Hello Smartpreneur! Welcome to the first edition of our SmartPreneur COVID-19 Question and Answer series. This is a series that takes an indepth look at how Nigerian entrepreneurs are staying in the business game inspite the pandemic. Today, we look at the chat we had with a vibrant and radiant entrepreneur in the creative industry, Lisa C. Ajala, Creative Director of Dexign Culture.
What’s the name of your business and what do you offer?
Dexign Culture. We help businesses communicate their brand messages, clearly, cohesively and effectively through design.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the running of your business?
I would say we are one of the few businesses that didn’t suffer a lot of shocks because before the pandemic hit, we already adopted a flexible working schedule that allows a better part of our team to work remotely. However, business has been a bit slow from our corporate and foreign clients, but on the bright side, we have experienced a boom in business owners requesting a Rebrand, as most business owners are home now and using this period to re-strategize for post-Covid. Overall I believe we will be able to pull through.
How is your business adapting to the changes imposed by the pandemic?
Firstly, some of our clients are foreigners and we started to see a shift in behavior weeks earlier before Nigeria enforced the lockdown so we had started to plan for the eventuality that the virus got into our country. During a crisis, people tend to prioritize spending on only what they deem essential, in order to stay ‘top of mind’ we sent and continue to send our clients reassuring messages, and offered a discount across all our services. Secondly, We decided to launch our online store (www.dexignshop.com) earlier than planned, to cater for the design needs of smaller businesses during this time, our store offers a wide variety of design templates from board meeting presentations, to animated social media posts, using a relatable software (PowerPoint) for as low as $1 per template. To enable them to make more sales through engaging design and reduce cost in the best way we know-how. Lastly, we are constantly checking up and prioritizing the mental health and well-being of our team members to ensure that they are not overwhelmed with work or the amount of negative energy we see all over the media.
What challenges have you encountered as a business?
Honestly, we have a lot of pending payments and some of our biggest clients are silent.
What measures have you taken to tackle these challenges?
At the moment we have offered discounts to encourage patronage which has worked better than expected. We are about to start an aggressive marketing for our store (www.dexignshop.com) which we hope will generate income for the company.
Are you aware of the various funding programmes being made available for SMEs?
The only funding opportunities I have come across are loans. Other than those, no, I’m not aware.
Do you have any intentions to apply for any?
I don’t believe that it would be a wise financial decision to take one now, as we honestly cannot predict how things would go post-covid. We have managed to maintain minimal overhead costs and we intend to keep them that way until the economy has stabilized.
We understand that the pandemic is on the minds of everyone, how are you currently engaging with your existing customers to hold a place in their hearts?
As I said earlier we send reassuring messages to our clients and offering discounts across all our services. We also offered free design services for all COVID educational materials to our repeat clients. We know it’s nothing personal and we are all in this together and we are doing everything we can to bring positive energy in these bleak times.
What lesson(s) (business-wise) have you learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Investing as a business is very important. People work better when they know you have their back and having a good relationship with your clients will ensure that they consider your business a priority even in trying times.
Post coronavirus, what are the first things you need to do as an entrepreneur?
Survey the economic situation, brainstorm with my team on how best we can position the company to stay profitable and evolve where necessary to avoid being left behind, because the one thing we are sure of post COVID is everything is going to change.
How do you see the future of business in Nigeria shaping up post-COVID-19, particularly in your business sector?
In the creative sector I believe that more people are going to want to do more things themselves, so staying ahead will also involve equipping them with the necessary tools to do so.