Sylvia Udemeh is helping small and medium enterprises flourish through her passion and the use of technology. In this interview, she takes us through her amazing journey of entrepreneurship and how she has been able to consistently ‘feed her focus’.
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
Sylvia Nnenna Udemeh is the 24 year old brain behind First Renaissance Associates; a consulting and advisory firm offering tailor made financial, HR and IT solutions to entrepreneurs and SMEs in Nigeria. I am responsible for creating human-centered innovations and solutions that support Entrepreneurs who have small businesses.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you chose to be one?
Being a female entrepreneur is an amazing journey; especially in a male-dominated society. Truthfully, an increasing number of women globally are changing the world of work by becoming business owners and employers of trade.
At age 19, I started an event management company while I was still in school, but the focus was much more than making money. It was really about understanding the needs of people and looking for the best way to satisfy them. This also helped me improve my project management and interpersonal skills. However, being a successful female entrepreneur really means that you know the value of your service offerings and you offer them to customers in an excellent way. This is what separates you from others.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
Peculiarity: The art of Individuality is always exciting because we get to work on new projects all the time. As a typical millennial, it’s always easy to get bored with routines. Thus, I decided that although clients may be from similar industries, we would support them by leveraging on the uniqueness of their ideas and business offerings.
Every client has a tailor-made integrated solution, hence the need for me to be on top of my game with innovation.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
My passion is to support small businesses and see that Africa produces world class entrepreneurs. As a consultant, communication is everything. You need to listen to the client’s original ideas before you can effectively support them. I also do a lot of reading, research and field trips just to get inspired and get access to new global trends. As we provide tailor-made solutions, I always ensure my team is updated and always ahead of the game.
As such, I would say my passion, communication and research has helped me with my success so far.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
Equally in the workplace, women are looked as weaker, less competent and unable to handle big projects. However, I do not think there are any unique challenges for female entrepreneurs except for the fact that women in general need to step out of their comfort zone, stretch beyond the status quo and start taking giant strides.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
My core values and principles are Excellence, Integrity, Honesty and Passion.
Excellence; because If it has to be done, it must to be done well
Integrity; because my word and business etiquettes are my bond
Honesty; because people would only trust and deal with straight forward people
Passion; because I love what I do and I do it with all that I have.
Why did you decide to go in this particular line of business?
To be honest, I saw the need and I took advantage of the opportunities. I am from a family where almost everyone is an entrepreneur and has their own small business. However, one thing I realized was that, entrepreneurs have great skills to do the job and deliver to customers but were bad at managing their finances, paying their taxes, keeping record of the employees they had and managing their inventories.
I have always been people focused and this is mainly why I started a B2B type of commerce that mainly focuses on supporting people and their businesses. I understood that entrepreneurs needed to “Focus on their Focus” and still have an integrated solution that could support them with managing their finances. The use of technology is my forte and I always love to bring this in context while helping entrepreneurs develop these solutions.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and what has kept you going?
Entrepreneurs most times do not see the need why they should have an integrated suite. Only a few with foresight understand that solutions like this are needed to expand their businesses and grow them to world class standards. Most times, we engage clients using free consultations in order to help them understand the benefits and this can be time consuming.
Competition may also be an obvious challenge; hence the reason why we clearly defined our niche. I would honestly say that although big consulting firms exists, only a few are willing to journey on the road less travelled which is, supporting small businesses with basic financial and HR solutions. As such, I would say that I learn from bigger consulting firms rather than compete with them.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
Part of my five year plan is to be a global consulting brand for entrepreneurs. I’ll also love to see how these individual solutions can create collaboration and better working relationships between entrepreneurs. This is to ensure that the new generation of entrepreneurs are prepared to take on the world of work and can champion Africapitalism both in Africa and globally.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
To be successful, you need to “Focus on your Focus” and “Feed your Focus”. Embrace your uniqueness and don’t try to be in a competition with any one. Your passion is also a fuel to your success; which means you need to love what you do. It’s the extra effort that makes all the difference.