Stephen Obuong’ is the founder and chief executive officer of Masterpiece Education, an education consultancy and publishing business based in Nairobi.

Obuong’ shared some of the lessons he has picked up from the business.

In 2005, my business started designing, publishing and distributing students’ practical manuals in sciences.

Over the last fifteen years, what started as a small venture has grown into a formidable business. The quality and consistency of our learning products has remained the most appealing in the market. Our titles have held their ground. This has been possible through a shift from a profit–oriented business approach to a solutions-driven approach.

In business, you must never delegate all operations.

This is the mistake I made. I allowed this particular employee to run all operations from procurement, production, sales to accounts. By the time I knew what was happening, a parallel business (a competitor) had been born using my resources. Nobody will run your business or company as good as you would; Nobody really cares so much about you and your welfare as you think and prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

Creativity, originality, passion and excellence are the best ingredients for prepping a successful career.

In my line of work, this involves finding gaps and coming up with original ideas to fill them. This is what has taken us thus far. You will only be as good as your last job. If you do well today, strive to excel even more tomorrow. I have had a good run in entrepreneurship. In fact, if I could start all over again, the only thing I would start much earlier. This is not to say that I have not made mistakes. But I have taken them as lessons.

You don’t need to trample others to be at the top.

There is enough space for everyone at the top. Instead of trampling your friends, let them in on opportunities that befit them. The hate is less when you’re all winning. Start competing with yourself too.

I have been saving money through the bank.

I also save through passive income-generating or value-accruing assets. Saving in the bank has allowed me to access well–priced loans while assets have given me a silent fallback plan should I need heavy capital investment.

Never live above your means, especially if you are an entrepreneur.

Do your due diligence and invest based on your targets. In the time I have been in business, I have found out that business provides a sense of fulfillment that employment doesn’t. It is however very challenging since you have to think ahead of existing competition. Management of cash flows and reinvestment are central to the success of a business. So is the separation of business and personal money.