One of the books on the bucket list of any reader or focus driven woman should be “the UNCOMMON WOMAN”.
Ifeoma Chuks-Adizue, author of the said book built a passion and niche for herself by simply just wanting to do more hence the birth of Deluxe childbirth services, her business which has grown tremendously beyond expectation for her target audience. EM’S DAMILOLA SHOTE caught up with her for an interview after the launch of her book.
My name is Ifeoma Chuks-Adizue but everyone calls me Iphie. I am a career woman, entrepreneur, wife and mother of three kids. I am also passionate about empowering women to be all they were created to be, leveraging on my knowledge, skills and experiences.
2) YOU HAVE BEEN IN YOUR FIELD FOR HOW LONG?
Well, I started my career over 12 year ago with one of the world’s leading FMCG firms. Over this period, I was blessed to have in-depth work experiences in Brand Management, Sales, Traditional and Digital media as well as the opportunity to grow global brands across West and East Africa. In this time, I also worked with local businesses to grow their top-line and bottom-line; as well as create systems that enabled seamless and effective business operations.
In 2012, I became a bit restless and wanted more out of life. I wanted to be more than a ‘business consultant’. I wanted the practical experience of starting, running and growing a business and this led to the birth of Deluxe Childbirth Services – Africa’s premier Maternity Concierge firm that helps expectant parents birth their babies in the US the right way and at affordable costs….so that would be 5 years in the Maternity Concierge Field.
In 2013, I also launched Sheer Virtuosity an online platform created to give today’s woman the ‘kick’ and tools she needs to live the purposeful inspiring life she was created for. It started as a blog with personal development articles; and has grown now to include online courses, monthly workshops, events etc. My book ‘The Uncommon Woman – A Step-by-Step Guide to becoming a Successful Woman of Skill, Strength and Substance’ is the latest addition to the life-transforming resources available on the platform.
Indeed, it is different. I actually did not make the decision myself. When I desired to start a business, I did not know what business to start so I enquired from God. He asked me what I knew how to do and I jokingly said ‘I know how to give birth to children back-to-back in the US.’ I sincerely was goofing around but He asked me to turn that into a business – help expectant moms find the right hospital, doctor, accommodation, documentation etc.
I searched online for references but could not find anyone offering this service legitimately. Instead, I found out the painful statistics on Maternal Mortality in Nigeria and that really got to me as I had just survived an ectopic pregnancy barely a year before that time. This discovery defined the ‘why’ of the business which is to contribute our quota to reducing maternal mortality in developing countries especially Nigeria.
4) TIPS ON HOW YOU STARTED?
Starting was scary but fun. Since I had my full-time job, I was concerned about taking up more and so I decided the best route to start would be to write a book detailing the steps and sell it online. I had read a lot about ‘Pink-Spoon’ marketing which basically means giving something free to people with a hook to your main offering; so, I created 2 books – a free guide (which had a purchase link for the main book on the last page) and the main book for sale.
I sent a mail to all my friends, colleagues…literally everyone I knew…telling them it was possible to have their babies in the US at affordable costs and without lying to the embassy or at the US Port of Entry. The free guide was attached to this email. I got lots of questions from people but interestingly, only one person bought the book. This was December 2011.
I discussed it with my husband and he advised me to make the offering a service as people especially expectant parents would prefer someone running the whole task for them. If I was sad from my one book sale in December, this advice made me sadder. How would I manage calls from people while at work if I made it a service? By January 2012, one of the ladies who had sent me questions earlier paid me to handle the task for her. What she paid me was equal to 6 book sales! I knew my husband was right and by Feb 19th 2012, our first website was up for business with the End-to-End service and interesting bonuses as our offering.
I reached out to all the people who had sent me questions earlier to let them know the service was available….and that’s how we started! We got our first client from the website within a week of launch and it’s been an exciting ride since then offering the service to parents across different countries of the world.
Well, I don’t know about the society o…LOL!! Within the Maternity Concierge space, yes and I would attribute it to three key things.
