Ayobami Olaniyi is the founder/CEO of Bellgold Travel Services which specializes in travel and visa consultancy. He shares his thoughts on entrepreneurship and co-working.
Tell us about yourself:
My Name is Ayobami Olaniyi, from Oyo State. I am a graduate of Geology by academic qualification (from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology), an entrepreneur, an Immigration/Travel and Visa Consultant by professional certification and practice.
How did you start your company:
I started Bellgold Travel Services, shortly after I deliberately resigned from my previous travel company where I was a paid employee. I had this great passion of changing the way visa consultancy was been done in the Nigeria Travel Industry, and I could only achieve that through my own platform/organization, so I decided to launch out by using the experience that I had gathered over the years with a mix of my innovative ideas and perception of the right way visa consultancy should be.
What was your key force to become an Entrepreneur:
Passion, Vision and Redefining the scope of visa consultancy in Nigeria. I want this company; Bellgold Travels to become a leading Travel company in Nigeria, and an example for others to follow our way of transparent consultancy. I saw a need for change in the Nigeria Travel Industry, and I decided to kick-start that CHANGE.
Starting a company in an environment like ours is quite challenging, share some of the challenges you encountered when you started your company:
The Nigeria Travel Industry is primarily filled with “many fraudulent agents” however we still have some few and good ones around, but winning and convincing clients (especially those that had previous bad experience with some fraudulent travel agents) was a major challenge to me. It is really challenging making client understand that Bellgold Travels is different from the regular Nigeria Travel company/Agent they know. Also, marketing was another challenge, as you need financial resources to have strong marketing channels and during start-ups, that financial resource is not always available.
Share some of your failures and the best lessons you’ve learned from been an entrepreneur:
“I choose not to term any experience as failure but a process of learning”. So, I have learnt that time management is key to become a great entrepreneur. Also, I have learnt that people are different (at times wanting to play smart), and complex in dealing with in business. Also, I have learnt the art of competition and that competitive advantage/strategy must be a strength an entrepreneur should leverage on.
What would you say is your greatest entrepreneurial achievement to be proud of:
Well I am still achieving more (by His grace) but my achievement is always seeing my client’s visa getting approved and their travel dreams getting fulfilled.
What do you think is the best approach for a startup to scale up?
Having a focus, right motive, good time management, discipline and good financial planning
What are the key principles you follow to build successful customer relations and retention?
Well I don’t joke with my first meeting with a client, I memorize all my client names and call them by their names. I don’t forget details about our last discussion. My client’s issue stays in my heart, so I consult to them from my heart. I let them see that I have a solution to their travel related problem from our first meeting (and that alone retains them, because everyone is looking for a problem solver). Also creating the best first impression with a prospective client would make them come back to you. Most importantly I offer my consulting services with integrity and professionalism.
What is your typical working day like?
I work 8am to 5pm every day i.e. Monday-Friday in the office (except if offering special service for client to the embassy or submission centers).
How do you unwind to relieve yourself of the stress of being a CEO?
I read a lot, so I relax my mind from stress by reading articles, motivational/spiritual books and listening to songs.
What is your view about co-working hubs?
Co working hubs is a great innovative and office support approach for start-ups and established companies. Workbay is really offering a great service in this regard, and I would say Workbay team is really supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
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