Gathoni Kabiru
(Life Coach)

This is a summary of an interview with Gathoni Kabiru, a Life Coach based in Nairobi.

Gathoni was running a successful business when she found her purpose. In this interview she shares her journey from a business she liked into a Kingdom (or purpose) business.

It was not an easy journey as you’ll learn, but she found freedom and peace when she embraced her true calling.

Gathoni provides tips for women who want to leave employment and get into business. She also shares specific advice for those who want to venture into a purpose-based business.

I must admit that I found it hard reducing all the information in this interview into one blog post. The interview was so powerful that at one point I had to go silent. There was so much wisdom coming through that I didn’t want to interrupt.

So I highly recommend that you download and listen to this interview. You may find yourself listening to it over and over again, as I have done.

Click here to listen to the interview or read the summary below
Contact Gathoni to book a sample coaching session

There is freedom in Purpose ~ Gathoni Kabiru

Background information

Gathoni Kabiru studied Community Development at Daystar University. After graduating, she went into employment for 3 years before moving into business in 2006.

She’s been in business for more than twelve years and life coaching is her third business. Previously she had:

  • A transport (trucking) business (3 years).
  • Waka Clothing, which is a women’s clothing shop (more than 6 years).

Even when she was employed, there was always a nagging thought in her mind that she could do something else. Also, business was always on her mind. She had ideas flowing in her mind and felt that employment was limiting her.

The ideas grew and she started talking about them with other people. This led to the idea of the trucking business, which she decided to pursue.

Gathoni believes that the shift from employment into business starts when you make up your mind to move into business. You may not make the move immediately, but the shift starts when you decide that, “…I don’t belong here, and I have to move…”

When that decision is made in your mind and heart, then you’ll have shifted. Beyond the shift, you also have to work on other details including:

  • When to exit from employment.
  • When to hand in your resignation.
  • Finally getting out of employment.

Enter the first business…

Gathoni’s first business, in transport, was a partnership with a friend. They had trucks that transported goods from Mombasa to Uganda and Rwanda.

When starting out, they both had similar business goals and were very clear about where they wanted to go. Individually, Gathoni had the passion and know-how while the friend had the money. So they went for it 100%.

The business worked well for one year and then they started disagreeing on strategies. While they both had a clear and similar destination, they weren’t agreeing on the way to get there. So they agreed that one of them had to exit the business and Gathoni chose to leave.

Leaving this business was a loss for Gathoni and she had to find a way to make money quickly. She tried to salvage what she could but noticed that she was losing time. She also realized that while you can recover money, you can’t recover time.

At this point, she decided to find something she could do to make money and follow settlement later. However, with time, she also decided to let go of the settlement.

From transport to selling clothes

When the partnership failed, she started selling clothes because she needed quick money. Selling clothes was a no-brainer because she was able to make profits fast.

Gathoni was still in trauma the first year in this new business. So she sold clothes just for the sake of selling. Also, selling clothes was never an option for her. Coming from a business where she was used to dealing with large sums of money, clothes seemed a very small business for her at that time.

One of the biggest challenges during this time was a mindset shift. She had been used to negotiations that dealt with hundreds of thousands of shillings. Now, she was negotiating in terms of thousands or hundreds. At first this felt ridiculous until she wrapped her mind around it.

In the second year, Gathoni discovered that she had the skill and patience to work with women and listen to them. She also realized that there was potential to turn selling clothes into a successful business. And so she started planning and putting systems and structures in place. She also took a business loan and expanded Waka Clothing by shopping abroad.

Luckily, she had a cousin in South Africa and this helped her leverage the business. She would travel to South Africa quarterly to shop for clothes. This leverage became one of her business advantages because her transport and accommodation were taken care of when she was in South Africa.

The business grew and she moved from selling clothes from her car boot into her first shop. The business and networks soon outgrew that shop and she moved to a bigger premise at Adams Arcade in Nairobi.

