Having the right work ethics are an important part of doing business. Without them, any business will crash and burn.
Introducing our People Work column which was designed to engage entrepreneurs from all industries on various topics surrounding entrepreneurship. This week, we spoke with Temitope Mayowa Ogunyemi of XMagic Laundry on work ethics and how they have helped grow his business.
Work role – Marketing Design Head, Shèdá House.
Laptop – Dell latitude E5510.
Phone – Infinix hot 8.
Best work quote – Productivity trumps Punctuality.
First thing I do every morning – Prayer.
Best cloth to wear – Shirt on native trouser plus a pair of white sneakers.
Please tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Temitope Mayowa Ogunyemi, I work with Shèdá House and I’m into design there. Asides recording their service, I also have a podcast which is geared towards helping people providing value.
Anywhere I can help people, I try as much as I can to do so, especially startups. I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Ibadan but I haven’t found anything to use it for yet. I hope I would soon.
Do you have any plans of doing anything in the engineering line or is your degree just there?
I think the real question is, “how did I get into mechanical engineering?” My brother studies petroleum engineering at the University of Ibadan as well, so while I was trying to get in, he was just finishing. I asked him what the most difficult course is and he told me mechanical and petroleum engineering, so I went for mechanical engineering.
The reason I did that is that I was always trying to beat him. In anything he did, I was trying to always beat him. He was the senior prefect in his secondary school and I became the senior prefect also, when I got my WAEC result, I called him to compare the number of A’s we both got even though he was ill and struggling to respond.
Entering into mechanical engineering was because I wanted to achieve more than my brother did, and I think I achieved that *laughs*.
So, I don’t know how it will be, but if I am going to do anything in engineering, it will be in the software line. The reason for this is that after my degree, I went for a practical professional course and after doing it for 3 months, I discovered I wasn’t on the right path. I’m not so good with hardware and mechanical engineering is more of doing something hardware.
For us in Nigeria, we will most likely do the hard stuff like loosening bolts and all that and I wasn’t prepared for that. Though I watched many videos, it was for US guys that have easier ways of doing things. So, if I want to do anything in that line, it will be by using software like AUTOCAD and all.
Today, we are looking at work ethics and how it relates to productivity, especially within our special circumstances of covid 19 and all. So, first off, we are in the second wave of the pandemic now, how was the first wave for your business?
For me, I didn’t really feel the pandemic. I didn’t experience it because I was doing my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) then. I was serving in Abia state in a military cantonment in the barracks and it was like another world for us because we were to work from Monday to Friday, and even Saturday’s sometimes.
So, covid only affected our NYSC gathering, it didn’t affect work at all. We were the same as normal and I finished serving in August when the lockdown was called off.
I didn’t do much of business in Abia, instead, I was learning skills. I think that is what I would have been doing if covid had affected me and I was at home. That’s was where I gathered all my design skills – graphics design, UI/UX, WordPress and all that, so it was a year of learning skills for me.
Okay… For how long have you been working as an entrepreneur?
The major business I ventured into was a laundry business and I started it on campus 4 years ago. I’ve been able to keep it running till now. Before then, I did so many other things like helping people photocopy materials and so on, but laundry was my major business.
Why did you go into offering laundry services?
I didn’t choose it, it chose me. While I was on campus, a friend came to me and asked if I know how many lecturers were on campus, I asked what my business was with that and he said, “Can we find a way of billing them?”
He suggested we offer a service to them and suggested laundry services. I realised that was a good idea even though I had never thought of it before since I was majorly into the printing press then. His words really got me thinking for a long time.
When after a month or two after that discussion he didn’t mention it, I came across someone else that wanted to start that business, so I spoke with him about it and he agreed that we start it together. I returned to the guy that told me about it to let him know I was about to start it but he said he wasn’t interested because he had money.
Immediately he gave me the go-ahead, I jumped into it. It wasn’t my idea but I implemented it.
Wow. And how has it been so far? Did the covid period affect it?
As I said, I wasn’t in Ibadan during that period and I practically stopped laundry. My aim was to go to Abia state and come back because I paid for redeployment but it didn’t work out. So, I was frustrated that I had to stay there.
The whole laundry business was on hold throughout my 1-year stay in Abia state. That is why when I came back, I had to rebrand from Spotless laundry to XMagic laundry.
