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I need advice... and to vent..

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Only read this post if you have about 10 mins to spare. It's a lot to take in, lol. I used to post on the forums here a lot but then I took my baking business full time and I have 19-month old twins so very rarely do I have spare time.

Anyway, I started my business about 6 years ago renting kitchen space and only doing wedding cakes. Almost 2 years ago I opened up a store front selling items daily Tues-Friday and also taking special orders, as well as doing wedding cakes. My store is little bitty, only 300sq. ft. total, with my kitchen only being maybe 100sq. ft. of that. I run my business with one standard home oven and one 5qt. mixer because that's all I have room for. It is just me and my mom there, which means I have to limit the number of orders I can do per week (we both do the baking, but I'm the only one who decorates). Recently, my husband got a new, much better paying job so we no longer rely on the income from my shop. I dropped the shop down to only being open Thurs-Fri, and still taking special orders and doing weddings on the weekends. I had hoped this would ease the stress on me, as I was previously working about 60+ hours a week. I was wearing myself out physically and mentally, I missed my kids and I missed my husband. I have found that even with the shop only open two days, we are just as busy with special orders. Weddings are almost becoming more of a hassle for me, because it seems like everyone around here A.) is hateful when it comes to weddings and B.) bothers me non-stop for months leading up to the wedding, and gets angry when I tell them they have to schedule consultations to discuss weddings. Even knowing that information they still drop by/call/email whenever they want and get upset when I cannot stop working on orders that are paid for and due just to answer a question.

I love what I do. My business is like another child for me.. I built it from nothing and have made it decently successful in the two years I have had a shop. I'm not rolling in the dough by any means, but I did make a small profit ($4k cleared) last year. I am not opposed to hard work. I have been working since I was 14, and I don't like to NOT work. However, I do feel like all of this is wearing me down and making me a little, well, edgy icon_smile.gif I have considered just no longer doing wedding cakes, but it has become what I am known for, and I am in the only place in the city I live in to get a wedding cake (legally, lots of home bakers out there). I guess that makes me feel a little obligated.

Here comes the advice part. I may have the opportunity to expand into the building next door to me. If so, my rent would double (but would still be doable) and would allow me to get a bigger oven and more mixers (which I would have to purchase though). It would also allow me to hire employees, which I haven't been able to do because we physically do not have the room to have any more people in the shop besides me and my mom. However, I do have a standard when it comes to the decorations of my cakes. I am NOT the best decorator in the world by any means, but whatever goes out the door has my name and my reputation with it.

I know I can't keep going like I'm going or I will burn out totally. Part of me is already there a little, but I have worked so hard and love my business. Even if I scaled back to special orders only I would still be just as busy. I have to turn down just as many orders as I do during the week.

So I need thoughts.. opinions.. anything. Even if you just say, "wow, you're dumb," it would be nice to have some input from others who do this every day icon_smile.gif I've talked about it to my mom and my husband, but they just don't get it. All I get from them is, "Do what you think is best." Gah, I hate that phrase, lol.
Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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post #2 of 36
Well, they are right, "do what you believe will make you happy and fulfilled and that will not damage you or your family."

Random thoughts:
Taking on the additional space will make you a business manager, not a cake designer. Managing employees is a job in itself. One that you may not like.

Having employees also means payroll, additional taxes and a lot of extra record keeping and reporting. You may not make enough $ to hire that out, so assume that you'll have to learn to do it.

If you think you have pressure now, just wait until you double or triple your business. 60 hours will become 80.

Raise your prices to manage your workflow. It's always better for you to make 1 cake for $100 than 2 cakes for $50.

Weddings and brides suck.
Answers to the most often asked questions re: SPS. SPS instructions are on Page 15 of the Sticky at the top of the Cake Decorating Forum. Supplies can be ordered from Oasis Supply, Global or BakeryCrafts.
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Answers to the most often asked questions re: SPS. SPS instructions are on Page 15 of the Sticky at the top of the Cake Decorating Forum. Supplies can be ordered from Oasis Supply, Global or BakeryCrafts.
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post #3 of 36
Wow, you're dumb. There. Feel better? icon_wink.gif

First of all, no one can make you feel obligated if you don't let them. If you prefer not to do wedding cakes, don't do them. These little bridezillas will find someone to bake their cakes.

