Rajiv Mehta is the founder and the MD of Tangerine Investments, a Kenyan-based outdoor advertising firm that uses public transportation, litter bins and street poles to market goods.
1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
Over the years, I have come across several tough situations. At times, you ask yourself, how did I get into this situation? But, looking back, you think to yourself, how did I overcome this situation? And every situation makes you tougher to a point where you have that feeling that you can solve any problem that comes your way.
In the outdoor business, dealing with the government and competitors’ situations arise quicker than you would hope for them to arise. I even use the word “hope” as you have to be in the position to expect something coming your way. At times, again, you aren’t able to overcome the challenges 100%. One instance is when I was awarded a particular road to advertise on and had to get several competitors to move out of it. That was tough. On my side it was me alone and on the other side more than eight companies, the police got involved, so did the courts.
2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?
To be honest, I am not proud of my achievements. Even though I do recognise some achievements, I have set a goal. I haven’t yet reached my set goal and month on month I do try work in a better manner to achieve my goals and work out which ones are long-term goals.
So, I cannot pick one particular achievement but I could overall say surviving in business and being able to provide for my staff and my family is my achievement, as it’s real tough out there and people achieve so much on a daily basis.
3. Describe your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.
Not finding the right person for the job. So, in short, staff you rely on to handle their duties and responsibilities, but don’t execute. I have always had this weakness and hope to overcome it. I have prevented this, of course, by having to monitor staff closely, sitting down and chatting with them to give guidance. Or maybe, I may be the one wrong by looking for a replica of myself – in other words, someone who can perform for the company as I feel I do.
My not having any partners in business has limited what I can do compared to a business with two or more partners. Partners can sit down and brainstorm, and possibly one partner would have more knowledge on a particular matter. So, I rely on my staff for assistance when I’m stuck on a matter.
4. Which popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
Writing a business plan. When I sit down with friends who are working on these for their businesses and look at what they have achieved after coming up with their plans, I look at the plans and I’m happy I have never done one or bothered with it as you have to weigh your risk opportunities. And what is business without taking risks?
I, again, may be wrong to many who have achieved so much more out there with a business plan, but, for me personally, I’d rather listen to my gut feeling, make a decision and go for it. I think that’s what the plan is and try your hardest to make it work. I feel if I had a business plan for my current advertising business the decision would have probably been not to get into it for many reasons.
5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you got started?
The beauty about entrepreneurship is you don’t know what you are getting into and you end up learning everything on the job!
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.