I started my catering and hospitality business in 2007 to make a meal of “Moin-Moin” (local bean cake). My first clients were limited to family and friends. We hawked our product from one client to another.
We didn’t have a clear strategy and what we sold was not commensurate with the effort we were putting in. We found that we couldn’t make enough money just selling “Moin-Moin” so we also started catering for small events.
Our two main challenges were location and cash flow. Location was a problem because we cooked from my kitchen at home. Initially, this wasn’t much of an issue until we started getting bigger orders. My kitchen became too small, and we had to turn down a few large orders. At other times, we had to contract additional staff that cooked all night in my house! There was no privacy and I knew I was pushing the goodwill and patience of my family beyond acceptable limits. Yet the 10,000 Women program had fired us up for growth!
Through 10,000 Women, I realized that not everyone could be my client-“market segmentation” they called it. So, I began choosing my clients. As a policy, we started receiving payments in advance. A key lesson for me is that being predictable in terms of quality and service delivery increased our brand equity and ability to negotiate better payment terms with our clients.
We have experienced tremendous growth after attending 10,000 Women. We have increased our client base and now focus on high net worth customers who pay in advance for services. From a humble beginning of 20 guests per order, we now regularly serve 750 guests per order, often three times a day! Since graduation, monthly turnover has increased more than tenfold!
When I started, I was the only staff. Now I have ten permanent staff, including an accountant, and we also hire up to 60 temporary workers from time to time depending on the orders we have.
We recently acquired a used delivery truck, which gave us control over delivery. We were also able to lease an apartment with a large kitchen- so we finally separated my residence from the business. A BIG relief for everybody!
In 2011, we relocated and opened our first restaurant and kitchen in Gbagada (Lagos mainland) and we are already planning for our second restaurant in a high brow area of Lagos Island (Ikoyi).
Giving back to the community is important to me and we now offer free meals to prisoners once a month.
My future goal is to continue our expansion and make the ‘No Leftover’ brand a household name.
Learn more on how you can grow your business like Ayodeji through the 10000 Women Program
Here is to your Success in Growing your Business
Photo & Content Courtesy of Goldman Sachs