says researcher, scientist and entrepreneur Ifeoluwa Bejide Iman Al-Aji about her work
what What are your educational qualifications?
For my primary education, I attended Ikwa Primary School and Nursery in Akure, Ondo State. She went to Redeemers High School, Mowe, Ogun State.
Then she did her BSc in Microbiology from Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State. I also hold a masters 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, coaching entrepreneurs and teaching people new digital skills.
How did you manage to raise money to start the business?
I started with little capital while I was still in high school (SSS3). When I got accepted into university about nine years ago, I considered it serious work. Then students started coming to me asking for different things, and I kept adding those items to my inventory list. My room has practically become a convenience store. Thank God I now have a physical store.
What are the challenges you face at work?
In the first stage, there was not much capital. Therefore, I had to start small and wait until I finished selling the merchandise before buying new sets. Lack of funds did not allow me to purchase goods in large quantities. But in the end I overcame this challenge. I realized that in business, maybe capital will never always be enough; Especially with the high cost of things in the country. Clearance and import fees right now can make one crazy. Also, some customers are still not willing to pay for delivery. I was initially only doing doorstep deliveries, so this was a limitation for potential clients who are based out of the country. But now, we deal with delivery all over the world.
Another challenge was that many clients and friends owed one, no matter how hard we tried to avoid it. Recovering these debts is often a challenge. But things are getting better, and there are now easier ways to recover debt.
How did you overcome the challenges you mentioned?
By trying new methods and listening to customer feedback, for continuous improvement. Also, I now make use of billing and bookkeeping apps. I also opened a website for my business to reduce the level of debt from clients. In order for the customer to successfully purchase on the website, they must pay in full.
In the field of delivery, it also turned to a better plan with better logistics.
How do you get clients?
Through referrals and on social media platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook. Also, some customers just enter the store
How do you deal with customers online?
There are different types of customers one encounters in a business. They can be calm, understanding, rude, or forthright. One may even meet customers who want to defraud one.
I’ve learned to be really polite and cheerful, no matter what kind of negativity I get from a client. Recently a client told me that one of the reasons they came back to sponsor me was because of my humility and politeness.
Did you undergo any form of training before entering the business?
no I did not. Doing business comes naturally to me. Also, it runs in my family. I’ve been selling things since I was little.
What is the main support you have had since you started working?
My biggest support came from my family, contrary to what some people say families don’t support their businesses. In the early stages of my career, my mother was doing the delivery. She would take the goods to the park, call customers, and follow up.
My sister was great too. She “impresses me” and is very supportive of my work. She sponsors me and refers many of her friends to me. I also have friends who carry bags of clothes for me, advertise for me and expect nothing in return.
How do you manage your business and still have time to do other things?
Many people ask me this question. Although I don’t want to sound “cliché”, it’s actually thanks to God, because it’s so hard to explain. But looking at it from a more physical angle, proper planning and discipline helped me too. I make time for my work and other things. I do well with time. If I decided to spend two hours a day posting commercial content on my social media accounts, I wouldn’t go over that time. I think there is plenty of time for everything.
Have you ever thought about quitting smoking?
I know this may sound unreasonable. But I never thought of quitting. I don’t believe in giving up. However, I did take breaks when necessary.
What are your other areas of interest?
I have a talk show where I talk about life, as opposed to experiences and expectations. I am also interested in doing research.