One vow I made to myself earlier this year, was that I was going to do things differently. I was not going to go back to certain struggles of consultancy. I had grown, ten years in the game, I know better and should do better.
I realised that the general challenge of being a consultant in my line of work was you served a role as a filler. Work needs to be done, you are hired to do a few things in communication as the organisation gets its footing, or as it waits for more donor funding, or as it figures out our systems to hire a suitable full-time communication officer at a more manageable cost.
I was always in transition, there was always an end date. That has its advantages, you wouldn’t stay somewhere long enough to settle, or engage with the irritating office politics, or get to a point of monotony, I would also juggle quite a vast array of roles. Those new challenges helped me sharpen my skills and learn various operational models of organisational types from SMEs, Corporations to development sector organisations.
On the downside, I was at the mercy of the client. They needed work done I did it at times at the expense of sleep and a proper break. Because the rule is simple, as a consultant, if you don’t work you don’t eat or have a roof over your head. There’s also the challenge of being too expensive for employers. Having extensive experience is great, but when you are in a market on constant bootstrapped budgets, you quickly learn that once you have been consulting long enough, job hunts can take years before you are fruitful.
I knew it was time to transition, but what scared the life out of me was the Kenya Revenue Authority. Governments the world over are merciless when it comes to tax collection. That’s how the US got the infamous Al Capone and other drug and warlords. In Kenya, you hear horror stories of KRA reining down on people because shifty accountants screwed them over.
Like most Africans, you generally want to limit government engagement to the bare necessity. Constant harassment just isn’t great for my sanity. But as I procrastinated I felt frustrated. In May this year, I finally leapt. Thanks to automated Government services, I registered my business virtually and got my certification in 5 business days.
That was victory! That was a celebration. I had spoken to so many close friends about my dream of running my business since 2013. It just took 8 years, but it is a sweet feeling.
As I slowly get into the workings of setting business, the romantic period is slowly fading. Setting up bank accounts, accounting systems, HR systems, the hiring process, developing branding and website content as I continue with clients work and commence juggling consultants as I transition to a hired team. It is overwhelming; but rewarding. I do have a newfound respect for seasoned SMEs.
Entrepreneurship is sexy, it’s nice to start conversations with people who ask you what you do as you retort “ I run my company…” But I do realise this is going to be a very steady hike to the top. But as I do it, I will do so thankful and pragmatically.