What do you think when you hear the word entrepreneur? Do you think about people like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote or Richard Branson? Do you think about yourself? Have you always felt that you were cut out for more than the 9 – 5 and would like to put your skills and abilities into developing your own business? Entrepreneurship is about developing your ideas into a profitable business. This is easier said than done but we can learn from those who have ‘been there and doing that.’ In our #StartUps section, we chat with budding entrepreneurs and share their stories which we can all learn from. This week we had the opportunity to interview Yuddie, the CEO of So Necessary based in Lagos, Nigeria on following her dream not only to start a business but in a country she hadn’t lived in for about a decade!
Could you tell us about your educational and professional background?
I completed a BSc. in Business Information Systems from London Metropolitan University and an MSc in International Business and Management from Westminster University. I worked in Customer Service for a large retail company in the United Kingdom while studying and for two years after graduation.
What was the inspiration behind So Necessary?
My mum is my inspiration I guess. She owned a bookshop where I worked as a teenager. I discovered that I enjoyed selling to customers and going the extra mile to meet their needs. I decided to go into the Fashion Retail sector to draw on my retail experience and because I sensed a gap in the market. Most of us love to look good but we also have to do it on a budget! I wanted to start a business where people could access quality items but at affordable prices. I started with women’s fashion because it was a market I believed I knew better. From a young age, I always knew that at some point, I would start working for myself. I like having a job but I believe in multiple streams of income and not just being dependent on a salary at the end of the month.
How were you able to raise capital to start?
I had saved up some money while working and I borrowed the rest from family members.
What were the challenges you faced?
The biggest challenge I have faced in this business is Logistics. I ship in my products from outside Nigeria and though you get good companies who can ship in within a few days, the charges can sometimes be more than the cost of the total goods you are bringing in! When importing goods, you have to deal with Customs (insert groan). We have been affected by Custom Officers going on strike, introducing further delays in delivering to our customers. The other challenge I have faced is that when you work in fashion retail, trends switch as fast as you can say ‘cheese’… Lol… This week, there are a lot of enquiries about bags, you bring them in and suddenly it is shoes they want. One has to constantly follow market trends on a regular basis, sometimes even weekly. You must know your business.
What was a mistake you made and what did you learn from it?
Hmm, I guess one mistake I made was not fully researching my market before taking the plunge to buy some items. I purchased some items which I believed would storm the market and invested heavily. Talk about…HUGE mistake. When you assume, you may make a fool of yourself. Some of those items are still in storage. It taught me that before taking a leap, research, ask questions, read, seek advice and pray.
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
There are many things you need to run a business but personally, I have found three things to be most important. God, patience and determination. You need God to strengthen you for the other two; you need patience because the most beautiful things can take a long time to develop. Do not expect that the $10 you plunged into the business today will return in double fold tomorrow. You may lose a lot before you gain a lot. You will make mistakes. Be patient, it will come. Finally, if you have no determination to see through what you know is your dream, you might as well just close shop now. People will ask you questions, friends and foes will laugh at you, you may not have customers for long periods of time. Stay determined. God never gives a dream that will die. The plan will surely come to pass.
Who are your business role models?
I know this may sound cliché but Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are some of my greatest role models. I am not a bookworm but reading their autobiographies taught me that acquiring degrees are not the only way to learn what you need to know to succeed. Having an education is very important but think about what you enjoy doing and your passion. Everyone is great at something, all you have to do is invest yourself in it. God is a great business role model. His word says He gives us the power to create wealth. When we tap into what He says on wealth and add that to hard work, there is nothing one cannot achieve.
I can be reached on:
WhatsApp/Contact Number: +234 817 940 9447
Twitter & Instagram: @sonecessary13
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