Investment: The power of Sh28,000

These days, most of us have insurance plans, mobile phone subscription, and so on. But back in the day, I wasn’t sure exactly how these companies knew to send me an email or text message on my birthday that started with my name: “Hi, King.”

With the way things are going regarding handling consumers, and with the rise of micro-agencies, I’m sure in the next few years we’ll have brands coming to our homes to clean and wash our utensils (I hope it gets to this level).

Organic growth

Companies have been pushed to extremes because we as consumers will only give referrals to our friends if we can give a business above 85 per cent for its customer service.

One of the people who mentors me once said a business that grows on organic marketing lives longer than one that depends purely on paid marketing.

Specialists may differ with this statement, but then again, if you follow the latter model, you get to save plenty on marketing, and can pump that extra cash into other things, like new employees.

Last week, I met a good friend who got me thinking about organic growth. I love watching micro-businesses grow, and their journey inspires me.

I first met this friend at a seminar four years ago and exchanged cards. I had gone to pitch for business and saw her on the panel.

After that, I called her – in my aggressive, go-getter style – and asked for a business coffee meeting. So fast forward to last Wednesday. She called and asked if I was available to meet.

It was a chilly evening and I’d heard about this new coffee space in Upper Hill, so we set up a meeting. Daisy, that’s not her actual name but for the sake of this story, let’s just say that it is.

I won’t even mention her company by name given the reason I’m telling her story is for the lessons.

When we first met, Daisy’s company was small and she was trying to get her foot into the agency business. Basically, what agencies do is they come and help a company out with strategies, and run campaigns that link businesses to consumers, basically making sure the back end is satisfied, as is the client.

Personality research

At our initial meeting at the summit, she was a bit worried that her 9-to-5 job was turning her into a slave and she felt she had a bigger potential than the desk at her office.

It was a three-day summit, but we made sure we met and motivated each other each morning.

A week after the summit, she resigned and went to ushago.

None of her colleagues saw that move coming, but every phone call she got from the workplace she used as a platform to do her own personality research.

And the feedback she got was that everyone would miss her infectious smile, but mostly, the customers would miss the personal touch she added to every sale.

This, she decided, would form a strong foundation for what would be her next venture.

She came back to Nairobi. Since she’d resigned before her contract was up, she wasn’t given any compensation. She needed capital, but the lack of it didn’t deter her. What struck me most about her was her attitude.

She had Sh28,000 in her bank account, and with it, she took the biggest risk of her life.

It was the 21st of the month, and she knew that if she paid rent, that would mean she’d have to borrow money at end of the month to realise her business dream.

I always advice young entrepreneurs that the market and network you seek is in your phonebook. And that’s what Daisy banked on.

She sent a text to all her contacts telling them she was willing to manage and plan their upcoming events.

Most of the texts back were congratulatory ones, but one of her co-workers passed her contacts on to someone somewhere, and that following morning, Daisy was called in for a meeting.

She was trusted with a job that would give her 100 per cent profit, but it would bite into her Sh28,000.

With no contract, she took on the job. However, by the time she was delivering, the company had gone into receivership, which meant no payment.

She talked to her landlord for an extension on her rent deadline. And then her breakthrough happened.

The breakthrough

One of the people on the panel at the company that went under called her in for a meeting over a cup of coffee.

She said she’d been planning for years to start an agency and if Daisy was up for it, could they partner?

She reached out to Daisy was on the strength of the background check and references she’d got when the previous company did its due diligence.

Daisy is now the co-founder of a very big agency that handles more than 40 companies in East and Central Africa.

The lesson? We’re never lucky. We create opportunities. You can’t be seating at home waiting for opportunities.

Take a risk and build a reputation that allows you to bank on your character.  

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

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