Running a business is not for the faint-hearted. According to statistics 20 percent of small businesses fail in their first year, 30 percent in their second year, and 50 percent fail after five years in business while 70 percent of small business owners are out of business within 10 years.
Fazila Lulat has been running her House of Cakes business for 15 years.
Since its inception, House of Cakes has grown to be one of the most sought-after and creative cake houses in Zambia. Mrs Lulat caters for a wide range of customers and she makes cakes to match any pocket.
“As House of Cakes I have clients from all walks of life. I have packages to suit all budgets, I cater for the simplest requests to some of the, most intricate cakes imaginable,” she explains.
Although cake-making has become a popular and almost saturated market Mrs Lulat has managed to not only stay afloat, but to run a thriving cake business. She owes her success to her eagerness to learn and to being able to balance her creative side with her business side.
“As a cake-maker I’m still learning every day. As with any career, there are always new techniques and more efficient methods of doing what you do. I have attended several masterclasses held by some of the world’s top bakers. I also try to keep abreast with new developments and apply them in my business. Above all, I run a business first and foremost, so I’m up-to-date with the requirements of running a business, including managing employees, my clients and marketing my business.”
Mrs Lulat, who bakes her cakes from scratch, has a very busy schedule managing House of Cakes; often she works up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.
Despite her busy schedule Mrs Lulat always puts her family first, although juggling family life and business can be a challenge, she makes sure to spend quality time with her family.
“For most people juggling the demands of a career and personal life is an on-going challenge. I often ask my children how they feel about my busy schedule and let them be my compass and do my best to adjust accordingly.”
Her entrepreneurial efforts were recently recognised and celebrated when she was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year accolade at the Stanbic Anakazi Women of the Year Award ceremony.
“It was one of my proudest moments to win such an accolade, particularly because cake-making is such a small niche business but a viable business, nonetheless. Winning the 2 awards means there is hope for men and women out there who are willing to take risks and branch out of mainstream careers to do what they love.”
Mrs Lulat is particularly proud to have been honoured by Anakazi Banking, an initiative by Stanbic Bank to empower women through giving them access to finance and financial services.
“I have learnt effective communication and managerial techniques for effective business. The fact that Anakazi is also providing masterclasses to women to help them become better entrepreneurs is a good development.”
Anakazi Banking offers masterclasses and workshops to its customers, including training sessions from Babson College.
Mrs Lulat hopes to one day open the House of Cakes Zambia Training Institute to pass on her knowledge and empower others.
“I would like to give back to the cake-making industry by equipping others with the skills and know-how to create a sustainable business for cake making.”
As for anyone hoping to enter the cake making business or become an entrepreneur, Mrs Lulat has the following advice: “Don’t be afraid to explore your talents, to think outside the conventional and discover alternative means of generating income.”