Gloria Michelle Otieno-Muka is CEO of Recours Four Kenya Consultants Limited, a human resources (HR) consultancy, and training and recruitment firm based in Westlands, Nairobi.
1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
In 2017, the political climate in Kenya was rough; it caused a major economic regression. There was a time I found myself with high demand in clients but none of my previous clients were paying on time.
It was tough. My only paying clients were the international ones but this was not sufficient to sustain the demand I was getting from local clients, who were looking for strategy planning, restructuring their businesses, training and recruitment. Somehow the local clients were not liquid enough to pay when required.
I overcame this by convincing my suppliers to give me time to sort them out when stable. The good business relationships formed with my suppliers and consultants enabled us to pull through the uncertain storm and emerge winners, eventually, when clients managed to pay.
2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?
I started my business with only US$2,000, a passion for social change and one idea: to do CVs for people and to help them get jobs. This one idea transformed into a powerhouse of profitable diverse ideas, which is what we see in my business now.
Recours Four Kenya Consultants Limited is an award-winning, youth-focused company and a full-spectrum consulting services firm that has been assisting public-sector organisations, the government, and non-profit and for-profit organisations. We have an organised team of consultants, who have extensive experience in recruitment, training, psychometric testing and general HR. I am extremely proud of the transformation, especially having started with little capital.
3. Describe your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.
My greatest weakness is still looking at my business like a baby and wanting to be on top of things all the time, despite having people to manage the different areas of the business.
Sometimes I forget to delegate because I am so used to aligning the processes in the different areas. One key thing, though, is that I avoid micromanaging at all costs by making sure I always keep communication flowing between my staff and I, to prevent cases of micromanaging.
I also have an open-door policy and I engage with my staff as much as I can to make sure they understand what is required of them at all times.
4. Which popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
Have a business plan. What do you mean by have a business plan?
I started my business with one idea and no plan whatsoever. I figured everything out along the way (I learned on the job). And I am still improving processes and services in order to keep giving value to my clients. Most conventional wisdom is old school, firm and out-dated. True wisdom lies in the acceptance of the uncertainty in business.
5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you got started?
I wish someone had told me how much strength one requires to start a business and to keep a business lucrative.
‘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.