By Gbenga Osinaike
That Saturday, March 10 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers Ikeja, Lagos, Ikeolu Biobaku, Chief Responsibility Officer of Mix and Bake Confectionery held her listeners spell bound by her story. It was the 9th edition of Business Career Forum organized by All Ladies Affairs. The organisation being run by Pastor Mrs. Sade Toyin Kehinde. The theme for this year’s forum was “launching into the deep”
Indeed, Biobaku was best placed to tell the story of how a business can start from the scratch and grow to becoming a household name. Though she confessed at the forum that she still had more grounds to cover in the cake industry, it was evident from her speech that she had indeed carved a niche for herself in that industry. And, indeed, many could attest to the giant strides she had taken in the industry.
The beginning as she stated was not as rosy as people would want to believe. But the beauty of her sojourn in the cake world is that she left a thriving career in the banking sector to pursue the business. Talking about passion, Biobaku said, “I had always loved to bake cakes. I remember when I was in secondary school I got prizes in home economics and my parents were not too impressed. They were wondering what I would use home economics for. In those days the career line was engineering medicine and all the high-sounding professions. But I found that I loved to bake and cook generally.”
That passion was what drove her into the baking business eventually. Upon graduation from the University of Ibadan, she secured a job in the banking industry. But then the love for baking did not leave her. While in the bank, she would bake cakes for her colleagues and interested people. She was doing that for a while and soon had the opportunity of attending a seminar where she was inspired to turn her passion to business.
Biobaku who read Economics at the university of Ibadan said since she caught the bug to do cake business, God has not allowed her to rest on her oars. “The story for me is that of moving from one level to the other. It has been God working through me. I started in our flat. I would bake cakes and everywhere would be full of cakes including our bedroom. I was doing that for a long time when the Holy Spirit inspired me to launch out, get a space outside our home and face the business proper.”
That step was to redefine her commitment and test her strength. “It was a challenging time. I thought by moving out things would begin to look up. But that was when business came to a standstill. I was contemplating dumping the business. The frustration was rising and I was really troubled. Then we had a small shop in Ojodu. So, I had to go to God in prayers and asked him what to do. “
Rather than get a comforting direction, the Lord told her to begin a free training class for would be confectioners. “It was a tough one to do. How can I start free training when I had invested so much i training myself. I had the opportunity of travelling out of the country to learn more about the industry. Now the Lord wants me to start a free training class.”
After dilly dallying for a long time, she succumbed to the instruction of God and began the free training. But she did not give all. She would keep the recipe that were close to her heart and just do a general training until the Lord urged her to release the recipe to the people she was training. “It was a tough one to do. I cried that day and felt what kind of instruction is this. But I obeyed and released the recipe to the people. And that was it. The training became the outlet through which we bounced back. People started getting to know us and the news of Mix and Bake began to spread. It was something quite unusual.
The intriguing thing about the free training is that the Lord asked her to introduce a praise worship session and a time when the word would be shared during the training. So, before the training, people would praise God and would read from the scriptures. She had opportunity of inviting Pastor Sam Adeyemi to share the word at the free training forum on a number of times. “It was amazing that Pastor Adeyemi could honour such invitation. He would come and people would even surrender their lives to Christ at the forum.” She said.
Since the introduction of the free training, Biobaku says things have been looking up for the organization. They have secured properties in both Lagos and Abuja in miraculous circumstances, an indication that God is in the boat of the business. As it is, Mix and Bake is one of the leading confectionery companies. But she told participants at the forum that there is always room for improvement in what one is doing. “Right now, I am thinking of the next level. I am already getting bored of where we are and there is the need for us to move forward. What I have discovered is that God will not give you opportunities if He knows you don’t have the capacity to handle the opportunity.
Lessons from Biobaku
1. Don’t ignore your passion. Your passion is crucial in your drive to success. It could be the springboard for your breakthrough in life. In my case I had passion for baking and I leveraged on it. Your passion is what you enjoy doing. You can make money and still enjoy yourself
2. Do not despise the days of little beginning. We started doing the cake business in our house and it was so sweet doing it at home. It was while at home we got a net breaking experience that catapulted us to the next level. But we did not stay at home. We had to launch out.
3. In launching out there will be discouragement and there may be temptation to quit. Don’t quit no matter the frustration. Your breakthrough may just be around the corner.
4. What is God telling you per time? In my own case, God told me to begin free training. It was hard but I had to obey. What is more painful is that God asked me to release the recipe that I was guarding jealously. Don’t be afraid to release information that will benefit others. But more importantly, what is God telling you to do per time.
5. Be a team player. I am a team player. I regard myself as the Chief Responsibility Officer. I take responsibility. But beyond that I believe in sharing ideas and carrying my team along.
6. with Jesus in the boat of your business, you can be sure that he will keep giving you strategies that would bring your business to limelight. You need to connect to him if you want to make real and lasting success. The people of the world use other means to prosper in business but anybody in Christ can’t afford the other means. We can only stay with Jesus because he is the one that gives success and adds no sorrow to it. So, let Jesus be the driver of your business.
7. Use your business to bring people to Christ. Our business should be our pulpit. We can’t afford to ignore the call to win souls. In mix and bake, we hold fellowship during our free training and we use the opportunity to invite people to share in the saving knowledge of Jesus. What gladdens my heart is to see people coming to know Jesus through the platform. I am sure God has great delight in it. So our business must also be our pulpit. It may not be as straight as what we do, but I believe the Holy Spirit will teach you what to do