Olubunmi Khadijat Otufowora graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, as a pharmacist and she has an MBA in Marketing from University of Lagos. She worked in Globacom for 14 years and was the Head of Special Relationship Unit of Corporate sales, before she resigned to focus on her own company, BoomskySmoothies.
She shares how she started her business with Woman.NG
FROM HAVING AN IDEA TO STARTING YOUR BUSINESS, SHARE YOUR JOURNEY WITH US
I loved doing smoothies daily to the office but I never thought of it as a business. I remember colleagues saying make it a business but I thought nothing of it.
There came a time I wanted to update my CV and I needed help from a very good friend of mine. She said “the grass was not greener on the other side and that I should think of what I loved doing”. The only thing I could think of was “smoothies” and she said I should make it a business.
I had no idea how to start. Some months passed and my sister wanted to have a party and I suggested that I could do smoothies and juices for the event. The acceptance of what I served that day gave me a push and that was the beginning. The next day, I did free samples to the office and my colleagues loved them. I was so excited. So a week later I sent a message out to my colleagues to place their orders and we have been blending and juicing since that day.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO? THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BUSINESSES YOU COULD HAVE EXPLORED, WHY THIS?
I love fruits, so, I guess it came naturally.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW BEYOND ALL DOUBT THAT THIS IS GOING TO WORK?
After doing smoothies and juices for my colleagues at work, I shared the figures with hubby. I told him I made sales worth N12, 000 from fruits worth N3, 000. He agreed a business could be started. There was no going back after that and I had to make it work.
HOW DID YOU RAISE THE CAPITAL TO START YOUR BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY WITH THE HIGH COST OF RUNNING BUSINESSES IN NIGERIA?
I used my savings and l was lucky to receive a grant from the Federal Government of Nigeria (YOUWIN WOMEN).
HOW SOON DID YOU START MAKING PROFITS?
It took a while. It was hard work in the first year and I had not so great days and weeks but I persisted.
BRILLIANT IDEAS DON’T ALWAYS MEAN GREAT SALES, HOW HAS IT BEEN MARKETING YOUR SERVICES?
The product sells itself. I identify a place I want to stock my products and if I feel they are not listening to me, I tell them to try my best selling smoothies. Once they taste it, they call me to stock.
AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE HIRING STAFF AND BUILDING YOUR TEAM?
It has been very tough, some people see your vision and buy into it and others don’t. I am a very patient boss and I give you time because I try to see people’s individual strength. Once the attitude is wrong, and my patience has ran out, I let you go. A good number of staffs are still with me from when I started in the kitchen 9 years ago.
YOUR GREATEST SKILL/STRENGTHS THAT HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY BEEN OF HELP IN STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS
My passion (people say it is very visible), love and the vision I have for the brand keeps me going. No matter when the orders come, we deliver. For example I got an order at 12 midnight the other day and we had to deliver for 9am at Civic Centre.
DID YOU HAVE TO GET A FORMAL TRAINING OR QUALIFICATION TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS?
No, I did not.
YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS FOR SOME TIME NOW, WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISHED YOU HAD KNOWN BEFORE YOU STARTED?
How to keep proper records. It is so important.
ANY LIFE EXPERIENCE THAT HAS PARTICULARLY PREPARED YOU DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR WHAT YOU DO NOW?
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?
I believe that nothing is impossible, that I have the attitude to achieve my goals and that once I can dream it, I can achieve it.
THE GREATEST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND BY WHO?
It was a good friend of mine. I told her about the idea of doing smoothies and juices and she said “Do not cheat anyone and nobody would cheat you”.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS ESPECIALLY IN NIGERIA?
The willingness to learn. Business environment, technologies and demands change. We can’t be static, we must move with the times and strive to innovate and stay ahead of the competition
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