Setting Up a Textile Business: A Success Story

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22 years ago, when Joseph Rotich resigned as an Information Technology manager, who would have thought that he would one day own a multi-million textile company in Eldoret, Kenya. “Square Deals Uniforms Limited”, the company that has grown over the years to such a level that it can now compete with the top entrepreneurs of the region, is estimated to be worth Sh30 million.

Leader’s vision is one of the most essential qualities that could be attributed for a success in business and entrepreneurship. If there is a sentence that could sum up Rotich’s vision, it is this one of his quotes:

“We have to monitor each other and change the quality of the product to suit customers’ needs otherwise you will be left behind if you don’t adapt in business.”

When an entrepreneur starts talking about setting up a business, the first question he is asked, is: “Where did you get the inspiration to start this business?” Let’s read further and learn the answer to “what was the inspiration behind Rotich’s endeavor?”

Following back the chain of events that led to the formation of the leading industry–known for its designs and supplies of finished uniforms to schools, factories and hospitals as per the order–to the dream that began in 1970s, Rotich got the idea of textile industry from his father who was running a flourishing tailoring business those days.

While reading about his success for the first time, at this point I was wondering why things aren’t adding up? How could a man with the dream to start a textile industry, suddenly change his mind and move on to pursue a career in IT. Rotich puts it this way: “Though I had yearned for tailoring, I decided to take up an IT course but in my mind I knew I would come and start a textile industry.”

In 1981, he got employed at Revatex as an IT manager, after serving the company for five years, he started his own boutique. With a will to strengthen her husband’s small business, his wife, who was a textile tailoring lecturer at a university, resigned from her job and joined him soon after. Rotich explains it as: “Since she was an expert in tailoring, she considered strengthening the business and she had to resign to assist me. The pay for lecturers by that time was also little.”

In 1989, Kenya Industrial Estate funded the expansion of industry and facilitated the purchase of more machines. The industry that started as a boutique with 20 sewing machines, now has more than 50 sewing machines, with over 70 employees. Rotich proudly states: “I started with a small network of clientele as per their order but, now my sales volume has increased even reaching customers in Nairobi.”

According to Rotich, perseverance and passion are the key qualities of a successful entrepreneur. He wants people to learn from his experience if they want to make a significant contribution toward driving Kenya to prosperity and success.

If there’s anything else other than the spirit and attitude of an entrepreneur that could be held responsible for his success, it’s the potential that particular business/industry holds. Textile business is very profitable as there are a lot of options to explore and exploit to one’s benefit. Rotich’s success story tells us that starting a textile business requires careful preparations and proficiency of relevant knowledge and skills. If you are seriously thinking about it, you need to decide how much investment you could make, you need to look for a feasible location and make yourself aware of the prevailing competition in that particular region. Following paragraphs are going to pour some more light on some of the things that need to be considered before you set up your own textile business.

Looking for a feasible location involves looking for a place that has got enough space for the required machinery and labor and making sure that the location being chosen satisfies the ventilation requirements of the textile industry. Without ventilation, toxic materials involved in the processing of fiber and dust from the fibers may cause pollution and may damage the health of workers. For storage of textile rolls, storage space is required, you should make sure whether the place has enough storage space. While you make deal with the owners of that location, don’t forget to ask them about the lease terms they can offer and that what utilities are covered in the same deal.

If you want to generate big income and huge profit, start at a location with less competition. Seek the advice from other business owners with the experience of working in the same industry. While you do that, make sure that you seek the guidance of entrepreneurs and competitors outside your region.

While investing for the equipment, look for the suppliers that offer good price as well as reliability. Make sure that they offer solid warranties and are capable enough to supply troubleshooting and maintenance facility in case of equipment failure or break down. In order to prevent a situation where you run out of all the budget, plan beforehand and while you do that, take into account all the equipment maintenance costs, operating costs for at least one year, labor cost, and etc.

No business is free of risks, so is the case of textile business. While Rotich’s success story presents textile business as a profitable venture, it may prove to be a very bad experience for someone who is unaware of the risks involved. Starting a business with not enough funds to invest is like digging your grave with your own hands. One of the options that may be considered in such circumstances is that of franchising; it allows you to work under the security and stability of a known brand and have exclusive right to sell the product and make good income in very short period of time. In the same way, you can compete with other entrepreneurs from the platform of the established brand.

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