By Esperance Mukiza
“To move the wheels of justice is a ponderous business.’’ – American actress Mary Astor.
When I read this quote, I immediately thought of Peter Mwangi, a lawyer of the High Court of Kenya, a practicing business attorney and a co-founder of Ngulu Mwangi and Company Advocates. I was most grateful to hear Peter’s career journey as he is always optimistic and solution oriented. When seeking Peter’s legal advice and services, one quickly observes that he is well organized and methodical. These qualities made me want to learn more from him.
A graduate from the University of Nairobi, Peter was interested in business since his early schooling. After gaining three years of experience working in a law firm, he felt comfortable in launching his own legal practice together with a colleague. The firm offers legal services such as conveyancing (the branch of law concerned with the preparation of documents for the transferring of property), corporate, employment, mining, commercial law and criminal law. He explained to me that legal practice involves solving very unique problems faced by individuals.
"We always need to be competent in conducting legal research as well as being ready to counter any maneuvers by the opposite side while presenting cases in court,’’ he said. ‘’As a legal practitioner, one has to plan their time well, bring an independent perspective and come up with solutions to problems being faced by clients.”
In Peter’s day to day activity, he also faces the challenges of resolving problems that are novel in particular ways.
“There isn’t always a ready legal answer to every problem being faced by clients,” he said. “We have to be innovative in coming up with possible solutions and persuade judges to adopt our point of view. There is much fulfillment whenever one receives positive feedback from clients that indeed we have helped them resolve their problems.”
Peter was compelled to start a law firm to bring his personal experience to business and also be in a position to employ people and pass on knowledge to the next generation. The firm offers internships and enables young professionals to put into practice their knowledge from school so that they can learn and develop in their career.
The firm has five employees and regularly brings on a group of interns.
Tips on how to start a business
I asked Peter if it was easy to start a business and what advice he would share with aspiring entrepreneurs. Here were his six key tips.
1.Familiarize yourself with the environment. “It is easier to start a business and succeed in a business environment that you understand well,’’ he said. Entrepreneurs should first get to understand the industry/business in which they want to engage in.
2.It takes courage. He told me that starting a business clearly takes courage especially for those gainfully employed. When you have a steady job as an employee of a company, you are almost guaranteed a stable source of income. Engaging in a new business brings lots of anxiety because the success of that venture is not always guaranteed. Hence, it is quite important to know the industry by gaining experience. When you master the key business aspects, you are in a better position to go out on your own.
3.Have enough capital to start the business. Hence saving money is important.
4. It can be fulfilling to start a business. It was interesting to hear Peter’s satisfaction in running his own business. You can manage time the way you want and you also have the opportunity to employ other people and pass on your skills and experiences to them.
5. Innovate. Peter shared the importance of building your own niche by introducing products and services that sets your business apart from competitors. In doing this, it is important to engage specialists in several fields.
6.Learn continuously. In the midst of his busy schedule, Peter still finds time to read and watch documentaries related to legal matters.
I aspire one day to start a business in the healthcare sector, specifically focused on nursing home facilities. Many elderly parents are left alone without care because their children have left for the city to pursue their career. There is only one nursing home in my community; it has been overwhelmed by patients and most of them are not served well. I hope to put my business skills into practice and one day come up with another nursing home that can address this problem and enable me to better serve the community.
Peter’s story underscores the importance of me first exploring the terrain and better understanding the industry before starting the business. In the past, I had a chance to volunteer briefly at a healthcare facility and currently I am learning about healthcare management as part of my studies. These are stepping stone. As I learnt from Peter, if I gain more experience in the field, generate enough capital to start the facility, conduct research and gather information on what is needed, I will be in the ideal situation to solve others’ problems through my business.
To know more about Peter Mwangi and his work you can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Esperance Mukiza is a student at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn. She wrote this story after going through Global Innovators Academy's Interview an Innovator online course experience.