Why AJ Believes in Our Abilities to Withstand Any Changes

AJ Murugi mentoring new graduates as they transitioned from high school to the real world. The outdoor event held at Karura Forest was organised Walk Through the Bible.

Every change has a story, and like the proverbial phoenix, if you keep moving in spite of the turbulence, eventually the rise happens. This was the case for Ann Jeddy Murugi popularly known as AJ, a mother of two children aged seven and four years old respectively. Like any other child, when Ann was growing up, she had dreams and aspirations, and ever so often, her list went something like this: “When I grow up, I want to be a. Doctor, b. Pilot, c. Teacher.” Needless to say every child had the same dream of being a professional in any given field that was held by society as classy and important, and it was very uncommon to hear a child say “When I grow up, I want to be a business owner,” and Ann was no exception.  And this is her story as she narrates it to MKAZI Magazine.

On Formative Years

I spent my childhood and youth partially in Kenya, India, Canada and United Arab Emirates. My career started off as an intern in the division of communications (DCPI) at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Gigiri, Nairobi, after which I set off to Canada for my flying school. This was quickly followed by stints of employment in customer service in Canada, fleet management in United Arab Emirates, SME relationship management at Standard Chartered Bank Kenya and thereafter customer service management and call center setups & management for the two largest solar companies in Kenya.Mentorship session at a school.

On Growing Up

As I look back, my spider senses for business started in high school - Limuru Girls. I would sell wall posters such as those of Michael Jackson and Archie’s Gallery with pretty stickers in the first week of school before real learning started, making an easy sale and having enough pocket money to last me an entire term. This was heightened while I was in Canada. I started a cleaning company to help me pay for my flying school. I figured a regular job would pay me a minimum wage of $8, whereas cleaning people’s houses would earn me $20+. Wisdom dictates otherwise, and soon I was on the rise with the cleaning business. Eventually money became my biggest motivator and needless to say, a few ventures later, I lost my drive. Everything lost meaning. It was time to stop, find myself and possibly start over.

I was at the point in my life where I had worked in different organizations, dropped out of flying school and resigned from several organisations and all I wanted was to understand my purpose.

On Starting Over

My journey of self-discovery begun in 2013, when I launched Starting Over Consultants. In 2015 I booked a meeting with a business coach and mentor, Mr. James Karundu, and my session with him just made my purpose more clear. I knew now without a shadow of a doubt that I was on the right path. Initially I was running the business on a part time basis and my dream towards running a fully-fledged business full time was realised in December 2016 when I left employment. The transition was easy and the only cost I incurred to set up Starting Over Consultants was the business registration fee.

Starting Over Consultants is a mentoring firm that helps people during transitions. Our clients include, teenagers and parents trying to understand each other, candidates in their final school year, fresh graduates seeking employment, stay at home moms who opt not to go back to work after nursing their babies, those going through retrenchments, those preparing for retirement or those already retired who suddenly wake up and there is no office to report to in the morning, first time mothers, mothers of the brides (a forgotten category) and newlyweds; just to mention a few.

AJ Murugi during a session with school children.

Starting over is all about transitions in life so I would call myself a transition coach as I hold my clients’ hand throughout their journey. To best explain it, imagine with me, you feel alone and you have a 'desired end' but the obstacles on the way are too many. So my goal would be to help you get to point B from point A. “How does this work?” you may ask. We take you through a 21-day online program with one or two face to face sessions to help you transition smoothly.              

Our fees are very affordable. For the 21-day program inclusive of a face-to-face session or two depending on the issue, we charge Kshs.20,000. For schools we charge Kshs.5,000 for a one-hour session. For small groups (half day session), we charge Kshs.5,000 per person.

Our success rate for individuals is 70%. This means that we see a total turn around in 7 out of 10 people who successfully complete the program. This change is usually not immediate and so my measure is after 60-90 days. The minor changes are however noticeable immediately.

