By June Ramli
Former television news anchor Muhammed Ahmad Hamdan remembers the day too well when he decided to quit his anchoring gig at NTV7 to work on his dream of opening a small eatery.
As an avid business journalist, Muhammed decided to take the plunge after his sister had found a shop lot in which they could both run their respective businesses.
Remembering his start in the broadcasting field, Muhammed said that he had just returned from the US after completing a master’s degree in business and economic journalism from Columbia University when he received an offer to read the news with one of the top television stations in Malaysia.
“When I came back I wanted to rest for a bit instead of jumping into a full-time job right away, so the part-time anchor gig was perfect for me,” said the 34-year-old who hails from Subang Jaya.
That gig had soon sprung into a full-blown job and Muhammed found himself working as an assistant news editor for the station.
“A little over two years in the role, I decided that it wasn’t one for me and I left,” he said.
On his restaurant venture, Muhammed explained that the whole formation of the eatery happened by chance too.
“My sister had found this place in USJ, it was an empty lot and we just grabbed it because the rent was cheap,” he told dailystraits.com in a recent interview.
Muhammed said his sister found the shop lot just weeks before he left his job and the rest was history.
Muhammed then decided to rent part of the shop lot from his sister who was keen on running a courier service on the other side of the shop.
“I took the other half and opened a food and beverage business where my younger brother was running a place called MacShack,” he said.
But something unexpected happened later.
Muhammed got a call from his dream company, a very well respected print publication in the Malaysian media sphere.
‘The job came two months after I had left the TV station and when I just started trading in my restaurant business,” he said.
The job offer left him undecided on how he should craft out his next move.
“I had already had the drive to go into my business full-time and this new job offer just blindsided me. I spoke to my parents and eventually came to a decision to start working in the role while moonlighting in my business with the help of staff,” he said.
And so he started the job while employing staff to mend his restaurant business during his absence.
Soon the inevitable happened.
The first round of the movement control order (MCO) which took place in the country had forced Muhammed to make a tough decision which was to shut shop temporarily.
“I could afford the rent as I had a salary and so I decided to shut the place down and paid for the rent with my salary from the journalism job,” he said.
Muhammed also said his landlord had given him and his sister an additional discount making the whole ordeal more bearable.
He later said that temporary closure had been a blessing in disguise as his brother had parted ways with his business partner making him unable to use the MacShack brand.
“My brother later came up with a new brand called Mr Mac and I had to change my whole restaurant branding to that before we opened for business again by the end of August last year,” he said.
And then came another challenge when he had to decide whether he was to go on with his dream job as a journalist or quit his full-time role and concentrate on his business 100 per cent.
In the end, Muhammed went with the latter because he realised that he couldn’t juggle two responsibilities at the same time.
“While I was working, I was running my own business on limited hours and there was no trading on the weekend,” he said.
Now that he has left, the business has grown to leaps and bounds with him having four staff in his payroll and his business clocking in RM1,000 in sales per day.
‘Working as a full-time employee was beginning to take a toll on my business and I realised I was using my work time to do personal stuff which made me feel bad,” he said.
In the end, Muhammed decided to cave in and focus on his business venture full time.
“I looked at the numbers of some other Mr Mac outlets and they were pulling in RM10,000 a month, and so that gave me the confidence to go into the business full time,” he said.
He said his former bosses at the publication were supportive of his departure although they did not see it coming.
Muhammed has since expanded the menu and put his restaurant in several marketplaces such as Food Panda.
“We serve mac and cheese to suit the local palate and it has been doing great,” he said.
On how he felt about his decision to leave his glamorous job, he said there was no regrets at all.
“My business has progressed a lot in the last six months and we are open for longer hours and on the weekends too.
“Being your own boss also has its perks. I now have the time to write a book. I am still deciding on the genre. ”
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