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Business Branding

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In this episode of BOBTV, we talk about branding your business and how important it is. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I wanted to add in a bit more detail to this video.

Branding your business is a bit of a process, one that’s based on experience and time and the resources you have available to you. The first cake business cards I ever had were free from Vistaprint (actually, I think I paid for postage) and they had a picture of a cherry pie on them. Not just any cherry pie – a cherry pie nestled in an autumn scene, with leaves and whatnot. Classy, right? I mean that just SCREAMS custom cake company…not. I’d never baked a pie in my life and certainly I was not starting a pie company, but that’s the only vaguely sweet food option they had for cake business cards. I also hadn’t really thought much about investing in the business so at that point it was a matter of what was quick and free. As time went on and I could afford better things, I got a logo professionally made, a website professionally built, had business cards made, developed company colours and so on..and eventually yes, I got rid of the pie cards but it took a while.

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If you’re fortunate to invest in all of those things from the get-go, I would invest in some branding -but if you can’t, it’s not a huge drama. Instead brand your business on what it stands for more than what it makes. Is it about FUN? It it kooky in style? Targeted to vintage brides? Reflect what the business is and what it does for your clients more than worrying too much about having it all perfect from Day One. You don’t need to worry too much about having the exactly right logo or exactly right colours at the beginning – at first, you need to just GET IT OUT THERE. You can evolve your brand as you go and as you can afford better quality branding, but at all times…your business brand needs to reflect what you currently do AND what you aim to be. I do a lot of digital business reviews and one of the things I notice most is that people say, “I want to run a high end wedding cake business,” but the pictures of their website include a bunch of cakes that are aimed towards kids, or the photos are poor quality, or the logo has very little to do with cake (pie, anyone?!) or they’ve got every cake picture on there starting with the one they made for their one year old (who just turned 18.) Clients don’t really need to know where you’ve been (from a skill point of view) – they need to know what you are and where you’re going.

HINT: This is also how you start to narrow your niche down. Once you’ve figured out what your “thing” is, start to edit the photos on your social media and website to reflect those types of products and aesthetics. Talk about and share the things which will appeal to your target client. Once you’ve worked out your niche, everything about your branding should begin to reflect that niche.

So here’s what we had to say about how important photos and reviews really are:

Sentimental Bullshit

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of teaching 14 women (who ranged in age from 18 to “let’s not talk about it”) how to start or better run their cake businesses. By the end of the class there were lots of hugs, promises to stay in touch and support one another, a ton of gratitude and a whole lot of tears (some mine. I’m a crier and I’m not even vaguely embarrassed about it).  Every time we’ve taught it, I’ve always felt that something kinda magical happens in that class. When I click to the last slide, I get all awkward and just say, “Well, that’s it. We’re done,” and everyone sits there in total silence staring at me and we all feel a bit sad that it’s over.  Nobody wants to get up and break the spell. I always have to resist the urge to bawl right then. I can’t really explain the feeling that happens in that room…it’s just, well, it’s magical.

This past weekend was the last 2 day class I’m teaching for the foreseeable future (although I’m teaching a 1 day version in the United States this September) so I’ve been feeling a little melancholy about it.  This class was an exceptionally emotional class for me to teach because I knew most of those student’s backstories. I knew that some had to sacrifice a hell of a lot financially, emotionally, and even physically just to be sitting there. I knew that some barely made it to class for those same reasons. I knew that some were pinning HUGE hopes on that class, that somehow just being there would inspire them to finally move forward rather than keep treading water.  This class was a really, really big deal for all of them and for me.

At the end of it, one of the students pulled me aside and said, “I’m totally broke, but I still wanted to give you something to say thank you. When I emailed you a few months ago about my situation, your reply changed everything for me. It gave me strength. I know what you said to me in that email was mostly sentimental bullshit but I didn’t care because it gave me the strength to keep going and to be here and every day I’m getting a little bit better. So I just wanted to give you something to say thank you.”

She thinks all she gave me was a thank you, some yummy treats and an enormous hug.

She gave me a WHOLE LOT more than that. 

I say and teach this a lot:  Having a purpose (or a “big why” or “the 3am reason”) for your business is the single best way to stay on track with your goals, help you set new ones, push yourself out of your comfort zone and ensure that you are running your business based on your own values and within your own boundaries. Although I’m usually super clear on my own business purpose, once in a while I’ll lose my way and start to feel a bit wobbly about it all, or it starts to feel like my purpose is evolving and I find that kinda scary. (I usually feel this way when I’m on the brink of taking things to the next level.)

You know what that student gave me when she thanked me and gave me the only gift she could afford?

She gave me a brand new purpose for my business.

I write the blog, the e-courses, the live courses, the webinars (etc etc etc) because sentimental bullshit WORKS. It makes people stronger, and it makes ME stronger. That’s why I’m doing it, and that’s why you’re sitting here reading it.

Sentimental bullshit WORKS.

BoBTV: When the lines of client and friend blur

This is a question that comes up a lot, especially at the beginning of our businesses when so many of our clients are our friends and family. At some point you do cross over from the clients you know to the ones you don’t, but even then it can be hard to navigate because what we do is very personal. We get to know people at a very emotional time in their lives, and for clients we serve over and over, they can start to feel like friends. In this episode we’ll tell you how we deal with this situation.

If you’re interested in social media and learning more about marketing, please join the mailing list for Confident Marketing, which is my online class launching this August! Here’s the link: Confident Marketing Group.