Maryam Suleiman’s love for cooking made her turn her hobby into a full-blown business. She tells us more about why she chose to go into bakery.
What inspired you to go into this business?
I have always liked cooking, right from a very young age. I always had fun helping my mum in the kitchen. It wasn’t long before I added baking to the mix when my mum baked cake and I just fell in love with the idea.
The most satisfying jobs are the hobbies you can make money from. So here I am.
How did you get funding to start?
I started on a small scale in my house. But as the requests grew, so did my need for funds. However, my husband was there to support me both financially and emotionally. I got training from time to time but most of my improvements are self-taught.
How is patronage for your business, knowing you are competing with big brands?
When I started Shuks Cakes, I was just taking orders from some family members and friends. But through their referrals, patronage grew to what we have today. They were very helpful by helping me spread the word.
Then again, our products are of high quality. We strive to cater for just about anybody who has a craving for cakes. Be it the simple cupcakes to the highly decorated cakes. There is always a reason to celebrate; a birthday or wedding here, an anniversary there. Just about everybody is a target for our business.
I can say for now we have our hands full. We are considering expansion as we speak. Presently, we bake and supply an average of 10 cakes a week and we have done that for the over five years that we’ve been in operation. In the next five years, I want this business to be the bakery of choice in Kaduna metropolis and beyond.
How has technology helped you in this business?
Keeping abreast with technology is key when running a business. Be it in the manner you bake, cooking apparatus and utensils to save gas and what have you. We handle requests from very little kids. They just tell you the name of their favourite cartoon character. There may also be new recipes available.
Using the internet, all information is at your finger tip. Then again I never fail to upload my works on my status updates on Facebook and WhatsApp for publicity.
Like every other business, there is the challenge of constant power supply. A lot of the equipment we use are imported. Repairs are quite expensive as the spares are imported too.
Share with us what has helped you to succeed?
You have to be dedicated and extremely focused. You must have a passion for the job. You must also bear in mind that success doesn’t come overnight, and also have faith in God.
I never really sat down and said to myself that I was going to be an entrepreneur. I started this business to make some money from my hobby. With time the business grew. I discovered that not just could I make a full business out of this, I also had time to cater for my growing family. It was also a better option than roaming the streets looking for white-collar job.
I have learnt that dedication is of utmost importance when running your business. You must find something to motivate you at all times. A lit slip can do you a lot of harm along the line.
How can government support entrepreneurs like you?
There is so much equipment we use in the business that we import. With government assistance, we can produce the equipment in Nigeria thereby saving foreign exchange for the country and bringing down the cost of setting up and running businesses.
What should every start-up entrepreneur know?
Start small, be focused, identify your clientele, conduct a market research and finance your business.
What is you educational qualification?
I obtained a BSc in Geography from Kaduna State University.