A researcher, scientist and businessman, Ifeoluwa Bejide, spoke FAITH INVITE about his business
WHAT your educational qualifications?
For my primary education, I attended Ecwa Nursery and Primary School in Akure, Ondo State. I proceeded to Redeemers High School, Mowe, Ogun State.
I have 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 provide?
I sell women’s clothing and accessories. I am also a fashion designer and illustrator. I also run a branding business, where I coach entrepreneurs and teach people new digital skills.
How do you raise funds to start a business?
I started with a small capital while I was still in secondary school (SSS3). When I entered university about nine years ago, I took it as serious business. Students then started coming to me to ask for different items, and I kept adding items to my stocklist. My room almost turned into a mini store. I thank God that I now have a physical store.
What are the challenges you face in business?
In the first stage, there is not much capital. So, I have to start small and wait until I finish selling things before buying new sets. Lack of funds does not allow me to buy things in bulk. However, I eventually overcame that challenge. I realize that in business, capital may not always be enough; especially with the rising cost of goods in the country. The clearing and importation fees currently drive one crazy. Also, some customers are not ready to pay for shipping. At first I only do nationwide door delivery, so this is a limitation for potential customers who live abroad. But now, we handle worldwide shipping.
Another challenge is that many customers and friends owe one, no matter how hard one tries to avoid that. And, recovering debts is often a challenge. However, things are getting better, and there are easier ways to recover debts today.
How did you overcome the challenges you mentioned?
By testing new methods and listening to customers’ feedback, to constantly improve. Also, I now use invoice and bookkeeping apps. I also opened a website for my business to reduce the level of debt from customers. For a customer to successfully purchase on the website, they must pay in full.
In the delivery area, I 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 are also just walking into the store
How do you handle online customers?
There are different types of customers in a business encounter. They can be calm, understanding, rude or outspoken. One can even meet customers who want to cheat one.
I’ve learned to be really polite and happy, no matter what kind of negativity I get from a customer. Recently, a customer told me that one of the reasons they keep coming back to patronize me is because of my humility and politeness.
Did you undergo any form of training before going into business?
No, I didn’t. Entrepreneurship comes naturally to me. Also, it runs in my family. I have been exposed to selling things since my childhood.
What is the major support you have received since you started the business?
My biggest support comes from my family, contrary to what other people say that families don’t support their businesses. In the early days of my business, my mom always delivered. He takes the goods to the park, calls the customers, and even follows up on them.
My sister is also beautiful. He ‘hypes’ me and is very supportive of my business. He patronized me and referred many of his friends to me. I also have friends who carry bags of clothes for me, advertise for me and don’t expect anything in return.
How do you manage your business and still find time to do other things?
Many people ask me this question. While I don’t want to sound ‘cliché’, it’s actually 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 helped me as well. I give time to my business, and other things. I work hard on time. If I decide to spend two hours a day posting business content on my social media accounts, I don’t exceed that hour. I believe there is a time for everything.
Have you ever thought about quitting?
I know this may sound unbelievable; but, I never thought of quitting. I don’t believe in giving up. However, I rested when needed.
What are your other areas of interest?
I have a talk show where I talk about life, vis-à-vis experiences and expectations. I am also interested in doing research.