Felicia Ogumah is the brains and strength behind Feligold Food and Spices, a food company based in Warri, Delta State that began in October 2019. They package and sell food items like dry fish, crayfish, prawns, melons and local spices. Felicia’s business skill is something that has been cultivated since childhood. She says, “I grew up selling. At the age of 12, I was already selling. I think it is something that is a part of me. My friends tell me ” Feli there is nothing you can not sell. Even if they package stick and give you, you will sell.”
This article covers Felicia’s experiences running Feligold food and spice and valuable lessons you can take away from it.
Warning: Checking Felicia’s Facebook and Instagram page, will make you buy something.
What is the inspiration behind Feligold Food and Spice?
It, first of all, came as an insight, an inspiration from God. When I first started, it was something I really just wanted to do with everything that I have and am. God was stirring it in my heart to do it and so far it has been very profitable. God has been involved in the sourcing to get my products. I had no level of experience, I had no one putting me through, I did not go for any offline or even online training on Food and Spice. Divine connection came in. God was strategically connecting me to people. In fact, I am amazed!
For now, we ship to Benin, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Anambra. We have even shipped to a customer in Europe. That particular customer contacted me through Instagram. In fact, I get most of my customers online. The lockdown affected us because most of my clients are outside Delta State. When the roads were eventually opened, the cost of the way-bill was high. Doing business right now is not the way it was before the virus. I pray everything goes back to normal”
From her business experience with Feligold Food and Spice, Felicia has three major business tips.
Have a good reason for starting your business. Don’t go into the food business only because you think it is something that must sell. Everybody is into food business now. You have to have a passion for it and know why you started. It is important to know your why!
Be focused. If it is just crayfish you want to sell, put all your effort into selling that crayfish. Don’t jump into doing everything at once. Pick one thing and try to get the best out of it before moving to something else.
Be known for something. Let people know you for something. If you choose to do something, let it be something people identify you with because you are passionate about what you are doing.
When starting a business, it is important to know that entrepreneurship is a growth process that you ease into, rather than rush in. There are a lot of processes that are often skipped with the hope that things will turn out well. Sometimes they don’t!
Because of this, we can’t skip crucial processes and expect success to fall on us like ripe cherries. Success in business naturally comes to people who have paid their dues in full. If you’re experiencing serious issues with your startup and you’re considering quitting altogether and getting a job, I think you should too. Yes! You read that right, QUIT!
We have a lot of half-baked, unskilled and rebellious entrepreneurs all over Africa today who are frustrated with their full-time jobs. They escape into entrepreneurship hoping to find some solace for their undisciplined minds. Truth is, if you can’t handle a job successfully, then a business would be harder.
A lot of entrepreneurs need to swallow their pride, dust their CVs and go get themselves some more training. A lot of the issues we face as startup business owners can be prevented if we are humble enough to stay somewhere and learn.
Why are you starting a business? Think about this for a moment before you read on and be sincere with yourself. Are you starting a business because you don’t have a job or because you can’t stand working for someone else? Is it that you want your own work schedule and no instructions?
These are wrong motivations for entrepreneurship. So, before starting your business, take the time to objectively define your true motivation. Is there a passion you have that you cannot fulfill your current job?
2. You will Master Your Skill and Hone Your Craft
When you’re just starting out in business, you don’t always know everything you need to know about your target market, products and industry. Running a business is not the time for trial and error else you would have ruined your reputation while still trying to gain grounds.
But if you take on a job, you will have superiors that can correct you when you make mistakes and they can help you get better. Just make sure you get a job in an industry that can enhance your knowledge and exposure in your field. You will never be able to quantify or pay for the volume of experience you will get from there.
3. You Will Build Confidence
Have you ever met the CEO of an organization jittering in the face of a problem or challenge? Entrepreneurs are bold people and their confidence has a way of winning others over to their side and inspiring trust in their employees and clients. This confidence arises from the experience and knowledge they have acquired over the years.
That boldness doesn’t just drop on anyone, it is built over time of making mistakes, being corrected and taking to corrections. You need that confidence to run a business successfully and you can get that from your job.
5. You Save For Your Startup
Savings is one of the biggest sources of funding your startup. With a job, you can save enough initial funds and deposits to get your business started. If you’re smart and disciplined enough, you can join a co-operative society so your savings accumulate and give you access to more funds.
6. Build your Network
A lot of entrepreneurs run a one-man show without external influences and inputs coming from anywhere. While doing your day job, you can start building solid relationships with your superiors and associates. Their inputs will come in handy when you eventually start your own business.
Having a skill is not enough reason to start a business which is what most entrepreneurs do nowadays. Once they acquire a skill, they open a business immediately. There are also other key areas you need to put into consideration before launching your business.
Those areas include your target market, industry trends and competition. Then a good knowledge of your products and services and other opportunities that might be open in your field. Take your time. You can get it right once and for all
8. Learn how to build a business or how not to.
Running a business is an art that must be learned if you are ever going to make it. You need to learn from people that have gone ahead of you and organizations that have achieved what you’re hoping to achieve someday.
You will also be able to learn the inside operations, behind the scene activities, financial and people management that goes into running a business. While learning, if you discover any great idea you love, imitate it.
But if you come across an uncomfortable experience that opposes how you think things should be done for instance the way the management deals with staff, then at least you would have learnt how not to handle things when you start your own business.
Many entrepreneurs are undisciplined in the way they handle their businesses. They see entrepreneurship as an opportunity for less work and to work anytime they like. I wish that is true but it’s not.
