Leeds woman turns £5k into £3m Amazon business from home with dreams of becoming billionaire
“A small business from Morley is now a billion-pound business - that’s the long term goal”.
When Omotayo Adebisi started her business, she cried after earning her first £15.
Now the entrepreneur is turning over £1million a year as an independent seller on Amazon and has even bigger ambitions.
But the journey has not just been one of financial success, but a deeply personal one too, as Omotayo pushed her way through setbacks and struggles, to become a more confident version of herself.
She sat down to speak with Rebecca Marano...
Omotayo says she was never very interested in business, considering herself more of a family person.
It wasn’t until an unhappy work situation led to her experiencing depression, that she even considered becoming her own boss.
The 33-year-old said: “After having my daughter Tiana, now five, I went back to work in 2017. Everything was okay but unfortunately, different issues began arising and before you know it, I was suffering from stress and anxiety.
“As time went on I tried to deal with it, but then it became very big. It was challenging.
“There was this specific day which I still can't get over. My husband called to say my daughter was in the hospital and I was told I couldn't leave the office to go to her.
“For the rest of the day, I was literally in tears.
“The way I see it is that anything could have happened, she could have died, and I wouldn't be there.
“That it was for me, it was that easy. My husband said to me 'I think you need to stop work now just take some time off."
It was a family member who first encouraged Omotayo to look into setting up an Amazon business but she was reluctant as she still didn’t feel mentally ready to return to work.
However, her husband Ola thought it would be a good distraction, and started looking into it himself, with Omotayo, now pregnant with second daughter Maya, now two, soon getting involved.
“My husband knows how to convince me,” Omotayo laughs.
“I decided to watch YouTube videos, learn a little bit more about it by reading different forums and then we set up the account with a £5,000 investment and it was a case of playing about and seeing how I got on.”
The business didn’t get off without a hitch.
Originally they tried to establish a brand but had to change strategies and focus on retail, which involved buying and selling available goods in the UK via the Amazon platform.
They started to see a profit but even then there were issues with stocking that caused problems. However, after plenty of hard work, they found a niche targeting seasonal consumer purchasing behaviour with toys, gifts and food hampers.
They were operating the entire business from their Morley home and it was only when some opportunist thieves targeted one of their delivery vans that the family realised it may be time to invest in a warehouse.
Omotayo said: “We started small just in the kitchen but by 2018 it had taken over the garage, the living room, everything.
“In 2019, we had our goods outside for delivery and were waiting for UPS to collect the items when some boys pulled over at the van and just stole everything, right from our drive.
“The following day, we started looking for warehouse space and that’s when we moved into The Storage Room in Beeston.”
Now, the company employs eight permanent staff and an additional 20 temporary staff during the busy seasonal periods.
Omotayo is now not just selling products, but moving into manufacturing her own branded 'Tilmzart' goods too, taking the company full circle back to where it started.
They recently started producing Tilzmart branded sports equipment and hampers, and Omotayo hopes to add more products to their roster, as well as continuing to grow the retail side.
With the company predicted to turn over £3million this year, the mum-of-two is now aiming to reach a £1billion turnover.
Omotayo said: “When we started, our first sale was £15 and we both jumped up and my husband gave me a massive hug, we were so excited.
"It is still one of the best days ever.
"After all the changing strategies and the challenges, it's just amazing to go from that to a seven-figure. I cannot put it into words.
"It wasn't anticipated, it was a case of just taking every day as comes, focusing on the moment.
"I still suffer from stress and anxiety so I don't believe in myself that much so it's taken a lot of self-training and dedication.
“The long term goal is to make £1billion annual turnover, which I know is huge and doesn't seem realistic but I know that if I keep pushing, putting the hard work in, focusing, getting the team to work hard, learning and believing in myself, the way my family and friends believing in me, I think I can achieve it.”
Learning to delegate
When Omotayo Abedesi started her Amazon business while pregnant with her second child Maya, it was a whole new experience for her.
As the sole person responsible for growing the business, it was a steep learning curve with plenty of trial and error.
“I had to retrain myself, because I didn't have any knowledge at all, at this time it was all by myself because my husband was working as an engineer“, she explains.
As the years passed and the company grew, Omatayo realised that the needs of the business required more than she could handle by herself.
Now she has eight permanent staff, including herself, and a roster of temporary workers for the very busy seasonal periods.
“Last year during Covid there was this surge of customers going online which was challenging for us so we then had to look for help.
“Sales never declined so things kept picking up and I realised, I couldn't do it myself, I needed to give that away so that I can focus on more important things.
“It’s been a gradual process of trusting myself to delegate.
“One person doesn't know it all so it's been really good sharing knowledge with the team.”
What is an Amazon seller?
Millions of items sold on Amazon are not sold by Amazon themselves but by legions of independent sellers.
A third-party seller on Amazon is essentially an independent retail business that uses the Amazon Marketplace website to sell its products.
These businesses are identifiable as the item will appear with the label "Fulfilled by Amazon" or "Ships from and sold by (retailer)", rather than “sold by Amazon”.
For users, it is easy not to notice these sellers, as buyers simply add their items to their cart and complete their order through the Amazon checkout process.
Once the order goes through, Amazon sends the funds to the third-party seller but does not share payment information.
Third party sellers, many of whom are SMEs, account for more than half of all products sold on Amazon in the UK and globally.
The Amazon Small Business Accelerator is a free program that Amazon set up in partnership with Enterprise Nation as a response to the impact of the pandemic. It offers free support, online learning and bootcamp events to help small businesses