I had to close my side hustle last week, and I’m not too pleased about it. I made the tough decision after reviewing the books and coming to the realisation that I was just bleeding money. A few months ago, Shiro somehow persuaded me that hiring her cousin would be a good thing. She enumerated all the positive attributes about her cousin, which included that she was B. Comm Graduate who would know how to manage the business like a professional.
I had my misgivings, but by the time of the discussion, I was running out of options. We had a discussion with Linda (Shiro’s cousin) and agreed that she would be sharing weekly updates on the sales and business performance. The first week, she did a good job. She shared a business presentation that showed business performance and recommendations.
On the second week she shared another proposal which showed improved sales and an interesting recommendation that we should, “open an M-Pesa shop.” I was actually impressed by this suggestion and even wondered why I had not thought about it in the first place. I called an ex-college mate and asked him to hook me up with some form of M-Pesa agency for my shop. It does help to know people for within a week, we were up and running.
After a week, Linda sent me an update, which indicated that we had made a good decision for the numbers were coming in and moving up. On the third week, I did not receive anything from Linda and so I called her and asked her, “Linda, what happened to the report?” She responded with an embarrassed giggle saying, “Haki Jose nimekuwa busy na wateja, nitatuma kesho [Oh, Joe, I have been busy with customers; I will send it tomorrow].”
I was taken aback by her familiarity, but my feelings were somehow muted because she had spoken about being busy with customers. I reasoned she must have made a lot of money in the process. Yet a week later, there was nothing forthcoming from her and this had me worried and especially because her phone went unanswered.
So I decided to pass by the shop on my way home, hoping to find out what was going on. I was rather shocked when I found a huge padlock on the door. So I phoned Linda - there was no answer. I sent her a text and asked her, “where are you? Are you okay? I am at the shop.”
Since I had the shop keys with me, I decided to get into the shop and check out the place. The store looked quite sparse and it seemed that a lot of stuff was missing. Things definitely were not very good in the shop. The state of affairs made me realise that I needed an audit of operations, but how was I going to tell Shiro about her cousin. These thoughts disturbed me as I headed home, since it was now clear that I needed to take action.
As I was approaching home, my phone rang. It was Linda. She was rather breathless in her conversation and said, “Jose, sorry nilikuwa mgonjwa,nikaenda nyumbani [I was sick and had to go home].” She did not sound very apologetic about her absence and this convinced me that I need to take action even more urgently. However, I was not going to give away anything about my intentions. I therefore told her not to worry, wished her quick recovery and that I hoped she would open the shop the following day.
A few days later, I sent an ex-college mate who now works as an auditor to conduct a random audit on the shop. As expected, Linda informed her cousin Shiro who did not take it kindly that I was checking on her relative. I told her that she needed to give the auditors an opportunity to make the findings known to me.
The final report was rather scary. In a nutshell, Linda had been stealing from the business and now I had lost over Sh2 million. I therefore had no choice; I had to close the business and go back to the drawing board.