Entrepreneurship means more work and more discipline than a regular worker. Your 9-5 job is where you get the basics of personal and organizational discipline.
10. Law of Karma
Lastly, while doing your job make sure you are faithful. Do it wholeheartedly and give in your all. Don’t reserve your best until when you start your own business. Use your best ideas. Use your creativity. You’re sowing a seed you will reap very soon when you start your own business.
Take to corrections and watch out for subtle things that can cause your downfall. A lot of businesses are failing today because of the wrong seeds their owners have sown while working with other people. Remember the law of Karma and always ask yourself, would I want someone to do this to my business?
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Dear Motherland Mogul, anyone who said starting a business is fun and easy told a fat lie and worst still, have never started a business.
One of the biggest hurdles an entrepreneur in Africa (or anywhere in the world) has to cross is the hurdle of financing their business. It’s the reason why many fabulous and potential million dollar ideas die every day or remain mere ideas.
Like it or not, money is everything in an entrepreneurs world. Without it, ideas are buried and passions are watered down while frustrations set in, making even the strongest of personalities call it quits and go back to their corporate jobs.
I’ve come up with 8 innovative ideas you can use to fund your startup without necessarily borrowing money. Depending on your situation and kind of business, you’ll find at least one or two you can apply immediately to get your business running.
1. Sell your valuables
Yes! You saw that right. If you’ve been struggling with acquiring funds to finance your startup and nothing seem to be working, maybe it’s time then to look inwards.
Search your house thoroughly for any valuable item that could fetch you a fortune when you sell…that gold wristwatch, expensive jewelry, MacBook, or iPod, whatever.
It’s time to let them go for the bigger stuff. If you aren’t ready to get rid of these precious items to make your ideas work, then it doesn’t matter what you say, you are not ready for business! Or better still, you are not convinced about your ideas.
Entrepreneurs are people that can give everything including their lives for something they believe in. That is one skill you need to survive in this overcrowded business space.
2. Dip into your savings
This is what your savings are meant for: to invest in opportunities and ideas that can transform your life and change your world. Your savings are not meant for spending, fixing urgent situations or paying debts.
You can have separate savings for that but primarily we save to invest. Just in case you don’t have any savings, you might want to take some time making some money at first. So try to get a job where you could work for some time and save before starting your business.
3. Your Rich Friends
What big money is to you is nothing to some of your rich friends. You know this is true. Instead of dying in silence and wondering if they will be willing to help you, swallow your ego, take the bold step and pitch your ideas to them.
You’ll never know if they’ll support you unless you ask. If one rich friend says no, walk up to another until all of them have said no and at that point, you know something else is wrong. Maybe something that has to do with your approach or the feasibility of your ideas.
Your friends should be willing to help you make your dreams come true especially when they can. After all, what are friends for?
4. Crowdfunding from family and close relatives
Crowdfunding is a good fundraising alternative for entrepreneurs. It involves raising a small amount of money from a large number of people. Crowdfunding can be done through online platforms.
The best people to start fundraising from are your family and relatives. You can start by listing down all those who can potentially fund you and write down how much you think they can conveniently donate.
Once you’ve located your potential donors, go reach out to them. Pitch your ideas so that they know what you’re capable of doing. For some other family members, you can ask to instead borrow money and then pay as your business yields profits.
5. Leverage on funding opportunities
Governments, NGOs and other private and public bodies are providing support to entrepreneurs all over Africa. Since more people are participating in entrepreneurship, these bodies come up with initiatives and CSR projects to provide financial support to budding entrepreneurs. Be sure to leverage these opportunities when they show up.
Other funding opportunities include idea-pitching events. For example, the upcoming SLA Accelerator gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their ideas. Then the top selected ideas get to win large sums of money, partnerships, and mentorship.
Such events provide you an opportunity to not just fund your business when you win, but also learn from your mistakes if you lose. In the end, it’s a win-win situation where you get to build on your ideas either way.
Regardless of the kind business you run, a partnership is a smart way of funding your startup. Strategic partnerships will not only afford you funds, but also help you leverage the experience, expertise, resources, and network of the other party.
Just make sure you go about it the right away and involve a legal personnel in all your dealings and agreements.
7. Microloans and peer-to-peer lending
While I always discourage small businesses from starting up with loans, at times, that might appear to be the wisest step to take. Microloans are small business loans offered by microlenders to help small or relatively new businesses finance their business.
As a new business, you might not qualify for a bank loan because of the collateral requirements and others. But with microloans, you can get your business started without acquiring too many debts or paying high-interest charges.
Similarly, peer-to-peer lending is a new debt financing method that provides a platform where lenders are connected to borrowers. You don’t need a financial institution for a p2p lending. The interest rates are also at an all-time low and less risky and safer than other methods.
8. Angel and seed investors
Angel/seed investors are wealthy and affluent individuals who provide a business startup with capital or funds usually for a convertible debt or ownership equity in return.
Most small business owners don’t buy into this idea of business funding. This is because it involves sharing their business ownership with another business even if it’s a small percentage. However, you will consider this option when you think of the bigger advantage, to you as an individual and to your business as an entity.
No amount of funds will cover up for your incompetence, ignorance or poor products and services. At the same time, nobody will be willing to invest their money in a business you’ve not invested adequate time and effort into.
Test your ideas. Hone your craft. Know your industry. Understand your target market. Study your competitors. Identify trends. Research. The goal isn’t 100% perfection but at least do so much background work that anybody will want to invest in your idea. Life is not a dress rehearsal, neither is running a business.
So before you go about looking for funds to finance your business. Ask yourself one very vital question? “Is your idea worth investing on?”
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