Struggles With Home Business

Business By sweetooth94 Updated 16 Nov 2011 , 1:17pm by sweetooth94

sweetooth94 Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 12:10pm
post #1 of 22

I currently have a licensed home-based baking business that can be quite busy at times. I do quite well and used to love baking. Lately, I'm thinking of slowly phasing out and not accepting any additional orders, but fulfilling what is currently on my schedule. I have just been mentally struggling lately and I'm finding it just isn't as fun as it used to be. All the hours where I'm in the kitchen (when my family is outside or watching a movie in the living room), the house chores that I just don't have time to do, the dinner that I never have time to make, the homework that the kids need help with, also the nights when I'm up until 11 pm baking, decorating, and molding fondant/gumpaste decorations so they have time do dry. I'm not complaining about the actual process or clients - because I'm grateful for my customers and love the creative outlet that baking gives me - but I am feeling stressed and have been since my kids started back to school this fall. My heart just doesn't feel in it anymore.

I really lightened my load this summer because I wanted to make sure I got to spend time with my kids and husband. We have a camper and I wanted to use it as much as we could. I loved my light summer schedule, but found that even the weeks that I had cakes scheduled I was wishing I hadn't taken the order. I even scheduled whole weeks off in the summer so that I didn't have anything to do but relax, enjoy my family and not have that stress. Loved it!! My kids are both in elementary school and I just didn't want summer to be over and realize that I baked cakes all summer and I didn't spend any time with them.

Are there any bakers out there starting to feel burnt-out? Any thoughts from anyone who has been where I am now? Did you "retire" and only do cakes when you want to? Did you keep your kitchen license current in case you changed your mind again? Any of you "retire" and now regret it? I just need some advise to get me out of my slump! Sorry this is so long - I just really needed to vent!

21 replies
Biya Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 12:41pm
post #2 of 22

I was looking into my own home based baking business and that was always my fear. I owned a restaurant for 7 years and can tell you that there were timess when I was overworked and overwhelmed and times that it gave me great satisfaction and of course the additional money. I do miss it and sometime wish I could do it all again. I'm glad you posted and would love to hear some feedback as well.

justkist Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 1:29pm
post #3 of 22

a few months ago we were completely overdoing it. Working all day, baking all night, decorating al weekend and it COMPLETELY lost its fun for me. Selling my house (needing to keep it spotless) was a perfect excuse to take a break which then was followed by a "we have to settle in to the new house" break and I am just now getting back into enjoying it again.

I found taking a few classes (more for the social aspect of it than the learning) really helped me to remember what I loved about cake decorating.

Im lucky enough that this is not my income so I can now pick and choose orders. I learned the value of my free time (which meant my cake prices needed to go up!) and now Im finding better balance. Hope you can too!

sweetooth94 Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 2:03pm
post #4 of 22

This isn't my main income either. It does provide extra income though (which will be missed). This started out as a hobby that I enjoyed and I don't feel that joy anymore.

I was just thinking after I typed the original post... I can't remember the last time I baked for my family!! Of course, they get the flat cupcakes, the scraps that I level from my cakes, the leftover icing on graham crackers, etc. but I haven't actually baked an apple pie, or blueberry cobbler or just a simple boxed brownie mix for us to have for dessert after dinner! Most of the time, we eat dinner in the Living Room because my kitchen has cake stuff that I'm working and it doesn't leave enough room for us to eat at the table (that gets to me too... I clean my kitchen daily to turn around and make another huge mess).

My daughter joined Girl Scouts this year and at our meeting this week the leader gave us parents a list of activities that were coming up that our girls could participate in and earn some badges. She wanted to know what items we wanted to do so she could schedule our group. I found that I couldn't do a few because I knew some of those dates as already being scheduled with cakes. It just made me sad! I started my business to have extra money so we could do fun things with our kids - but now the business is keeping us from the fun stuff because I have deadlines and orders to deliver. Sometimes I think it would be easier to work at the local grocery store bakery. I could still decorate, but leave the mess and work there and go HOME at night!

