31, Victoria Ariobekee, Lekki, Lagos
@thebhivelagos / 08109398950
The lawyer turned restaurateur , she tells us how her business has evolved over the years from her High fashion boutique store to owning a glamorous casual restaurant in Lekki to her aspirations of opening a wellness center.
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background-
My name is Ndidi Anyaehie. I’m a lawyer from Imo state. I consider myself a ‘Serial Entrepreneur’.
I am very passionate and detailed about every venture I get into. I have been running a boutique for the past 28 years but I started B-Hive 7 years ago.
I am quite hands-on so I spend more time in my restaurant (B-Hive) on daily bases because its food and needs more attention. The boutique however, is the bedrock of my business
I am looking into opening a wellness center in the near future.
Starting days for business including funding?
The early days were very smooth because I had already built a good brand from the boutique. One thing we ensured from the beginning was to have a well grounded establishment that won’t fall into the trends and “new it spot” syndrome in Lagos.
My boutique business played a significant role in funding B-hive in the early days.
When did your ‘aha’ moment come that you thought ‘I can do this’
I wouldn’t call it an ‘AHA’ moment. The conviction was much deeper than that. My mother was sick and in a comma. I wanted to ask her a reflective question; if she had any regrets. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask her but then I reflected on the question and realized I had a strong desire to open a ‘Fashion café’ and this later evolved into ‘B-hive’.
Can you describe your typical work day?
I come in at about 1.00pm and stay until the last customer leaves. When I get in, I inspect the compound, restaurant, kitchen and toilets to ensure the aura and ambiance of the restaurant is always up to standard. Afterwards, I go up to my office to do paperwork then down to restaurant floor to greet guests.
What steps have you taken to make sure your brand remains relevant and competitive in market place?
I ensure that we never compromise on standards and quality, we also maintain good working relationships with our customers. As I usually tell my staff, “the best customers are the ones you already have, so when they aren’t here, you should get worried.” I also make it a point of duty to address issues that may result to customer dissatisfaction or even loss. Our brand has grown organically and we have built intimate relationships with our customers.
We have great services, great food, and a wonderful ambience.
Is there B-Hive without you?
Sure! I have a good support system although we have had turnovers in management. B-hive is very much independent of me.
How has your business evolved?
From the Fashion Café to its current brand, we have kept evolving; we now offer catering services, host parties, and we recently opened a lounge as well.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years- 10 years?
In 10 years, I expect the brand to be bigger and better within the Lekki Community.
Can you give us the most challenging experiences you have had?
The most challenging is staff turnover and misappropriation of funds. It is really tough hiring employees with integrity and commitment to the vision of the brand.
On an occasion, I was away for about 3 months and on coming back, sales had dropped so badly. It felt like we were in a hole we couldn’t get out of. One needs to get people who will support your business and offer helpful advises. Recently, I was advised to streamline my menu, which I did and it worked.
What is the worst entrepreneurial moment you ever had and how did you recover?
Deception! enough to have crippled the business but what kept me going was my burning passion, fighting spirit and believe, that I would win.
Why do you think most food entrepreneurs fail in their businesses?
Some fail because they are not hands-on. Others include poor customer service, bad staffing, no working structure and system in place.
What advice would you give your young self?
In all honesty, if I should go back in time to do this over again, I would simply stick to my passion. We have to know when to begin and when to let go.
How do you treat recipes and intellectual properties?
I’m passionate about my creation but I am open with my recipe.
How do you handle legal and regulatory concerns?
It is important to have a dedicated staff with the right skills to manage them when they come.
What piece of business advice would you give someone starting up?
Advice for starters is ‘be aware of what you plan to do and be hands-on about it’. It is more demanding than a 9-5 job. So be ready for it.
Books and Resource recommend:
The Bible; It gives me solace and comfort at all times.
- ‘Know when to begin and when to quit’
- ‘Best customer is the one you already know’
- ‘Be aware of what you plan to do and be hands-on about it’
- It is important to have a dedicated staff with the right skills
- Get people who will support your business and offer helpful advice.