By Julie Ibok
Esther Amadi Valentine is a graduate of Computer Science from the University of Wollongong, Australia. She's an entrepreneur and business advisory consultant.
In this interview, she talks about her career story as a business consultant and what you need to do when you want to start a new business.
Why did you make the career change from Computer Science to Business Consulting?
The women in my family have always excelled in business, and I was taught to see business ownership as a path to financial freedom. So, I knew I would engage in business. It was only a matter of when?
I chose representing manufacturers and the consulting business because it enabled me to combine the various aspects of businesses I enjoy doing.
What difficulty did you encounter starting your consulting business?
Our business includes representing international manufacturers in regions where they'd like to create an awareness about their brand for eventual market dominance. Most of the problems we encounter are convincing clients about a brand.
Some of the brands, we now represent are major players in the perfume, cosmetics, and wine industries with interest in dominating the African market in the next five years. The kinds of difficulty we encounter with this sort of business in Nigeria includes delays in the trademark and NAFDAC registrations and exorbitant fees for permits.
Other challenges are high costs of import duties, the absence of straight forward processes for clearance of goods and high staff turnover arising from finding educationally qualified candidates. Many candidates are usually ill equipped for employment.
What steps are you taking to make your business consultancy more competitive?
Staff training, proper warehousing and storage facility.
How do you deal with competitors?
Our competitive advantage is that the authenticity of our products are verifiable, dropshipping opportunities and the price points we offer. By virtue of our alliances with manufacturers, the middle men are eliminated and we are able to offer great prices on popular internationally recognised branded products.
What advice do you have for women, who are still contemplating having their own business?
I'll advise that you make sure your prospective business will solve a problem. Start where you are and start small but start with a plan.
When you start a business, you will struggle in some aspects. Learn on the job and make mistakes. If your initial investment in the business is greatly affected by many of the unexpected issues that may arise from running a business in Nigeria, you can easily recover and use the wisdom acquired from that small startup experience to make better judgment to grow your business.
Above all, no matter your pace or what the competition is, keep offering great customer service; keep believing and do not give up just yet because it is possible.
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