*SIGH** Thanks for the responses so far. I do appreciate the understanding and comments. I would love hearing more from people in this position. Ignore my ranting - I'm just in a slump today!!!

cms2 Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 2:12pm
post #5 of 22

I quit my home cake business when I was pregnant with my second child. I just told everyone that I wasn't doing cakes anymore. By the time she was 6 months old, I was absolutely desperate to have that creative outlet again. I needed to feel valued, validated, successful. All those wonderful things people tell you about how good you are, how talented you are, how delicious your cakes are...I could hear that all day long! icon_biggrin.gif I thrive off of that praise. So I started back up. I was afraid it wouldn't be well received, but it was. It was fine and I don't think my business suffered from my break.

My daughter is 21 months now. I seem to go in spurts. Some days/ weeks I really want this and feel driven to grow this business and other days I'm just not feeling it. I don't want the stress, the headache, the deadlines. I just want to take it easy and enjoy my family. Right now I have a babysitter that watches her thurs and fri mornings so I can do work on my cake orders, but it's just not enough time to get it all done. I have to squeeze in time here and there and then you feel like it takes you forever to get anything accomplished. She will be starting an all day preschool when she turns 2. So that should help me out greatly. I'm hoping I can do my cakes and my housework and feel like I have time to relax and enjoy my family when they're all home.

Given my experience, I would not completely quit. I would limit the # of orders you take and If you really need some time off, just tell people your booked. I would rather go that route than to all out quit and then regret it.

And raising your prices is always a good thing too. It needs to be worth the time you take away from your family. I'll be raising mine come Jan 1 and NOT feel guilty about it. thumbs_up.gif

jeartist Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 2:20pm
post #6 of 22

It's hard to not let our obligations to others take over our obligations to ourselves.
Maybe use some of the extra money to hire someone to clean your house weekly so you don't have to deal with that. Maybe look for a homebased chef that can deliver family meals once in a while so you can all sit down together without the work of actually cooking it yourself.
Other than that, how about just accepting the orders that are something that will either challenge you or that will be fun to make. It's tough to say no but that's something we can all practice doing.

aligotmatt Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 3:16pm
post #7 of 22

Here's my story. I opened my licensed home business in 2006 when my son was 1 and my daughter was 2, baked through 2007 - did 3 weddings that year and tons of birthday cakes. In 2008 I did over 100 wedding cakes, 50 grooms cakes, other party cakes. Extremely successful year.

My kids birthdays are in June and September so in '08 when my son turned 3, I bought him a mall cookie because I had 5 weddings and could not manage another cake. My husbands grandfather (who raised him) died, and I could not go, he had to take the kids and drive 500 miles to his grandfathers funeral because they could NOT be home while I was working and delivering. A close cousin got married in October, but I had 8 weddings booked for that weekend before we got her invitation... missed the wedding. By the end of the year, I felt like I missed LIFE for cakes. And I did.

So in '09 I raised my prices, raised my minimum order, took less cakes. That's good in theory, because I only made 60 wedding cakes and 15 grooms cakes and made more money than in '08. EXCEPT it does NOT mean freedom because 2 $1,400 wedding cakes maybe holds more pressure and does not alleviate the time strain compared to making 7 $350 cakes. So the year went the same-ish. I got pneumonia in May and did not have time to deal with it properly until I had to go to the emergency room after one of my deliveries in June. Lung damage because of it. As the 2009 started to come to a close, I still felt like I missed a whole year of life, and hurt myself. And I love the accolades, but it really was NOT worth it.

Some friends of ours were opening a coffee shop, and so I "closed" my cake business for '10. I wrote the coffee shop menu, designed their recipes, helped them establish vendors, got price lists written up, interviewed and hired employees... I only made 6 cakes in '10. I also did 2 FN challenges as assistant for another cake decorator in town.

I spent the year trying to figure out how to balance business and family, running someone elses business really helped me have a lot of clarity on how to maximize my own profits and not lose my time.

