If you are an entrepreneur or if you’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time, you might have seen opportunities that excited you. And, you wanted to become someone better. But as time passed, things just didn’t go the way you wanted them to go, did they?
Maybe at this moment, you’re just not in the right place that you wanted to be in your 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 which can power your 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 learn that you are alone in this challenge.
As a leader who never stops believing in his people, in this story, Erosha’s father became his role model. This interview is one of the best examples about the ways of maximizing one’s earnings by starting from the bottom with modern marketing strategies.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Erosha Gamage. I’m currently working in the automobile industry and I import all types of Japanese and European Motor Vehicles. I consider myself a sociable character. From my early age, I have always been fascinated by cars and technology. This passion drove me further into the automobile industry. Aside from cars, some of my greatest interests are fitness and physical activities. Since childhood, I was very active in sports and still, sports take an important role in my daily routine which energizes me throughout the day.
Where did you grow up? Education, Current Business Role?
I was born in Colombo and I completed my OLs at Royal College Colombo Then I transferred to Colombo International School to complete my London ALs. Then 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. Then I decided to continue my education and obtained a Masters in Structural Engineering at the University of Birmingham. Then I returned 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 workday for you?
As I work all seven days of the week, a goal of mine is to have a more organized routine. Although I do try to follow a simple structure, sometimes I have to change things. Generally, I start my day at 5:30 a.m. and I workout in the gym for about an hour and a half as I feel energized to conquer the rest of the day. Then I get ready for work and usually reaches the showroom by 8:45 a.m. as we open at 9:00 a.m. My day-to-day work generally consists of handling customers where I personally talk to each one of them to ensure that they receive the highest service we can offer. Other daily tasks consist of following up on orders, handling documentation and other responsibilities that belong to business management. In most days, I reach home by 7:30 p.m. where I rest and relax. Then I follow up on my next day’s work.
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 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 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. It was initially dealing only with Japanese Vehicles until I joined. Then I 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 a few years. When I was living in the UK, I was intrigued by European vehicles and I wanted to target a different customer base for the business. So, I contacted several suppliers in the UK to import models of BMW, Mercedes Benz and many other top leading brands.
Once I joined the business, I imported my first BMW at Erosha Traders and sold it in 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. Now, we import vehicles from all over the world including Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand and China. My vision is to bring customized bespoke cars which are requested by inspired customers. So, I can make their dreams come true.
Who/What helped you along the way?
You can’t become successful by only completing yourself. There are many people who have helped Erosha Traders during their long journey. Parents, family, friends, our trustworthy suppliers and most importantly, the loyal customers helped us a lot. We graciously appreciate the number of customers we received 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 are constantly working with us, who worked for us previously and also to all the banks which are partnered with us.
What were your greatest failures, and what did they teach you?
Like an off-road adventure, the journey of a business is never smooth. The bigger the business, the bigger the risks and impacts. Currency fluctuations are a major challenge that occurs in the Automobile Industry. In the Sri Lankan Motor Vehicle Industry, one of the biggest issues we face is the frequent changes in vehicle taxation in Sri Lanka. One incident happened when we had a large number of units of the Suzuki Wagon R, which was one of the fastest-selling cars in the Japanese sector. There was a sudden reduction in tax for that model, and all units had to be disposed 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 can occur such as the Easter Attack and the current Pandemic that have affected businesses 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. Similarly postpone any further endeavors until the industry establishes once again.
What are your thoughts about a good business plan for the success of a business?
A business plan is essential as it acts as a guide for all the key contributors in the business and basically, it outlines the current and future plans of the business. Most things in the world never go according to a plan. However, I do feel that it is essential to invest in 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 who is 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 overnight. So, if you fail, be positive.
This is a journey, not a sprint.
It will be the best decision you ever make.