Criticisms, feedback important in business
Olabisi Taiwo is the Chief Executive Officer of Redrose and Lily Aso Ebi. She tells TOFARATI IGE about her business
What services does your business render? We source for, fund and deliver ‘aso ebi’ (uniform clothing for guests at special events) for all occasions such as weddings, birthdays, graduations, anniversary and funerals.
Also, we add uniformity and glamour to people’s occasions and take the burden off our clients by helping them to buy, distribute and collect money for ‘aso ebi’ from their guests.
As the CEO of your company, what are your responsibilities?
My responsibilities are to ensure that customers are satisfied and they get real value for their money from the point they contact us till we deliver what they want.
What is your educational background?
I had my elementary and secondary school education in Badagry, Lagos. I went on to study History and Diplomatic Studies at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State. I also have a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos.
Do you have any corporate work experience?
I have never had any corporate work experience. I have always been business oriented and I love to serve people. Entrepreneurship has been my passion since I left school.
How long have you been in business?
While in school, I used to buy and sell things. So, after graduation, I started buying and selling on a bigger scale. I started running errands for people who were having parties or any kind of occasion. I was the go-to person when people needed any items on the island. However, one day, one of my friends advised me to start charging people a fee for my services. I then decided to create a business and make a living out of my passion.
What motivated you to start your own business?
I like to serve people. Some people don’t like stress, and they don’t have the strength for all the drama that comes with shopping for a party. I then basically decided to take the stress off people by running their errands for them while they sit in the comfort of their homes and offices.
What are the major challenges you’ve faced in the course of running your business?
I have had different types of challenges. But, the major one that really hit me was when a wedding was cancelled. At that time, I had already shopped and ordered for lace materials to be delivered. It was a tough period for the business.
How do you advertise your business?
I advertise mainly using social media. Also, referral is a very strong point for our advertising because we are in a business that makes people happy. I believe that one satisfied customer could lead to three or five new jobs.
Have you ever thought of quitting and seeking paid employment?
Not for once. (My business) is something I have passion for and could even do without being paid.
Is your business registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission?
Yes, it is. We have customers abroad because Nigerians in the
Diaspora also like to wear their aso ebi during special occasions.
How profitable is the business?
Profit (in this line of business) is neither fixed nor stable. At times, one would make profit and at other times, one would just do the job for the sake of getting referrals.
What other skills do you possess? I can cook and decorate events.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the next five years?
I consider myself a global citizen, so I see me and my brand serving and meeting people’s needs globally with the aid of the Internet.
How many employees do you have?
I currently have five employees, ranging from the field and operational staff to dispatch riders, customer service persons and social media managers.
What would you say is the most influential factor in your business’ success?
My passion for service and making people happy is what keep me going.
If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out in business, what would it be?
Keep living your dream. Don’t give up on your dream even when it’s not looking like it would come to pass. You should also be open to offering free service. An American writer, Napoleon Hill, once said, “The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid more than he does”. You should also listen to feedback and criticism because they would make you better.