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Coming Out of Cake-tirement

18 May

So I’ve complete just stopped making cakes, as you can tell from the tumble weeds blowing around on the blog.  The first part of this year has been emotionally hard for me.  Coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to open up a cake shop was really harder than I thought and I just stopped making cakes.  Some people reading this I’m sure are grinning with pleas.  I know that if there is one thing people love more than success, it is seeing other people fail.  Failure or not, I’ve survived and I’ve got a cake in the oven right now!

There have been some positives to not making cakes.  First, I’ve lost over ten pounds and going strong.  I never learned how to make cake and not eat it.  Also cake is so time consuming when I was busy with cakes, I wouldn’t exercise and I would eat crap because I really didn’t feel like cooking.  As I come out of retirement, that’s something that I have to work on.  That being said, “Fat Friday’s” are officially dead.  I’m going to try to focus cake business posts and practicing skills on smaller cakes (that I can take to work for other people to eat).  Hopefully that strategy will help keep the pounds coming off.  Second, I put all of my energy into getting a job and I landed a great one!  I’m working at Georgia State University as the Social Media Ninja.  It is a new position and there is lots of work to be done!

Actually, I was so burnt out on cakes that I made cakes last fall that I didn’t even post to the blog!  Hopefully over the next few weeks I can get my act together and edit the videos of some of those cakes.  As for the cake I’m making right, it is a graduation cake for Dan’s nephew Gage.  We are having a graduation party for him this weekend.  Dan has really gone all out fixing up our backyard.  It looks awesome!  We have a nice little oasis out there to relax in now.

So I’m back!  Hopefully for a long time and I’ll you’ll be getting more cake related post!

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Your Mission

16 Nov

What exactly is a mission statement?

The most important part of the business plan is your mission statement.  The mission statement is going to set the tone for every decision  your business makes!  It is a brief statement that completely sums up your business,  and what makes it unique.  I can not stress enough the importance of the mission statement, and it should not be taken lightly.  This is not an area of your business plan that will come easily and you should be spending a great deal of time making sure the wording of the mission statement is precise.

Why?  If you’re reading this your probably looking to start a cake business or a bakery, so why can’t your mission statement just say something like “to make really great tasting cakes that are beautiful.”  If you are starting a cake business, yeah I hope you make beautiful and tasty cakes, but a mission statement like that is not original and is not going to help your business make long term decisions.

Let’s look a a few examples of some really great mission statements:

Google:

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.


Stephen R. Covey’s Mission Statement:
To inspire, lift and provide tools for change and growth of individuals and organizations throughout the world to significantly increase their performance capability in order to achieve worthwhile purposes through understanding and living principle-centered leadership.

Facebook:

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world  more open and connected.

What do these mission statements have in common?    They are specific to their organization’s core values, but they don’t have to outline every detail of what they do.  Try to focus on wording that gives you room to grow but defines how unique your business is.  Whenever a decision needs to be made you should be able to look to your mission statement and ask “does this fit with our mission?”  If the answer is “no” than that decision is made.

Take a lot of time on this part of your business plan.  It will pay off in the end!

Next Tuesday – Vision

 

The Business of the Biz

9 Nov

As you know we moved to Atlanta, GA last summer with the hopes of taking Sweetie Cakes & Pies to the next level and open up a shop.  We have spent a lot of time planning this and trying to make it work and sadly it is just not in the cards right now.  It doesn’t mean we are giving up, we love making cakes and are compelled to.  We’ll still be posting cakes, photos and videos here for everyone to see.  It is our hobby and that is not going to change.

How did we come to this decision?  A business plan!  I know there are a lot of other cake artist out there who want to  turn their passion into their career but aren’t sure how to go about doing it. The first step is a business plan.  It will force you to think of all the logistics involved in your endeavor.  A new business is hard enough to run and most of them fail.  Jumping into it without a business plan is a sure fire way for that to happen.