In your 4 years of business, what work ethics would you say had been the most important to your business growth? Which did you find useful at the start of your business and which did you add along the way?
When I first started, I was very naive even though I was reading a lot of business books. There’s a difference between reading and practising, so we were just trying to do all we could do, though we were still messing up big time.
Between August, when I started, and now, there has been a world of difference from the last few years I spent doing laundry on campus. I got to know some little things that bring productivity.
One of them is follow up. Following very hard. If every businessman can understand how to follow up very hard, it is enough to change the face of their business. Basically, what I do in terms of follow up is to disturb my customers to drop their clothes and then disturb them to pick their clothes.
The reason is that if I can achieve those two, I can achieve a lot. If I can disturb them to drop their clothes, I can get their clothes on time. And, if I disturb them to pick up their clothes, because they drop clothes they love most, once they get it back, they want to wear it and that helps me to compress the time it takes for them to drop those clothes again.
Wow, follow up was an act you realised was over important for the growth of your business
I want to go a lot more into work ethics now and I think the map I have in my head is when you started 4 years ago, the experience you had is different from what the experience is now. So, looking back, what were the work ethics that were important to you at that time, which did you lack and which did you have?
Then, I didn’t fully understand customer relationship and how to balance the relationship with customers and workers. I was in a partnership business then, I did the delivery, pick up and customer relationship and the other guy did the washing, starching, ironing, and so on.
When my customers put pressure on me, instead of me to absorb it and handle it properly with my partner, I just put the pressure on him alone. For example, if they shouted at me that the work was not done well, I would go and shout at my partner that he was not doing well. That really affected my relationship with him.
It got to a point where we had so many issues because it was all complaints every now and then. Once I got a complaint from my customers, I’ll go and complain to him, instead of us to sit and think of how to do it better.
Another thing that affected me was that after 6 months, my partner went for service so he handed the business over to his friend who was a lady. I and the lady did not agree much, so that began to affect the business. It affected it to the point that we had to break equity and that was how Spotless ended on campus just before I graduated.
Another thing I should add is that I didn’t understand how partnerships worked. Because when you are in a partnership with someone, there should be a document that dictates everything you do, but we had none.
The day we said let’s start is the day we started and that was a good work ethic because we were acting as we were thinking. That got us started.
The first job we got, it was the money for the job that we used for it, though it was a very bad job. We got 20 shirts and applied starch on them and it spoilt all the shirts. We had to get the drawback and redo it.
But we started and that was a good thing but there was no document that contained our terms and conditions, our agreement, and what shares we held in the business. I was living in my friend’s house so he was assuming that because I was using the house without rent, he was to hold a higher share in the business and we didn’t discuss it.
In his mind, he was thinking that it was 70-30, 70% for him and 30% for me and I was thinking it was 50-50. We argued and had so many issues over it. Then, I also got a grant of N100,000 that I invested in the business outrightly and he didn’t invest any money, but despite my investment, he said he still wanted 60-40.
Now, I won’t make the same mistake. In fact, I would prefer not to go into a partnership except I have a lawyer. Because when we were breaking up, I lost a lot. I had to sell my washing machine, leave my standing fans, and so on. It was a breakdown period for me because I lost a lot l, but I also learnt many lessons.
What are some of your biggest lessons so far as an entrepreneur relating to work ethics with workers customers, and vendors?
The biggest lesson is making sure that your customer is satisfied. The reason for saying that is that I would have lost many customers recently if I didn’t ask them how to go about the service. Getting feedback has helped me.
For example, there was a customer that I worked for one day and I knew that, by calculation, he should drop clothes in the next 2 weeks but he didn’t call me after 3 weeks. Instead of letting it be, I reached out to him to ask questions and he told me what I did wrong. Immediately, I explained to him what happened and what I will change, he dropped the clothes, I did those things and returned them to him and he was happy.
So, feedback is important.
How many people work with XMagic right now?
Right now, I only have 1 person that washes and starches for me. I do the ironing myself, except I need help and that’s a challenge.
Even though I enjoy doing it because I do it in the night and while doing it, I listen to podcasts, messages, and other audios and unleash my creative genius. I get so busy and learn a lot of things while ironing, but now I’m getting to a point where I’m very busy and there’s a need for growth.
