Interviews with businesswomen. Olga Korchma
Social portal “Career for a New Life” as an information partner of the NGO “Modern Woman” publishes interviews with participants of the training programs of the Center for Small and Medium Business Development.
Olga Korchma, a graduate of the second wave of the Business in the EU Training Program, which took place in January-February 2020, tells how to develop apitherapy and manage a beekeeping shop. Olga is a representative of the All-Ukrainian Association of Apitherapists and the owner of a beekeeping and apitherapy store.
The training program “Business in the EU” was conducted by the Center for Small and Medium Business Development of the Project “Center for Gender Culture as a Platform for Empowerment of Women and Youth”, funded by the European Union. The work of the Center for Small and Medium Business Development is coordinated by HHNO “Modern Woman”.
Please tell us where you started your business (how you chose the activity, what were the first steps, with whom you built a business model, and set up processes in which city).
We started in Kharkiv. Accidentally got into the “House of Honey”. Initially, my business was photocopying, stationery, photo services since 1998, but then we were replaced by supermarkets with a large selection and a different pricing policy. When I came to the “House of Honey” in January 2015, there was an empty shop but specialized since 2000 for beekeeping. But I, being able to immerse myself in what customers ask, wrote everything down, recorded, and made orders. Yes, little by little I completely supplanted my photocopiers, closed everything to a minimum, and completely promoted the beekeeping shop. To do this, I went to study a lot in Western Ukraine. Now we are specialized in apitherapy (treatment with bee products), beekeeping, beekeeping products, sale of bees, already fully immersed in beekeeping. As for how coronavirus and quarantine have affected our business, I can say that it was specific to my activity. First, people who did not eat honey – loved it, customers added. I can say that I have had the best year of my five years in this field. Moreover, all customers say that our store is the only one that has everything on beekeeping and apitherapy, but it is also important that we give the right advice.
How has your business grown? What problems did you encounter and how did you solve them?
The only problem, as in any business – the financial situation, because we had to start from scratch. Without knowledge and no one could tell. In addition to the fact that there was not enough money to buy, you also had to go to study, because to withstand high competition you need to know, you need to be able to properly advise both beekeepers and ordinary clients on apitherapy. Therefore, of course, the only issue was the lack of subsidies. But we have coped with this and now we can go for bigger wholesale, at more interesting prices, so that we can feel more comfortable.
Do you have principles or rules that guide you in running your own business?
Honesty and trust. For me, the ability to correctly tell and convey information to the buyer is also important.
Do you think there is pressure from society, family, acquaintances on women starting or running a business?
I have never faced pressure in my life. I have always been respected by men. And when I worked with the previous business, and in the business that I do now.
On the family side, yes, because you have to work hard all the time to make your business grow and prosper. So, it turns out that the family is in the background. My children grew up with their mother working all the time. But at the same time, my children were always fed and supervised. I always spent a lot of time working and, of course, children: education, clubs.
Much more depends on which man is next to you. I was lucky with my husband, he is calm, prudent, he gave the children the kindness and attention that I may not have added.
How do you recover from new achievements?
Relationship with a man with whom you are comfortable. At home we have never had scandals, no one ever shouts except me, for sure. Ability to speak. I believe that a lot of problems happen because people don’t know how to speak and say everything they like or don’t like. When I feel tired, I like to go somewhere for water: pool, sauna, sea if possible, nature, forest.
What knowledge and skills do you think are most important for entrepreneurs?
First, I’ve learned a lot and continue to do so. If I find something interesting for myself – I do not mind the money and time. It’s always new acquaintances, new people, you can see how they develop and develop yourself. You immediately set yourself some goals. I communicate a lot, I have a large circle of acquaintances to whom I can turn for advice.
How did participating in the Training Program benefit you?
I found a lot of new things for myself. I came to Europe to expand my business, but after listening and practicing, I realized that I still lacked knowledge and opportunities. Here I made new acquaintances, rethought a lot. Similarly, under quarantine, the knowledge I gained helped me to group, to pay more attention not to what would be better and more for me somewhere, but to focus on what is here, what I need to improve. I’ve added some new business positions.
Have your sales grown and how much?
Yes, definitely. It’s because I took the course. I was thinking about how to expand my position in my business, so I added honey spirits, for example. I think I was given a lot of these courses.
Maybe you entered a new market after the training?
No, not yet. There are goals, but I still lack the knowledge on how to implement everything correctly so as not to find trouble. Now I want to stay afloat and not stop.
And what changes may have occurred in your personal growth after completing the Training Program?
I thought about always having to complete the documents. I applied for a trademark, registration of the apiary so that it was official, and finally finished the online store, which I could not finish. Also, I never had branded labels on the jars that I always wanted, but put off for later. And now I realized that sales have grown a lot thanks to labels. The program gave me a lot, a lot. I was very pleased. After that, there were interesting courses, but I had a lot of work and no time, very few intelligent employees.
Are you planning to expand your business or perhaps create a new one next to what already exists?
Yes. That’s why I attended the Training Program. I really dream of my own Epicenter, which is not developed in western Ukraine, and no one in our country has heard of it. Maybe someone is talking about it, but no one really understands or knows anything about it. Here I would very much like to make Epicenter in my apiary, but the financial side of the issue does not allow it. Now I’ll learn how to win tenders.
What advice would you give to women planning or starting their own business?
The main thing is not to lose heart. The goal is set correctly. Works, I think, any business. The question is how much time and knowledge we give him. Not everything rests only on money, a lot rests on ourselves. You can have money, but nothing will work. It all depends on us.