Concentrate on what you are good at, know what your competition is doing, and look after your own health and well-being. These are just some of the tips Apiame Kurusiga shares with micro and small entrepreneurs.
Businesswoman Api Kurusiga runs Lapita Marketing Enterprises, and trains entrepreneurs of all types in Fiji.
Kurisiga spent about 28 years working for the Australian Trade Commission. What she saw there gave her confidence to start her own business, Lapita Marketing Enterprises.
That business started with a bucket of honey bought from a cousin in Kadavu. They learnt how to bottle, package and label it and then took it to market at Sukuna Park in Suva.
“When I went to sell, that really opened my eyes. I’m making money. So that was how our business started. And then I said to my husband, ‘because we are not bee keepers, we need to grow from here. We need to do other things.’”
Those other things included making virgin coconut oil. Initially they were making the oil themselves before a business mentor suggested they source the ready-made oil and bottle it. They paid a communications expert to make a website, do labels, business cards and a pull-up banner, and started to grow from there, buying noni, layalaya tonic, turmeric tonic, and soap, which they packaged and marketed.
Lapita Marketing Enterprises now supplies supermarkets and pharmacies in Fiji, a Korean exporter and a locally based company that exports to New Zealand. Those exporters take care of all biosecurity and export requirements. Kurusiga started the business when she was 50. Now she is an in-demand trainer as well.
I can say, working with Austrade really taught me to work with women to take them to the next level. My first question to them is, “Why are you pricing at this? Can you tell me why you are pricing this salusalu for $35?” They don’t know. I taught them that to grow a business, you have to reduce your expenses.
[On] my first visit to my mentees, I went to sit with their family. I met the mentee to understand that their planning for business was not just them. It’s them and their family. The family plays a very important role in them making sure their business runs, because first of all, they’re women, they are expected to make sure that the clothes are clean, the house is clean, the food’s done? But then the family needs to understand that she’s doing this for the family so they are needed here.”
BOX: Api Kurusiga’s tips for business success
- Reduce your expenses as much as you can: use the flowers and vegetables you grow from home, pack your own lunch and drinks when you go to the market.
- Value and price your work realistically
- Know what sells and concentrate on that
- Understand your competition, see what they are doing, and work together where you can
- Create your point of difference, understand what makes your product unique or special?
- Pay attention to the details: how you display your products, cleanliness
- Understand how you use your time (and record it)
- Record every transaction, so you can understand your profit and loss and how you can grow. Receipt everything.
- Look after your health: eat properly, get exercise and value your own worth.