Richard Nyambuya is the 34-year-old founder of RichTaf Express Logistics based in Milton Keynes, UK. Richtaf Express Logistics is a same-day courier company offering next day, express and urban logistics for the UK and major European countries. The company has been a service partner for UK Mail and DHL for over 5
years, makes pharmaceutical deliveries to hospitals across the country and are trusted by many motorsport manufacturing and assembling companies.
Richard graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a BEng in Aerospace Systems Engineering. Last year, Rich and I talked about how he moved from aerospace engineering to be his own boss; he said he just had to take matters
into his own hands when Plan A wasn’t working out the way he wanted it to. This year, I asked him to share his story and inspire others…so here’s his tale!
Tell us a little about your journey from Zimbabwe to the UK.
So, I left Zim in 2001, soon after my O’ Levels at Ellis Robins Boys High. I had plans to go back and do my A’ Levels because my mom promised me that if I passed my O’s then I could go and study at Gateway which of course motivated me. Turns out my mom never had plans for me to go back though…!
How did you handle the cultural shift?
It was mad. I can joke about it now but at the time I had to learn a lot of things…and quickly…especially business at my new school. I wasn’t used to seeing kids smoking
or swearing at teachers. But other than that, my new school was a really good one and I made friends that I still keep in touch with to this day. My friends definitely made the transition a lot better.
Why did you choose to study Aerospace Systems Engineering?
Well it’s a really funny story but at school one of my classmates used to get dropped off at school in an Aston Martin Vanquish. One day her dad came to pick her up from school and he was in his British Airways captain’s uniform. I was 16 and from that day I knew I
wanted to be like him.
And what was the plan after university?
To attend flying school or join the RAF. I quickly learnt that I couldn’t afford the flying school fees in England and the RAF told me I couldn’t train to be a pilot because I wasn’t born in the country. Their rules changed after the 9/11 attacks. They were happy to have me as an engineering officer but at that time I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else let alone driving vans! (laughs)
What was going through your mind when you were job hunting, armed with your degree and getting nothing?
It was really tough because not only was I armed with a degree, but after I graduated in 2009, I had issues with the Home Office not giving me the right work permit needed by the employers. Most of my mates that I had gone to uni with were all doing really well and even those who hadn’t gone to uni at all seemed to have their stuff together…so this period of my life was very tough.
At what moment did you say I’ve had enough. I need to find another way?
Well I was only allowed to work 20 hours a week and my salary was nowhere near enough. I was thankful to at least have a part-time job that I’d started in my first year of uni but after five years it was time for me to step up.
Anything else inspired you to set out on your own?
I was actually really inspired by the story in the Bible of the men with leprosy. They basically decided to stop feeling sorry for themselves and do something about their situation.
Why a logistics and courier company?
I was very open-minded, I guess, and had even thought about starting a cleaning company. I sort of landed on the opportunity but to be fair I was actively searching for ways to better myself. I just decided to get into a solid industry that is always going to be
Your 2 biggest challenges as a young entrepreneur have been or are…
In short, I would say, one, capital, and two, a lack of experience.
How did you handle those challenges?
In terms of capital I really struggled to get lending, but I managed to save up about £2, 500 and borrow around £1, 000 from my uncle. This was enough to hire a van and pay for fuel for a month. It was a risky move, but I also learnt that you have to be willing to take some risks in business. I’ve also made so many mistakes and losses, but I’ve learnt from them.
The best thing about working for yourself is…
…Just being my own boss and knowing that the harder I work the better the rewards. There’s also the freedom of being able to steer the company in the direction that I believe is right for business. I can come up with a business idea, implement and evaluate. No red tape!
A critical piece of advice you’d give a budding entrepreneur is…
…Don’t be scared to take a risk. I personally think that’s what separates those who succeed and does that don’t do so well. A lot of entrepreneurs do not mind working hard but not many are willing to take a risk.
How do you balance work and family life because a business is like having another child right?!
My wife has been very supportive. I had to sort of bring her in so she also sees and understands where I was hoping to take the business. At one point, we had no money in our personal accounts, yet I was getting a brand-new van every three months. I think
she got a bit frustrated after the seventh or eighth van but she’s still here!
Three people, from any period in time or walk of life, whose brain you’d like to pick are…
I would say Mayer Rothschild, Serena Williams and Barack Obama.
On a day off what would you do?
These days, when I’m off, I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife and baby daughter.
What’s next for you?
My phone and TV remote…
Love that! You have a balance!
For more, go to: https://www.richtaf.co.uk/