I now no longer take cakes on my kids birthday weekends. My daughters b-day was such a popular weekend this November of '11, but I just said no (to 9 brides!!). And when her week came, and I could decorate for her party, make the favors, make HER a cake, and have her party without wedding cake stress, it was wonderful. No cakes from the week before Thanksgiving until Christmas. I like Christmas parties, and I don't want to be sucked up and busy and not able to host or attend anything. I take 2 cakes a weekend for 6 months. I allow 1 weekend in the spring and 1 in the fall that I overbook just to help pad up my income (and it's just 2 weeks a year, not every weekend!) This helps me NOT WORK through the winter. There is such minimal cakes, that I'd rather not have just 1 or 2 cakes in January. Why not just take the month off. Oh and no Sunday cakes in the summer. I like to go to the beach after church. I go all week, deliver on Saturday, clean up, church sunday morning and then go sit at the beach with family and friends until sunset. That time and peace is so refreshing.

So, I am done for '11 except 2 new years wedding cakes. Then I start my wedding season again with 2 cakes a week starting April 21. And until then, I just say no. Hang out with my kids, make crafts, take walks, and refresh. Yes, I still have to answer emails and phone calls and have consultations. I pick 2 days a month and when people want one I tell them the 2 days I'm meeting. Line them up once an hour, get all of my baking done for them and wrap it up quick. I used to just meet people whenever they wanted to meet, but I'm over that and my time is MY time.

This is not a formula for anyone. It's just my story. You have to figure out what's important to you so that at the end of the year you have spent time doing what is important to you. Living YOUR life. You define what your business will look like for you and your family.

TexasSugar Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 3:46pm
post #8 of 22

I don't know your prices, but often times if we are working long hours, missing out on family activities and working for little we get burnt out.

While I enjoy doing cakes now and then, I don't want it to be my full time job, I never wanted to have to do x number of cakes a week to pay bills. I do have a full time job and a part time job so when I do take on a cake (I just do them for family and friends) I make it worth my time.

I would say take a break, then if you do start back again, make sure your prices make it worth it and don't take on too much at one time. icon_smile.gif

CalhounsCakery Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 3:48pm
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by aligotmatt

Here's my story. I opened my licensed home business in 2006 when my son was 1 and my daughter was 2, baked through 2007 - did 3 weddings that year and tons of birthday cakes. In 2008 I did over 100 wedding cakes, 50 grooms cakes, other party cakes. Extremely successful year.

My kids birthdays are in June and September so in '08 when my son turned 3, I bought him a mall cookie because I had 5 weddings and could not manage another cake. My husbands grandfather (who raised him) died, and I could not go, he had to take the kids and drive 500 miles to his grandfathers funeral because they could NOT be home while I was working and delivering. A close cousin got married in October, but I had 8 weddings booked for that weekend before we got her invitation... missed the wedding. By the end of the year, I felt like I missed LIFE for cakes. And I did.

So in '09 I raised my prices, raised my minimum order, took less cakes. That's good in theory, because I only made 60 wedding cakes and 15 grooms cakes and made more money than in '08. EXCEPT it does NOT mean freedom because 2 $1,400 wedding cakes maybe holds more pressure and does not alleviate the time strain compared to making 7 $350 cakes. So the year went the same-ish. I got pneumonia in May and did not have time to deal with it properly until I had to go to the emergency room after one of my deliveries in June. Lung damage because of it. As the 2009 started to come to a close, I still felt like I missed a whole year of life, and hurt myself. And I love the accolades, but it really was NOT worth it.

Some friends of ours were opening a coffee shop, and so I "closed" my cake business for '10. I wrote the coffee shop menu, designed their recipes, helped them establish vendors, got price lists written up, interviewed and hired employees... I only made 6 cakes in '10. I also did 2 FN challenges as assistant for another cake decorator in town.

I spent the year trying to figure out how to balance business and family, running someone elses business really helped me have a lot of clarity on how to maximize my own profits and not lose my time.

