Adebola SanniCitius, Altius, Fortius – Faster, higher, stronger. Those three words summarily –but powerfully – describe her. The enterprise she runs wears an identifiable but inimitable colour, pink. As the owner and manager of a profitable company, she has already risen to the top. In today’s online business however, the race is stiffer; to beat the competition, you’ve got to take a cue from the CEO of Pinkybolar.com (the highly successful online retail store). Debonair, exuding confidence and directness, the delectable Adebola Sanni – a successful entrepreneur in Nigeria – shares her success secrets with Adedayo Adejobi, revealing she can’t stop excelling
“As a Nigerian, I share the responsibility and thrill of shaping the business scene in our nation through innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration,” the Chief Executive Officer of Pinkybolar.com, Adebola Sanni, mildly reveals.
It’s a man’s world; but when it comes to successful online enterprise Sanni does it better with panache. With online retail business becoming the more the messier, Sanni’s Pinkybolar.com stands out. Where did she start? How did she do it?
‘‘I graduated from Covenant University and founded Pinkyborla.com on the 1st of January, 2007. I started this enterprise with an entrepreneurial drive and immense passion to add value. Also, I set out to meet and exceed needs through the marketing and delivery of clothing, perfumes, wristwatches, etc. I partnered with designers like Xceed, Opkins, Tomora, Clothings, and Naija Zone – all operating in Covenant University then. Soon after, Pinkybolar expanded to importing clothing from the UK and the USA for loyal customers in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Akure and Abuja,” she explains.
It however took some years for Pinkybolar to occupy its virtual space. “On the 1st of January 2011, I officially registered and launched an online store for sales of clothing, shoes, accessories, tablets, and so on. Since then, client base has grown and products range ordered has widened. I am a focused, hard-working young woman.’’
Focus, industry; there’s one more thing that gave her an edge in a business and platform fraught with devastating risks. It boils down to her love for change and technology. As a computer scientist, she’s learnt to expand her frontiers.
‘‘I have always loved change. And, technology moves with change – the trend of time. I was very inquisitive about computers growing up. So, it wasn’t news to my friends when I enrolled for Computer Science. My favorite things are: Fashion and IT. I found a way to combine all my passion on a single platform – IT.’’
Pinkybolar.com is the first Nigerian female-owned online retail store and the vision behind is to be an industry leader.
‘‘The vision behind setting up Pinkybolar as a retail company, which comprises an e-commerce platform, is to become the market leader in web-based sales of clothing, gadgets, furniture and home appliances. And also, a manufacturing arm to produce and sell affordable clothing and gadgets for international and local market. Although many internet-based companies have failed recently, the internet is still poised to support e-commerce retailers.”
By Sanni’s evaluation, “most of the dotcoms failed because of unproven business models with no true revenue streams”. Armed with that hindsight, she and her team have had the success path well cut out.
“We have overcome these problems with an easy-to-use website, mobile application, an efficient distribution system and marketing/advertising system. We have been able to lower the customer’s cost and provide top-notch customer service and support for increased satisfaction and boost customer retention. We strive to promote our brand, stimulate growth of online shopping in Nigeria – with increased efforts geared towards customer satisfaction, interaction, communication and problem resolution.’’
Revealing lessons learnt in the few years of doing business, in a place like Nigeria, where systems often do not work, she said:
“I’ve learnt some fundamental lessons in life and business that have stuck with me ever since. The most important ones are that: you must make client service a top priority; probably most important. I learned the value of really good client service, and how the relationships you build with customers can help you grow your business and make it a lot more fun. I also learned to interact with clients from all walks of life and with very different concerns. Knowing how to adapt uniquely to each situation is a life lesson I carry with me today. Another lesson learnt is: being sensitive when resolving conflicts in a way that keeps the conversation cordial and helps people accept the word ‘no’.”
Sanni added: ‘‘a key approach to my business is integrating online and offline communications; working on my appearance to create lasting impressions on people directly. More important, being consistent with my brand. In the few years I have been in business, I realized patience, dedication and open-mindedness are the key to constant improvement. Innovation and constant research are what keep the company afloat.’’
For Adebola Sanni, who grew up in Akure – Ondo state –, life as child was filled with fun, discipline, quality education and the training to fear and love God. These have over the years influenced her world view.
‘‘Making a difference everyday by showing examples of excellence, integrity, leadership and hard work are some of the things you take away from engaging with my dad when I used to work closely with him while secondary school – as his Personal Assistant. He taught me all about focus in business. Watching him gave me the basic insight I have in business. And that was the foundation for my zeal for business.’’