One – Education. Coming into a space where nothing was really clear and people were not open with sharing – You know like ‘See this one, you too want to have a baby in the US like me.’ One of the major things I did was create a free video on the mistakes most expectant parents make when planning to have their babies in the US that leads to refusals and outrageous bills; and how to avoid them. The video was about 50mins long and broke down EVERYTHING about having a baby in the US as a foreigner. Some of the people who watched it became our clients…some others learnt from it and ran the process themselves while many others just noted the information down and freely referred us to their friends and family.
Two – Deliver Results. I’m a stickler for results; so, it is key for my team and I that we deliver client tasks with quality, professionalism and on time. Even after the Client’s task is completed, we are still at the client’s service answering questions, sharing relevant information etc until she is back in her home country with the baby. In our second year of service for example, over 40% of our clients were referred to us by past clients or their family members.
Lastly, we have been blessed with amazing clients who not only referred people to us and spoke with passion about our services BUT these parents taught us to offer the BEST service possible. Trust me, with most of them being professionals who understand the value of their money, their questions and requests pushed my team and I to think out solutions and fast. In addition, when they travelled, they shared their thoughts with us on what to do better to improve the service.
6) EVERY BUSINESS MINDED SUCCESSFUL PERSON HAS A STORY, WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE?
Hmmm…the first challenge I faced was overcoming my fear of failure to start my business. Interestingly, this was the tiniest challenge I faced. With the business started, given that we were an online business located in Nigeria and people could only reach us via emails, I faced the challenge of convincing people that the business was legit. This meant I had to spend quality time with prospects, answering all their questions and I also made sure to never to take a payment until the person was convinced we were genuine. It sounds silly now but it was important to me because I did not want anyone insulting me or my country. Once payments were made, we confirmed as fast as possible and shared again with them a run-down of what they would get from us and by what timings.
Another major challenge I faced was combining the new business with my job and my responsibilities as a wife and young mother. I share a lot more about this and how I handled it step-by-step in The Uncommon Woman Book.
7) WHAT SETS YOUR BOOK – THE UNCOMMON WOMAN – APART?
The truth is that a lot of women want to up their game but are unclear about the first step to take. Some start out based on possibly what they just learnt that day without realizing there are some foundational things they should have done…and so they get stuck. I’m a person that thrives on systems and so The Uncommon Woman book is not just a book but a system.
It’s a 10-week guide that takes a woman by the hand to transform all areas of her life – her person and identity, her marriage, her business, her career and her home. The book not only motivates the woman and energizes her to believe in herself and strive to become the women she was born to be BUT it also takes her step-by-step through the process with real-life examples and exercises to enable her action the lessons in her own life.
It’s not just a book talking to women with re-hashed information pulled off the internet but one born out of my personal experience (which of course started with the mistakes most women still make today) and filled with deep revelations and insights that facilitated my journey.
8) YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION TO MANY, WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
People living purposeful lives inspire me especially people much younger than myself.
Impact! Show me the lives my work will impact and I’ll give my all to achieve the objective.
10) PLEASE KINDLY SHARE SOME OF YOUR SECRETS TO BECOMING SUCCESSFUL WITH EM?
All my secrets are in The Uncommon Woman book!! Ok, let me share the top 3.
One-having God in all my doings is my biggest secret sincerely. I have learnt not to move until I get the instructions from Him; and when I do get the instructions, I execute to the latter. If I need more knowledge or training to deliver the instructions, I seek it out and I improve myself. I am constantly reading, learning and most importantly, applying the learning to my life and endeavours.
Two-As a married woman, having the support of my husband has significantly helped me achieve success in my endeavours. When your husband trusts you completely, he not only releases you to shine but can also help in reducing the number of speed bumps on the way.
Three-I am also not afraid of work. I WORK HARD but I ensure that I am first working smart before working hard.
11) WHAT ADVICE WILL YOU GIVE TO MODERN DAY LADIES AND YOUTHS WITH THE ZEAL TO GROW?
• Own your growth – do not wait for anyone to give you permission to develop yourself. Get a copy of The Uncommon Woman book ?
• As you grow, make sure your ladder is on the right building. In simple English, make sure you are growing in line with your strengths and purpose.
• Have a Plan and execute ruthlessly. In a bid to beat procrastination and burn-out, focus on one big project per quarter for a start. As you execute, celebrate even the small wins. You did it…some others have not…You deserve to celebrate yourself!