will be aligned along the process. If you have a good vision and an execution plan, there will be multiple ways for you to access funding or strategic partners to boost your operating capital. The society has somehow made many believe that success and wealth are reserved for a certain group of people. That some individuals are more gifted and privileged than others. But I prefer not to subscribe to this line of thought. I believe in hard and smart work, and trusting the process. It has taken many of those we consider successful and wealth years of hard work and committed to build the empires we now admire. They diligently paid the price to develop their areas. So we can choose to either get some skin in the game or settle for less.