Ogubere Ethel Oreva is a serial entrepreneur and a graduate of Economics from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Ghana. Right from her University days, she has always had the entrepreneurial spirit and a strong conviction of impacting her immediate community. She also has a blend of corporate experience, having worked in the finance department of an oil and gas firm.
Popularly dubbed as the Queen of breakfast, Ethel is the founder of Brittany’s Place, an indigenous catering service firm, with a specialty in providing crepes, waffles and pancake dishes, however they are not limited to providing only these dishes. Their meals cater to the busy individuals of metropolitan cities and also schools, churches, weddings and a various range of events. Ethel is also a director in Gidi Janitors Nigeria Limited, a leading janitorial service firm in Nigeria and also a Director in Aurelia’s basket, a luxury gift service firm in Nigeria.
FROM HAVING AN IDEA TO STARTING YOUR BUSINESS, SHARE YOUR JOURNEY WITH US
The idea for Brittany’s place had always been there, because I had a passion for pancakes, crepes and waffles, but what really spurred my passion into a functioning business was when I observed a gap in the breakfast scene of my current state of residence, Lagos State. Brittany’s would never have been if not for the encouragement I got from family, and my very good friends.
I followed the typical entrepreneurial route, most of my seed money came from savings, but there were other forms of capital, especially the ones I would term emotional capital which came from immediate family especially my parents in terms of encouragement and also friends that were Strategists, Accountants, lawyers etc. that gave advice on the business structure and model.
The journey to bring the business to what it is today has been a study in the principle of a learning curve, from the original business set up, in terms of proper registration, tax administrations, to both the front end and back end of the business, it has been a journey of continuous learning.
Along the line there had been challenges in terms of the business administration and logistics. The scheduling of logistics to me has been the most challenging, ensuring the delivery gets to the customers on time and at the specific time.
Regardless of all the challenges and learning, I would say Brittany’s place is becoming a success, because of all the feedback I get from my customers and our continuous growth towards our set goals and target.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO? THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BUSINESSES YOU COULD HAVE EXPLORED, WHY THIS?
The first thing is my passion because I do what I love and not love what I do, this to me is the key, as I had said earlier right from as far as I could remember the passion for diners, restaurants, breakfast houses and food had always been there so it was an easy decision or transition to move from the corporate world and establish Brittany’s Place. I chose this line of business to concentrate on, mainly because it makes me fulfilled, especially when I am bridging dietary gaps, I also feel because of my passion I am at the most productive level and most importantly, I believe I will serve as an inspiration to other young ladies .
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW BEYOND ALL DOUBT THAT THIS IS GOING TO WORK?
The defining point for me, was when I discovered that if I put in half of the effort I used when I was employed, I would reap double the effort put in, and apart from that the self-satisfaction and dignity that it’s my own thing which is adding value to me and the society. That self-discovery was the time I knew that beyond all doubt whatever I put my mind and effort on, it was bound to work
HOW DID YOU RAISE THE CAPITAL TO START YOUR BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY WITH THE HIGH COST OF RUNNING BUSINESSES IN NIGERIA?
Raising capital for a business in Nigeria is not the easiest thing in the world especially for a startup business, so I followed the typical route most entrepreneurs use, most of my seed money came from savings.
HOW SOON DID YOU START MAKING PROFITS?
The main factor that I use to determine success is customer satisfaction which came almost immediately, but in terms of financial profit, it was not immediate, it was after about 6 months, because I had to factor in initial capital investment, but all in all, the business had always been a profitable venture from the start.
BRILLIANT IDEAS DON’T ALWAYS MEAN GREAT SALES, HOW HAS IT BEEN MARKETING YOUR SERVICES?
Before I launched the product into the market, I spent a lot of time planning my marketing strategy, and identifying my target area and sales person, I also realized that the traditional marketing path may not give me the incremental client base to make Brittany’s Place the success I want it to be. I launched my product and did the initial marketing on social media; I also had to consult a media strategist, to give that professional touch and long term perspective. Marketing my services involved detail planning and executing same plan with precision.
YOUR GREATEST SKILL/STRENGTHS THAT HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY BEEN OF HELP IN STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS
My greatest strength is things that I learnt from my parents from my early age and which I still live by:
-Being consistent in what I do
This three attributes were important in starting and running my business
DID YOU HAVE TO GET A FORMAL TRAINING OR QUALIFICATION TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS?
The whole concept for Brittany’s Place came from passion and love for that type work, so I had no formal training in the beginning, but as part of continually improving myself, I have gone through and enrolled in different formal training classes.
YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS FOR SOME TIME NOW, WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISHED YOU HAD KNOWN BEFORE YOU STARTED?
I wished I knew a lot of things, but most importantly, I wished someone had told me that been an entrepreneur was not an easy task, especially in an environment like ours, I had underestimated the importance of setting a business properly, from the formal registration processes, proper book keeping, defining and abiding to job roles and tasks, most of these were previously done verbally or inconsistently, but as we grew we have been able to restructure and put everything in order and do it right. I would say I wish someone had said DO IT RIGHT from the start.
ANY LIFE EXPERIENCE THAT HAS PARTICULARLY PREPARED YOU DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR WHAT YOU DO NOW?
The experiences I saw around me, were that driving factors, which also prepared me for what am doing right. While growing up I had seen businesses at their peak and had fallen and I had learnt from them, the deep urge to create a change in my immediate environment can be realized from my passion by providing employment, empowering women and engaging in CSR activities, also three of my most inspiring books helped prepare me mentally too, and since you have asked what their titles are, I would share this little secret with you.
Think and grow rich; Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The richest man in Babylon.
CHANGE CAN BRING OUT A PART OF US WE NEVER KNEW EXISTED, WHAT NEW THINGS HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE COURSE OF STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
The first thing I found out about myself was the level of tenacity and strength I had, if I had been told that I would be working on my feet for 18 hours a day, I would not have believed it. Also, conceptualizing an idea to execution, in that I would say my self-belief is at its highest level.
THE GREATEST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND BY WHO?
The business advice I remember is that your challenges and failures should be seen as lessons, and shouldn’t deter you from your goal. Keep learning, acquire more knowledge and stay innovative to remain in business.