Eunice Thirikwa Wafula is CEO and co-founder of Talinda East Africa, a Kenya-based IT company offering wifi networking and advanced telephony systems to businesses, high-end hotels and education institutes.
1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
After graduating from university two friends and I decided to start a homestay business. We were all employed, so we decided to run it as a side hustle.
Although we made a profit from the gigs we got, we didn’t achieve operational excellence. And even though we employed two staff [members] to help in the daily operations of the business, managing it from a distance was quite a tussle.
We called it quits after operating for about a year and a couple of months. Later, I quit my job and started my own company, Talinda East Africa.
I came back to the world of business focusing all my time, effort, energy and money on one thing: the success of the business.
Training has also been a major part of the journey.
I have taken entrepreneurship courses with Stanford University, Vital Voices and Strathmore University. An entrepreneur’s learning process never stops.
2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?
Although the entrepreneurship journey has had its twists and turns, I’m proud of how far Talinda has come.
We are the leading reseller and system integration service provider of IT, telecommunications and audio visual solutions for mid-size businesses in East Africa.
3. Describe your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.
I am a go-getter, I believe everything is doable and achievable as long as you’re ready to learn and trust the process.
My weakness, however, is not being able to wait patiently for the end results. I have learned that great success takes time. Learning and trusting in the process every single day while putting in maximum effort has seen my company grow.
So, I have learned to let my employees pace themselves by creating a clear map of daily operations of the business, and a plan for the week and month, so that the operations flow. We work as a team and achieve as a team.
4. Which popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
“Be your own boss.”
This is a misconception. At no point are you your own boss: your customers and clients are your boss; your employees are your boss. It could be destructive for your business and you as a person and if this sticks in your head.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy owning your own business and feeling like a boss. What I am saying is at different levels people will boss you around, and that is needed for the growth and success of the business.
5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you got started?
There are a couple of things I wish I knew, but one is how to achieve operational excellence.
You can really be a good achiever in whatever career, but stretching out to all areas will help you be [a] good leader of your company. You need [all] those bits of skills and knowledge.
6. Name a business opportunity you would still like to pursue.
I can narrow this down to “talent-as-a-service” business model, whereby you tap [into] the younger generation… and nurture them by providing them with resources [and] opportunities to thrive in jobs, not only in Africa, but also worldwide.
This will see intense growth in our economy.
‘The journey so far’ series is edited by Wilhelmina Maboja, with copy editing by Xolisa Phillip, and content production by Justin Probyn and Nelly Murungi.