Nyambura Kinyanjui was a cyber café attendant before she landed a job as a secretary in a real estate firm.
At the real estate firm, she learned the ropes of real estate management and later resigned to start her own management and consultancy company dubbed Diligent Realtors in Thika.
Here’s her Hustle story.
After school, I was first employed in a cyber café as an attendant earning Sh3,500 monthly. This narrative was to change for the better. While on duty, one of the customers informed me of a secretary job in his real estate office. I resigned to join the firm. I worked as a cyber café attendant for eight months and as a secretary for six years. The latter had better pay compared with the previous one.
Why the real estate and consultancy business?
Throughout my six years of experience at the real estate firm, I learnt a lot that inspired me to start and own a real estate company. Seeing it as an industry that was growing fast, and having witnessed the success stories of other players in the industry, I ventured into the male-dominated field. I knew it was worth the gamble, took out my savings and registered my company, Diligent Realtors. I can say the gamble was worth it.
What does Diligent Realtors entail?
The firm deals in real estate management and consultancy. I got my first client to manage his three apartments while still a secretary. It was then that I quit to fully focus on my company.
How much did you make from your first client?
It was not much but it looked impressive away from what I was earning as a salary. I made Sh30,000 which I used to set up a small office in Thika town and quit employment.
How has the real estate sector been like and the challenges?
There is much to be done in this sector. It is an industry that is always evolving based on diverse factors ranging from new technological innovations to design trends and structural growth. This calls for creativity and collaboration with experts and developers.
Despite tough government regulations, there are a lot of challenges in this sector, especially in property management, like a case where a client expects you to bank rental collections as per your agreement with them but some tenants have defaulted or delayed making payments. To bridge the shortfall, you use your savings or even take a loan to meet the clients’ demands. You want to have loyal clients who trust you than lose them to your competition and you’ve to make such sacrifices.
How long have you been in this business and how do you charge for consultancy?
It’s been five years, now managing properties and offering consultancy services. In collaboration with other real estate developers, we have ventured into property sales. In real estate consultancy, we have specialised in investment and financial advice to clients looking to buy, sell or invest in the property market. Our charges depend on the type of consulting one is seeking.
Real estate has many facets and requires different and specific knowledge and expertise
What did employment teach you and would you consider employment again?
Being employed is not that bad since one guaranteed pay at the end of the month, but being your own boss is taking risks of the unexpected.
Comparing the period, I was employed to that I have been my own boss, I would choose business and being a job creator since there is much that come with it like management, responsibility, timely decision making and creativity. You don’t grow in employment but in business you do. I would never consider employment again.
How has the business growth been like?
It’s been steady but not without lots of challenges along the way. It began with managing three units and the number has risen to 50 units and counting currently. With the growth came employment opportunities for others. The company currently has 12 staff under monthly salary and other employees contracted on a commission basis.
Which business mistakes do you regret?
I have not made many mistakes worth regretting but I have made a lot of failures like investing in ventures that end up as big losses. I take them as a challenge to move to the next step.
How much can the business generate monthly?
With the changes in the industry, you can’t have a correct estimate but on a conservative end, the company can bank up to Sh200,000 per month after expenses.
Do you invest profits in a different area or reinvest in business?
With business growth and my primary interest being in the real estate sector, most of the profit is channeled back into the business to buy more properties for sale and also grow the company assets and liabilities.
What business lessons have you learned in the process?
In the half a decade in business, I have learned the value of meeting expectations and delivering to a client’s satisfaction. Moreover, we need to mitigate problems as swiftly as possible and consult others in the industry as well as apply advice given.
What business advice can you give?
There comes a time when you will need to look forward to the next step of your business. You do not want to remain at the same level doing the same things, and so you need to make crucial decisions that will determine the trajectory of your business. You should make smart and timely decisions.
To all the budding entrepreneurs, make sure the goals you set are realistic. If they are too big, break them down. It will encourage you as you move along and your ultimate goal should never change. Broaden your horizons and transform that business idea into a brand.
When not in real estate and consultancy, what else do you do?
I’m also in digital farming and the cereals business.