How Do You Avoid Burnout??

Business By Michelle104 Updated 5 Apr 2010 , 2:47am by ysa

Michelle104 Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 2:25am
post #1 of 21

I did cakes out of my home for about 2 1/2 years and opened my shop about 6 months ago. My niece works for me 2 days a week to manage my office but as far as the decorating goes, I pretty much do it alone. I just don't want to get burnt out and am feeling like I'm sliding a little in that direction. What, if anything, do you all do to keep this from happening to you??

20 replies
cakiemommie Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 6:04am
post #2 of 21

Hi michelle.. yeah, burnout sucks. a couple of suggestions.. is it certain types of cakes that are giving you grief? for example.. if you do a lot of roses and things, you could get burnt out on that.. or if you do a lot of plain simple sheet cakes for birthdays you could get burnt out on that.. is it possible to only take orders for cakes that you enjoy doing? maybe 3d cakes? or fondant cakes? see my point?

also, is it possible to take a vacation? 2 weeks in the sun can do worlds of good!

is it possible to hire help? if you can't afford it, (most of us can't) maybe you could find a helper.. an intern. someone you can teach the craft to. This may refresh you and help you see your craft through a beginners eyes again.

good luck!

devorie Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 7:51am
post #3 of 21

Ditto. Do what you love doing. Accept only the orders that you can handle. Get help when you need it. (On that note, maybe your niece can help with decorating once a week & learn the craft at the same time).

Oh, and win the lotto - that always helps. icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 8:05am
post #4 of 21

2 weeks vacation when someone has only had a shop open for 6 months? Man, I must have really been doing something wrong because I couldn't afford to shut down for 2 whole weeks to go on vacation! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif (Heck, in my entire life, I've never been able to take a full 2-week vacation! Wait ... I take that back. Hubby and I took 2 weeks for our honeymoon ..... 20+ years ago!)

I equate burnout with "lack of motivation". So what keeps the motivation level up? It differs for each person.

For me, I am motivated by being around other successful people. I am motivated to be "just like them". Join an ICES group ... great for sharing the same highs and lows of the industry with people who get it; great for seeing and learning new and different techniques that keep it fresh and exciting for you.

If you do a lot of wedding cakes or would like to do more wedding cakes, join a wedding networking group. great for sharing the same highs and lows of the industry with people who get it. If there's no group in your area, start one.

Find a BNI group. I had great success with my BNI group and even tho' it was not an "exclusive" wedding or baking crowd, I was motivated by the comradery of being around other successful business owners.

Joining the local chamber and being a part of their After Hours events, seminars, breakfasts, workshop and other activities is also the "brain-break" you need.

TexasSugar Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 3:22pm
post #5 of 21

How are your prices? Can you raise them any?

I have seen many of people get burned out, and often it boils down to working hard for not enough money.

If you raise your prices you can do less work for the same amount of money.

Just a thought.

KHalstead Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 3:45pm
post #6 of 21

is there a way to get someone else to bake and prep the cakes, even crumb coat them for you, or ice them altogether so you can JUST do the decorating part????

Man, I would LOVE that!!

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 3:49pm
post #7 of 21

I read something in an advice column a few months ago. This person wrote saying they are stuck in a job that they hate. They find it extremely difficult to get up in the morning, but they have explored all options and they are pretty much stuck there. The writer didn't give any specifics however.

Now, I'm sure you're not in that place yet. But the advice they were given I think was helpful with any kind of career frustration.

The author suggested they plan for and set aside time each week to do something they purely enjoy. Something that is completely separate from work. Whether it's getting a pedicure, seeing a movie, taking a day trip, just reading a book at the library, bible study, etc. Anything. Doesn't have to be big. That way if you find your self reaching "that point" at anytime, you can think "Only x amount of days until...!" That way you've got something each week that you're looking forward to.

I also agree with TexasSugar. If it's the sheer amount of work that you're doing, if you're starting to have to turn away orders because you don't have the time, then perhaps it is time for a price increase. Just a slight one. It would help to weed out some orders.

Or maybe you could think up some new cake designs to offer. I know at the grocery store, I got so tired of doing the same balloon and floral cakes one after another after another. I kept thinking "if this was my bakery, I'd be changing it up!"

indydebi Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 4:38pm
post #8 of 21
Originally Posted by Rose_N_Crantz

The author suggested they plan for and set aside time each week to do something they purely enjoy.

Great advice. I find that a business owner finds it hard to really take a day off. I mean a definite, don't even unlock the door day off.

I designated Monday as my "closed" day simply because I was just exhausted after a weekend of caterings. (You think we're tired after doing a weekend of cakes? Add in food for 200 plus heftin' and haulin' all of the heavy catering equipment back and forth! icon_surprised.gif )

ANd most of the time, I actually adhered to that schedule! icon_rolleyes.gificon_lol.gif

ccr03 Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 4:49pm
post #9 of 21

Yeah, burnout can definitely come from a different places - lack of motivation and feeling like you are not making enough.

I got burnt out at my old job - a trade publication journalist. I got to the point that it got boring, I was unmotivated and I hated it. Getting fired was SUCH a blessing in disguise.

So on that end, what motivates you? Why did you want this business? Be harshly honest with yourself. If you kid yourself you will only be doing yourself harm - no one else.

indydebi Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 4:52pm
post #10 of 21
Originally Posted by ccr03

Why did you want this business?

Read "the e-Myth" by MIchael Gerber. The best book ever that addresses this specifically. No one should be allowed to open a business until they read this book! thumbs_up.gif

ccr03 Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 5:33pm
post #11 of 21

Yup! I'm actually in the process of taking First Step FastTrac and it's a GREAT program!!! We were forced to ask ourselves this very questions in the first class.

