27-year-old women founders, or younger, are commonplace these days, mainly in the tech sector. But you would barely see someone as young as Jumoke Dada in the Furniture industry.
She’s one of the young African women disrupting the sectors hitherto dominated by the menfolk.
But like every entrepreneur, Jumoke has had her fair share of the challenges that come with running and scaling a business.
Amidst a pile of bottlenecks in Nigeria’s business climate, she has built a distinctive Afrocentric furniture company powered by modern technology and raking in millions in revenue. She achieved this in six years.
Here are some lessons to learn from the 27-year-old founder.
Take calculated risk
Starting a business is synonymous with risk, not just any risk but calculated risk. Even though her parents were opposed to her business idea, she went all in and launched her furniture company anyway.
She took a chance and used her tuition fee as start-up capital. Jumoke designed her first piece of furniture for display during her master’s program at the University of Lagos.
During the exhibition, someone liked what she did and bought it. The buyer shared a photo of the furniture on social media, and several people contacted her to inquire about purchasing more. As a result, there was an increase in patronage.
Subsequently, Jumoke began to receive referrals from her first customer, family, and friends. And with the guidance of one of our clients, a Venture Capitalist, she expanded her business.
Be disruptive with your ideas
There were a ton of furniture businesses before Jumoke launched. It didn’t seem like she had a chance of survival. But she established a new market with unique designs.
She integrated the African culture into her design. But before then, she had toured several Nigerian states to gain insights and bolster her creativity.
During her tour, she found the best way to use local materials to create outstanding furniture pieces. She later incorporated the Augmented reality (AR) experience, wherein customers can virtually walk into her showroom and inspect their choice products.
Start with whatever you have
Jumoke’s story has invalidated the usual excuse of “no capital.” Unless your father is Aliko Dangote, you’ll never have enough money to fund your business idea.
If you look inwardly enough, you’d see you have something; start with that. Jumoke said she started with three things: zero capital, a computer and her idea.
She produced her first piece from her tuition, and that single piece gave birth to the multimillion-naira company she owns today.
Know “why” you are starting your business
This is crucial. You must determine why you want to start your business: are you in it for the money, or do you just enjoy doing it and giving value?
This is because what sustains a business is doing what you love and the impact you make on society. The money you generate from it is the icing on the cake.
There will be days when little or no money will be generated in the business. If you are only in it for the money, you’re unlikely to succeed or make it far in the business.
Have the nose for opportunity
Jumoke spotted a market need in the furniture sector when she attended an interior design conference in 2016.
According to her, Nigerians had only a few alternatives for furniture. Also, the bad reputation of some local furniture makers forced many customers to either go to pricey furniture stores or order from international furniture sellers like IKEA.
From Jumoke’s research, she said found that Nigerians spent more than $8 billion annually to import furniture into the country. She leveraged this data and gave the consumers the best local alternative at a competitive price.