Second, you've got to decide what's important to you - - money, cakes, time with your kids while they're small? Which will you be giving up to expand?

I've just had to put my cake business on hold indefinitely, so I understand not doing something that you love. If money is not THE issue anymore, why not raise your prices and only take half as many orders? (Yes, leah_s is right on target with that one.)

Unless mom can take on the business/paperwork/employee side of the expansion, I think you'd be setting yourself up for a super fast burnout. JMO
post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 
Lol, I knew y'all would bring up things for me to consider that I might not otherwise have thought about, such as payroll and all that.

I just don't know what to do about the business currently. We have already lost some customers by closing two more days a week (walk-in business). Part of me wishes that I had waited until later in life to start the business but that's just wishes in the wind at this point. I could always close and reopen *if* I ever feel like it, but that would mean doing something with all of the massive amount of stuff I have. Plus, I have weddings already booked through November..

Why are there no easy answers? icon_smile.gif
Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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post #5 of 36
You should seriously think about the suggestion to raise your prices. Some people will not be willing to pay more, but there are many others who will. So you may end up with fewer orders but will make more money.

I hope things get better. But as Leah said, doubling your space will only cause more headaches. If you are open only two days but working there the other days, I hope you are able to work without being seen. And I strongly suggest you make it clear to a potential customer that you will not tolerate certain behaviors. Put it into the contract - list what you expect from a client. I began to dread (and then hate) dealing with some of my customers. Once I realized that these people were acting like children, I acted like the strict parent. "No" became my favorite word.

Best of luck.

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post #6 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix

If you are open only two days but working there the other days, I hope you are able to work without being seen.



Lol, this becomes an issue all in itself. We have a huge display window that can't be covered, so people can see us in there working. Which means lots of knocking on the door and lots of locked-door pulling. icon_rolleyes.gif
Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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post #7 of 36
Have you considered closing the store front and doing special orders only?
post #8 of 36
Leah is right. Raise those prices. Work load will drop significantly and hopefully, the money will stay the same. It will be a good solution.
post #9 of 36
I am not really sure what you are getting out of the second space? It sounds like you are over booked as it is?

Could you open up into the second space and take on a business partner who could keep the place open during the week? Like say someone who doesn't do cakes but wants to maybe sell sandwiches or gourmet goods and you could just have the cake business as a special order thing? That may end up being a more financially beneficial relationship than doing it all by yourself.
post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 
The second space would allow me to take on other decorators, hopefully taking some of the decorating responsibility off of me. I was Of the mind set that more people would spread out the workload..
Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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post #11 of 36
Sounds like you need a vacation. After your November cakes are done, take some time off to think.
I agree with Leah. Raise those prices and also don't book as many cakes! If you expand your business you are going to be expanding your hours, guaranteed! I may be in the minority, but I have a "no wedding cakes, ever" policy.
post #12 of 36
Have you thought about opening up just half days? Start up early morning, stop at noon. This leaves you with the afternoon for your family. When I was doing cakes many years ago for family & friends that actually paid for cakes, I was getting burned out and raised my prices. I was stunned that they were still willing to pay whatever I asked. It did not slow my part-time business at all. I finally stopped when I had hand surgery twice within 3 months.
Believe in yourself so that you can be the best.
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Believe in yourself so that you can be the best.
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post #13 of 36
Would your mom be able to take over the daily staff management and allow you to focus on the decorating and going out the door aspect of the business?
I agree with Leah in that the staff is a huge headache onto itself, but with two of you to focus on the vision and growth of the business, as long as you both agree who will do what, I think it is very doable. AND, raise your prices!
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
It's unfortunate that I have to say this, but I wouldn't really trust my mom with the paperwork and management. Only because she had a heart attack a couple of years ago and it has "changed" her.. She forgets things a lot.. She gets distracted and offput easily, and she doesn't handle stress well at all... So it really would e all on my shoulders..
Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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Of course I match Wal-Mart's price on cake! :eyeroll:
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post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgifford

Have you considered closing the store front and doing special orders only?


This. Maintaining a walk-in retail presence as opposed to appointment-only consultations is at least twice as much work, and in this case it doesn't sound like it's adding much value.
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