NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 18 – Scoring 9th position in Kenya’s Top 100 mid-sized companies Survey 2012, Radar Security Group has come a long way.
Radar Security Group founder and Managing Director Andrew Solomon says the road has not been all rosy, revealing that he went home empty handed for the first four years of the company’s operations.
“It was the hardest time of my life; I quit my job, with this huge idea and high projections only to get a slap on my face – nothing seemed to work for the first five years, I never took home any salary during that period and I even doubted my decision,” Solomon told Capital FM Business.
The company born in 1998 now has a Sh600 million turnover every year and is projecting to hit the Sh1 billion mark in the next two years.
“I had a well paying job, I was comfortable, but my zeal to start a business was overwhelming, I couldn’t stand to be employed,” he revealed.
Solomon said that the Radar idea came to him as he was working as a financial manager in Ears Group Security company (now part of KK Group) he saved Sh300,000 looked for another investor and he was set to go.
“My investor did not put in any money and I was stuck. I asked him to quit as he did not bring any value to the business,” he said.
He advises entrepreneurs to get the right investors that add value to the business.
“Investing is not all about the money. Get investors who bring additional value other than the money aspect; who are also keen on the business operations,” he advised.
Solomon would later call on his sister and best friend to be part of the board and invest a little capital.
“I started with one guard and one client, every day I would go looking for clients myself and also recruit guards according to the demand,” he said.
He said that his most challenging moment was when clients refused to pay for services offered.
“It’s not like nowadays where banks can give you money based on invoices. Those days even getting a loan was a dream, sometimes my employees went without salary for almost three months, but they believed in me and soon the business picked up,” he revealed.
He said that entrepreneurship is about perseverance and focus.
“My projections was miles apart from what I had anticipated on my business plan, about 100 percent apart but I could not go back, I had to push on,” he affirmed.
He says that cash flow is also very important in business, urging entrepreneurs to have enough capital before getting into business.
“Cash must be monitored and actively managed on a continuing basis, in the final analysis cash is the one asset the company must have to remain in business,” he said.
The group has five branches in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri and Meru.
The security company is however wary of growing too big.
“The bigger the expansion the more problems you have, sometimes you can get so big and lose the reality on ground, since this is a service industry, you could land in many problems,” he said.
He says that so far the company has achieved through an open door process in the management, as he is accessible to all his clients.
“I have made sure that my clients are accessible to me. I don’t have a secretary and my phone number is on our website, customers can talk to me anytime they want,” he said.
He said customers gain confidence in businesses when management is easily accessible.
The security company has CCTV access, events security, VIP protection, guarding services, dog unit and sniffer dog unit.
He also revealed that the company is also going to disaster management as a value adding product.
“We want to buy ambulances and fire engines and train our employees on first aid and disaster management,” he revealed.
He advises upcoming entrepreneurs to know exactly what they are getting into before putting their foot forward.
“It’s important to do extensive research, always have a back-up plan and have a way out,” he said.