Small businesses or home/social media based businesses are becoming largely popular in Bahrain as of late. However, quite a lot of people might not view them as legit career paths or simply regard them as ‘side projects’, while in fact, almost every entrepreneurial venture has begun as a small home-based business.
To learn more about the reality of home-based businesses and their scope, we spoke with Fatima AlRaee, a young business owner, and an aspiring Chef. Fatima is all about creating deliciousness with her fast-growing baking venture, Dezertbh.
What started as an interest, soon turned into a business going from length to length. We talked to Fatima about her journey of starting a small business and how she manages to stand out in a market that seems to be quite saturated and competitive.
To start from the beginning, how did Dezertbh come about?
I studied International Business at university, being one of those who didn’t really know what I wanted to do, it seemed like a good general choice. Immediately after graduation, I started working at a real estate firm in Sales and Marketing, so nothing to do even remotely with baking. When it comes to Dezert, up until about 2013, I had never even gone into a kitchen in my life. Baking started out as a random interest, trying out and messing up even the instant mixes. Slowly over time taught myself with a lot of experiments and trials and errors. I found it to be quite therapeutic and that it actually made me happy. I would try out different things and take them to grandma’s house every Friday. My family then started asking me to bake for their own gatherings and pushed me to actually price my products. What started as simply baking for family and friends turned into a business with help of social media and many events across the country. If I were to credit anyone for this, it would totally be my family for pushing me into taking this step.
How do you manage to run your business and keep a full-time job in parallel?
It can be overwhelming sometimes, but fortunately, I have a lot of support from my work when it comes to Dezert. Actually, I recently took quite a long leave to complete an extensive Baking course in Dubai and people at work have been really encouraging. I do eventually plan to take on Dezert full time, but before that, I need to make sure I have a built a strong foundation to be able to support it.
What do you think about the whole ‘Cupcake syndrome’ or the wave of baking/dessert based small businesses coming up in Bahrain? How do you manage to stay relevant?
There definitely is a lot of competition, but the main thing to stay relevant I would say is to continue being creative. I would look at what others are doing and try to do something different. If you notice, I started out with things like truffles, cookie cakes, things that weren’t quite common at the time. Even when it comes to things like marketing or managing social media, I always try to be more interactive and engaging with my customers. The best feeling is when you see customers ordering again, that’s when you know your product is good and you’re doing well.
What is next for you and Dezertbh?
I’m planning to continue with my baking course in the coming year. It not only helped me improve my culinary skills but also taught me a lot about managing a restaurant. My eventual goal is to actually turn Dezert into a restaurant. I’ve also started having my food sold at FoodLab and am approaching other places as well to build a stronger customer base.
What would you say to someone looking to start a small business in Bahrain?
There definitely would be challenges and difficulties, so you need to be sure you actually love what you are getting into. You need to be flexible and open to change and accepting others’ viewpoints. Start with testing out your products and adjusting based on the reaction you get. You need to know if your product is good and change it when it’s not. I really appreciate constructive feedback and critique as it helps me grow. A good background in handling finances is also a great plus. And since social media is a large part of home-based businesses, knowing how to manage your social media presence is very very important.