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The Art of Starting, Building and Scaling a Business

“Continuous improvement is the ongoing effort to improve products, services, and processes by making small, constant, incremental advancements within a business.”

A Japanese Kaizen Philosophy.

Welcome to our blog. If it’s your first time, we are StudioTEEL. We focus on content creation on our YouTube channel, photography, graphic design, and marketing. I am Wizben Mateli, the co-founder and chief executive of the company.

Wizben_Mateli_Studioteel
Here’s a photo of me posing up at the balcony.

In this article, I’m going to talk about how my team and I started and are building this organization called StudioTEEL. Now that you already have a clue of what we do, here is a quick backstory on how we started. We incorporated StudioTEEL back in December of 2017 with a buddy of mine called Teddy Muraya. He is a seasoned photographer and a charming man when you get to hear him tell his stories.

Wizben & Teddy_studioteel
Here’s a photo of us back in 2017 at a past event.

How StudioTEEL started.

I had just quit my full-time job at an ad agency (Why? Because I was young and quite impatient) and I had this burning desire to create something of my own, to organize a team fuelled by a vision to forge ahead, but at the same time didn’t have a concrete plan on how to go about it. I sat down one day and read an article on the steps to take when starting a business, and it went like:

  1. Find a business partner,
  2. Come up with a name,
  3. Write a business plan
  4. Find a benefactor (sponsor) Blah blah blah…

It went on and on! So, I was there laying on my back stressing on who was going to be my business partner. I was going through my mental list of friends and checking each one of them (I have this mental thing where I access how everyone in my life fits into my life, or if they do fit at all… Anyway, I digress) So I had thought about almost everyone I know and nothing was clicking… Then as if the universe had seen my mental agony and it was fed up with it, my phone rang and a WhatsApp text came in. It read “Yoh bro, what if we start an agency where we do photography, video and advertising for clients and we can partner up – Teddy Muraya” I read the text, twice and I still couldn’t believe it! What a coincidence! At that point, I knew Ted was the best business partner simply because we shared a common vision. We had also been doing a show together on YouTube for a while, where we would go to concerts and events then document it in the video. At that point, I knew Ted was the best business partner simply because we shared a common vision. We had also been doing a show together on YouTube for a while, where we would go to concerts and events then document it in the video.

Here’s a playlist of those early episodes.

The next thing we did was come up with a name, and I designed the logo and from there we were in business, right after we registered and trademarked the company.

Ever since we launched in December of 2017, we have been making small decisions that have helped StudioTEEL.  A case in point is where we were having a discussion on what color scheme we should use for our branding, Ted suggested blue and I said yellow (yikes!) and we had to go with blue because yellow would have just been something else. We’ve faced so many challenges, overcome them, made countless decisions, and partnered with other creatives which have been a wonderful experience.

Embracing failure and the lessons that come with it.

I moved into a bigger office space despite the caution of my trusted advisors that it was too big of a risk and we should wait it out. Well, to cut the long story short seven months later we were getting kicked out for not making rent! To stress on this issue, it’s pretty clear that most prominent businesses rise from a series of failure, and yet the modern times shun failure and praise success!

I decided to embrace failure the same way I praise success.

Elon Musk and his team at Space X have failed more times than we can count, heck they even compiled a YouTube video of their rockets exploding! George Bernard Shaw once said, “a life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” It’s better to take action and fail, then learn from your mistakes, than to sit back dreaming of what you could be and yet never do anything about it.

A compilation video of explosions that SpaceX has experienced

And so here I have a few tips that I have learned over the years that which StudioTEEL has been in business:

1. Coming up with a unique name for your business is something that is very important, if not super important.

How StudioTEEL was created
This is how we came up with StudioTEEL as a company name.

2. Being an entrepreneur and running things your way equips you with life-changing skills. As a hustler (what every entrepreneur has to become in order to survive) you get to come up with ideas and try to bring them to life. This act of creating thoughts and making them a reality, be it a new product or service, changes something in you. You become more action-oriented, optimistic and you begin to recognize opportunities/possibilities in the challenges around you.

3. There is a certain joy you experience whenever you solve someone’s problem. I usually get this euphoria of happiness whenever I accomplish a task and the clients give happy comments! Or the moment I deliver a StudioTEEL hoodie or t-shirt to someone who ordered and they comment on the quality and the perfection! I feel like a Rockstar at that moment, even if it is for a short period of time. I am truly happy, and walking into the bank to cash in that cheque, or getting that M-Pesa message adds more to the happiness.

4. Running a business is a teacher like no other. As an entrepreneur you get to tap into the lessons that the universe offers, you get to learn from the OG of all teachers, life. Even if you fail in the first venture, that experience that you gain is with you forever, it is embedded in your thoughts, your experiences, your feelings, your past. So, whenever you decide to go again and start another venture, or you ever get a management position at a corporate office, the lessons you got from entrepreneurship will prove to be extremely valuable.

5. Entrepreneurship is on-the-job experience, you won’t call yourself an entrepreneur or a business person if you have never convinced someone to buy something from you and at a profit. Sell someone your product, or offer them your services at a fee and once you close that deal, you are officially in business my friend.

6. And the last point and this is the most important realization I have come to is, your business grows in direct proportion to your level of personal growth. Until you learn how to be comfortable taking risks, your business will stagnate, until you learn how to take care of your accounting, until you grow to remain comfortable in the face of adversity, until you learn the necessary people skills, until you learn how to delegate work to your people, your business will remain stagnant or experience slow growth.

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Conclusion

So, to draw a conclusion from the Japanese Kaizen quote at the beginning of this article, I want to say that, don’t feel pressured to take massive action all at once and expect grand results, but I would instead just keep making consistent plans and try to finish and check them off my to-do list. It’s all about the small wins because those small consistent actions will be very huge in the grand scheme of things.

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Starting, Building and Scaling a Business”

  1. Michael Mwaniki

    I have known you guys for over a year now,. Your hardwork and determination is indescribable plus the quality of service you offer is sensational. Your story is inspiring because I happen to have the same ideology of opening my own business in the future . Kudos to you guys and keep it up with the good stuff. 🍻

    1. I’m very glad that our story inspires you.. We would be happy to see you start your own thing, so don’t let that dream slide ✊🏾

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