For Zaida Ibrahim and Amelia Nahar, co-founders of Impressed Juice, leaving their corporate jobs to start a business may have needed a lot of getting used to, but their perseverance proved to be fruitful with the success of Impressed Juice.
By Nicolette Ng
As avid health and fitness enthusiasts, it is only natural for Zaida Ibrahim and Amelia Nahar to join the recent bloom of healthy eateries in Malaysia. Taking its name from a play of the words “I-am-pressed”, Impressed Juice opened its doors in May 2015, serving fresh cold-pressed juice to healthy eaters.
Both Zaida and Amelia left their day jobs to focus on Impressed Juice, adapting to the change from being in the more organised and structured corporate world to having to create the structure of their own business. “Yes, we
can do it on a part-time basis but then it would always be our second dream. We believe that if we want to do something, we should always put our 100 per cent into it or it will just be a ‘by the way’ thing,” says Zaida.
Their experiences from the corporate world came in handy in putting in place a good structure for their business above all else. It also allowed them to understand what their staff wants as they were once in their shoes.
“I think it’s very important to work for people first before you start your own because that’s where you learn and build discipline. One of the mistakes we did was to compare our business with the corporate world, which is much more efficient, but it’s different so we have to learn how to manage expectations. We grow and learn a lot from people we meet and it’s really important to be resourceful,” says Zaida.
Leading up to the launch, the duo had to pitch for financial support, hunt for locations and experiment with flavours in their kitchens to make sure their healthy cold-pressed juices are also flavourful. The whole process, according to Zaida, took much longer than expected because they did not know what to expect. “Both of us came from the corporate world and starting a business is very different. For example if you have to do something and the timeline is one week, you will have to get it done in one week. But with the business, we realised that not everyone works like that. We could give someone a timeline of one month and he would come back to us only after two months and there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s one of the few things we learned when we first started, but now we’re better in gauging as we’ve learned to manage our expectations.
"If you believe in something, then just do it. Most people talk about their ideas all the time, but what differentiates an entrepreneur is his actions."
“We have learned that it’s not about how perfect our plan is, but it’s more about getting it done. Sometimes things don’t turn out exactly how we want it but it’s best to just move forward and look for the best available option. If you aim for perfection then it’ll never work because you’ll never start,” says Zaida as she recalls her experience.
Amelia adds, “If you believe in something, then just do it. Most people talk about their ideas all the time, but what differentiates an entrepreneur is his actions. Implementation is the most difficult thing for any entrepreneur and to get through that experience and hardship… you need to be prepared for it. You have to be really committed with the time and you cannot just give up easily.”
Besides that, Zaida and Amelia admit that having a great partner in the business as well as support from their family and friends did help them get through the ups and downs when building the business. “Sometimes I get frustrated with the way some things are done, but my father once told me ‘If everyone is like you, then they will have their own juice bar too’ and that just make sense,” Zaida recalls.
In managing their business, the two complement each other perfectly as they divide their task according to their abilities and cover for one another when either one cannot perform her task for the day. While Amelia takes care of the central kitchen, Zaida manages the store and markets the brand.
They also value feedback from friends and staff. “So far, the team we have is great. We let them think of our business as their own, hoping that they will take the initiative to come up with ideas and share them with us. We don’t just manage our staff from top to bottom, but from bottom to top as well. It is important to make sure our staff are happy,” Zaida recalls.
While most people think that starting a business means an immediate increase in income, Zaida and Amelia begs to differ. According to them, the first few months or even a year into the business require a lot of funds. “It’s true when they say if you want to be an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be able to sacrifice the first few years for long-term success,” Amelia explains.
When asked what is next for Impressed Juice, the duo share that they are looking to expand their current distribution to cafés and other store locations. They are currently in talks with a few malls, which they admit is one of the perks of having a physical store – people are becoming more interested in the business. As a brand Zaida and Amelia have a vision to make Impressed Juice a healthy living brand. They started off with cold-pressed juice but have recently introduced healthy snacks as well. For those of you who are into healthy living, but do not know where to start, they will be launching a website to promote healthy living, which features everything from exercises to recipes and much more.
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