In 2014, I approached Chase Bank Kenya for credit facilities. I believed that one of my subsidiaries under Hidalgo Group needed the help to deliver on a deal for the Government of Kenya.
I put on my best Sunday clothing, had done my hair, ensured my car was in good running condition and knocked on Chase Bank’s door. The branch was located at Riverside.
I was confident because I thought having an LPO was enough to get me what I wanted. I was like a young eagle on its first flight. I had an ego the size of Africa. My Hope in myself was rude. My faith to get the help was arrogant. Kindness was beaten to a pulp in some corner in my essence. I didn’t want to talk to anyone else, but the manager. You would have thought my father was the Chairman of the bank.
The manager listened keenly as I pitched to him. Looking back in hindsight felt like a first date moment. You know, the lady pretending to listen keenly when her mind is made up and she is simply sparing your emotions and as we know, it’s rude to turn down a free lunch moment.
The manager shot hard questions at me. It felt like ice cream melting in a hot summer day. My Ego left through the behind door, having encapsulated my character. My pride flew through the window, leaving my essence bleeding for mercy. I felt hollow and empty.
The LPO felt like a white elephant.
The manager made feel as though I was doing nothing but run a kiosk of a business. I asked him where the loos were. My stomach felt like the butterflies therein had died of my rumbling and needed to come out.
Fast forward to today, it took me five years to get it right what I was told that sunny, Tuesday in 2014.
The manager was categorical, that my paper trail was KEY if he was to even pay attention to what I was selling. That my existence wasn’t there until my paperwork was availed. That my credibility would be told by how my paperwork was. That the nature and stability of my business would be shown through the trail of my paperwork.
Then I saw him as the devil incarnate. As someone who hated the youth and pretended to work in a bank that focussed on false advertising.
Today, I see him as the Oracle that set me on the right path to managing my business better. Whose words were the oil, needed to sooth a charred skin?
Paperwork tells the true story of your business. They reflect its health. They show that indeed it exists.
Through the past five years, I have struggled to ensure I have all my needed paperwork together. Some have taken time before anyone asked, but it’s been a moment.
The reason why paperwork like audited results for any business’s existence – certificate of registration, business permit, bank records for all financial transactions, receipts for business overheads, expenses, revenue, the CR 12, the AGPO certificate, business profile, business catalogue, business statistics, business portfolio and business reference list – is to help you as the entrepreneur or business owner to track your business in the following aspects :
The purpose for tracking the above, as the Chase Bank manager explained to me as I wished I was Merlin, the great Wizard, to conjure up a spell and send him to the devil’s lair, he said that for him or any other manager in any other bank, such documentation would help ascertain the true health of the business, be able to determine the net aspect of loss and or profit, which was key in helping the lender determine if you were eligible for the loan.
As Okot Bitek put it, the love of man is won by the woman who fights it out on the three cooking stones, so is accessing a loan won on the virility of these documents.
Experience is the best teacher, but a lousy servant. I have learned that proper documentation enables one to properly ascertain how to correctly pay the statutory fees and payments which are key in the development of one’s business. Time has taught me that to even open doors where loan officers can listen to you, this is KEY.
However, the most important aspect for me, beyond simply being able to access credit facilities, is that with such prudent documentation of every aspect of the business, one is able to plan appropriately for the future because growth needs to be planned.