It was a pleasure to sit with Rapael O. Ongangi, a serial entrepreneur with ventures ranging from management consultancy, investment advisory and logistics companies. His main service offerings at the company he founded, REP Partners Limited, are HR and manpower solutions, where his company provides executive search and recruitment as well as payroll services in 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Key take-aways included:
- Starting your journey as a Founder: A desire for independence drove Raphael to start REP Partners. He wanted to be free to grow his company vision based on his ideas and he also wanted to build financial freedom for himself and his family. The lesson here is that one should tap into one’s values as motivation.
- Key Challenge: Overcoming self-doubt and finding cost-effective advisors to assist him with registering his company were Raphael’s key challenges when starting REP Partners. To overcome self-doubt, Raphael focused on areas he felt he could perform well in, namely HR, recruitment and management consultancy because he knew he was good at managing, finding and advising people respectively. He had validated his strengths by doing freelance work and getting great customer feedback for his work prior to starting his company. The lesson here is to try and validate your competence in a particular role, before deciding to make a career or business out of it.
- A Failure: Focusing on looking good (or ‘grandiose’ as Raphael describes it), instead of focusing on delivering services to clients, was Raphael’s biggest mistake in his is early start-up journey as it led to him to over-spend. The lesson here is one should focus resources on one’s core business and not overspend on vanity items that have no bearing in winning clients or carrying out work for said clients.
- Key quotes: “You’ve got to try, if you don’t try you’ll never know”; “You always have to look for ways to make yourself better”; “Every day will come with its own different challenge and it is how you approach it, how you lift yourself up that will determine how far you go”
- Tips to himself: 1. Don’t overspend 2. Separate your personal finances from your business finances 3. Keep it simple.