A business plan isn’t as scary as you might think.  We spent several weeks putting one together for Sweetie Cakes & Pies only to realize that now wasn’t the best time for us to do this.  Hopefully there will be a time in the future that it will be possible.  Without this essential tool we would have been heading down a road to failure.  So no other cake artist faces this, we will be posting business planning tips on this web page once a week.  Check back every Tuesday.  I hope that it will inspire other artist to take the business side of their creations to the next level.

Check back next Tuesday for Mission and Vision!

Cake Free June

27 May

Accounting Image

As many of you know June is going to be a slow month on the blog. Dan is leaving this weekend for Atlanta and taking with him ALL my cake stuff. So pretty much no baking will be happening in June. This is not entirely a bad thing.

Benefits of no cakes in June:

1. My waste line. Even if it is a cake for someone else, there is always scraps around to nibble on.
2. Other people’s kitchen. I am homeless for the month of June and will be staying with friends. Something tells me their generosity does not extend to cleaning up my cake messes.
3. Time to take cake of some business. I am also taking this month to take a three week financial accounting course. I took this course in college (in fact we are using the same book) but I didn’t really have a personal vision for myself at the time. Now that I have a goal of starting a business, I’m sure the class will resonate with me in a different way. It is a three credit course in only three weeks so my time is pretty much going to be accounted for with accounting!

Field Trip!

17 Mar

I have been reading and working on the business plan for Sweetie Cakes and Pies!  One major hole in my plan though is that I don’t have any professional training or experience in either business or pastry arts.

I took business classes as an undergrad and I have a lot of experience with marketing and communication.  I feel very confident in analyzing a market and developing communication strategies.  Particularly with social media, but that’s what I do now.  Where I’m  lacking is things like labor relations, business law, taxes, managerial accounting, ect…  but I didn’t get into business school so I’ll be learning these things by my own research and asking for help as needed.

As far as the pastry art goes, I know I’ve got talent, but I am self taught.  I can produce some impressive and delicious cakes but where is the credibility on paper for investors?  There are a few ways to proceed.  First,  just push ahead without any formal training and fight for the product I believe in.  Second, try to get a job where I will gain hands on experience from a professional pastry chef.  Three, go to a reputable culinary school.

I have not settled on any of these options yet and  I am exploring all that is out there.  Next Monday I’ll be visiting and sitting in on a class at the French Culinary Institute in NYC!  I’m really excited about their pastry arts program.  It is six months and you attend class Monday – Friday.  The cake decorating professor is Ron Ben-Israel one of my cake idols! During the six months you learn everything from cookies and tarts to chocolates and cakes the proper french way.  Plus I would finally get to live in NYC for a bit.  I have so many friends there and I miss city life SSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOO badly.  It would also hopefully allow me the time and open some doors to get an internship in a well established cake shop in NYC.  This would take care of two of my cake credibility issues.

Sounds great right?  All of it sounds perfect until the price tag.  I understand it is a high quality education and that you have to pay for it.  I was willing to take out massive loans for business school but with the expectation that there would be a fairly immediate pay off.  I can’t say the same for pastry school.  With a price tag of $40,000 plus living expenses I am approaching with caution.

Over the next few weeks I should get my official lay off notice and I can talk more candidly with HR about the continuing education options.  There is a grant available from New York State for education of displaced workers, but I have to find out what the fine print is and if I would qualify.  If I did, I’m not sure what the amount of the grant is but I know that you get to keep your unemployment while in school and you don’t have to be looking for a job.  I’m also meeting with the financial aid office next week when I visit The French Culinary Institute.  So I’ll see how low I can get the tuition before I make any final decisions.

In the mean time any thoughts from people who have been in this position before?  I’ve read a lot of horror stories about culinary school but none about the French Culinary Institute and none specifically about pastry programs.  If you have attented the French Culinary Institute I would really apprecaite some feedback of what you thought of the program.

I’ll let everyone know what my impression was next week after I return! 🙂

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