Researcher, scientist and entrepreneur, Ifeoluwa Bejide, spoke IMAN AJAYI about his business
What What is your educational qualification?
For my primary education, I attended Ecwa Nursery and Primary School in Akure, Ondo State. I went to Redeemers High School, Mowe, Ogun State.
I then obtained a Bachelors Degree in Microbiology from Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State. I also have a Master’s degree in Medical Microbiology from the same university.
What services does your business provide?
I sell women’s clothing and accessories. I am also a fashion designer and illustrator. I run a branding business as well, where I train entrepreneurs and teach people new digital skills.
How can you raise funds to start a business?
I started with little capital when I was still in secondary school (SSS3). When I got admission into the university about nine years ago, I took it as a serious business. Students then started coming to me to request different things, and I kept adding those items to my stock list. My room is practically a mini shop. I thank God now have a physical store.
What challenges do you face in business?
In the initial stage, there is not much capital. So, I have to start small and wait until I finish selling things before buying a new set. Lack of funds does not allow me to buy things in bulk. But, in the end, it was a challenge. I realize that in business, capital may not always be enough; especially with the rising cost of goods in the country. Clearing and import fees today can drive one crazy. Also, some customers are not willing to pay for delivery. At first I only did door to door delivery nationwide, so that was a limitation for potential customers who live out of state. But now, we handle worldwide delivery.
Another challenge is that many customers and friends owe one, no matter how hard one tries to avoid it. And, recovering that debt is usually a challenge. However, things are getting better, and there are easier ways to repay debts now.
How do you deal with the challenges you mentioned?
By trying out new methods and listening to customers’ feedback, so as to continue to improve. Also, I now use an invoicing and bookkeeping app. I also opened a website for my business to reduce the level of debt from customers. For customers to successfully purchase on the website, they must pay in full.
In the delivery area, I have also switched to a better plan with better logistics services.
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. It can be calm, understanding, rude or straightforward. One will even meet customers who want to cheat one.
I have learned to be really polite and cheerful, no matter what kind of negativity I get from customers. Recently, a client told me that one of the reasons they keep coming back to me is because I’m humble and polite.
Did you undergo any form of training before going into business?
No, I don’t. Doing business comes naturally to me. Also, it runs in my family. I have been exposed to selling things since I was little.
What is the main support you have received since you started your business?
My biggest support comes from my family, contrary to what some people say that family doesn’t support their business. In the early stages of my business, my mother used to do deliveries. She will bring things to the park, call customers, and even follow up with them.
My sister is also beautiful. He ‘hypes’ me and is very supportive of my business. He patronises me and refers many of his friends to me. I also have friends who carry bags of clothes for me, advertise on my behalf and expect no reply.
How do you manage your business and still have time to do other things?
Many people ask me this question. While I don’t want to sound ‘cliché’, it really is by the grace of God, because it’s so hard to explain. However, looking at it from a more physical angle, proper planning and discipline have also helped me. I allots time to my business, and other things. I work very well with time. If I decide to spend two hours a day posting business content on my social media accounts, I won’t spend more than that time. I believe there is a time for everything.
Have you ever thought of quitting?
I know this may sound unbelievable; but, I have never thought of quitting. I don’t 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 experience and expectations. I am also interested in doing research.