If you are an entrepreneur, you’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time. Ever since you were little, you saw opportunities that excited you. So you wanted to be something bigger and better, but as time went on, things just didn’t go your way, did it?
Maybe at the moment, you’re just not in the place that you wanted to be in life. You’ve got friends and family saying “why don’t you get a job?”, “why don’t you go back to school? “Why do you keep trying these things over and over?”
If you are reading this, then there’s still a spark of hope that one day you can achieve those dreams. People only put you down because they think you’re above them, and they want to bring you back to their level.
They may think you’re crazy. We live in a society that builds workers, not creators, and in a world where dreams are encouraged but never chased. The fact is being an entrepreneur is hard. You should earn that and you alone to take that challenge.
As a leader is to never stop believing in people because, in this story, Erosha’s father was his role model. This interview is one of the best examples of using a low cost of entry and maximizing earnings with modern marketing strategies.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Erosha Gamage and i’m currently working in the automobile industry, importing both Japanese and European Motor Vehicles of all types. I consider myself to be sociable and enjoy engaging in conversation with others. From an early age I have always been fascinated by cars and technology, which drives this passion of mine to further progress in the automobile industry. Aside from cars, one of my greatest interests would be Fitness and physical activities. Since childhood, I was always training and very active in sports that are still constant in my daily routine and energises me throughout the day.
Where did you grow up? Edu, Current Business Role Likewise?
As I was born in Colombo, I completed my OLs at Royal College Colombo, where I then transferred to Colombo International School completing my London ALs, as I envisioned to pursue my degree overseas. After schooling, I completed my Bachelors in Civil Engineering at the University of Warwick. Once completed, I worked in the Construction Industry for 1 year, where I then decided to continue my education and obtained a Masters in Structural Engineering at the University of Birmingham.
I then, returned back to Sri Lanka and worked as a consultant engineer to gain some work experience in the construction field. After that, I finally decided to join the family business. Currently I am managing full-time at the showroom as one of the directors.
What’s a typical working day for you?
As I work all seven days of the week, a goal of mine would be to have a more organised routine but realistically every day has changes, although I do try to follow a simple structure. Generally I start my day at 5:30am and build a sweat at the gym for about an hour and a half as I feel energised to conquer the rest of the day. I then get ready for work and usually reach the showroom by 8:45am as we open at 9:00am. My day-to-day work generally consists of handling customers where I personally talk to each one of them to ensure they receive the highest service we can offer them. Other daily tasks consist of following up on orders, handling documentation and serval other responsibilities that go into managing a business. On most days I reach home by 7:30pm where I then rest and relax and follow up on work I have to prepare for, for the next day.
How did you get your idea or concept for Erosha Traders?
Erosha Traders was founded and created by my father Mr. S.K Gamage, who initiated the business over three decades ago. He initially started this as a hobby on a much smaller scale where he used to buy a car, modify it and then sell it with a minor profit. After a few years he then opened up the showroom and named the business after I was born.
Following this legacy, I want to create my own vision for the company as Erosha Traders was initially only dealing with Japanese Vehicles until I joined. I then started importing European High End Vehicles and Sports cars. I’m constantly inspired to introduce the latest models in the International market to the Sri Lankan Vehicle Industry.
What was your inspiration to start the business
As I mentioned earlier, it was my father who started the business and built a strong Japanese market for the company over the years. When I was living in the UK, I was intrigued by European vehicles and wanted to target a different customer base for the business. So I contacted several suppliers in the UK to import models from BMW, Mercedes Benz and many other top leading brands.
Once I joined the business, I imported my first BMW at Erosha Traders and was sold within the first week. Everything is a trial and error. However, soon after importing a few European models, I could see a demand for these in the Sri Lankan market. We now import vehicles from all over the world such as, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand and China. My vision is to bring customised bespoke cars requested by inspired customers to deliver their dream car to them.
Who/What helped you along the way?
You don’t become successful completely by yourself. There are many people that have helped Erosha Traders stand where it is today, parents, family, friends, our trustworthy suppliers and most importantly, the loyal customers. We graciously appreciate the number of customers we receive through the spread of word of mouth, and through our existing customers who recommended our business. We are also highly grateful to the Erosha Traders staff who have constantly been working with us, have worked for us previously and, also the many banks our company are partnered with.
What were your greatest failures, and what did they teach you?
Like an off-road adventure, the journey of a business is never smooth, there are turns on the road that can not be expected. The bigger the business, the bigger the risks and impacts. Currency fluctuations are a major challenge that occur in the Automobile Industry. In the Sri Lankan Motor Vehicle Industry, one of the biggest issue we face would be the frequent changes in the vehicle taxation in Sri Lanka. One incident we faced was when we had a large number of units of the Suzuki Wagon R, which are one of the fastest selling cars in the Japanese sector, however then there was a sudden reduction in tax for that model, and all units had to be disposed of at cost price to match the new market rate. Therefore, it’s not always about making profits, there are times where we have to accept the losses that can occur at any scale in the business.
There are also rare unprecedented situations that occur such as the Easter Attacks and the current Pandemic that have affected business all over the world. The best way to manage the impact would be to reduce our expenditure and focus on maintaining the current reserves financially, and similarly postpone any further endeavours until the industry establishes once again.
How important do you feel a good business plan is to succeed in business?
A business plan is essential as it acts as a guide for all the key contributors in the business, and basically outlines the current and future plans of the business. With most things in the world, nothing ever goes according to plan, however it ensures that there are contingencies set in place for when this happens. Therefore, I do feel that it is essential to invest into a detailed business plan.
The future of Erosha Traders would definitely be to expand the number of outlets around the country. We are currently situated in Kelaniya, and will hopefully open more showrooms in the larger cities in Sri Lanka.
Our vision is to be the first to introduce the latest and upcoming models, in order to create an impressive impact on the Sri Lankan vehicle industry.
if you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Follow your passion. There will be risks, take them.
There will be many challenges, don’t give up.
Be unique and create your own identity.
Shortcuts might seem tempting, but they’re not long term successes.
Take responsibility and be honest.
Nothing happens over night so if you fail, be positive.
This is a journey, not a sprint.
It will be the best decision you ever make.