Journey into a purpose business

Making the transition

Waka Clothing was doing well until 2015 when Gathoni started getting nudging thoughts in her mind that she could do more.

As the thought grew, it also became apparent that she could do more but not in this business. She wasn’t sure whether this meant exiting and leaving the business to employees or moving totally into another business.

She prayed about this shift until it became clear that it was time to move into her purpose. It also became clear that taking this shift also meant letting go of Waka Clothing.

Some of the things that brought this clarity included:

  • She started noticing that the efforts that she was making to take the business to a better place were not working.
  • While the business was still moving, deep inside her there was a feeling that something was not quite right.
  • On the outside, things looked like they were getting better, but she could see that there wasn’t real growth.

At first, she tried to move the business to another location and put up deposit for it. But this too didn’t work out. While Gathoni loved her work and liked working with women, it was now getting clearer that something wasn’t right with the current business.

She continued praying about the business and seeking clarity about what she was feeling inside. By now, she was at a crossroad and wanted to know which direction to follow.

Clarity came at the beginning of 2016, when she realized that she wasn’t meant to move the business. Instead, it was time for her to shift fully into Life Coaching. She wasn’t ready for this change because she wasn’t sure about where this shift would take her.

Setting up the Life Coaching business

In 2017, Gathoni signed up for the Create Your Dream Business coaching program. Initially, she worked on revamping Waka Clothing. However, coaching started knocking off things that were not related to her calling. This helped her shift from focusing on Waka Clothing to stepping into her purpose.

She now has coaching clients and is in the process of registering her life coaching business. Her clients are people aged 19-35 years old and she helps them overcome obstacles in their lives and achieve their life goals.

Usually, she first does a sample coaching session with someone. This session determines whether they can move forward into coaching and what they will work on during the coaching program.

Her clients want to work with a coach who can push and help them move faster and achieve their goals in a shorter period of time.

With her personal experience, she’s also able to identify with purpose related issues. She now knows that not everyone is willing to enter into purpose even when they’re going to do something they really like. This is because it’s not easy to surrender everything and jump straight into purpose.

Purpose is not easy

There was a point when Gathoni crashed. Nothing was working and it felt like she was in a dark room with no way out. It was so bad at one time that she stayed for 3 months without a single customer coming to the shop.

She spent a lot of time in tears. Things were falling apart but she didn’t know where to go or who to talk to. This made her rely on God and talk to Him more. She also sought help from her pastor when whatever was going on around her was so powerful that she got overwhelmed and couldn’t sleep.

While all the challenges were happening, there was still an underlying knowledge that all was OK. It was also clear to her that this was not a normal shift from one business to another. It was much bigger than that.

Gathoni believes that some people are allowed to have two assignments for their purpose. But for her case, it’s clear that she was to have one assignment.

She also believes that there are no errors with God. Looking back she can see that her preparation started way back in her choice of courses at college because she did counselling and psychology as a minor.

Benefits of a purpose business

  1. Growth: You grow, but not in the same way as you would in a regular business. You learn and grow each day.
  2. Peace: There’s a peace that passes all understanding that comes with the business. This is accompanied by clarity.
  3. Anointing: You do exceedingly more than what you can do as a human being. This works even if you haven’t studied the business formally.
  4. No overworking: She still has to plan, make calls, do sample coaching sessions, read and coach. However, she relies a lot on prayer and reading God’s word. This is because your business navigational system is spiritual. Incidentally, purpose comes with more challenges, but they get sorted out.

Marketing her purpose business

Gathoni hasn’t used any of the regular marketing channels like website or social media. Her marketing consists of the following.

  1. Prayer: This is her first marketing method. She prays and asks for clients.
  2. Referrals: She calls people and asks them for referrals.
  3. Giving trainings: She attends trainings and gives a small sample of what she does. This gets her 1-1 coaching clients.
  4. Samples: She calls former customers from her clothing business and offers them sample coaching sessions.

