Updated: Jun 16, 2022
✦ Jonah is a Seven-Year-Old Brilliant Baking Star in the Making
We're highly impressed with Jonah. He's only seven but there's so much we can learn from Jonah as a small business owner. March is Small Business Month and Jonah Bakes has our clear, unanimous vote as our Brilliant Small Business Hero.
Small but mighty
Despite his tender years Jonah has already started an incredible career as a baker! He is self-taught, self-motivated and has lots of support and love from his family and friends. His business has even expanded nation-wide.
Many small business owners remember what it felt like when they first started out. They really had to work up the courage to dive in the deep end.
Jonah blew our minds away and totally stole our hearts when we got to know his story. Here is a seven-year-old who has found his true vocation and is making it a reality.
How is he doing it and what is drawing so many people to him?
An unstoppable passion and faith
Jonah has a rare form of skeletal dysplasia.
This is a genetic disorder affecting the bones and joints. It hinders growth and development and causes abnormally-shaped bones. This usually occurs in the head, spine, arms and legs.
This is not all that his tiny seven-year-old body has to deal with. He also has Hajdu-Cheney syndrome (HCS) which is another rare genetic connective tissue disease. Around the world, there are only 50 known cases of people who have this disease. It is characterised by acroosteolysis of the hands and feet, developmental defects of the bones, teeth and joints.
In spite of this, Jonah continues to bake. And he continues to do the next thing he needs to do every single day to make his small business grow and delight customers across the country.
Finding his happy place
Jonah was first bitten by the baking bug when he saw his mother cooking in the kitchen.
The kitchen became a magical place where amazing things happened and where hundreds of possibilities existed. There was nothing you couldn't do in a kitchen with all the beautiful ingredients and fascinating tools. For Jonah, his little fingers understand perfectly how it feels to go from random flour, butter and eggs to holding a warm, fresh, perfectly baked cookie... it is magic!
The kitchen has become Jonah's happy place. It is where he can expand his possibilities and do what he truly enjoys.
After Jonah baked his very first batch of cookies, there was simply no turning back for him. That was it and it is now his vocation.
Those who have found their vocation will attest, it brings you clarity, focus and joy in what you do every single day.
What businesses can learn from Jonah
If you are a small business owner just starting out or if you are feeling run down by the challenges of keeping your business going, Jonah's story can serve as sweet inspiration to keep you going. If you ever get the chance to meet Jonah in person, it won't be just his sweet bakes that you'll remember.
You'll notice his single-minded dedication, clarity, faith and joy in what he does. And if you share your story with him, he'd encourage and cheer you on without battling an eyelid. Jonah has experienced more challenges than most and understands why it is so important to lift one another up.
Here are some nuggets of wisdom we have gleaned from Jonah.
1) Possibility over perfection.
With his disability, Jonah has lots of mountains to climb. Many other random movements which we do not even think about, such as running or jumping are all forbidden. The bones are brittle and any fall means a risk of fracture. And that means being in a cast for several weeks. Over and over again.
So he wasn't born with all the perfect conditions. And Jonah has not let that become a reason to give in or give up. If we all waited for the perfect 'everything' to happen before we started on our dreams, nothing would happen.
Jonah chooses to focus on possibility instead of perfection. And he is forgiving with himself when he hasn't done something perfectly. A little "oopsy" is his way of saying, that's okay, we'll keep going or we'll try again!
Find joy in your imperfection. Have a little giggle, and try, try again!
2) Find your playground and circle of joy.
Find a place or activity where you can brew creative ideas or learn new things. And just as important is finding that supportive community to give you a boost, share in your joys and celebrate your milestones.
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For Jonah, his kitchen is his playground. And his family, friends and ever-increasing customers are his circle of joy.
Look at other small businesses around you and you'll find many similar stories. For TG's Child Care, their award-winning gardens are the playground where children and educators build their circles of joy, exploring and letting their imagination run free. For Noel from Samso, mineral exploration is his playground and, even after years of experience, he can still find something new to learn.
3) Trust and care for your team.
Jamian is Jonah's brother. When Jamian wants to have a go at helping, Jonah is encouraging and quick to let him try. He trusts his assistant and is patient in his teaching. Jonah is also very caring and reminds Jamian to be careful if some steps need a bit more attention.
