Mwenesi Musalia, 36, is an image, performance and behaviour consultant who studied law but found his calling in entrepreneurship through his own image consulting firm.
He currently runs 2 companies – House of Major, a public relations and management consultancy company and Etiquette and Protocol Institute of East Africa (EPIEA), for training and capacity building on soft skills such as behavior, communication, etiquette and personal branding.
He shares his business tips.
What is does it take to succeed in business?
Figure out how to convert your idea or the potential to value; then map out who your potential customers are.
Many get caught up in details that are not the core of business e.g. business registration, designing the company logo and so on. The first thing one needs to focus on is, how to trade what they have and get value – how do I make money out of this? Who are my potential customers?
For as long as you can identify the value in whatever you are trading and build on what you have to suit your customer’s needs, you are good to go. Execute first and find out if there is value and who is willing to trade money for what you have to offer. Then you can deal with the sideshows.
What has entrepreneurship taught you?
One cannot afford to be risk-averse; everything about entrepreneurship involves taking a plunge. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, they are part of the journey.
There isn’t anything much like a routine, it takes years to get into a rhythm, so be comfortable with not knowing. Each day comes with its own opportunities and issues. Embrace living in ‘The Unknown’ realm of things.
Entrepreneurship comes with extreme emotions, you can go from a morning high of closing a great deal to a low of losing a good employee in the afternoon. So, yes, it also comes with a roller coaster of emotions.
Be at peace with not knowing; be okay with withstanding constant change.
The no go zone of entrepreneurship
Don’t listen to people who are not feeding your capacity. Once you start something, everyone will have an opinion on how you should execute this and how you should handle that. Be clear on your agenda, don’t let people’s opinions keep swaying you in whatever direction. Let the customer tell you what they would want to be improved, every other opinion is irrelevant.
It is also important to answer the “So What?” question, what do you want your business to stand for? Money is important but it is just but a tool, a means to an end. So, what’s your ultimate goal? What do you want to achieve in the end?
Your take on networking
When you are starting out, attending networking events is aah eeh, rubbish. Those are things you should do after you are established in whatever craft, when you have money in the bank. Why? Because, business is simply this, identifying your customer, pitching your product or service and making a sale. In that, you have value.
The problem with the networking mindset is waiting for established individuals, industry gurus to become your stepping stone. My friend! You will be waiting a long time. Please do not waste your time pitching to people so that they can offer you some opportunity. If that person doesn’t have the potential to become your direct customer, keep walking.
As I said, business is simple, it’s a willing buyer – willing seller affair, the rest is nonsense. Nobody will carry you to wherever you need to get to. Just put in the work and push yourself.
I think it’s important that I add this; business is not an intellectual exercise, get straight to the point! What are you offering? Who’s buying? Anything outside this scope is a waste of time.
As an entrepreneur, how does one package themselves
Figure out your abilities and strengths then see how you can package what you have and exchange that for value. How do you turn what you have into something useful? Dress the part, walk the part, speak the part.
Then grow from there. Package yourself for both your clients and your audience knowing that clients are your customers who see value enough to buy. The audience is the energy that you need to keep going and possibly introduce you to clients. You need to be able to distinguish between the two and know that while audience is good for energy and cheering you on, the customer is the one who actually pays money for your product or service.
What do you think about newbie entrepreneurs expecting family and friends to purchase their products or service?
Honestly? Nobody owes you anything! I will not purchase things from friends simply because we are friends. If I do not need what you are offering, I will not buy it. Simple. Go find your customer. It is naïve and downright wrong to expect people to buy from you because of your connection or relation to them.
Yes! This sense of entitlement is somewhat mediocre. It is not wrong to pitch your ideas and products to those around you but don’t expect people to buy from you as a favour or “in support.”
Your take on good grooming in business
If you are customer facing then this is very important. For example, when I drive to a garage, I expect the person I find at the reception to be clean and neat, smell good at the bare minimum. But I know that I’m likely to find the mechanic in an overall that’s all covered up in grease and that’s okay because what he does involves getting his hands dirty in that kind of way.
Just dress the part.
Your take on identifying opportunities
Focus on value. A business is not a business unless you have customers. Identifying opportunities isn’t something that can be taught per se, you just have to figure out how you are wired, what works for you, what you can provide in the market and then go with that.
I also believe that the future belongs to the innovators. That in no way means that everyone has to reinvent the wheel but it is those willing to take on the inconvenience and hard work of creating things that will, in the long run, take the big bucks home.
Of mediocrity and excellence
This is something that cannot be forced on anyone. We decide what we want to pursue. Excellence will always involve going the extra mile, giving what others aren’t willing to offer. Excellence will stretch you, it will cause you to think, to dig deep to either find solutions to existing problems or come up with fresh ideas.
What is your definition of success?
As long as I find peace in whatever I endeavor to do, I’m good to go. Peace is everything.
Tell me one thing people don’t know about you?
I’m a very private person. I enjoy spending time alone.