I realise that if I don’t stop doing that, there won’t be growth. It will really affect the growth phase of the business. So, 2 people work with X Magic now. The other person does referrals and getting across to people.
So, let’s switch it up a bit. I believe you’ve sewn clothes with people in the fashion industry before, so, what’s your opinion of the fashion industry so far?
Let me start from the questions, “why do I sell clothes?” I started selling clothes because when people dry clean, after getting their clothes, they feel I should know where people can buy clothes from. I don’t know why they feel that way but they do.
So, I used to refer them times to other people before I thought it’ll be a good idea for me to start selling clothes to them.
For the fashion industry, I think everyone needs fashion. Everybody wears clothes. The 3 basic needs of man are food, clothing, and shelter. Nobody goes around naked no matter what they are putting on.
So, most likely, I know of people that set a yearly budget for their clothing. They know the number of clothes they buy in a month and they try to meet up with that target, which is very interesting. This means that people pay a lot of attention to fashion and tends to change over time, sometimes going back to old fashion and sometimes to new fashion.
It has been very interesting being in this industry.
Hmmm… I get. So, what was your worst experience with a fashion entrepreneur? Maybe someone that made your clothes or shoes?
My worst experience happened while I was on campus. I told a guy to make a pair of shoes for me, and you see the problem with most entrepreneurs is that when they get a job from someone they feel they have a better option for their client, so they go for the ‘better’ option rather than what their client chose.
I told him to make a particular style of shoes for me but he made a ‘better’ one for me. It was better to him but I didn’t like it. The shoes were shiny and I don’t like shiny shoes. He brought them to me thinking that I will like them but I told him to make another pair for me. Till now, I haven’t gone back there and when I think of it, I feel he just collected my money.
What I think fashion designers should do is exactly what their client requested for. That was my worst experience.
That’s interesting because a lot of designers in the industry think they know better than their client. Sometimes it’s actually quite true that maybe they know better but it’s the client that is paying and there are a lot of other factors that contribute to a client’s preferences. So, what was your best experience so far?
I’m not sure if I have a best experience. It’s just one native I like, I saw a picture somewhere and gave the designer to make that outfit for me and he made exactly what I requested for. And, till now, even though the outfit is more than 4 years old, I wear it for special events.
Wow. That’s nice. Besides the fact that people don’t usually listen to customers, what other challenges or loopholes do you see particularly relating to work ethics?
Well, another thing I see is that fashion designers, generally, don’t keep to time. I don’t know how to stretch this, but they don’t keep to time.
Someone told me recently that he has a tailor that can sew clothes for me during the festive period and when he says he will give the clothes back on Monday, he won’t exceed that time. I told him that it’s a lie, it’s not possible in this world. He said he has been working with him and trusts him.
They try to get more than they can handle so they give promises they cannot keep. I think it’s a big problem in the fashion industry and I have a big issue with that.
It’s not only you oh, I think a lot of people relate that ‘promise and fail’ thing to fashion designers. Now, to round up, how do you stock your wardrobe? Do you do one at a time and in the spur of the moment or do you prepare ahead to revamp your wardrobe at a particular time?
I’m a big fan of planning ahead, so in my schedule, I know the number of shirts, trousers, and shoes I’ll get, I also know the number of clothes I’ll sew. I divide them into months, so I know how many times I get new clothing items per month.
I don’t buy at once, for now, I buy based on my plans.
Relating to work ethics, what’s your top advice for others?
What I can say relating to work ethics is that obsession is the way. In whatever you do, be obsessed. Don’t give it 99%, give it 120%. Make your customers see that you are the best with what you do.
Personally, people around me call me by the name of whatever I do, because I must talk about it. So, when we talk to and fro, back and forth, I come back to the point of what I do.
Every time I talk, I’m making sales because obsession is just it. If you are not sold on what you are doing, you’ll be sold out of it.
Be obsessed with what you do, give it your attention and time. The more you do that, the more ideas you’ll have. Talk to people about it because sometimes people have the best ideas you need. Some of the ideas I used in my laundry business were gotten from others.
Another thing I became obsessed with was implementing. Be a fan of implementing very fast. If we discuss something today, by tomorrow I’ve done it. Asides follow up and feedback, these two are very important.
Thank you very much for sharing, it was nice having you.
You’re welcome. I really appreciate this.