As a small business owner, if you have a small team to help you grow your business, you need to trust and care for your team. Let them do what they do best, so you can be freed to enjoy what you do best.
It is important to recognise the gifts of your team members and let them shine.
4) Know when to ask for help.
It may be easy to forget after a while that Jonah is still very much a seven-year-old in spite of his business aspirations and achievements.
This means there are certain things he cannot do on his own and he needs to ask for help.
While Jonah has a striking focus and attention on what he's doing that is beyond his years, he also has the maturity to do what is within his control and when he needs help he knows mum or grandma is there to keep things safe.
For a business to be sustainable for the long haul, a little help is necessary. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of intelligence.
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5) Remember why you started.
When Jonah cooks, he is 100% with his ingredients and what he has to do. His sheer focus is highly professional. It is never far from his mind why he started and what his goal is. And every day he is getting closer to his dream bakery. All he needs to do is to love what he does every single day.
Small business owners can get distracted by having to do endless errands. Remember why you started and what you truly enjoy doing. And allow yourself the pleasure of doing what you really love.
6) Enjoy the simple pleasures.
What we take for granted, Jonah appreciates. He delights in his little achievements with every bake. Watching him cook is a way to remind ourselves of so many simple pleasures around us that we are lucky to have.
If you find yourself getting bogged down by endless paperwork, frustrating bureaucracy and worries about growing your business next month, it is a clear sign to have a time out. Find something small you can enjoy fully, and take that few minutes to give yourself some appreciation of what you have and can do.
Beyond Passion to Building Independence
Jonah is clear he wants to have his own bakery in the future.
In the kitchen, Jonah's diseases are put aside and they do not dominate his life. In the kitchen, he can put all his energy and focus on his gift, which is creating delicious treats with joy and love. Here, he has the freedom to let his creativity run, where he is learning something with every single bake.
Jonah is creating something incredible in his kitchen, and it's not just his cookies. He is building and growing his own future independence in society where he will be able to use his skills, experience and talent to earn a living.
Jonah's mother has always been the solid pillar for her children. Given all the challenges the family has had to face through the years, she is always there to support the boys and do all she can to expand their possibilities.
Miyumi started Jonah Bakes as a seed for Jonah's baking aspirations. And her belief and confidence in what he can do is taking off. They've gone from simply baking for friends and family to delivering their cookies nation-wide.
Paying it Forward
Jonah's family understands what it's like struggling through adversities. As Jonah Bakes is taking off, they have plans to use it as a platform to help other differently-abled people in Malaysia who love to bake and would welcome the opportunity to use their skills and gain independence.
They have been given a lot of love, support, understanding and help from people around and paying it forward is the natural next step.
The family is looking for a place with the right infrastructure that is disabled-friendly so that Jonah Bakes can expand from their family kitchen and online platform to a professional culinary space and grow to allow other disabled bakers to join in.
There are future plans to conduct workshops and classes for disabled children who, like Jonah, have found their own special joy in baking. There is also the possibility of catering to cafés and restaurants in the future.
Cooking with Jonah
Jonah is one of My Blue Tea's featured chefs and he's the youngest one there among all the other heavyweights! He shared with My Blue Tea a video of him making pandan kaya with his little brother Jamian, and it has inspired followers to have a go at making their own pandan kaya at home!
Check out the video here!
Enjoy a 15% discount with My Blue Tea non-promotional items by checking out with coupon code BRILLIANT15
A Happy Cookie, Anyone?
Jonah has shared precious lessons we can all implement as small business owners. And sometimes the message is as simple as this:
Happy cookies make the world a better place!
If you live in Malaysia, you're lucky as Jonah Bakes delivers nation-wide! You can get to try his lovely chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread, and remember to try his cheddar cheese bons and cocktail bons too! Jonah uses quality ingredients such as 100% butter made from fresh Danish milk, local flour, Italian coarse sea salt, and Malaysians will recognise the special local touch with the taste of gula melaka!
We are waiting for the day Jonah Bakes will grow so big they can deliver in Australia and worldwide too! We are proud of this Brilliant Little Baker!
Website - https://www.jonahbakes.com/
My Blue Tea is also a sponsor for the Go Fund Me campaign to support Jonah
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