Business Tips from Njoroge Ng'ang'a, Ithaga FM CEO
When broadcast journalist Njoroge Ng’ang’a, (left) also known as Captain, established his radio, little did he know what it takes to break even in own business having tasted success as an employee with different FM radio stations in the country. The idea of replicating same success in his own outfit was to prove elusive at first. But the man who began life as a supermarket attendant shares what he had so far learned in the process.
When you have an idea, don’t let it die
I began hosting breakfast shows in a now defunct radio station known as Touch FM that was broadcasting from Nakuru. It is from here that I honed my skills, or learning the ropes while working, as I had no training background in that field then, but had an innate speaking ability. By the time I was moving to Sauti ya Mwananchi FM radio, also in Nakuru, I had come with a very workable idea that would have seen me launching my own radio station within a short time in the foreseeable future. However, raising capital was the main issue, necessitating my selling the idea to a friend which resulted in establishment of Hero Radio, also in Nakuru.
However, selling the idea didn’t mean I had abandoned my dream of one day being a proprietor of an own radio station. When Hero Radio came into being, I was amongst its pioneer broadcast journalists before moving to work with Radio Tehran in Iran. It was while I was a script writer with CCTV Africa, Nairobi bureau, that my idea came to fruition as I had managed to save enough and establish Fahari FM in Nakuru around 2015.
A wobbly start is not sign of failure
At first, the reception was good, and it seemed the business was destined for good times. However, the situation began changing within a few months into operations. I had to keep pressing on, binding time, as I had this faith that the tide would change for good. That was not to be. With revenue generation abysmally low from month to month, and factoring operational and other administrative costs, it was untenable to continue operating or hanging on false hopes. I found myself employed as a breakfast host by Milele FM, besides doing motivational talks and emceeing at events to raise money and resuscitate my fledgling business. I’m grateful to those few of my workers who understood what was going on did not abandon me as we shouldered on during those trying times.
If a product is not selling, find out why or rebrand
The problem, however, was a lack of market study. Fahari FM was broadcasting in Kiswahili. When I commissioned a market study, it turned up that a majority of population would readily identify with what disseminates information in their dialects. Every community wants to have their own radio station, or get a sense of belonging identifying with one. This saw the rebranding of Fahari into Ithaga FM, and broadcasting in Kikuyu.
It did not stop at that. I had to popularize the new brand through road shows and social media sites to draw in listenership, and this paid off eventually necessitating my resigning as a breakfast show host and concentrate fully in my enterprise.
Hire what the business can sustain
It is true there are some people out there who will add much value to a business as they are well established in areas of their specialties that their names are like brands that sell well. As much as everyone would like to hire the best shot translating into good fortunes to a company, not everybody can afford their asking price. It is better to hire what the business can sustain. Motivating and giving incentives to your staff can bring the best out of them, which would translate to business success. This is besides employee development to make them more productive and efficient. Some employees, for example, had to undergone some training for some key roles which saves us costs associated from recruiting on the outside.
We have come a long way and Ithaga is a year old in operations following the rebranding. I’m satisfied with my twelve employees and they have not disappointed so far.
Only the sky is the limit
It is not time to sit on your laurels and enjoy the returns on the investment when you taste success. The initial capital was Sh1 million, but I have injected more in the operations, which had increased the business worth over the time. The net worth, I would say, is not less than under Sh5 million currently. In the near future, I envision launching a TV station to be known as Ithaga TV as a complimentary to the radio besides starting a weekly publication newsletter. It would be wise not to rely on one primary source of income. It can be unpredictable business in the media.
A word of advice
I’m a product of self-belief. Many of us have inborn innate skills but few of us make a living through them. It doesn’t require much training to finesse them. When I discovered I was endowed with a speaking ability, I made use of it from my high school days. I still do motivational talks besides writing motivational books and emceeing at events. If you know you can make good of your talents, seize on the opportunity and make a difference. In the process, you will end touching and changing others lives.