Have you ever designed a cake before you’ve worked out how to actually make it? Sat down with a client and sketched out a concept which looked great on paper but secretly you’re wondering how the hell you’re going to pull it off? Looked at a picture of a cake online and then worked out how to make it yourself?
In other words, have you ever noticed that the design you’re trying to achieve actually defines how you will go about making it?
The same thing is true for your cake business.
Here’s the big question I’ve got for you. What’s the final design for your cake business?
What I’m really asking you is,why are you doing this? And by “this” I mean, why are you in business for yourself? What result are you working towards?
Are you in business because….
- you simply love making cake (and you’re good at it)?
- you need a job with flexible hours?
- your friends told you to?
- you wanted to be your own boss?
- you need to make some money while you are on maternity leave?
- you just want to make some extra pocket money?
- it seemed like a good idea at the time?
- it’s way more fun than your day job?
- you want to leave this business to your kids?
Believe me when I say, working out WHY you are in business is the single most important business decision you will ever make. Even more important than the decision to go into business in the first place. More important than your business name, the oven you buy, the people you hire, the ads you write and where you place them.
Working out the final design of your cake business is like the proverbial pebble thrown into the pond. It affects every single business decision you will make from here on in. The WHY needs to be way, way, WAY bigger than “because I love making cake.” Remember that cake you designed? You need to know the bigger picture of what this thing looks like in order to work out the internal structure.
Let me give you a real life example of how knowing the end result defines the game plan.
Business Owner A’s reason for being in business is that she just wants to earn enough money to allow her to afford extras for her kids, like ballet lessons. For her, it’s only a little bit about the money and the flexibility. She really does not want to work full time and does not need to earn a fortune.
Business Owner B’s reason for being in business is that she wants to create a full time job for herself and she intends that this will be a family business she will pass onto one of her kids. For her, it’s about the money and the longer term legacy. She needs to earn a full time living from this.
Business Owner C’s reason for being in business is to be the biggest cake business in her country. She wants to franchise her business, make a heck of a lot of money, and also develop an international reputation. She wants to give Marina Sousa AND Ann Heap AND Sylvia Weinstock a run for their money. For her, it’s much more about the money and the fame than it is about the cake per se.
These three business owners are given an opportunity to advertise themselves in a major national newspaper, for a really good (but very high) price. The PR value is huge, the exposure is huge, and the opportunity will not come around again. Knowing what they know about why they are in business, should ANY of these business owners take up the offer?
Owner A – No. She’s a local, part time cake maker. She can’t handle and does not want that kind of publicity or potential volume of business. Sure, it would stroke her ego but also is not in line with what her ultimate aim is. If she got the same offer from a small, local paper…she’d take it.
Owner B – Maybe. She wants to run a medium-sized business. This would be great for her exposure and to put in her file of press clippings. She’d only take up the offer if her advertising budget had some money in it to spare and even then maybe not. If she got the same offer from a metropolitan newspaper in her city, she’d take it.
Owner C – Absolutely she takes the offer, AND she develops a relationship with the journalist writing the article. She gets some advice from a PR person on how to make this article work for her into the future. She takes out some additional, ongoing advertising with the newspaper. Her end cake business design is way bigger and so national exposure is exactly what she NEEDS if she is going to reach that goal. She absolutely takes up the offer.
See what I mean? Knowing where you are going helps you make the decisions you will face along the way. If none of these cake makers knew where they were headed, they might all take the offer – which would be a pretty big financial mistake for at least Owner A, and probably a waste of money for Owner B and a lucky break for Owner C.
It boils down to this: knowing your end purpose makes all the decision making much easier along the way. I am not talking about if this is going to be a shop or if it’s not. I’m not talking about cake versus macarons. I’m talking about the BIGGEST of all big picture decisions you need to make. WHY are you actually IN BUSINESS? For the purposes of this decision, I don’t cake if it’s cake or widgets your are selling. It’s irrelevant.
This week your homework is to work out the bigger picture of your cake business. Not the pretty logo, not the menu of cupcake flavours, not the debate over a retail business or a bespoke cake company. WHY are you in business, truly? What’s your final cake business design? What the heck is all this effort for?
If you’d like to, share your final cake business design in the comments. Seeing it ‘on paper’ makes it very, very real and makes you very accountable. Go on. Be brave. Dream big. Share.