Ednarooni Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 6:17pm
post #12 of 21

I think "anything" can get overwhelming at times and we are not all made to do things 24/7... Just try and find some way to pace yourself.. I think upping your price and finding extra help might not be such a bad idea.. Doing it out of your home and now doing it in probably a "leased" or whatever building having to pay more costs could be a stress inducer as well. There are several on here that are ready to pull their hair out by bad clients, bad cake days, and the list goes on...this too shall pass..

loriemoms Posted 13 Mar 2010 , 6:15am
post #13 of 21
Originally Posted by KHalstead

is there a way to get someone else to bake and prep the cakes, even crumb coat them for you, or ice them altogether so you can JUST do the decorating part????

Man, I would LOVE that!!

That is exactly what I did to avoid burn out. Man its nice! I get three times as many cakes done...They are all ready for me torted, filled and iced. All I have to do is decorate!!

ShopGrl1128 Posted 13 Mar 2010 , 6:12pm
post #14 of 21
Originally Posted by indydebi

Originally Posted by ccr03

Why did you want this business?

Read "the e-Myth" by MIchael Gerber. The best book ever that addresses this specifically. No one should be allowed to open a business until they read this book! thumbs_up.gif

I just ordered this book from Amazon, thanks for the suggestion.

Michelle104 Posted 14 Mar 2010 , 3:00am
post #15 of 21

Thanks so much for all the responses!! It really is an encouragement to get into this forum and "visit" you all! I would love the vacation thing but honestly, like Debi said, I don't see that happening. I do like the idea of setting a little bit of time aside each week to do something for me. I do try hard not to go in on mondays as well...but know, that doesn't really happen often either. I dream about hiring someone to bake, fill, and crumbcoat for me! That will be my next hire. Although I'm not sure when exactly this will be.

Alot of my problem is trying to figure out the whole timing thing. When to start what so that I'm not up all night every friday. What do your weeks consist of? Do you do certain things on certain days and how far ahead??

I'm gonna check out that book to Debi! Thanks!

jillmakescakes Posted 14 Mar 2010 , 1:08pm
post #16 of 21


I was in your same position 6 months ago. I was doing basically ALL the decorating with just some help with making frosting or covering boards.

A few piece of advice:

1. Look into interns! They are invaluable when you are starting out. They can do some of the grunt work and if the have the ability, help out with the decorating as time goes on.
2. Create a schedule each week. Plan out each cake and what needs to be done what day. For example, Tuesday, cover boards, make icing, color icing. Wed, Bake, cool cakes. Make any fondant pieces or ahead of time decors. Thurs- Fill Ice cakes- decorate a few easy ones Fri decorate the remaining (just a rough outline, but I try to do the boring stuff early in the week. Nothing worse than having to stop decorating to make icing)
3. Consider upping your niece to Bag Maker/Filler. Can she cover boards? Can she learn some basics? Maybe have her take a local wilton class. It can be covered as a training expense.
4. DEFINITELY take a day off. I know it is incredibly hard, but it is so very necessary. I take mondays off too. Now, I sometimes wind up doing paperwork at home, but I DO NOT GO TO THE SHOP!!!!!

It sounds like you might also be ready to hire a part-timer. Best thing I ever did (even if she is out on maternity leave, but we bumped the intern up to part-time!)

tara22 Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 3:20am
post #17 of 21

WOW! Michelle, after reading your post I breathed a deep sigh of relief! I'm NOT the only one out there! I just opened about 8 months ago and I am already starting to feel a little burnt out....especially on fridays! I was at the shop by myself until 1:00 am then returned first thing sat morning. I also went in for a few hours today to finish up a cake and cookies and then delivered! I am closed on Mondays...but those are just catch up days for me when I go and catch up on my books, ordering and cleaning! It is so nice to know that my CC family understands!! (i think my friends and fam think i just hang out and bake occassionally.....and can take off whenever cause I'm my own boss!! hah)

Michelle104 Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 2:54am
post #18 of 21

icon_lol.gif Tara! That's exactly how I feel! That's why I finally ventured into the forums to post this because I knew that I would get lots of feedback and encouragement. On the bright side's good that we're so busy right? thumbs_up.gif I know exactly what you're talking about on fridays! I have gotten a little resentful of the TGIF thing. Everyone is so excited when fridays come around and me....not so much. I don't totally dread them but it's definitely a downer knowing that I'm probably going to be there until the wee hours. I'm going to try to make a schedule this week Jill, or at least one for next week and start implementing that. And I think I probably can train my niece to help me out a little with the prep work. It just feels so good to be able to "talk" to people who have been or are exactly where I am right now! Thank you all so much!! icon_rolleyes.gif

tracycakes Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 4:48pm
post #19 of 21

Since I am currently still working full-time at my dayjob, I couldn't do this without my hubbie. He buys my supplies (after I send him a list), washes dishes, handles the accounting (mostly), and he's beginning to do more like helping prep pans and I'm going to teach him to make icing. I'm working 80 hours a week now, even with his help so I don't think I could survive without him. I'm blessed that he's "retired" but now works for me for no $$$. thumbs_up.gif

cmalin3 Posted 1 Apr 2010 , 2:50am
post #20 of 21

Though I still love doing cakes part-time now, I'm really worried about burn-out even before I start doing it full-time. Big reason is just my personality: I've always wanted to work one different job after another just to change it up and "broaden my horizons", as it were. I need variety to enjoy what I do.

Am I deceiving myself by thinking my dream could happen, or should it remain a dream?

ysa Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 2:47am
post #21 of 21

i sleep in the movie house for 3 hours because i lack sleep doing my cakes..and get back at work..or buying coffee at starbucks ..rewarding yourself after a hardwork really works for me.. icon_smile.gif))

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