By Amos Wachira
He started from the bottom. When he launched his business at the university’s hostels, he didn’t have the basics, like a computer. He had to convince his mother to buy him one. Luckily, she did, and Philip Nyamwaya set out to try his hand in the murky waters of entrepreneurship. As they say, nothing comes easy. He had to work extra ordinarily hard to achieve success. But not before brushing with the challenges that rock startups.
“After I founded the company, the first few months were tough. The company wasn’t profitable. At times, the business could only afford to pay a salary of Kes5000 which was barely enough to cover my transport costs,” he says.
But despite the challenges, he went on to set up one of the leading, indigenous payments firms in the country.
Hustle East Africa interviewed him and extracted the following entrepreneurship tips. Excerpts
What makes a successful entrepreneur?
It’s a combination of factors including the environment and exposure to other entrepreneurs.
The exposure doesn’t need to be physical but can be through books. To awaken your entrepreneurship flair, you need a catalyst. For me, I was inspired by my elder brother who had a book by Lee Iacocca, the man who turned around Chrysler. I saw that book as a small 13-year-old boy. When I was about to join campus, I read it and it inspired me.
Later on, I was lucky to meet an entrepreneurial friend at the University. Ken Ngunjiri believed in me and created the hunger in me to pursue business.
The environment also matters. When you travel around the country, you interact with people. That’s how you get to see the gaps in society. As an entrepreneur, this can trigger you to come up with solutions to solve the problems that you see around.
You need to be disciplined to do well as an entrepreneur. And discipline starts with little things like making your bed in the morning. For me, my mum had drummed into my head some of these values.
Be inquisitive. You need to ask “what if” questions. And you need yo have a desire to solve problems. Working with your hands also helps you to be creative.
Start small, then grow.
Love what you do. Once you believe in what you do, you can easily convince others to support you.
Structure your plans. Having passion is not enough, you need a plan to grow.
Honesty and integrity
Even if you have the best product out there, you need honesty and integrity to thrive. If people cannot trust you, than you’re doomed as a business.
You also need to have the fear of God. For me, faith in God has been one of my pillars.
Never be impatient for success
As an entrepreneur, you need to know that business is about making sacrifices and its all about delayed gratification. When I left campus, most of my former school mates got plum jobs. It didn’t bother me as I concentrated on building my business. You also need to focus on the business. Entrepreneurs have to work three times harder than anyone else at the start-up level. It pays off.
Have a work-life balance. Never let your business consume you, because it can.
And finally, never let success get into your head.
Does school prepare you to be an entrepreneur?
School is important. It helps you think in a structured way. However, it’s not sufficient to make you an entrepreneur.
You need to have a combination of many values, including passion, patience, hard work, ability to spot opportunities, to take risks, among others.
Should capital be an impediment when starting a business?
No. Myles Munroe once said, “find something in your society to do. Do it well. You will not miss clients.” Start where you are and work hard. At some point, you’ll need some capital. When that time comes, you can approach family and friends, as charity begins at home.
When we launched iPay, we didn’t have adequate capital. We banked on our parent company to support us. When the business stabilized, we reimbursed the mother company.