Successful businesses start with a big idea and a great vision and Kitengela Hot Glass is no exception. The studio borders the Nairobi National Park and if the glowing online reviews are anything to go by, it is worth a visit. The studio was started in the 90s by Anselm Croze, at a time when glass making was not a popular art. He followed in his mother’s footsteps who used to make stained glass. However, no business is immune to challenges, even those that have stood the test of time such as Kitengela Hot Glass, as Anselm explains;
“I made a tactical error in the shop location and customer demographic when we opened the Westgate Mall outlet. We were in the process of breaking our lease in order to cut our losses; which didn’t sit very
well with the landlord. And after a hefty penalty, the landlord allowed us to leave.”
As if the gods were working to their favour, two months later the mall was the scene of a ghastly terrorist attack. Anselm honed his craft through his insatiable passion for environmental conservation as he explains; Starting a business requires passion in that area, otherwise, you’re doomed to fail.
Mellissa Cardon, professor of management at the University of Tennessee, explains that entrepreneurial
passion involves, “Consciously accessible, positive feelings that result from engagement in activities that have identity meaning and salience to the entrepreneur.”
Some of Kitengela Hot Glass’ products include mouthblown glass, chandeliers, furniture, murals and more. Their client list spans Richard Branson, Sarova Group of hotels, Strathmore University, Fairmont Mount Kenya just to mention a few. I had a sit-down with Anselm who shared with me some tips on building a lasting business drawing form his own experiences.
Starting a business requires passion in that area, otherwise, you’re doomed to fail. – ANSELM CROZE
1. On building a team
Anselm believes in building a team from the ground up. He insists that it is better to grow with your employees as you build on trust and loyalty. So does acquiring the skills inherent in their craft. A report by Centre for Creative Leadership in partnership with Reina-a trust building consultancy titled Why Trust is Critical to Team Success states that;
“Without trust, people struggle to bring their best forward. Collaboration and productivity suffer. The lowest common denominator becomes the norm. The whole environment is weakened, with everything becoming harder.” Anselm explains what he looks for when building a team and the role they play in the success of his business; “Attitude and loyalty are crucial to me. I need ‘yes’ people – not in the sense of agreeing to everything blindly, but individuals with a positive, upbeat and cando approach are vital. They play a part in the success of business since they are the building blocks of any enterprise.” According to the report on trust, experts believe that depending on the trust culture built in an organization, the company can either succeed or fail; “When trust is present, people step forward and do their best work, together and efficiently. They align around a common purpose, take risks, think outside the box, have each other’s backs, and communicate openly and honestly. When trust is absent, people jockey for position, hoard information, play it safe and talk about-rather than to—one another.”
2. On building alliances
In an article published by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small business owner Scott Schnurr, owner of a property solutions business, is a true testament to the benefits of partnerships. Scott has been working with sizeable companies such as Sears, Home Depot and RainSoft Water Treatment Systems to better serve his current customers and gain new customers. Anselm couldn’t agree more on the importance of partnerships; “No person is an island. The essence of business is partnership. Everything one does in business is a partnership of sorts. You engage in a partnership with clients, with suppliers and with employees.”