Firms share successful business practices

From left, Sim, Koong and Addaem at the conclusion of the SOBA Connect event. - YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

SOBA 2023 past winners reveal core principles to implement during hard times

PETALING JAYA: As past The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) award winners Secret Recipe Cakes and Cafe Sdn Bhd (Secret Recipe) and Ikonik Eye Specialist & General Health Centre Sdn Bhd (Ikonik Eye) shared business practices that won them the Malaysian Business of the Year award in their tiers, it is clear that money management is important.

They related their success journey and experiences with all SOBA Biz Club members during the SOBA Connect on June 28 at Menara Star, which was moderated by Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) treasurer Datuk Koong Lin Loong on the topic on Lessons from Malaysian Business of The Year Winners: Navigating the Entrepreneur Journey.

Managing director of Secret Recipe Patrick Sim said it took 26 years of patience and hard work to achieve the brand’s 360 local outlets, with 140 overseas, making a total of 500 worldwide.

“As a chain brand, it is important to be able to be consistent. That can be challenging with so many different people within the outlets, so we use a commissary model, which is distributed to all the outlets in Malaysia,” he explained

This helps with the halal, the quality and the consistency.

Sim added that the good thing about the food and beverage industry (F&B) is that it is mostly cash up front.

Another way to expand its business was by using a franchising model, which made up about half of its total outlets.

“That helps us because franchises are the ones that assist in financing when opening new outlets and in growing the brand.”

Some of the other options that Sim said included getting investors or approaching the bank.

Sim mentioned that although skilled manpower is scarce after the pandemic, Secret Recipe relied on its equipment, its SOPs and its backend as support.

It also has its own training academy to train its employees for the outlets.

“Nowadays it is tough so we actually got in foreign labour to help balance up the needs in the outlets.”

For Ikonik Eye managing director and CEO Addaem Chandran, having continuous growth is important.

“We are about eight years old in the Malaysian market from a humble shoplot in Kajang.

“Now we are proud to have our own building in Pesiaran Bukit Jalil. We cannot remain comfortable, we have to continuously find ways for improvement,” said Addaem.

He reminded SMEs to be mindful of their financial statements, profit and loss accounts, cash flows, their assets and liabilities, essentially their balance sheet.

He also advised them to have a process to micro-manage whenever the situation arises.

“For me having fine financial acumen is important and all of our employees are well-trained on that. We are very particular about cash flow.”

Addaem related that it was not an easy journey at the beginning.

“We approach banks, my training in a multinational company gave me the insight into the projection for my revenues and cost stream.”

After choosing a loan offer from one out to two banks, he managed to pay that off within three years.

He also mentioned that he would conduct fieldwork overseas in order to understand how operations are done there in order to provide top class services to Ikonik Eye’s patients.

During the session, SOBA 2023 sponsors also had their presentations to show some of the ways that they can empower SMEs who need assistance.

CGC hopes that the session will provide attendees with the awareness on key requirements to grow their businesses, leveraging on the products and services it offers in its CGC Developmental Programme.

RHB Bank advised SMEs to continuously develop and nurture themselves to become more competitive. The bank is committed to support this key economic sector with its extensive targeted products and services.

PKT Logistics said the event would expand horizons by exposing SMEs to new ideas, trends, and perspectives, while encouraging them to think beyond their current limitations and enabling them to explore innovative approaches to business.

CelcomDigi said it is important for SMEs to mainly focus on growing and expanding their businesses while allowing trusted partners like CelcomDigi to simplify their operations through solutions like managed services.

Matrade is committed to delivering its best to provide advisory assistance to Malaysian companies in accessing the global market, while augmenting Malaysia’s economic development. It offers various support to further expand Malaysian brands to position themselves in the eyes of the world.

SOBA Connect is part of SOBA 2023, which is organised by Star Media Group with CelcomDigi, CGC, PKT Logistics and RHB Bank as main sponsors, and Matrade as official trade promotion partner.

Supported by Bursa Malaysia, SOBA is audited by BDO while radio stations 988 and Suria are official media partners.

To take part in SOBA 2023 or for more information, call SMG Events (017-231 1789) or go to

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