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A CAREER STORY FROM A SOCIOLOGIST TO A PRINTER ENTREPRENEUR: AN INTERVIEW WITH ONYINYE UCHENDU


Onyinye Uchendu 


By Julie Ibok 

Onyinye Uchendu is a graduate of sociology from the University of Uyo, Nigeria. She's a creative graphics designer, and also a certified HSE officer.

Currently, she's a printer entrepreneur. She's also the CEO of Focus Prints Services which she started in the year, 2010.

In this interview, she'll be discussing her career story as an artistry printer, and what women can take from her journey.


Tell me about how you went from being a sociologist to a printer entrepreneur?

Sincerely, I didn't plan to be a printer entrepreneur, but after my NYSC, I got a menial job with a printing company as their front desk officer. My take home was very little, so I decided to resign after six-months on the job to search for a better one.

I stayed at home for two months; moving around and looking for a good job but there was no luck. I had to ask myself some keen questions. I thought about the past experience I had from the printing outlet I worked for, so I decided to start mine. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I had to push forward--by improving myself in computer and graphics skills, which is very essential in the printing industry.

I also started doing marketing for myself as a printer by telling people I meet. I did go to companies to source for print jobs. 

Truly, the more I venture, I did realized that the printing industry is wide and still untapped. I developed passions for the services I rendered to my clients; it was at this juncture I told myself that this is where I belong--entrepreneurship!

What challenges did you encounter, when you started your Printing Outlet?

Yes, business in this era, is very challenging. Money was my major challenge when I started. I didn’t even have any savings as at then, I operated from home. 

The most challenging thing that I encountered then, was the challenge of gaining the trust of the customers. Most of them will say that printers are not reliable. Some will say the quality of the print is sub-standard.

Honestly, I had to device a means of gaining their trust. I came up with a policy: when I get a client, I'll tell them don’t pay any deposit but once I get your work done, you'll make full payment. This policy has worked for me till date. I was able to conquer that barrier of doubt.

Being a woman in the printing industry, was also challenging for me because women are rare in the printing business--men are seen more in the industry. It's quite tough though but doable.
How do you manage your clients during pressure?

Actually, I hardly have pressure at work, maybe because of how I manage my clients. When a client brings a printing job, I'll give time to deliver depending on the process it under-goes. But sometimes a client will come with a very urgent job. We give priority to such cases, as long as it’s needful. Knowing the fact that multi-tasking is very important, we devised a means to give our clients the appropriate attention they require without displeasing any.

During the pandemic outbreak what was business like?

The pandemic outbreak was not good for most business sectors around the world. And the printing industry was not an exception. It affected us because most of our clients were not operating. For example, schools, companies and churches were not functioning. We have a decline in print demands right now. These are the after effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.




Do you accommodate interns in your Printing Outlet?

Yes, I do take Interns.When they are done with their internship, I retain them and that's if they're willing to stay.

What advice do you have for women out there, who are wanting to start their own business?

I'll say believe in yourself first, because "creativity unlocks success.”

Be creative in all you do and it will surely make you stand out. Don’t be afraid of failing, because you will never be able to start until you "try." Also, be disciplined because not all roads to entrepreneurship are cosy; with God definitely you will pull through.

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