It has been almost 26 years since I started Bipul Traders all by myself. Going down the memory lane, I first started as an ice-cream seller and earned only BDT 350. It was little but I saved up as much as I could to reinvest in a grocery store. So, I opened a store in the locality; selling tea, betel nuts, and daily necessities. Moving on, I started to supply wood as raw material to big furniture stores in the city and this is how the beginning of Bipul Traders came about. During its initial days, to broaden my client base through word of mouth and to get recognized in the market, I would attend local fairs to showcase my products at times.
To tell you the truth, I strongly believe I could have done more in life if I studied further. Unfortunately, reality set in and my parents could not afford to do so. However, I have no regrets regarding that. I am doing well in my business now and that is where my focus is right now. My store caters to all kinds of furniture starting from beds, dressing tables, almirahs, sofa sets, etc in a wide range of in-house and customized designs as per clients’ requirements. I am proud to say that I can deliver my products all over Bangladesh from Rangpur and my client base has reached nationwide.
Having previous experience in sourcing raw materials gave me the courage I needed to start my own business. When it came to receiving orders from clients, I just took a leap of faith and went for it. I am glad to say that my quality of products and detailing never failed to keep up my reputation as a trusted carpenter. Then on I never had to look back. Currently, I have 15-20 employees working for me. Even a few workers who got trained by me would leave and open up their businesses later. Doing so creates a gap in the operations with the employees leaving to this date, but they still look up to me and respect me for their learnings. Looking at it optimistically, I get to train new workers and generate employment. It’s the trust between me and my team that keeps us going. Whenever I get short-staffed, my employees move forward to help me resolve the crisis.
However, during Covid, I had to take a hit as an entrepreneur as my business was shut down but still managed to pay my workers with little or no incoming profits. I had to face a loss of almost 12 lacs. We worked at the back end and I had to ensure my workers keep working for me because it’s their craftsmanship and skills that are the reason for our success. To ensure employee retention, I had to keep on paying my workers without any new incoming orders to sustain a business. I had to survive 2 lockdowns with similar struggles. I continued to support my family by selling a few products that were in stock and paying my bills. . Later on, the loans I took from banks helped me a bit to start over once the Covid situation started to normalize.
LightCastle Partners reached out to me as they were looking for small businesses to work with to help them grow through consultation support. They had meetings with me to consult on my required business development and helped me fund machinery for my factory. They have been very cooperative. For the next few plans, I want to decorate my store and buy a few machines as we are solely based on handwork, I would like to make my business more efficient by moving towards automation wherever possible.