Being laid off can be a traumatic experience that comes with financial and emotional challenges. It can create uncertainty about the future and lead to feelings of rejection, low self-esteem, and depression.
In this interview, Juliana Adu, a successful Ghanaian businesswoman, shares her story of overcoming the trauma of being laid off to transitioning from being a laid-off marketing executive at a multinational company to starting her own business.
Tell me about yourself and what inspired you to start your own business.
My name is Juliana Adu, a successful Ghanaian businesswoman and a proud mother of two. Before I ventured into business, I had a flourishing career as a marketing executive at a multinational company, where I quickly climbed the corporate ladder.
As a high-performing professional, I enjoyed the benefits of my job – a comfortable salary and an active social life. However, my world was suddenly turned upside down when I was unexpectedly laid off due to corporate restructuring.
Despite feeling lost and unsure of my next steps, I knew I needed to find a way to support myself and my family. Unfortunately, job opportunities were limited, and competition was fierce.
It was during this challenging time that I discovered my entrepreneurial spirit. I had always been fascinated by business and possessed a natural talent for spotting opportunities, but the nature of my previous job had limited my ability to pursue my passion. However, the China Mall presented itself as a potential goldmine, with a wide variety of affordable goods that could be resold for a profit.
Sorry about that.
Don’t worry. It’s fine.
That’s in the past now, and have relieved the experience.
How did you handle being laid off, and what steps did you take to navigate that difficult phase of your life?
I was overwhelmed with shock and disbelief upon hearing the news of my layoff. The company had been my home for years, and I had put my heart and soul into my work. The sense of betrayal and disappointment was difficult to ignore.
In the aftermath, I experienced a whirlwind of emotions. Anger, frustration, and sadness consumed me. I felt a profound loss, not just of my job but of the routine, stability, and identity that came with it.
However, I quickly realised that I had a choice to make. I could give in to despair or use this setback as a springboard for change. I chose the latter.
With determination fueling me, I began to explore my options. Given the economic climate and limited opportunities, I knew that finding a similar job in the same industry would be difficult.
That’s when I discovered the China Mall and saw its potential.
I’m glad you bounced back. How does this whole reselling from China Mall work?
It is very simple yet effective. I would visit the China Mall regularly to search for popular and in-demand products that were not only affordable but also of good quality. These products ranged from clothing and accessories to household items and electronics.
Once I found products that would sell well among my network and customers, I created engaging content for them. This involved taking or downloading high-quality pictures of the products, whether at the mall or online, and using my marketing skills to promote them.
To get my selling price, I added my profit margin to the product cost. I then accepted orders and payments throughout the week and visited the mall every Friday to purchase the items for delivery to my customers through courier service on weekends.
This simple yet effective approach allowed me to start my business with no capital and gradually grow my customer base. By focusing on popular products that met my customers’ needs and desires and using my marketing skills to promote them effectively, I was able to build a successful business.
What challenges have been in your entrepreneurial journey, and how did you overcome or navigate them?
Building this business at the start was a challenging but rewarding journey. While doubts and fears lingered in the back of my mind, I refused to let them overpower my determination. I put in long hours, tirelessly learning more about the market, trending products, and what products potential customers would love. Initially, my family and friends were my primary customers, and their feedback helped me refine my offerings.
There were moments when some products didn’t sell as well as I had anticipated, and these posed challenges along the way. However, there were also days filled with joy and a deep sense of fulfilment when customers praised my products and became loyal. With each obstacle, I learned valuable lessons and used them as stepping stones to improve my strategies.
One of the ongoing challenges I face is logistics. Dealing with riders to deliver packages to customers can be stressful. I shouldn’t talk about experiences I have had with riders because I might easily get pissed.
Haha, please calm down. What are some of the achievements and moments of growth that make you proud as an entrepreneur?
My greatest accomplishment has been successfully building a profitable business from the ground up. While the journey hasn’t been easy, I’ve been able to build a loyal customer base and expand my product range to offer a diverse selection.
This growth has allowed me to reinvest profits into the business and explore new ventures.
What are your future goals for your business?
They aren’t future goals now because I have now started working on what used to be my future goals for the business.
While I used to focus solely on reselling products from China Mall, my business has evolved to importing large quantities of diverse products from China. I now offer these products for others to resell or restock their retail shops.
With the help of my son, we are building an e-commerce platform and also targeting the university market. They are the next generation of consumers, so it is best to catch them young, and that group will be part of our primary audience for the e-commerce platform.
Moreover, I am currently developing a cohort-based program to empower women who have been laid off by sharing my knowledge and experience on how they can start a business. Every woman has the potential to become a successful entrepreneur, and I am committed to supporting and mentoring them along their journey.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business, whether it’s a reselling business or not?
If you’ve been laid off, don’t let it discourage you. It can be tough on your confidence and self-esteem, but instead of letting it define you, view it as an opportunity to pursue something new and exciting. Sometimes setbacks can lead to great opportunities.
If you plan to start your own business, you need to assess your skills and interests. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and think about what you enjoy doing. It’s important to choose something you’re passionate about, which plays to your strengths, as starting a business requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
Before launching your business, it’s crucial to research the market and understand what your potential customers need and want. This will help you tailor your business to meet their needs and increase your chances of success.
Start small to minimise risks and learn as you go. Testing the waters with a small-scale operation is a great way to gain experience and refine your business model.
Lastly, surround yourself with support. Starting a business can be a lonely and challenging journey, so having a support system in place is important. Seek out mentors, friends, and family members who can offer advice and encouragement when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and remember that there’s strength in numbers.