Five pieces of practical advice I’ve picked from interviewing women in business

BY FLORENCE BETT-KINYATTI

#1. “Make sure everyone you meet knows what you do”
Lucy Mutiso started her bakery when she was 17 and fresh out of high school. She made her first million at 21 and now, at 25, runs a thriving enterprise of four full-timers and a scrolling list of cake orders.

Her bakery’s in the marrow of Roysambu. Hello Sweetness Confectioneries.

That’s her pictured.

Lucy’s advice is a hand-me-down from her mentor, the visionary behind Valentine Cake House.

She’s been harping it since, now she’s only getting louder.

“I’m Lucy. I bake cakes on order for occasions like birthdays, weddings and…”

#2. “Know where the money is”
Susan Mwange-Silot’s a creative with a crisp mind and free yet informed spirit.

She and her hubs (my kid brother, hehee) consult branding and design at The Silot. She also supplies crockery at The Clay Shop.

I’ve not interviewed Susan but I’ve run to her countless times to bounce ideas and get bearing.

Susan stresses, Find the product in your passion then know where the money for that product is. Only get on the ground to build your brand when you’ve understood how you’ll make its money.

Otherwise, walk away.

Don’t waste your time.

#3. “Push, and push harder
Next time you’re at The Hub, Karen, look up at the roof.

That roof is Irene’s roof. Irene Wanjiku of Rexe Roofing, the main suppliers of shingles in Kenya.

Moments when you ask, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ ‘Is it supposed to be this difficult?’ ‘My product isn’t making money, why?’

That’s the time you triple your effort and push through the boulders: Rise up earlier. Market aggressively. Dig much deeper into your pocket. Network. Send a proposal to a brand you want to partner with. Learn more about your trade.

Keep. Pushing. Harder.

#4. “People give jobs to people they already know” and “Don’t run your business like an accountant, run it like a salesman”
Wanjiku Kiptum’s been running Clean Space Limited since August 2014.

She told me that accountants focus on cutting expenses, salesmen focus on growing revenue. And networking. And pushing product. And knocking on doors even after hearing ‘No’, after ‘No’, after ‘No!’

People give you jobs because they know you. So get known.

Get known as the go-to in your industry.

Network like a salesman.

Want to hear something amusing? Wanjiku was a practising accountant before her cleaning company.

#5. “Understand your push and pull factors by heart”
This is undertones from entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed. I’ve distilled it into a mantra of my own.

My push and pull factors are too personal to share with you yet, but I’ll tell you this: I want to go to my grave knowing I created a sustainable enterprise from my own idea and built it with my own two hands, doing what pleases me.

And here goes, “Hey. I’m Bett. I’m a writer with my online brand Craft It, we tell the stories of Kenyans and the stuff they make by hand.”

Featured image: With permission from Lucy Mutiso, courtesy of Ken Mwesh, Miriti’s Delights

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That chic who sells chapos under the floodlights
A woman scorned

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