Wandia Gichuru is the Co-Founder and CEO of Vivo Activewear, which is a retail clothing business that is celebrating its 10th year this year. In honour of that, she shared 10 lessons she is learned through 10 years in business. These are lessons that have us taking notes as business owners ourselves, learn from Wandia herself below:
1. It’s not enough to have a vision. Your people need to know it, to understand it, to believe it and to buy into it. There may be many different routes and detours along the way, but if there is clarity on where you’re trying to go, you are much more likely to get there!
2. No one succeeds on their own. Your staff are your biggest asset, and organisational culture really matters. How things are done. What gets measured, recognised and rewarded. What gets reprimanded. What gets noticed. What gets ignored. Whose voices are listened to? Those are the things that define culture.
3. You can’t please everyone all the time, but you can always try to be fair. When faced with tough decisions, especially ones that affect people and relationships, I always try to put our value of fairness at the heart of it.
4. You can’t grow without systems and processes. As tedious as that may sound. You are only as strong as your weakest link. And the earlier you start putting those key processes in place the better.
5. It gets lonely at the top, more and more, I need safe spaces where I can pour my heart out and voice my deepest fears and insecurities. Having those few trusted people in my corner is absolutely critical.
6. No matter how much you know, you can never stop listening, learning and being curious. Things are changing all the time and you can never assume you have all the answers. I try to stay open-minded and willing to be challenged and to admit and accept when I’m wrong.
7. Every experience is there to teach us something. Even in the hardest, most painful and frustrating experiences, I try to look for the lesson. What has this come to teach me/us? What is there to learn? What can we do differently going forward?
8. Relationships really matter, and taking a long term view on relationships is really important. I try hard not to burn bridges as you never know when the same bridge will come back around, and tables may have turned significantly!
9. We all need each other. There are ways that even competitors should collaborate and help to improve things for an entire industry or sector. One of my favourite quotes is “A rising tide raises all ships.” In a post COVID world, partnerships will be more important than ever.
10. You are not your business. As much as Vivo consumes me and occupies my time and energy - I try to keep my identity separate and plan for a future that will not include Vivo at all. And if you want to build a business that will scale and last, it definitely needs to have an identity that is separate from you!
There you have it sisters! May Wandia's experiences help you make the right choices, lead you to reflect on your own practices and best of all may they enlighten you as you grow your business and as a business owner.