Mr Hakim Isman decided to quit his full-time marketing job last October to start The Cookie Brothers, selling ready-to-eat cookie dough in a jar.
Although the home-based business is just six months old, it has attracted more than 3,400 followers on Instagram, 4,220 on TikTok and 63 on Facebook. Having a founder who is marketing and social media savvy certainly helps.
“I feel that it’s really important to be transparent with your followers. Show them not only about your products but also how you are running your business,” said Mr Hakim.
“So that’s why in every step of the way, I would post anything with regard to my business – take a photo, or perhaps a video, make it into worthwhile content and just post it up on my social media.”
While Mr Hakim’s entrepreneurial venture has been fairly successful so far, he’s encountered his fair share of challenges. For example, an anonymous individual had filed a complaint against The Cookie Brothers for selling their home-made products in a physical store, which is not allowed if the home-based business is not registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) yet.
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Mr Hakim was fined for the oversight as a result. But instead of getting demoralised, he learnt his lesson quickly and went on to register his business. He also looked for a central kitchen to produce his products as required by the Singapore Food Agency in order to sell in physical stores.
“It’s really all about perspective. If you want your challenges to affect you in a negative way, of course they will affect you in a negative way. If you’re positive and look at the bright side, you’ll always be able to overcome any kind of negative situation,” he said.
Maribel Colmenares Martinez is another home-based F&B business owner who’s made a leap of faith to pursue her entrepreneurial dream in 2019. The founder of Tamales Mexicanos en Singapur started using social media actively to build her brand and engage her customers when her business slowed down during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period last April.
“When the government implemented the enhanced circuit breaker measures last year, I felt the hit,” said Ms Martinez, adding that she was unable to accept any orders at all.
“I took it as an opportunity to further plan and think of ways to improve the experience we bring to our customers, including going digital and allowing our clients to order online (through order forms on Cococart or delivery services like Halal With Hew and Urban Tummy) instead of manually ordering through chats on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram,” the 34-year-old adds.
Ms Martinez shares how platforms like Halal With Hew has benefited her tamales business. “We are very grateful for platforms like Halal With Hew as it gives us visibility and access to new clients.”
The platform has helped strengthen the online presence of small HBBs like Tamales Mexicanos en Singapur. “We managed to collaborate with the Mexican Embassy in Singapore in creating a special menu during the independence day celebrations last year,” Maribel adds.
Halal With Hew is a food delivery website specially designed for halal home-based food businesses. It’s founded by Mr Shane Ehsan Hew, a 30-year-old car sales advisor and his wife, Ms Junisa Jamel. They designed the portal themselves, hoping to help small business owners deliver their products at more affordable rates.
“During Ramadan [last year], I was a one-man show for deliveries and most of the time, I was late, so there were a lot of complaints,” he chuckled.
He eventually saved up some money to get full-time delivery personnel and even managed to cut Halal With Hew’s delivery fee per trip from the initial $10 to $4.50 to improve customer satisfaction.
Mr Hew has since sold the platform to Ms Hannah Harmanshah, who came to know about Halal With Hew on Facebook. To ensure the sustainability of the platform, the delivery fee has been increased to $7.90 per trip.
“Now that we’re in Phase 3, traffic operations are almost back to normal, the road charges are back in place and people are also ordering from Central Business District (CBD) areas, which causes our delivery riders to get charged for ERP,” Ms Hannah explained the need for the increase in fees.
She adds that she hopes to attract more home-based businesses to come onboard. She also has plans to launch an app for Halal with Hew to cater to the mobile-first customers.
“As of now, there are still a lot of HBBs out there that are not aware of our platform because we still hear on social media that HBBs are still charging quite a steep fee for deliveries … Halal With Hew will be able to lighten the load of HBB owners as they can rely on our delivery drivers and as for customers, they’ll know that we have an affordable flat delivery fee,” she said.