It is 1147 hours and we are having breakfast after the first session of the CMS Africa 2015 Summit. We are at the Catholic East African University, Karen, Nairobi. Dickson Mushabe is to present next about his journey as the CEO of Hostalite. We rest the works of the cup and its saucer to warm up the red-fold of the auditorium chairs.
“I used to move a lot. I used to move to offices; marketing my company. So I don’t like to introduce myself as the CEO.” He says after running a few slides of his introduction. “I want to take you through my success story.”
The break intervals of his story are told with rewards. He has a number of pens and Hostalite goodies he’s giving out to the audience. He asks questions that keep people focused.
In his communication Mr Mushabe said, “No one that ever knew you were to be born. So no one should ever tell you that you can’t make it. I am here to tell you that never give up on your vision.”
You should have seen the attention of the audience around this time, “I have been an entrepreneur since the days of my university.” When you see Mr Mushabe presenting his case, you cannot believe but doubt that this entrepreneur cum web designer was once upon a time a politician. He competed in University politics of a hall he didn’t tell. And in there he was unopposed to becoming a mayor. And that marked the end of his political journey. I hope it did.
Dickson Mushabe has laid and done a number of jobs with his hands. He was once a barber using the money he got from his university faculty allowance. It did not work out and he instead opened up a video library where he used to give out movies for free to his friends, whom he condemns: “…but I had friends. And they ate it all with me.” Then he asks, “Who are your friends? I should never have made them my friends.”
“Fast forward after university,” he tells it all, “I formed Eacol, a private directory system that died a few months thereafter. We did not have business acumen and we were desperate. We could always make sure the client paid us, and in cash. This showed that we were very needy people and could not be trusted.
When a client gives you a deal, he wants to feel your presence not pulling out the receipt book so you can have the money and go.
If I had not spent the money with my friends, I would be having an arcade. Even the small coin you have, hold it in high esteem. It will be five times more five years later. Today a plot of land goes away from at a price it was three years ago.
I thought to myself what the future of business was for me as one. I decided to invest in web hosting after realising that the world was getting global. I wanted visitors in Uganda to know which business was operating in Uganda.
I had a humble beginning with Hostalite. I was the company and the company was my laptop. I was the company cashier, salesman, sweeper, accountant and head. Today, Hostalite employs 12 full time employees.
No one wants a dying service provider. Your client should know that if you don’t take them, you won’t close shop. Don’t be esperate.
A client should not see you struggle, trying to emphasise a point that you need money. Learn the terms of transaction. Accept the LPOs and the cheques. Learn how to strategise. Talk in percentages.
Today, at Hostalite , don’t hire superstars. Degrees at times lie. Don’t go for the papers, go for results. Many times as employees we kindly want the job but the kindness sickens as we get used to the place.
Treat your client like the very best one you will ever have. The best marketer is your client because they do it for free. Find opportunities that you can work with at an equitable price. For example, as a web designer, I can offer a free web design for a magazine so they can advertise my company for free. In the long run, they have paid me in bigger currencies.
Work ethics that have seen me grow are discipline and honesty. That is one of the ways your company will become other people’s reference. Can you hire your company? If you don’t have trust in your company, who will?
Let your brand speak. No one will visit your bank accounts, so let your advert speak. Let your brand speak represent you. For example I use car brands. What do you use Facebook for? Who do you have in your friends list?
On my way here I found a lady here who said, “if no one has told you, just know the world is seeing you.” She concluded “We meet at the top.” And this is my signature on many of my Facebook friends..
When you get a great deal, don’t get luxurious. We got a big deal and we used it to pay our web hosts, bought a descent home and are able to accommodate two employees.
No one said things will ever be okay. Things go wrong at times but be in control. I have faced a number and today i look at my problems as challenges. Things don’t last forever, whatever begins, ends. Move on.
Always be thankful to your clients. Don’t always get to them when only you are in problems.
Today, we host over 700 corporate websites, including most government websites. Be innovative so that next time your client thinks of you.
Thank you very much