Take us back to the beginning
Patience Maame Mensah knows all about juggling different aspects of life – as a working student in Ghana, she continually struggled to balance work and school.
“I always wished there was extra help with cleaning my home,” says Mensah. At the same time, she wanted to have a therapist come to her instead of having to find the time to go to a salon or spa. “That was when I identified the need… and when the ‘Indulgence’ dream began.”
In 2015, she found Self Indulgence Limited (called Indulgence until a 2017 rebrand), a home-management agency that provides nannies and home carers for the elderly as well as at-home beauty services and relaxation therapy. Her clients are everyone who lead busy lives and need home and personal support services to help them de-stress and be more productive.
“It was just a dream till I started my entrepreneurship MBA programme [and] went through one of the best business models,” says Mensah of her studies at the Postgraduate School Business & Society at Universitá Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. “I decided to add value to my business idea after going through the value proposition model. Self Indulgence started as a cleaning agency, but I needed something unique, a competitive advantage [and] added home-care delivery and grooming to make it an all-inclusive home-management agency.”
How did the company grow into the business it is today?
For the first year, Mensah’s family and friends helped her and provided funding. “After initial funding, which… included my personal investment, I used the revenue… to scale-up because my business is not capital-intensive. There was no need to get a loan,” she says.
Mensah employs three full-time staff members and outsources to cleaners, home-care delivery workers and therapists on a contract basis.
Surely it couldn’t have been that easy. There must have been challenges.
“Because Self Indulgence deals with people in their private residences, getting professional workers to meet their standards has been a challenge,” says Mensah, and admits to not being able to meet her clients’ demands in the beginning. “I did not train the workers to meet the standards of the brand,” she explains.
To overcome this, the permanent and contract staff are now trained in-house. She says, “I have learnt ‘not to promise the client what you know you can’t offer’ and to always conduct background checks before making a move – be it employing someone or signing an agreement with a client. Background checks are very necessary.”
Mistakes like these, she believes, present a learning opportunity and says, “What has helped me grow were the mistakes I made and the passion I put into learning from those mistakes to make the business work.”
Another challenge was a proliferation of unprofessional home workers and nannies who undercharge and deliver unprofessional service. Once she began providing “professional services”, word of mouth has allowed her to grow her customer base and overcome this.
In five years, she hopes that Self Indulgence will be a household name in Ghana with several estates and apartments under its management. Her dream is to build a conglomerate of real estate, logistics and state-of-the-art outdoor spas after recruiting staff in small towns and training them to the company’s standards. But for now, her focus is on penetrating affluent and prime areas to establish the Self Indulgence brand.
Anything we can learn from her experiences?
Mensah says entrepreneurship is a lonely journey which demands a lot of sacrifice, and cautions aspiring entrepreneurs that they should be prepared for being alone.
“Nothing good comes easy. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. You need to sacrifice something to make the dream work – be it your… day job, your family, love life, social life or friends. Without sacrifice and risks, it can’t be done,” she explains.