Learning is a key ingredient for businesses to succeed – Ruth Mooto

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Entrepreneur Ruth Mooto

The courage to quit a permanent job and go into full time entrepreneurship is something that few people possess. Even more so when it comes to leaving government employment, often viewed as one of the best options for job security.

Yet this is exactly what Ruth Mooto did a little under three years ago when she left the Ministry of Health to launch My Perfect Stitch – a fashion and furniture brand.

“I started running My Perfect Stitch in 2016 shortly after I left my job as Health Information Officer. We make ready-to-wear fashion for women as well as custom made furniture such as upholstery, tables, stools and sofas to individual taste,” she explained.

She says running a business has a lot of challenges, and although a lot has been done to build people’s capacity to overcome most of them, not enough emphasis has been placed on teaching small and medium sized enterprise (SME) owners how to manage their business resources to sustain the growth of their business.

“Without knowledge on how to manage your business, growing it becomes a challenge. Most people go into business without a clear picture of what they want to achieve while others do it to make a quick buck, all of which make it difficult to properly stimulate and track the growth of their business. It is quite easy to forget to actually run your business and sustain it when you are trying to turn into a business tycoon overnight.

“The quest for this knowledge is what led me to participate in the SME training programme hosted by Stanbic Bank’s Anakadzi Banking initiative at the bank’s leadership training centre following an invitation from a friend.

The training was a four-day boot camp where entrepreneurs from various sectors were taught how to run a proper business, from creating and executing a clearly defined vision to developing viable business strategies and accountability for their resources.

For instance, if you are looking to expand your business by acquiring debt or equity, you must first know how you’ll manage that debt and what you need to do to ensure you will be making enough money to repay your debt and keep your business on a growth trajectory. The focus should always be on learning and growth, explained Ruth.

“Your enterprise needs your attention more than it needs to get you that expensive car you have always wanted or get you to live that certain lifestyle. Put your energies in making sure your business is running as efficiently as possible and that you are maintaining an edge over your competitors,” she advised.

The entrepreneur adds that one of the most important resources in a business is the staff. Finding the right people to work with is critical to a business’s success because they have a huge impact on the quality of your products.

“In certain industries like my own, which has no shortage of talent on the market, everyone has their own way of doing things. This presents a problem when hiring new staff in that people tend to bring their own unique approach and preferences to making and designing clothing. While diversity and having a mix of ideas and techniques is good, one must be careful to ensure that diversity does not flourish at the expense of your quality standards.

As such you must invest in periodic training of staff to maintain the quality of your products. However, there is always a risk you will lose employees as time goes on. Some may leave to start their own business while others leave to join other companies, either way, you must replace them, which means more money spent on training and bringing the new recruits up to speed with your standards. This slows down the growth of the business because you sort of start over with the training every time someone leaves.

And training is something you can’t do without if you want to bring out a certain standard in your products and keep up with the ever-changing market trends. The more your business grows, the more money you need to keep it running competitively, and, the more money you have coming in and out of your expanding business, the more complicated its operations become which means, you need to get more specialised and skilled people to join.

But with all its demands and complexities, running your own business is highly rewarding because it helps one get financial independence.”

Last year, Ruth received an award for ‘Most Promising Emerging Entrepreneur’ from Graça Machel’s New Faces New Voices Trust – a Pan-African advocacy organisation focused on, women’s economic and financial empowerment, leadership and good governance as well as child health and nutrition, education. She maintains that running a business is a learning process and that people must exercise patience and not seek overnight success.

“It is important to realise that business is not a dash to the top but a marathon. It is a continuous learning process full of many ups and downs. When you gain more experience and interact with different business people you get to see that each one of us gets to go through different challenges and we each have our own ways of dealing with them – which presents a great learning opportunity on how to overcome certain problems through other people’s experience.

And when you see a person running a business for 10-15 years and are still learning, it gives hope to the rest of us doing it for only two to three years. It demonstrates that business is a learning process and the more you learn, the better you get at it.

If you allow yourself to learn and to growth one step at a time, there is really no reason your business shouldn’t succeed.

There are a lot of platforms out there like Anakadzi Banking specifically created to facilitate this learning process, improved access to markets and help people run their businesses more efficiently and become better entrepreneurs.

Thanks to the programme, I now have a better understanding of what I must do to be more financially accountable in my business, make more viable projections and just the general operations of My Perfect Stitch. Now when I create strategic plans, I don’t just draft up ideas from my head, they comprise things I have experienced and things I learned from other business people and the Anakadzi training.

I believe anyone can be a successful businessperson. You just have to find your niche, invest in yourself, prioritise correctly and be willing to learn as much as possible about your industry and business in general. Reading is not a bad way to start.


4 Responses to Learning is a key ingredient for businesses to succeed – Ruth Mooto

  1. Pingback: Reflections on International Women’s Day 2019 – celebrating women’s achievements – The Diaspora Baby

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