Startup Hour With Sipho Phiri: Advice to Entrepreneurs


The monthly Startup Hour is held every first Wednesday of  the month at Protea Hotel by Arcades Shopping Mall from 5:30 PM, and every entrepreneur who wants to network with other already established ones must definitely be there. Last night’s Startup Hour had Sipho Phiri as guest speaker.

Sipho is founder of Western Power Company Limited and Leopards Hill Memorial Park Limited, two ventures he undertook in his entrepreneurial journey. Here’s how he got to where he is:

Sipho started off by telling us how he had studied money and banking as one of his courses, not because he was particularly passionate about banking, but because he wanted access to businesses’ records, to see how much and how they make their money.

During those years as a banker, he started staying up late to do other work, consultations and research because he wanted to start his own business venture eventually. Later theses sleepless nights took a toll on him and he suffered 2 heart attacks by the age of 39. On doctors’ orders he needed to rest. The struggle to sleep was huge as he always wanted to keep working so he made a plan.

A day is usually divided into 3 parts, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for work and 8 hours of personal time. Sipho decided that he would ‘steal’ time from both sleep and personal time to add to his work time and thus started having an almost 18 hour day, for his business to grow. He made sacrifices early on so he could enjoy the fruits of his labour later on, fruits he says are still just getting ripe now after so many years of hard work.

Sipho speaks to the audience, with Matthew Grollnek( Startup Hour founder) in the background

His advice to young entrepreneurs with any kind of startup:

Not everyone can be an entrepreneur running their own business. Some can be entrepreneurial as employees. You have to be committed to what you do.

If you do decide to set up your own business, get a team that understand your goals and will work hard with you to achieve them. Most business owners make the mistake of hiring family first. Only do that if you’re sure they will deliver.

Don’t depend only on local banks to fund your idea. research and find investors even beyond borders. The Leopards Hill Memorial Park was financed by investors from the United Kingdom, who even though they got 50% equity shares, got the venture to kick off. We should think out of the box and align ourselves with those who believe in your beliefs.

Once you have set up that business, always document everything you do. Sign a shareholders agreement with all your partners to avoid future disagreements. Paper work is very important.

Lastly, when asked where he put God in all this, Sipho replied that he has always looked to Him and asked for blessings in whatever he did.

To connect with Sipho on LinkedIn, click here.


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