How my businesses survived COVID-19 lockdown – Anne ATS
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in 2020 affected businesses across the world and things became worse with the lockdown declared by governments to curtail the spread of the deadly disease. One of such industries affected is the fashion industry, and United Kingdom-based Nigerian entrepreneur and boutique owner, Anne Namgbeh, better known as Anne ATS, said that the lockdown period was a tough one for her business.
“Since last year, the fashion and accessories sub-sector like other businesses have greatly been disrupted by COVID-19. My business was particularly affected by this pandemic because I sell clothes, hair extensions, and accessories and we were on lockdown,” she said, in an interview with The Guardian.
“People won’t buy clothes to stay indoors so 2020 was terrible for me because no sales were coming in. Soon as the lockdown was eased, we created a massive discount for almost all our products so we could get rid of the old stock and that worked well for the business.
“Business is slowly getting back to normal as we’ve been on lockdown due to the pandemic. As you know, the United Kingdom was affected a lot by COVID, but sales are starting to come back in and business is doing well,” said the Edo State-born entrepreneur, who studied Business Administration at the De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.
Being an entrepreneur in the UK, a home away from home, means a lot to Anne ATS who said that there are a lot of takeaways operating in the British business environment.
“First, being an entrepreneur, in general, is challenging,” she continued. “It doesn’t matter where you are. The initial challenge I encountered in my business was making a profit. I didn’t make a profit for the first six months and that was very difficult for me.
“This wasn’t because I was doing something wrong; it was a new business and needed publicity. At the time I had no website, so I started selling on Facebook. I also would drive around universities and share my business cards.
“I used to tell the students they’d get a special discount if they refer one person and get more discounts if they refer two or more people. This strategy worked for me until I created my website. I still sell my products on Facebook marketplace, Instagram, my website as well as on Dogebay.
“The major lesson I have learned about doing business both in Nigeria and the UK is that it’s impossible to predict the future. We had plans to launch new products, as well as working with some major celebs last year, but the pandemic had a different plan.”
While advising aspiring, fledgling and young entrepreneurs about taking ownership of their business and how to start and grow a business into a money-making and profitable venture, Anne ATS said: “My advice for aspiring or young entrepreneurs is to challenge yourself, your biggest motivation should be to keep challenging yourself.
“Open a business you truly care about; don’t be afraid to take risks because you never know the outcome of your efforts unless you do it. Believe in yourself, whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right but believe that you can succeed and you’ll find ways through different obstacles. Have a vision and keep it clear at all times. Find good people because who you’re with is who you become.
“Plan for raising capital. When starting a business, it’s always harder to raise capital than you thought it would be, and it always takes longer, so plan for that. Learn from your mistakes, don’t feel bad if you get complaints; instead, learn from them.
Most importantly, spend wisely. When you spend money on your business, be careful to spend it wisely. It’s easy to spend too much on foolish things and run out of capital too soon.”
On the difference between running a business in the UK and Nigeria, she said: “I do think it is easier running a business in Nigeria because, for example, it’s cheaper renting a shop in Nigeria than in the UK.
“Renting a store in the UK is expensive because you must pay for rent, there’s water bill, there’s electricity bill, business rate, there’s council tax, there’s TV license, insurance and others which add to costs, so imagine starting a new business with all of the above to worry and think about.”
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