She hopes to have a YouTube channel when the business grows.

Being a good listener has also helped her marketing because people who do sample sessions feel the impact of having someone really listen to them.

Advice from Gathoni about stepping into purpose

1. Prayer

She prayed and still prays a lot. One of her most common prayers was to ask God for clarity. Also, you can’t ask once. You have to keep on asking, even as you move along the journey. The more you ask, the more clarity you get.

At the beginning, she was trying to hold on to her clothing business so her prayers were 80% Waka Clothing and 20% purpose. This changed when a pastor warned her that God was asking her to transit fully into purpose.

2. Clear the noise around you

She stopped telling people about her business and the transition she was going through. This is because working on your purpose requires a lot of silence.

3. Take action

One of the early actions she took was attending Pastor Angie Murenga’s Purpose & Leadership Forum. This was after many people told her that she needed to take the program. The program gave her the first navigational compass point.

This program is the one the revealed that while Gathoni was supposed to stay in business, it wasn’t going to be in the current one (Waka Clothing).

After this program, the next direction point she got was that she needed a coach. So she prayed for the right coach and one of her friends recommended the Create Your Dream Business coaching program.

Gathoni’s take is that during the journey into purpose, you will not get all the answers at the same time. You will get one direction at a time. Also know that you cannot do God’s things your way. It has to be God’s way.

4. Go with the flow

At one point, everything in her life stopped. Things that were once working stopped working. Places she used to get help…doors closed.

This can be very frustrating. The solution is to stop holding on to what you think is yours. When you let go, things start moving as they’re meant to.

Also, once you step into the purpose business you’re no longer in charge. There is something bigger than you that’s running the business. When you let pride get in the way, you’ll make errors and sabotage the process.

5. Purpose is humbling but easier

When you enter into a purpose business, which is where you work for God, one of things that happen is that you’re broken into pieces. This happens mostly because you’re holding on to things that you’re supposed to leave.

Gathoni is a planner and ambitious. Being in purpose is the most humbling time of her life. Purpose business combines humility and obedience in order for it to work.

Despite the challenges, things are still working and she’s noticed that she doesn’t have to put so much effort to get results. For example, the day she gave notice to vacate the premise occupied by Waka Clothing is the day she got her first coaching client.

A purpose business means that things come by prayer and faith. This business is not business as usual and you get downloads about what to do. You need to listen more and allow God to guide you, even in things like what, when and where to market your business (if need be).

It’s key to remember that even as you do God’s work, there’s still preparation and timing for the way things are done.

6. Get into the right medium

The thing about purpose is that you’ll not be asked to do something that is not within you. It’s already in you and keeps growing as you take action on it. Your gifts will not manifest if you’re not in the right place. So you need to find your place and get into it.

Gathoni’s advice for aspiring and actual business women

If Gathoni had been asked this question before she went into purpose, her advice would have been to:

  1. Go for it.
  2. Get big goals.
  3. Fight.
  4. Win…

She’d still give the same advice now but also note that there’s a lot that changes when you work in purpose. So her advice now includes the following.

  1. There will always be a place for you: If your calling is in business, there will be that business that is perfect for you. God will fight for you in this business, so when you pray for a business and God tells you which one to start, do it even if it’s an MPESA shop.
  2. Let God guide you: When God tells you to do something, this is His idea and plan. His plans will never be to harm you, but to prosper you. Therefore, He will protect it, bring the clients and give you the strategies. So do your business and never forget your God.
  3. Don’t do business the regular way: There are a lot of businesses that need to be in the hands of the people who are seeking God. Once you’re in such a business, the hassles and thoughts of doing things in a backdoor way or undercutting people will never be there. Seek God and pray for the business.
  4. Never give up: To quote Gathoni, “We’re not in the business of giving up. We’re in the business of moving forth.” This also means that you need to think big and take action.
  5. Inspire other people: Whenever you gain, you should never forget others. Uplift and bless others.
  6. Tithe and give.
  7. Spend more time with yourself: When you do this, you start learning more about yourself and identify your weaknesses and strengths. This knowledge will help you find ways to improve and empower yourself.

