Metrowoman entrepreneur of the week
Olawunmi Olashore is the Director of Heirs and Regents, a growing real estate company and the founder of Shoré, a food and beverage company that is focused on providing nutritious and great tasting natural food and beverages without the use of refined sugars and harmful preservatives
Kindly introduce yourself
I’M a 34-year-old entrepreneur with an amazing husband and two wonderful boys
What problem does your company solve?
We are providing consumers with great- tasting, natural and healthy products for those who want a healthier lifestyle, are lactose intolerant or have other health reasons and want to consume less refined sugar
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
The business came about because I had started eating a lot of home-made snacks and drinks that didn’t contain refined sugars, thickeners, gums and harmful preservatives. My sister-in-law came visiting one evening and took some of what I made to work and sent me about eight orders the next morning. I had also noticed that we didn’t have a lot of options for that in Nigeria and the major exchange rate spikes made the imported ones majorly inaccessible.
What are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
. You have to believe in yourself because it would be difficult at the beginning to explain your idea to someone and expect the same excitement you’re feeling.
. Get great mentors from other companies you admire. This can be in person or by studying their products and their progress.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Wanting to have a perfect product before launching, which delays the product or sometimes stops a product from ever coming to life. I’ve learnt to believe in myself and let it just go out there. The consumers would give me a lot of feedback before I’ve spent all my money on something they done even want.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
It depends. Sometimes it’s days, others it is weeks, but I like to try ideas immediately on family and friends. I also find children are very honest and their feedback can be the most important.
What motivates you?
I’m motivated by my own dreams for the company. I look at the Shoré products; it motivates me to keep going. I also get great motivation from customer feedback. When someone sends a picture about how amazing the products are, it makes the hard work worth it.
How do you generate new ideas?
I try and relax every now and then and just let my mind be free. At the point, a few great and some funny ideas will come. I try them and it never comes out great the first time but with some work and adjustments, something good starts to emerge and I just keep working on it.
How far are you willing to go to succeed?
For me, I see success as my only option and I’m dedicated to it. I don’t make room for the thought of failure to sip through because I will give it my very best shot. I give everything I have to the goal and desire and that’s my only focus
What is your greatest challenge, and how do you manage it?
As with most entrepreneurs, it’s the daily sales targets and meeting the costs. There’s nothing easy about it so the constant grind is the greatest challenge but also the greatest reward.
What are your ideals?
I pray, I trust God, I believe and I focus on the goal.
How do you define success?
Success means many things to me. I celebrate small wins. I don’t wait for a huge thing before I feel successful. Being sold out everyday is success; getting great reviews is success; getting a new idea to its first stage is success; nothing went wrong in a day is success.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Like I said, celebrating small wins will keep you motivated towards bigger goals
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
My funding came from my personal funds and family, but mostly my funds. I don’t have excess funds but I made a lot of personal sacrifices to make the funds available to pursue my dreams. I find that until people have seen your sacrifices and how much effort and commitment it has cost to get a product out, then they will be interested to invest in your company. But the dream is mine so I’ll continue to keep pushing and sacrificing for as long as it takes.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
It would be Steve Jobs. He was so successful with his business and so forward thinking even when facing great challenges.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Three people inspire me. My father, Chief Jide Taiwo, who had humble beginnings but was able to build a real estate company out of nothing and also able to willingly step down and watch his company go through painful succession and is still on ground to see them through it. My mum, who is fiercely protective of her family and the people she cares about. She can give anything for her family. The third person is Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian with the audacity to dream so big and to achieve every one of them and even go for bigger ones. I look at him and I am comforted that anything is possible.
What is your favorite book?
I always say that the book "rework" is my favourite book right now. It’s just the perfect book to help me through where I am right now.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite aspect is customer feedback, good or bad. I feel it builds me and also gives me a pat on the back that Nigerians appreciate the effort against many difficulties.
What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
. Do not despise your humble beginnings
. Get the company registered and let it have its own accounts from the very beginning
. You don’t know it all, so let people critique your work and help you.
. Build some backbone. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay.
. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Celebrate small wins.
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