In an interview with our writer, Mr Dickson Mushabe who is a speaker at the 2016 edition of the Annual Business and Entrepreneurship Conference at Deliverance Church Makerere Hill Road near Bativa Hotel, revealed his journey to success. We have also attached a video interview he did with Brian Mulondo of MORNING at NTV. You need to watch it but first, let us dive into the interview. You will learn a lot.
I have heard of Dickson Mushabe especially because of the book you launched in 2015 at Kati Kati. Why did you get into writing?
I wrote this book because I was put to task by one of my followers on Facebook. I really have a huge following and I give free business tips. I had been sharing my business story. The reason I share it is because I made so many mistakes. I had no mentor. I made so much money when I was young. I wish I had gotten someone to help (mentor) me.
My parents almost disowned me. Their (my parent’s) friends would ask them to tell me to go and work for them (parent’s friends) but I used to refuse.
Why did you refuse the many job offers when your contemporaries would have left for such opportunities?
I wanted Entrepreneurship. I wanted to do business. The little business I did in Wandegeya was making more money than these guys would pay me.
What would you say to those whose business is making money but their parents and guardians want them to find formal employment. In addition, what about those who refuse to support their children morally?
If someone told me they wanted to do business, I would look for them a mentor. You can always get a job. Let me tell you, even the people who are employed right now and are in their 40s fear business. I wouldn’t prevent anyone from joining business. I mentor the young and old.
For start-ups, what advice would you give to enable them move from one level to the other.
There are basic business principles which, if you don’t know, your business will fail. Let me talk about research – do you understand the business you are getting into? Have you seen people who are doing the business and succeeding? If some have failed, have you found out why? For example, when I was starting Web hosting, I knew of big companies in the USA doing it. I asked myself, why don’t we have one in Uganda? I wanted anyone coming into Uganda – like a tourist, before asking anyone, to just know Hostalite as a Web hosting company.
I will talk about the business name. What name are you giving your start-up? Will it stand the test of time? What is your brand? Small as it is, let your brand stand out. Invest in branding. Get your clients. Be humble. Start with a few.
I believe every start-up can be a big business. The only hindrance is the OWNER.
Why the owner?
Because the owner will refuse to learn. There is a founder-syndrome. He/she doesn’t want to let go and train people who will run the business when he/she is not around.
If, God forbid, you run a bad business which fails to pick up, it does not mean because you are passionate about it you should run for five years while making loses.
How do you know when to quit.
If you are making loses for all the five years, you quit. Passion will take you up to some point. After that point, you need to discern that you are in the wrong business. Passion will take you to the village on foot because you have been making losses.
How do you professionalise your start-up which is passion-driven?
First of all, register your company. You will get work and someone needs to pay to your business bank account. You must do things right. Assuming you have not registered the company and you have been making money, a few years down the road when you want to register and you find the name has been taken, what do you do? Professionalising your business starts from the inception. Have your brand materials out. Don’t appear like you didn’t have lunch. Appear like you have other people behind you – like things are set. Don’t appear like you are dying the next moment.
What did you envision yourself becoming when you were much younger and how was your childhood?
When I was younger, I saw myself becoming a banker. I actually thought that the money tellers count is theirs.
I grew up from a well-to-do family. My dad could afford our education and all the best. I went to Ntare for my O-level and was in Mango SS for my Advanced level. I came to Kampala in 1999. I went to Makerere University on government sponsorship.
Which business did you start with?
I opened up a salon using my faculty allowance. I paid for the Barber Shop in installments. It worked for some time. I got money and started a video library then made a lot of money. That is when I made a lot of mistakes. I did not save any money. I used to eat all the money. I thought of expanding. I opened up a branch in Mengo but closed it. Then I started a disco-hire service. I had a place for CD writing in Wandegeya. So basically, I was in business but my friends ate my money. I used to find pleasure in giving.
A lot of times it is pleasurable to give….
Especially to feel that you are the one doing it. That you are the one giving and these guys are begging. This is not a good spirit. Also, business money is not your money. If you don’t separate it, you will never ever move a step. That money is not yours, it is for the company.
When did your wife join the picture?
I got my girlfriend, now wife while at Makerere University. I got married in 2008 and I have three children.
What is your salvation story?
I remember when I was 3 years old and my grandmother used to say, “These ones don’t drink mwenge bigere (local brew) because they are balokole (born again Christians).” That is as far as I remember. In primary, some evangelist came and preached and I gave my life to Christ.
For most Christians, as much as the principles in the Bible should inform how they operate and lead, it feels like Christians are not thriving. Where is the disconnect.
Man, I want to punch them or just give them a slap. We serve a God of abundance. There is no way we can struggle. If it is small, you must be waiting for something bigger. Do something right. This complacency! No! No! No! No! If you are struggling, you must be struggling to something bigger.
What do you think is the root cause of that complacency?
You know these ‘faith’ things. Someone doesn’t work but believes money will fall from wherever! Come on! The world is for the shrewd, you have to work.
God blesses the works of your hands. At least pray, “God, as I write this book, make it a best-seller.” My book has sold over 2000 copies and I am a first-time author. Someone will write a book and not post anything on Social media…. doesn’t market it or package it well. He won’t market himself. He won’t avail himself for interviews or talk shows or speaking opportunities.
When I was hosted on NTV by Brian Mulondo before launching the book, I asked, “Let us pray.”He told me that I was the first person to ask him to pray on the show. I told him that, we often forget that without God we can do nothing. So, let me show the whole world that this book is not mine.
In conclusion, what would you say?
Christians must do business. They must move out. They must be shrewd. Go for deals. Go for bids. Go for business meetings. Be aggressive.