I now no longer take cakes on my kids birthday weekends. My daughters b-day was such a popular weekend this November of '11, but I just said no (to 9 brides!!). And when her week came, and I could decorate for her party, make the favors, make HER a cake, and have her party without wedding cake stress, it was wonderful. No cakes from the week before Thanksgiving until Christmas. I like Christmas parties, and I don't want to be sucked up and busy and not able to host or attend anything. I take 2 cakes a weekend for 6 months. I allow 1 weekend in the spring and 1 in the fall that I overbook just to help pad up my income (and it's just 2 weeks a year, not every weekend!) This helps me NOT WORK through the winter. There is such minimal cakes, that I'd rather not have just 1 or 2 cakes in January. Why not just take the month off. Oh and no Sunday cakes in the summer. I like to go to the beach after church. I go all week, deliver on Saturday, clean up, church sunday morning and then go sit at the beach with family and friends until sunset. That time and peace is so refreshing.

So, I am done for '11 except 2 new years wedding cakes. Then I start my wedding season again with 2 cakes a week starting April 21. And until then, I just say no. Hang out with my kids, make crafts, take walks, and refresh. Yes, I still have to answer emails and phone calls and have consultations. I pick 2 days a month and when people want one I tell them the 2 days I'm meeting. Line them up once an hour, get all of my baking done for them and wrap it up quick. I used to just meet people whenever they wanted to meet, but I'm over that and my time is MY time.

This is not a formula for anyone. It's just my story. You have to figure out what's important to you so that at the end of the year you have spent time doing what is important to you. Living YOUR life. You define what your business will look like for you and your family.




I love that you were able to find the balance. That can be so hard to do! It took me a year to figure out that I HAD to prioritize my life in order to enjoy making cakes. It can be the hardest part of running your own business!

AnnieCahill Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 3:58pm
post #10 of 22

I feel the same way. I have been doing cakes for a long time and I get into little "funks" or periods when the burnout sets in and I am just done. I have taken year long breaks from decorating before. This has been the most productive two years I've had in a long time, just because I am more willing to do it.

I have a full time job (not cake related) and I get burned out on that too. It's just one of those things that happens. I think it's ok to tell people you are taking a break, and just do other things you enjoy and see if it comes back to you. For me, it comes back after I take a few weeks or months off.

cupadeecakes Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 5:22pm
post #11 of 22

As I was reading your post my first thought was "She need to go up on her prices". When I start to get burnt out, or just after a period of bring severely overwhelmed, I take a break and scale back a little. If your taking 6 orders a week, drop back to 2. Or even black out an entire month. Just tell people you can't take any more orders that month when they call.

Unfortunately work will always get in the way of fun. I have owned my own shop now for 7 years and I have worked harder and more hours than I thought about working for anyone else. I do still enjoy it, but we all have slumps and burnout periods.

sweetooth94 Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 6:29pm
post #12 of 22

I did raise my prices last January and I think I'm pretty comparable to the area. It's just a weird market where I live. Not many custom bakers (more grocery store bakeries).

And I can relate to some earlier comments - I think this is relating to my slump. A dear friend of the family died this week and he lived 2-2 1/2 hours away. The only viewing is tonight from 5-8 with a memorial service immediately following. My husband is going my himself because I can't get away.

I'm really leaning to at least taking a break for a few months. My January & February months are pretty quiet and I only have one order right now already on my schedule. I may just keep it that way and not book anything else.

costumeczar Posted 11 Nov 2011 , 9:18pm
post #13 of 22

I wrote a book about home-based businesses, and the first part is devoted to the idea that once you start a business it isn't a hobby, and it won't be fun anymore.

There have been experiments done where they pay people to do crossword puzzles and they have some do them without being paid. The people who got paid to do them reported that they didn't enjoy the task and much as people who were doing it for no pay. When you make that mental shift to "I have to do it, I'm getting paid" it takes some of the fun out of anything.

I'd take some time totally off and see if you miss it. If you're happier without it then you have your answer. If you eventually miss it them you could start up again.

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Nov 2011 , 6:36am
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I wrote a book about home-based businesses, and the first part is devoted to the idea that once you start a business it isn't a hobby, and it won't be fun anymore.

