Susan Kaittany is one of Kenya’s fast rising businesswomen. The versatile Susan is a woman who wears many hats; from being a qualified lawyer, to founding Posh Palace (a boutique beauty parlour) to being a brand ambassador and fashion model all the while being a mother of two and a wife.
In an exclusive interview with Eve Woman, Susan Kaittany shares some insights on how she is able to keep going in her entrepreneurial journey and some of the greatest lessons she has learnt along the way:
What challenges did you have setting up a business in terms of brand building and acquiring clients?
It's not easy starting a brand from scratch. It's a lot of sleepless nights, thinking, dreaming and sometimes being really scared of what's coming. But if your dream doesn't scare you enough then it's not big enough. I believe in building a brand that clients will believe in. A brand that is recognizable and that resonates with the dreams of the founder. Clients love quality. Take your time to build a quality brand and the clients will follow you without a doubt.
How do you run the place? Do you focus on all aspects? Administrative, Financial, Operations or do you delegate?
I am hands on with my business but I also believe in delegating. The reason for this is because the truth is we cannot be everywhere and we aren't always there. I have a manager who oversees the day to day running of the business. The first three years of a business is very crucial so I definitely still have to be present in every way in the day to day affairs at the palace.
What is a typical day for you in the workplace?
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I have daily meetings with my manager where we go through the books. Thereafter, I meet with the clients and ensure that their needs are being met and that they are getting value for their money. I also just touch base with my staff and catch up on the happenings of the previous days and what their day is looking like. My days at the palace tend to be random with checks and balances here and there.
What are the costs that give you sleepless nights?
Rent is always the biggest over head for most businesses. Other costs are power, products and staff overheads.
How do you deal with employee theft?
Our culture sucks, people like to take shortcuts to make a quick buck. The key to dealing with theft is to fire with immediate effect anyone suspected of theft and of course put in systems and structures to prevent this from happening. There will always be some cracks here and there, and checks have to be made often to secure the business.
How do you juggle business, motherhood and being a wife?
I don't think there's ever the perfect balance for this for a woman. A business woman always will have to make a lot of sacrifices because the business needs her, and so does her family. They say that being a boss means working 12 hours a day. I try my utmost best to ensure that I make time for my family, but the truth is it's never enough.
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
I read a lot. Brainpower is everything. Training your mind starts from what you're feeding it and therefore input is equals to output. This really gets me going and gives me a high. I wake up in the middle of the night to read.
If you had to start from scratch, what would you do differently?
I would be more fearless. I would careless of the opinions of others and focus more on building my net worth and increasing my knowledge. Believing in yourself is half of the work done, already.
Describe one of your biggest accomplishment. What lesson did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?
My biggest achievement so far has been raising my two daughters Mia & Meli. They give me purpose, focus and reason to work hard. Motherhood has taught me that I am not in control of their lives, that I am only here to guide them into their dreams and for them to achieve their higher purpose. I have learnt that motherhood is about raising them to be good human beings that will make a positive impact to make this world a better place. Motherhood has taught me humility, gratitude, patience and fortitude. It has made me a better person.
Describe one of your biggest failures. What lesson did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?
My biggest failure has always been trusting too much. I have trusted people and let them in to my life without questioning their intentions. I have had to learn the hard way that what you see is not always what you get. Bad people actually exist. It has contributed to growing me because I have learnt to become tougher and in a sense this has grown me. Business is not for the faint at heart. You need to have the thickest skin to survive.
Do you have a mentor to guide you through this entrepreneurship journey? Would you recommend that women get mentors?
My mentor over the years has been my beloved mother, Rosemary Kaittany. This Iron Lady started her business over two decades ago, from being a simple school teacher to building an empire worth over a billion. She has grown from strength to strength, gone to business school, travelled the world, met world leaders and yet is still very humble and grounded. I can only hope to become half the woman that she is today.
In summary what are the five tips you would give women who have just started their business or are looking to start a business?
Don't be afraid- Ask questions, talk to other entrepreneurs. They have a wealth of information and are ready to share
Have your business plan in place- Think through all the details. List down everything. The devil is in the detail.
Don't be afraid to dream big- If your dream doesn't scare you then it's not big enough.
Talk to your bank- Your bank is your best friend. Always
Don't let small hurdles kill your dream- The power to overcome is everything. Bounce back. Your strength comes from bouncing back over and over again. Recreate yourself!