Hamed Ehsani is the co-founder and managing director of The Village Market, a shopping centre located in Nairobi’s Gigiri neighbourhood. The shopping centre hosts 150 shops and a luxury hotel named Tribe, which has 137 rooms. Ehsani’s experience allowed him to share with How we made it in Africa’s Dinfin Mulupi five tips entrepreneurs can use to build successful and sustainable businesses.
1. Forget the idea of getting rich over night
According to Ehsani, entrepreneurs should be ready to put in some hard work before they begin to reap the fruits of their labour.
“Forget the idea of getting rich over night. Nothing replaces hard work. You have to let your business go through hardship, you have to go up and down, and through your mistakes learn and then go to a new height. The stories we hear of someone within two months becoming a millionaire are very rare. They are out there, but they are very rare. Don’t think you are an exception,” said Ehsani.
2. Be honest
According to Ehsani, entrepreneurs should embrace honesty and transparency if they want to build long lasting businesses.
“Let honesty be the foundation of your work. Be sincere in the way you deal with people and be honest. From dishonesty one can benefit; you will get rich, maybe, but it is very short-lived. If you want to build a lasting organisation it has to have the right foundation… honesty, sincerity and transparency,” he said.
3. Think win-win
Ehsani advised that entrepreneurs should help others grow as they pursue their own success in business.
“Don’t look at your growth [only] because your growth depends on others growing with you. Carry a couple of people with you as you go up. Don’t try to get ahead at the cost of another person losing, that doesn’t fare well. Apply certain spiritual principles in your business; although it is material and it is about money, it can come from a different place. [Don’t] only be driven by money,” said Ehsani.
4. Make sure your staff is happy
“Treat your staff well. If they are happy, if they are satisfied with where they are and what they do, they will work harder. They will prosper also. Take care of them. Don’t mistreat them,” said Ehsani.
5. Get a good night’s sleep
Entrepreneurship comes with a lot of challenges that can cause one to stare at the ceiling all night long. Ehsani advised that business people should resist this and get a good night’s sleep. He said that one of the ways to achieve this is by taking calculated risks and avoiding doing things you wouldn’t want other people to find out about.
“You really need to sleep well… Don’t borrow to the point that you have to worry how you are going to pay back. If you are borrowing, borrow at a comfortable level that you can manage. Don’t do things wrong that you are worried what would happen if somebody found out about it,” he added.