CAKE entrepreneur Mat Husin Ismail is beaming with satisfaction every time he talks about his successful business which he embarked on 19 years ago after he opted to retire from the army.
The 56-year-old’s business, called Baulu dan Kek Kak Long, specialises in making ‘baulu’, a local delicacy comprising mini sponge cakes.
In an interview with Bernama recently, he says that his cake shop in Paya Jaras, Sungai Buloh, which produces about 5, 000 pieces of ‘baulu’ every day with the assistance of four workers, began almost two decades ago at his home with a humble investment of RM5, 000 including several small ovens.
The cakes are delivered to various outlets throughout the Klang Valley, while larger sponge cakes are also made based on orders from individual customers – and business is so good, that he is planning to expand.
But Mat Husin shares that it was not all smooth sailing from the beginning.
In fact, before specialising in the cake business, he had tried his hand at other ventures including hairdressing, pizza-making and selling pre-paid mobile phone cards.
“It’s normal for those with higher academic qualifications to earn higher salaries, but if people with lower qualifications like me want to earn that same high salaries, we have to venture into business, ” he says, adding that he was also prompted by the fact that he did not have a pension to rely on in his old age.
His experiences taught him that it was not easy to succeed in business, as he faced all kinds of challenges and needed to be patient and focused.
However, according to Mat Husin who served in the army for 18 years, the advantage which former army personnel enjoy is that it is easy to receive loans to start a business but they need to provide evidence of how their businesses perform.
He also advises entrepreneurial enthusiasts, including ex-servicemen, to get experience in doing business before starting out on their own, and the best way to gain experience is to work for six months as a junior staff and do one’s best to learn the ins and outs of a particular business.
“Don’t be over-ambitious when going into business and utilise your money wisely, ” he says, suggesting that if one had RM100, 000 at hand, only RM20, 000 should be used for a business venture, as the balance could be relied on in the future if the business failed or needed to be adapted.
Most importantly, he says: Don’t rely on others to run your business.
“In a food business, for example, if the cook runs away, your business will close. Learn to be a skilful cook so that business can continue.” – Bernama