In addition Starting Over Consultants has now incorporated additional 21-day online programs namely Budgeting, Time Management, Goal Setting and Creating Vision Boards; geared towards individuals and groups for only Kshs. 5,000 per person.

On Sailing Through – The Business as a Whole

My office setup is simple; all I needed is my phone and I am good to go. I use my phone for communicating to clients via calls or emails, and in the event that I need to organize for group trainings, I hire conference facilities and all I take is my laptop, and in most instances, the groups would organize the venue, so all I have to do is show up on time.

My greatest asset was and is still networks. If you can guide someone through murky waters of indecision and hold their hand till they can stand on their own, they will always refer a friend or a group to you and thus the domino effect happens. It is through such networks that doors opened for schools and youth groups as well as a request to share my story on MKAZI Magazine.

Marketing has purely been through word of mouth. I experimented on social media for a while but it was very distracting for me. With my time freed up from employment, I may venture back to social media and add a YouTube channel as well as an e-book.

My team comprises of mentors and prayer partners. Dealing with people is very different from selling goods or services. The words I speak have the ability to break or make a person. With a business founded on Godly foundations, you need the right people around you, a positive attitude and wisdom to deal with people.

For motivation, I pray a lot, listen to motivational videos and have an amazing family and mom to keep me encouraged. I realized quickly enough that I need to be motivated enough to always keep moving. Interacting with those who have passed through my program gives me great satisfaction to see that my words added value to their lives and the person is in a better place. Referrals always mean that I am doing my job well thus motivating me to be better every day.

On Business Challenges

I have come to learn that, in business, no one gets to wear the T-shirt without a challenge, and for me my biggest challenge has been accounting. Despite the business being legally registered, I ran it like a hobby. 2017 however has started off well, with some great lessons from a business mentor, Mrs. Irene Mumo, who has shared with me great tips on how to keep business records.The Starting Over Consultants team

Another challenge has been realizing that there is an aspect of professional counselling needed that at the moment I have not yet attained. As a result, when I get such cases, I have to refer some of my clients to professional counsellors or pastors when I feel that the case requires more than I can offer. A gap I hope to fill by enrolling for a counselling course. 

On Lessons and Then Some

  • Set a foundation for your business, grow deep roots, and you will be unshakeable. Bad business days, bad publicity or no money coming in will not deter you when your roots are deep.
  • More engagements translate to more money. I quickly learnt that money will trickle in, when I actually have a session with a group, school or individual, as opposed to talking to people on a less formal engagement.
  • Entrepreneurship has given me the freedom to create and execute what works best for individual clients or groups. I do not have a written script. For new clients, I listen first and then we talk. Lifestyle wise, I can now spend more time with my children and afford to drop them off to school and pick them up every day. Soon, they will be all grown and it will be too late to recover their growing up and baby hugs. If I could go back in time, I would never have been employed by anyone. I am using this regret to often ask my children, ‘what solutions they would like to offer when they grow up’ as opposed to 'what would they like to be'.  The seven-year old is keen on building homes for homeless people with his own money. And for this reason alone, I am the proudest mother ever.

In Five Years’ Time…

Well, five years from now, Starting Over Consultants will be running a Starting Over Centre in a serene environment where clients can check in for 21 days to deal with various transitions in their lives as they learn from professional mentors and eventually form an alumni where they can mentor others, growing a movement of hope and faith in oneself and our abilities to withstand any change in our lives.

And Finally

From me to you with love: Know what your purpose is and have a vision for your life and everything that affects you. If you can learn that and accept yourself with your strengths and weaknesses, nothing can shake you! And to be honest majority of what we see or think of as problems are actually opportunities. Having a second pair of eyes in the name of a transition coach will help you safely cross any river even with crocodiles therein.


AJ Murugi
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Diana Ashley


Diana Ashley is "A Fearless influencer of society.
Book lover. Coffee lover.
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