There have been experiments done where they pay people to do crossword puzzles and they have some do them without being paid. The people who got paid to do them reported that they didn't enjoy the task and much as people who were doing it for no pay. When you make that mental shift to "I have to do it, I'm getting paid" it takes some of the fun out of anything.

I'd take some time totally off and see if you miss it. If you're happier without it then you have your answer. If you eventually miss it them you could start up again.




I must be very odd then (actually, that is nothing new to me, lol! ) but I don't enjoy the free cakes anymore! I have no "drive" to excel or even finish what I wanted to do with it unless it is for a customer. My kids' cakes are the exception, but I rarely have time to go all out with them like I wanted to. I hate that!

Oh, and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be up until 11 doing cakes. I often go from Thursday and Friday with NO SLEEP WHATSOEVER and then sleep on the couch for the afternoon and stay up all Saturday night and watch 7 or 8 1-2 year olds in my church day care.

costumeczar Posted 12 Nov 2011 , 2:24pm
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I wrote a book about home-based businesses, and the first part is devoted to the idea that once you start a business it isn't a hobby, and it won't be fun anymore.

There have been experiments done where they pay people to do crossword puzzles and they have some do them without being paid. The people who got paid to do them reported that they didn't enjoy the task and much as people who were doing it for no pay. When you make that mental shift to "I have to do it, I'm getting paid" it takes some of the fun out of anything.

I'd take some time totally off and see if you miss it. If you're happier without it then you have your answer. If you eventually miss it them you could start up again.



I must be very odd then (actually, that is nothing new to me, lol! ) but I don't enjoy the free cakes anymore! I have no "drive" to excel or even finish what I wanted to do with it unless it is for a customer. My kids' cakes are the exception, but I rarely have time to go all out with them like I wanted to. I hate that!

.




That's the flip side of it. If you're getting paid to do something it's not fun to do it as a hobby anymore, so it's not something that you're enjoying for its own sake. In your case it sounds like you're not focusing on the cake as a fun thing at all, it's more about the income. I'd venture a guess to say that if you had been doing scrapbooking, or anything else as a hobby, then started doing it for pay, you'd still not want to do it for free anymore. Your point actually backs up the research that I mentioned, because you're saying that when you've started doing it for an income it's not something that you want to do for relaxation anymore.

On another note, my kids got their birthday cakes 6 and 8 months after their birthdays, so you're not alone on that! I gave them an IOU. icon_rolleyes.gif

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Nov 2011 , 4:55pm
post #16 of 22

.[/quote]

That's the flip side of it. If you're getting paid to do something it's not fun to do it as a hobby anymore, so it's not something that you're enjoying for its own sake. In your case it sounds like you're not focusing on the cake as a fun thing at all, it's more about the income. I'd venture a guess to say that if you had been doing scrapbooking, or anything else as a hobby, then started doing it for pay, you'd still not want to do it for free anymore. Your point actually backs up the research that I mentioned, because you're saying that when you've started doing it for an income it's not something that you want to do for relaxation anymore.

On another note, my kids got their birthday cakes 6 and 8 months after their birthdays, so you're not alone on that! I gave them an IOU. icon_rolleyes.gif[/quote]

But I still enjoy doing cakes very much. When I am not swamped, I take my time and have fun with it. I look forward to most cakes and get an intense satisfaction out it. I am brand new to the business even though I have been doing cakes for 20 years. I felt like never doing another cake or even applying at Wal-Mart before I got my new bakery( garage). I despised messing up my kitchen and ordering pizza and ignoring my family. I think that may be a huge part of it. I'm sure that it will start exhausting me in time thumbs_up.gif

costumeczar Posted 12 Nov 2011 , 11:17pm
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes

.

