Naija Women Tell Us

15 Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Experiences Hiring Staff and Building Their Teams


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One of the major problems many small businesses face is the difficulty in hiring the right team. While some may get it right, it is not the same for every business owner. We asked these entrepreneurs about their experiences in hiring their staffs and building their teams and below are what they told us.

As a growing entrepreneur, you can learn something from their experiences.

Keturah Ovio of Qeturah.Com

It’s been tough. As any Nigerian founder and they’d almost lament about how we all face the same problem; finding good talent. Finding people with good talent, team spirit mentality, can-do mentality, and working fast-paced at a price a startup founder can afford in Nigeria is very difficult. My team size has drastically reduced. I’ve had to let go of founders and staff along the way but I’ve learned two important things my journey to here:

Fire as quickly as you hire – Don’t be scared to fire an under performer or someone you believe no longer fits into the team culture you’re working to build.

Nobody is indispensable- As good as your last guy was; there will always be someone better. You are your company’s chief errand officer and your core is to determine and communicate your organization’s strategic direction, build the culture, and perform the task of balancing resources – capital and people.

Chika Madubuko of Greymate Care

Building a team is actually the most difficult business. You have to get sentiments out of the way to get things done. It has been really difficult but we finally managed to build a loyal team by adding perks no matter how small such as holiday packages, health insurance, career development and advancement opportunities.

Ellena Affah of Natural Hair Rocks

Building a team was a gradual process for me; I had to hire only people who believed in the brand as much as I do.

Tolulope Sowande of Founder of Healthy Bar

Hiring staff was a major challenge initially. As a new business, job seekers do not have any reference, so some of them who came for interviews expressed doubts over whether they will be paid or not. As we gained traction in the market, we had more people willing to work with us and our current team are very committed to the company and its vision. However, there is still always the challenge of getting skilled staff with existing experience.

Offiong Jarigbe of Little Saints

Hiring competent staff and keeping them has been very difficult. As you recruit today, someone is showing up with all kinds of excuses the next day.  I had to hire and train as there was no children tailors available. I also had to sell myself, passion and dreams to them for them to see where I am going. If they want, they can come with me on the journey of building a successful brand and enjoy the benefits.

Secondly, I gave them their job descriptions and created a structure for them to function which has enabled them to work effectively and efficiently.  Now we don’t just recruit, we build teams and sell our vision.

Adehola Ojo of Adehola Creations

As a small business owner you can’t do everything. We hire staff based on skills and not their certificate. Most times we re-train them. Help them hone their skills so they can work with our value system.

Kikelomo Koleosho of Red 19

As a small business owner you can’t do everything, what has been your experience hiring staff and building your team. I make use of interns and hire photographers on short contract. I realized that young people now do not want to serve for long and think that money is everything.

Tolulope Amusan of EsoAra Accessories

Well, as a small business owner I have found out that you have to start by doing everything yourself. You start by being the one who not only owns the business but runs the business by being the person who procure the goods, be the sales person, be the digital marketer, the accountant and the delivery person. As you grow, you then decide to acquire staff and delegate accordingly. The knowledge of being so many things at the beginning of the business helps you understand your staff, relate with them and guide them accordingly to discharge their duties the best way. I have also found out that it’s easy to get staff who are loyal to you when you sincerely care about the well-being of your staffs. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Sincere love and care has been a great tool in building my team.

Nelly Agbogu of Healthy Nellies

Yes, as a small business owner one needs to have staff, but what I ensured was that each staff was based on NEED. Until I was sure we couldn’t cope, we bring in a new staff based on our requirements and make sure they could justify the hire.

Kris Oziofu Ero of WellBabyNG

I was honest with myself at the beginning; I knew I was not ready to carry the burden of building a permanent team so to speak. Instead, what I did and still do is work with volunteers and contract staff. Even then, I find that I still get to do a lot of the work. At this stage, I can’t afford not to be on top of things.

Oyinlola Adekogbe of Jedi & Co LTD

I have been really lucky in that regards, I have always hired people who join our team seamlessly. I think the most important thing in hiring as an entrepreneur is been able to sell the vision, once they are invested in the vision, it’s easier to work together.

Adaora Mbelu-Dania of Trellis Group & Socially Africa

For most entrepreneurs, at the start up phase of your business, you usually have to assume an operational role in addition to your client facing responsibilities. However, as you grow you can start to take a back seat on operations. For our business, even though we aren’t a start up, I am very involved in hiring staff and team building, because our business is built around people to people relationships. Our people are our product. In the past, I have hired for values and trained for skill, and it has worked to some degree. However, I learned that hiring for skill and values is a much better approach to having the right people. The former is an easier route especially when you don’t have the funding to hire a certain type of people, but in practicality it becomes difficult for you to focus on your key role as a founder. Now, I only hire for skill and values – not one or the other.

Bunmi Arinbola of Elewa Foods

No man is an island. We always need help and wisdom in knowing when to reach out for it. The team you get is a reflection of how you value your business. A start-up business can manage without a team until you know there is a need for expansion. Building a team is not such a challenge for me. I have a solid HR Background, (and run an HR Consulting +Events Management outfit alongside Elewa) which means I know set criteria to look out for while filling roles. However, after hiring a good employee, you have to ensure they remain. It does no good to find the right person and then treat them so poorly they are looking for a way out within six months.

Olatorera Oniru of

Building the right team matters greatly. The wrong people can pull a company backwards just as the right team can pull a company forward significantly. At, I have learnt to hire right, train hard and give very limited chances. As is growing to be a foremost fashion retailer in Africa, our employees simply have to be the very best. Either from their educational background, their work experiences or they must be extremely sharp and fast-learners with the zealousness to work hard and strive to be greater. I tell my employees “I want you to be greater than me and yes you can.” We have a great team at and are constantly looking to hire the smartest graduates with work experience of 3 years or less.

Olamide Smith of Sweet Indulgence

No serious business owner can do everything , especially because of the nature of this business you need to build a team of staffs that are not only there to work but are also passionate about what they do . This has not been an easy ride but I have to keep going and stay focused and optimistic

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