One of the main things that young people consider a deterrent when intending to venture into entrepreneurship is the lack of capital to start. But Anthony Wahome does not consider capital as the main factor when starting a business.
“A good idea will always attract money,” he says. I would never have started any of my companies especially coming from a background where there was a notion that money was a factor in everything.”
Anthony Wahome, is the founder and chief executive officer of Linksoft Communications Systems (Integrated Systems); A telecommunication company offering telecommunication, renewable energy, power solutions, infrastructure, technology solutions and manpower services.
Linksoft was among the first few companies to build high mast communication towers in Africa in the 1990s when the rate of vandalism of telecommunication equipment was high.
“It was an idea that I had floated to Telkom not knowing that the management had a meeting the previous day discussing on how to solve the vandalism issue.”
While this gave birth to Linksoft Communications Systems, this was not the only company that Mr Wahome found success in; he is also a passionate investor in the education sector having founded the prestigious Rose of Sharon Academy, an 8-4-4 based kindergarten and primary school in Kenya.
He also partnered with private equity firm Fanisi Capital to buy Hillcrest school, leading British Curriculum based school in Nairobi which they recently sold to Dubai-based GEMS Education for US$26 million.
All his companies are under AG Group international, his holding company which invests in key economic sectors within the African Continent.
But how do you manage to amass this kind of success across different industries and countries?
How do you pass the hurdles of failure and setbacks and rise again and again throughout the years?
One thing Mr Wahome advises on is putting more concentration on building the idea rather than spending time raising funds.
“This allows you to think more creative; furthermore your business becomes more customer focused as opposed to investor-focused.”
But, when asked about failure, mistakes and setbacks, Mr Wahome states that, “There’s no mistake, every step contributes towards beautifying your end, it means that you now know better how to do it.”
“It’s always a learning experience, how you respond to failure matters. You have to keep moving forward even in the face of adversity. Failure and setbacks are inevitable as an entrepreneur. Don’t allow failure to change the course of your belief, if you determine to go past the hurdles then you will become triumphant. It is how you deal with failure that sets you apart.”
“Pick all the lessons you can and use them as the building blocks of your future.”
Below are the most valuable lessons you can learn from Mr Wahome.
What does it take to grow a stable successful company that has footprints across Sub-Sahara Africa?
The path of success has blocks of obstacles and negativity; but very early in life, Mr Wahome came to understand his purpose in life, and this has helped him keep his head up even in the midst of adversity. The kind of fearless character he exudes becomes a very key component in your journey. His companies are part and parcel of His purpose in life.
“Having an unwavering belief in the purpose that God as availed to you, then drives you through bumpy waters in making sure that your company develops.”
Mr Wahome describes four things that one needs to maintain when growing a company. This determines the lifetime of your company. For someone who has brought many ideas into real businesses, we can be able to point out some of the ultimate steps he has taken to reach there:
“Focus: You need to be laser-focused on the vision you are trying to achieve. Your vision needs to be clear to your team as they also fuel the engine that you have already started. Once they do, they will align themselves and be part of your journey.”
“Discipline: Again, this is the ability to remain focused on the vision you want to be achieved. Discipline will keep you from the things that you do not need and focus to the things that will gain you traction.”
Mr Wahome mentions this because his company had offices in 7 countries but he had to cut back to two countries and currently consolidating to Kenya alone.
“This was a deliberate decision that paid in the long-run as the turnover has grown four-fold. We were stretched out in our structure. You can’t be everywhere, you have to know where you need to be, you have to be deliberate and disciplined.”
“Hard work: Success has no shortcut; you have to take deliberate sacrifices for you to succeed as an entrepreneur. Passion and hard work become a lethal armament for success.”
“Trust in God: You can do everything you want, but if God is not part of it, then it amounts to nothing.”
When you have a mammoth size of business with diverse team members working under you, it calls for high levels of leadership skills. Mr Wahome believes that building a team is the whole process of leadership development in itself. The levels of integrity and discipline have to be unmatched.
“Being a thought leader in the current generation and holding different leadership positions beyond his companies calls for benchmarking yourself to standards that you have and staying on course no matter the distractions.”
When it comes to discipline and consistency in leadership, Mr Wahome says,
“I am very cognizant of the high leadership call that I have past AG group.” Leadership goes past what people see in you when in public as the character you keep has to be consistent in every place you go.”
The call of leadership
Leadership goes beyond the personalities. Successful leaders will always be busy nurturing upcoming leaders. And that’s why Mr Wahome describes his greatest achievement in life as being able to give people opportunities to be at the same table he’s in and this involves mentorship. And this what he does through the CSR arm of AG group called Kingdom Business Solution.
Mr Wahome has been able to mentor more 1000 people in the last decade. This allows him to create opportunities for other people. Mentorship has allowed him to bank on the current and future generations in his team. No wonder he remains comfortable even when he is not in the office having an empowered team.
The greatest attribute a leader can have in this generation is to maintain the high levels of integrity. This attribute is becoming extinct across the many nations of this world. But Anthony exudes it with confidence. Asked how he deals with governments and other institutions in capital intensive projects that his company undertakes, he states that
“I have walked out of deals and the recent one was a US$5 million deal which required me to give out a bribe so that I could get a contract, ” but then he also goes ahead on saying, “The greatest corruption is what God intended for you and you missed it. The greatest corruption is when you were an original and came out a photocopy.”
Leadership is higher calling that requires one to be true to themselves and to the people they serve.
On balancing work/family/life
“Every of my engagement is key and intentional. The balance is about the quality of time and engagement with each of the things that I do. I spend quite a lot of time when it comes to planning.” Leadership goes beyond the business; it has to extend to your personal life and even family.”
Mr Wahome starts his day at 4 am to exercise up to around 5:45 am with a trainer on site and later on sits down to meditate and plan for the day. He sleeps an average of 6 hours per day.
The quality of life he exudes explains further on why he has been able to grow his empire. His describes that entrepreneurship has turned him into a better person since he is able to create opportunities for other people and has allowed him to contribute in key conversations about the country and the region.
Mr Wahome believes that entrepreneurship involves serving from a passion perspective since running a business is a gruesome process, involving unending hours and setbacks and the only thing that keeps you going when the fuel gauge is at “E” is passion.