Kenya
Nairobi
Standard SMS
Tony

To make money, first find love

A passion for what you do will give you great results. When my mentor first told me this, I felt like he wanted to hold me back.

I was a dreamer then and I’d heard many stories about music and money. I was fortunate to have worked as a back-up artiste for Chiwawa and the legendary Abass. And the amount of money they were handling on a weekly basis was staggering.

They were getting gigs each and every weekend, which meant constant cash flow, which is pretty awesome for a business.

So I had so many questions, like how will I get to be like them? And if I do, what would I do to be different and unique? How would I manage finances? And most importantly, how would I handle fame?

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But all these questions meant I had to work hard first. Initially, I was all about the money, but later on it sunk in: passion comes first.

It took a lot of convincing to come to this realisation – I had to witness it first-hand to believe it.

My mentor took me for a drive one day. It was a weekend and he felt we’d been working for long and needed to rest.

On that trip, he’d invited along his cousin, who was the CEO of one of the biggest delivery companies in Kenya. His name was Tony, and he asked what I do.

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He loved Kenyan music and mostly rap. So on the way, I freestyled and played a couple of my new songs, and then he asked me a very important question: to what capacity do I love my work?

He then gave me his story. He landed in Nairobi straight from Murang’a with nothing but Sh300. The first week he went and got a house in the slums of Mukuru Kwa Njenga.

He could only afford a small mabati shelter that only had space for a bed, two small seats and a cooking corner.

That got me very curious about how this Sh300 man would flip his script to become the CEO of a large company.

The advice my mentor gave me about loving what I do is the same thing he started off by telling me.

The first week passed and he had not bagged anything; the tales he’d heard about Nairobi were turning out to be myths.

What eventually set him apart, though, was how aggressive he was. Just next to the slums, there was a middle-class estate that to him screamed opportunities.

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So he took Sh100 and went to the second-hand clothes market Gikomba for he knew first impressions are an important pillar in communication.

Opportunities are everywhere; most of us just turn a blind eye to them. So, anyway, Tony narrated how one day he went to the estates in Nairobi’s Imara area, and sat outside one of the apartments.

While there, he realised the next big thing was ‘the messenger’ business. Everyone wants to feel like a boss, but most importantly, they want someone they can trust. So how was he planning to build trust?

He took part of the money he had and printed 23 posters that he slipped under each door in that apartment block. On the poster, he simply printed: ‘Send us and we will deliver’.

The following morning, he got a call at around 9am. It was his first client. He delivered and got Sh300. He was surprised.

What separated him from all the other messengers was that he was trusted and he did whatever he could to make sure his clients were happy.

Basically, what made him happy was the happiness of his clients. That’s an actual formula: a happy customer = more business = more money. Pretty straightforward.

By the end of day five, he’d served the whole building. And before he knew it, stories about his reliability spread across the whole estate. And the core reason people referred him to others was that ‘he loves his job’.

He ended up employing 20 people and by his fourth month in Nairobi, had set up an office. It sounded like a miracle to this resident of Murang’a.

He was featured in almost all business journals and TV shows, and today operates his company across six countries; the man is wealthy.

We talk on a weekly basis, but what I took away from first meeting him was: love your job and the money will come.

Now that I have Kaka Empire running, we reminisce about the days of freestyling.

Money is a factor, but the bottom line is that it’s never about the money.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

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