But I still enjoy doing cakes very much. When I am not swamped, I take my time and have fun with it. I look forward to most cakes and get an intense satisfaction out it. I am brand new to the business even though I have been doing cakes for 20 years. I felt like never doing another cake or even applying at Wal-Mart before I got my new bakery( garage). I despised messing up my kitchen and ordering pizza and ignoring my family. I think that may be a huge part of it. I'm sure that it will start exhausting me in time thumbs_up.gif




If I had a separate kitchen for cakes and I had to come inside to the family kitchen to make dinner, I'd lose one of the benefits of the cakes. It's a perfect excuse to order out! icon_lol.gif

jenmat Posted 13 Nov 2011 , 2:54am
post #18 of 22

I agree with some other posts. If you want to continue, you need to raise prices and that will weed out some of the orders that aren't worth time away from your family.
I was in your spot and decided I was incredibly over-worked and needed a change. I realized the celebration cakes were the ones making me crazy, so now I focus on wedding cakes and couldn't be happier.
That said, this business isn't for everyone, and if you're not excited about it after taking a break, then maybe it's time to step back and enjoy being mom for a while.
I knew I wasn't done, just needed a change- just finished wedding cakes number 76 and 77 for the year, and have a 3 week break until the next few. Today is my first Saturday free since March, and you know what I can't wait to do???
Work on my show designs for my January show. I had to KEEP myself away from my gumpaste!

fedra Posted 13 Nov 2011 , 4:13am
post #19 of 22

Texas just started the cottage food law in September. I have had every weekend booked for the last 2 1/2 months with atleast 3 cakes. I have only been baking for about 1 1/2 years and even before the cottage food law started, I almost always had atleast 1 cake each weekend that someone wanted me to do. The experience has been great and I thought that the new law would be good for me but in all honesty, I just do not feel that it is worth all the time that I put into it and it's no longer enjoyable. I have a 2 year old and a 9 year old. I have a part time job as a registered nurse (however I usually end up working 35-40 hrs a week) and I'm a full time student. I once considered leaving my job as a nurse to stay home with kids and have a home business but unfortunately not only would I would not make as much money doing cakes, I would also probably work the same amount of hours so not so much "time" with kids. I hope everything turns out well for you as I have already decided that this is NOT something I want to do for myself or my family full-time.
Fedra

happyascanbee Posted 13 Nov 2011 , 4:51am
post #20 of 22

Sorry you feel this way, but this is exactly why I would never do baking as a business. I'm happy for everyone who do this as a business, kudos to all of you, but I do not envy the amount of work and countless hours in the kitchen. I cannot see myself decorating a cake at 2:00 AM in the morning or be in the kitchen 'til midnight.. goodluck to you..

leah_s Posted 13 Nov 2011 , 6:55am
post #21 of 22

In a word, yes. I closed my wedding cake biz. I still take orders for birthday cakes. And I opened a food truck. The stress level is nearly zero.

sweetooth94 Posted 16 Nov 2011 , 1:17pm
post #22 of 22

Thanks everyone! Now that my crazy week is over I am feeling much, much better! I can relate to all your stories and I appreciate you sharing. It made me feel better to vent!

This was the first time in about 4 years that I really felt like taking a break from baking. I normally don't overbook myself (even though it does happen occasionally). I've been like some of you with my kids birthdays - not as detailed as what a client would get! I haven't missed any of my kids birthdays, BUT my husband and I had to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary 3 weeks late this year because I had cakes booked the weekend before and two weekends after before I noticed the date icon_redface.gif

My husband and I have been discussing adding on to our detached garage and having a separate kitchen for me to use for my baking business. I agree with Annabakes - I hate my home kitchen constantly in disarray and not having room to make dinner (or EAT dinner in my kitchen on some days). We've been discussing a garage kitchen for an entire year and we've been holding off to make sure I want to take the business to that extreme. If we build a kitchen, I would be tied down for sure to the business. What would we do with a kitchen in the garage icon_rolleyes.gif if I decided not to bake anymore?

So, I go from wanting separate kitchen space - to wanting a break! I think I'm going to take a few months off. January & February are normally pretty slow for me anyway and I will see how I feel in March when I start picking-up more orders! As far as raising my prices - we will see thumbs_up.gif

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