Life’s lessons; episode 1
He shares his experience.
Interviewed by Godfrey Ssenyonjo
How does someone introduce you?
It depends on my relationship with the person. If it is a professional interaction, the accurate description would be ‘Owner and CEO of BrandVision’ however, most of my friends introduce me as a serial entrepreneur.
You are the Founder and CEO of BrandVision, how did you make it?
Have I made it? I don’t know. Maybe. BrandVision is seven years old and it’s been a whirlwind. The first time I met my business partner, she told me that for any company to stabilize and start making reasonable profits, one must curb their expectations for the first five years. I wasn’t convinced, haha. You see, I was a very ambitious young man with experience from Ogilvy.
I thought I would return to Uganda and convince companies like Stanbic Bank to be part of my clientele immediately but, my business partner was right; it took BrandVision close to five years to stabilize. The first two, three, years – we almost closed up shop. We had invested in human resource, equipment and office set up. With time, I realized that business requires more than that. Managing a company means overseeing and making decisions about all aspects of the business. Taxation – for compliance issues, human resource, business development and PR for the firm. All of this has to be balanced. You can’t choose to focus on one and neglect the rest.
Thankfully, the company has now stabilized and what keeps us going is our resilience and the grand vision.
Following your experience and expertise in the Public Relations (PR) industry, is the industry growing?
Well, I believe it’s growing. I will justify that with the trends. When I joined the industry, we had the global multinationals dominating the PR industry. Local names could never win pitches because decision makers behind the big brands thought that multinationals understood the industry more than Ugandan firms did. This stereotype is inaccurate. Ugandans respond very well to local communication strategies. A brand must speak the language understood by consumers at the bottom of the pyramid and this is exactly where local firms have an advantage over global PR agencies. Lately, big companies are trusting local PR firms like ours with their brands because of this ability, to empathize with and understand the market.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I can’t single out any of my achievements to date as the biggest achievement. With that said, convincing one of the biggest PR network firms in the world (DDB) to work with BrandVision in Uganda is really great. To join such a huge network as a local affiliate could be the biggest achievement. Hopefully, it will set a foundation for great things and a bright future.
What was the biggest setback in your life and how did you overcome it?
Like any other young entrepreneur, the setbacks are mostly financial. It is not always easy to keep one’s own counsel when you’re constantly make decisions. A while ago, I made a wrong one and it cost the company over US$100,000. That was a difficult moment.
Top three ways you’d advise young ambitious executives like yourself?
Three are nowhere near enough. I’m writing a book and the book will analyze the opportunities I’ve been blessed with and the challenges I have gone through. The book is will be titled, “Challenges of a Young Entrepreneur in Uganda.” This book is specifically about entrepreneurship in Uganda because our challenges and opportunities are completely different from the ones that young entrepreneurs face in developed countries. I am quite unamused when I find a Ugandan reading foreign books about entrepreneurship, their challenges are completely different! My first advice to young executives would be about presentation. Identify a CEO and study how they present themselves. Presentation is very key. Another piece of advice is to avoid being too ambitious. It is good to be ambitious, but problematic when one is overly ambitious. An excess dose of ambition can make you delusional and vulnerable. Growth is inevitable as long as you are doing the right thing.
Any last words for our readers?
I applaud the Summit Business magazine team for their consistency. I read the magazine on a monthly basis and I learn a lot from it. I encourage readers to subscribe to Summit Business magazine. There is a lot for young executives to learn. The magazine shares timely information on stocks, finance, insurance and banking.