A researcher, scientist and entrepreneur, Ifeoluwa Bejide, tells FAITH AJAYI about her business
What are your educational qualifications?
For my elementary education, I attended Ecwa Nursery and Primary School in Akure, Ondo State. I went on to Redeemers High School, Mowe, Ogun State.
I then bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State. I also hold a Master’s degree in Medical Microbiology from the same university.
What services does your business render?
I sell female clothes and accessories. I am also a fashion designer and illustrator. I run a branding business as well, where I coach entrepreneurs and teach people new digital skills.
How were you able to raise funds to start the business?
I started with little capital while I was still in secondary school (SSS3). When I gained admission into the university about nine years ago, I took it as a serious business. Students then started coming to me to request for different things, and I kept adding those items to my stocklist. My room practically became a mini store. I thank God that I now have a physical store.
What are the challenges you face in the business?
At the initial stage, there wasn’t so much capital. So, I had to start small and wait till I finished selling goods before buying new sets. Lack of funds did not allow me to buy goods in bulk. But, I eventually overcame that challenge. I realised that in business, capital will probably never always be enough; especially with the rising cost of things in the country. Clearing and importation fees right now can actually make one go crazy. Also, some customers are not still willing to pay for delivery. I was initially doing only nationwide doorstep delivery, so it was a limitation for potential customers staying outside the country. But now, we handle worldwide delivery.
Another challenge was that many customers and friends owe one, irrespective of how hard one tries to avoid that. And, recovering those debts is usually a challenge. But, things are getting better, and there are easier methods to recover debts now.
How did you overcome the challenges you mentioned?
By trying out new methods and listening to customers’ feedback, so as to constantly improve. Also, I now make use of invoice and bookkeeping apps. I also opened a website for my business to reduce the level of debt from customers. For a customer to buy successfully on the website, they have to pay in full.
In the area of delivery, I have also switched to a better plan with a better logistics service.
How do you get customers?
Through referrals, and on social media platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook. Some customers also just walk into the store
How do you handle online customers?
There are different types of customers one encounters in business. They could be calm, understanding, rude or straightforward. One would even meet customers who want to defraud one.
I have learnt to be really polite and cheerful, no matter the kind of negativity I get from a customer. Recently, a customer told me that one of the reasons they kept coming back to patronise me was because of how humble and polite I was.
Did you undergo any form of training before going into the business?
No, I did not. Doing business comes naturally to me. Also, it runs in my family. I have been exposed to selling items since I was little.
What’s the major support you have got since you started the business?
My biggest support has come from my family, contrary to what some people say that families don’t support their businesses. At the early stage of my business, my mum used to do the deliveries. She would take the goods to the park, call customers, and even follow up on them.
My sister has also been wonderful. She ‘hypes’ me and is very supportive of my business. She patronises me and refers a lot of her friends to me. I also have friends who carry the bags of clothes for me, advertise on my behalf and expect nothing in return.
How do you manage your business and still get the time to do other things?
A lot of people ask me this question. While I don’t want to sound ‘cliché’, it is actually by God’s grace, because it is very hard to explain. But, looking at it from a more physical angle, proper planning and discipline have also helped me. I allot time to my business, and for other things. I work very well with time. If I decide to spend two hours daily on posting business content on my social media accounts, I would not exceed that time. I believe there is time for everything.
Have you ever thought of quitting?
I know this may sound unbelievable; but, I have never thought of quitting. I do not believe in giving up. However, I have taken breaks when necessary.
What are your other areas of interest?
I have a talk show where I speak about life, vis-à-vis experiences and expectations. I am also interested in doing research.