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The best business advice I ever got

By Hustle Team | March 18th 2020

Everything matters. That’s the best advice I’ve ever received regarding running a business. They’re the words of one of my mentors, Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO. Everything matters, from the big things (how you treat your staff) to the smallest (the sugar on the table). They’re all tied together. It’s like a fabric – all those different threads, and different colours and different textures need to work together to create that tapestry.

If you don’t have a passion for the business you’re interested in, don’t go there. It is the passion that keeps you going when things are down. Various things happen, things you didn’t anticipate. Setting up a business is hard. But that’s not to say you can’t invest: if you don’t have passion about something but you have the money, you can invest in someone else’s passion. If you’re stuck in a career rut, get out and find something that fulfils you. Don’t be afraid to take a cut. Life is short and God did not put us on earth to be miserable. If you’re miserable, you’re making someone else miserable.

Andrea Moraa,  Director of Operations and Co-founder at Point Zero Coffee

The best advice I’ve ever received is to always do the right thing, in the sense that you should be clear on who you are serving. You’re always serving a customer, be it internally in an organisation, or externally. If you deliver what is expected in the organisation, you will get a reputation that you’re someone who can be relied upon, and this may lead to promotions and other opportunities. If you deliver to external customers, then they will give you more business and tell other people about you, leading to even more business.

The best career advice I’d give is walk the talk. It is not enough to say you want to be successful. Are you willing to put in the effort? Are you getting the right qualifications, are you doing everything necessary to land the job? Are you executing the job? Are you doing everything possible to develop the needed skills and are you open to feedback that will help you improve? If we are honest with ourselves and expend the right efforts to better our skills and prospects, then the sky is not the limit.

Adil El Youssefi, East Africa Region CEO at Liquid Telecom

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt since co-founding a business is you have to know how to sell; you’re the biggest salesperson in the organisation. When you’re starting out, you’ll always experience challenges and you have to learn to adapt to every new situation. We thought we’d make a million shillings in the first year, and maybe three more the next and so on, but sometimes we’d not be making any money at all. But the thing is to persevere and hold on to your vision.

The best  advice I’ve heard is something that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg once said: “Move fast and break things.” It simply means, if you’ve got a problem, solve it as quickly as possible. That especially applies in our industry because technology moves so fast. The best advice I’d give that transcends all spheres of life is perseverance pays. I’ve learnt that from experience. Things will not always work your way, but you have to be able to hold on to your vision.

Tom Muriranja, Co-founder and Managing Director at Presta Capital Limited

The best advice I’ve ever received was in the form of a quote from Karanja Kabage. He said to have the unwavering and resilient spirit of a hawker or mama mboga. Come rain or shine, “Kanjo” or infrastructure development, they never close shop. They remain undeterred yet adaptive to the times and seasons. It’s also the best advice I’d give.

Waithera Gaitho, Founder and Executive Director at Alternatives Africa

Peter Njonjo, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Twiga Foods

Early in my career, I always liked analysing things, finding problems and things that are not working and took such joy in presenting them to my boss. One time he told me that if I brought him one more problem he would fire me. I became so afraid of sharing problems again that I always looked for a solution first. In that I got the best advice that has helped me thus far – always be part of the solution.

The best advice I’d give is always stay curious. When you stay curious, you read more because you want to find out why things work the way they do, you experiment more because you’re always trying to find different ways of doing things, and you’re always not satisfied with the status quo. I would never have discovered Twiga if I was not curious. That mindset allows you to discover so many things and will help you improve because the more curious you are, the more you try to find solutions and the more it differentiates you from everybody else, and the more consumers or customers can see value in whatever you are selling.

Peter Njonjo, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Twiga Foods

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