Refuelling king Adeola put in the hard work
2018-10-01 11:54:48 -


By Finn Hoogensen


Starting any business is a risky endeavour. There is no certainty that it will succeed, and in the beginning stages this can be unnerving for entrepreneurs. However, such feelings of uncertainty are normal, says Adeola Ogunsina, chief operating officer of On-Site Refuelling.

When Ogunsina started in 2008, it was at the beginning of Ireland’s recession, and he felt all of that uncertainty first-hand. “There was always doubt in times in the middle of it and in the beginning,” he says. “You always keep doubting yourself. Have I done the right thing? Have I done the right path? Am I going to survive?”

Despite this challenging start, On-Site Refuelling did indeed survive, and is thriving 10 years on.

Ogunsina’s experience offers important lessons for those considering entrepreneurship. One lesson that he learned from the recession is that business plans are never permanent, and adaptability is essential. “We keep changing and fixing and adjusting. As you go with time, you just have to be flexible,” he says.

Simply keeping the business afloat was his goal when he began. The recession forced changes to his strategy, while a number of his initial clients went out of business, which made things harder.

“We went straight into survival mode,” he recalls. “The mode whereby all we had to do was just to keep the business ticking away and just make sure the overhead was low [and] the costs were low. And we were able to manage.”

Ogunsina credits On-Site Refuelling’s business concept as a major reason why they’ve been successful. The business provides “direct diesel to your fleet”, as their slogan says: a mobile fuelling programme for trucks and tankers in the field distribution industry. Much of this is done overnight, which keeps fleet drivers from having to refuel as they drive — saving time, energy and of course money.

On-Site Refuelling’s approach is also more eco-friendly, Ogunsina says. By having one truck refuelling many others, it takes vehicles off the road, thereby lowering emissions.

Ogunsina says it is essential for the survival of any business that entrepreneurs understand the concept of their product or service. Entrepreneurs must first determine if there is a market big enough to be profitable and sustainable long-term.

“The concept of [On-Site Refuelling] is marketable and scalable. You need to have a concept that not only you believe in, but a concept that the end-users will [buy].”

Ogunsina says he knew there was a market for his idea, but he first needed to educate those in the field distribution industry that the need existed.

“The need was there, but the consumers did not know that they had that need. We had to show them that the need is there … and show them the benefits of the service we are providing. It’s more like educating the customer to [let them] know that this is better than the alternative.”

Innovation within the field distribution industry has been slow if at any for many years, Ogunsina says, and it is always difficult to introduce to a market something that goes against the norm. Due to this factor, he recommends that entrepreneurs have previous experience in whatever industry they want to pursue for their business. It helps to know the ins and outs of an industry and have an established network of connections. Before he started On-Site Refuelling, Ogunsina had years of experience working in the oil industry for Shell Ireland.

For immigrant entrepreneurs, Ogunsina warns that there will be different challenges when starting a business. For example, difficulties can occur when trying to obtain a loan.

“You have to bend over backwards to prove yourself,” he says. “A challenge of perception actually proceeds you before you go in [to get a loan]. If you go in to make a pitch as a person of colour, you’re already being judged before you go in, so you need to have your ducks in a row. You need to be able to prove … that you are qualified in what you are talking about and you [have] business acumen.”

Ogunsina recommends that immigrant entrepreneurs fully understand the requirements of what is expected from them for the type of business they want to start. “You [need to] look at the standard that is requested, and make sure that not only do you meet that standard, [but] you have to kind of overcompensate to make sure you exceed that standard,” he says.

Overall, Ogunsina agrees that being a business owner is difficult for anyone. There are many responsibilities, and he never feels like he is really off the clock. However, he says working for himself is rewarding.

“Any accrued benefits come straight to you, and you are more in control of your destiny that way,” he says. “You just have to put in the hard work to make sure it pays off.”

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