Gathoni’s advice if you want to leave employment for business

1. Take your time

Gathoni made up her mind a year before she quit her job. This helped her prepare for her exit physically and psychologically.

2. Save

When she made up her mind to get into business, she opened an account and called it her ‘Exit plan’. She started saving in this account every month so that when she decided to leave employment, there would be no excuse about not having funds.

In her calculations, the money would have buffered her for a year. Note that this money is not for the business, but for personal expenses.

Having this money made it comfortable for her to step out of employment. When the day came for her to leave, she comfortably resigned and entered into business.

At the same time, Gathoni cautions that you need to be prepared as there will be unexpected expenses. So it’s possible that your financial cushion will last a shorter time than planned for.

3. Create a circle of support

You also need a lot of emotional and psychological support because you get surprises when you move into business. What you expect to happen doesn’t start happening. Your plan doesn’t always materialize as you expect.

4. Narrow down your options to one

When you don’t have too many options and you’re left with only one option, then you’re forced to make it work. Now that you don’t have employment or other opportunities, then you have to make this ship you decided to jump into work.

Gathoni also cut off the rope attaching her to employment, which is why she was not tempted to go back into employment when the trucking business failed. In her words, “Once you know what you do not want, you can never go back and consider it as an option.”

Interestingly, she had never thought about employment until I asked this question in the interview. It was never an option for her once she quit her job because business is her ‘heartbeat’. So for her, the only options were business related.

5. Get over disappointments quickly

When she lost the transport business, she quickly moved into the opportunity that was before her. While it wasn’t an easy shift, she managed to do it and turn it into a successful business that lasted over 6 years.

6. Use past success to motivate you

Initially, the amounts she was dealing with in the clothing business were way less than she was previously used to in the transport business. However, she realized that she was the same person that had succeeded in the transport business. This meant that she:

  • Had the same capacity to succeed in this new business as done in the previous one.
  • Had the same potential to deal with large sums of money as she had done before.

This realization helped her make decisions that moved her forward when she was feeling down. It also helped her make the decision take up business coaching at a point when she didn’t have the money to sign up for it.

7. Work with what’s in your hands

One of Gathoni’s secrets to success in Waka Clothing is that she chose to work with what was already in her hands. She notes that sometimes we look for other things to do when there’s something already here for us.

When you have something that people are already appreciating and buying, explore multiplying it.

8. Run your purpose business like a business

Keep proper financial, business management and customers records.

9. Constant improvement

Gathoni reads a lot of psychology and personal development books. She also listens to podcasts by Myles Monroe and Robin Sharma. She chose these two podcasts because much as she’s in a purpose business, she’s still on earth. So she has to balance her spirituality with practical life.

She’s just finished reading The Reformation Manifesto: Your Part in God’s Plan to Change Nations Today by Cindy Jacobs. 

Her current reading is The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. This book has helped her stay anchored in the present instead of running ahead of herself.

Her recommendation is that you read the Bible as well as books that are relevant to where you currently are and where you want to go. This means that you first have to identify your goals and then get books that are relevant to your journey and business.

Parting words from Gathoni

“There is freedom in purpose. So if you’re looking for freedom, pursue purpose.”

Your way forward

1. Contact Gathoni

If you want a sample coaching session with Gathoni or to hear her more of her story:

  • Call her on 0739 200 575.
  • Click here to email her.

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(Image Credit: Gathoni Kabiru)

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Caroline Gikonyo
Caroline Gikonyo

Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at Biashara 360. She's an avid blogger and also oversees our content creation. This ensures that we give our readers quality and well researched information and tips.

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