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Nine growth thoughts from accomplished Kenyan businesspeople

By Hustle Team | February 10th 2021


What are some of the things they know about growing and creating enterprises that stand the test of time? We compile some of the best insights from some entrepreneurs and leaders in business.

Wandia Gichuru, co-founder of Vivo Activewear

Be critical about the location of your business; especially when growing it. But before opening another location, consider the size of your target market. You need to be sure that you will be capturing more of that market by opening that new location. And not just making it easier for some of your existing clients. Location is not just the building - it can also be within the building. Being on the ground floor, being very visible, being close to an entrance or where people are going to walk past, being near the anchor tenant – all those are choice areas. 

Maintain your original standards. As you grow, you want to maintain or improve your standards. Because you are growing or having to double your capacity or serve twice as many clients, you might find that with that growth your standards are dropping because you are not able to put as much attention into every single product or every single client. You have to think about what that will mean in terms of additional capacity, procedures and resources you need to put in. Procedures and processes become a lot more important when you are bigger. When you’re small, you’re able to be on top of everything, but as you grow you have to make sure that the same services are offered.

Esther Muchemi, CEO of Samchi Group of Companies

Don’t be a control freak. Starting out, I ran the company alone, but as we have continued to grow, I have to delegate. Find competent people. People you can count on to do the best job possible. Allow your employees room for growth, that way they are personally invested in your business. Delegating responsibilities helps them stretch their capabilities too, and gives you a break.

Plan on your retirement. Business should never end with you. One day, you will retire, thus, it is better to nurture a number of people in your company who can take over from you when you bolt out. At Samchi Telecom, I have left a number of responsibilities to some people to make it easier for them to learn everything when I am not around. I also do a lot of mentoring to bring up my future leaders.

Play time matters. Running a business can wear you out. You need to find time to blow off some steam. I am an introvert, I love my personal space. Sometimes I will go out for some fun but most times I will be alone in my quiet garden enjoying some me-time. This is when I am even able to make some decisions that I can’t make in the office or anywhere else.

Sateesh Kamath, CFO of Vodaphone business

Utilise tax breaks. There are a number of tax breaks available, depending on the business and activities one is carrying out. These incentives are given to businesses to encourage investment and help businesses grow, which spurs economic growth. To get the best out of this, get professional advice from tax experts who will help understand which tax breaks are available for you and how you can utilise them.

Enhance your operational efficiency. Operational efficiency is key to the growth of any business. You cannot grow a business by being wasteful, but at the same time, neither can you do so by under-investing. Managing costs means getting more productive with the same costs. By being cost-efficient, you save precious resources that help you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to investing in new product lines and areas.

Hire passionate employees. It’s been proven time and again that the key difference between a hugely successful business and others is the quality of people you employ. Passionate employees driven by clear purpose will constantly challenge themselves to do more, therefore ensuring the success of the organisation in so doing, their own success. Treat them well, motivate them and give them incentives, and they will in turn treat your customers well and do their best in growing your business.

Jordan Rittenberry, CEO of Edelman Africa

Hard work and network. While it is good to believe in yourself and your abilities, you will in time learn that you need others. Other people are very important to one’s success, particularly a business. Building a network is really important, as is having mentors and people that can guide you in your career, give you some advice and help you see things from a different perspective. I have been lucky to work with many smart individuals at Edelman and people who have mentored me and sponsored me perhaps because they have seen the potential. At the same time, people can only get you so far. You have to carry it the rest of the way. There is no substitute for hard work. You cannot just rely on a network. You have to put in the time and be the one to do the hard work.
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