sweetlayers Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 1:17pm
post #1 of

Well, the Lord has really been good to me for the past 6 years as my cake business has grown. He blessed me with enough talent to turn a small hobby into a business successful enough to keep my family afloat during tough economic times and while getting a Master's degree. He blessed me to find this amazing web site and learn many different things about marketing and business that I probably would not have picked up anywhere else.

However, I now am certain that it is time to move on. I have a few more consultations for a few weddings sprinkled throughout the year. But seriously, I'm just not moved by cakes anymore. I almost feel guilty about it, but the feeling is gone.

Anyone else been down this road?

35 replies
JRAE33 Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 2:07pm
post #2 of

I am feeling that way myself right now. I will still take orders if they come because I'm a single mom who needs to take them, but I'm not feeling it so much anymore. I live in a small town where people don't want to pay what it's worth. I work two other jobs plus clean our church for kids school tuition...I'm tired and cakes and cookies are losing their appeal. I don't really push my business anymore. God provides what we need when we need it. It sounds like He has blessed you with this talent to provide for your family when it was needed. It may be time to move on, and He will once again give you what you need for your next venture. Best of luck.

GarciaGM Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 2:45pm
post #3 of

Wow, I LOVE this topic!! Sweetlayers, I'd love to hear as much of your story as you're willing to share!

Last year I started getting cake orders out of nowhere. In fact, I didn't want ANY orders. Nonetheless, I sheepishly accepted the orders, and I accepted that it must have been God's work, since it truly was the last thing I wanted to do and it was not a result of my own efforts.

Now it's 2012, and up until this weekend, I hadn't TOUCHED a cake since Thanksgiving, nor have I had any new orders, and like you guys, I haven't missed it. So now I'm trying to listen and be obedient.

I'd love to hear how God has worked in your life!

syarber Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 6:15pm
post #4 of

I so understand feeling this way. I make cakes but also supply coffee shops in my area with morning baked goods. I have been blessed with having a successfull business but I am so tired. I no longer have that giddy feeling when I get a cake order. So mornings ,nights for me , its all I can do to drag myself out of bed. My husband stands behind any decision I make but I want to be sure of my decision. Do any of the long term business owners that have gone through this have any words of advice of how to get over this?

LNW Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 6:40pm
post #5 of

I hear ya. I started decorating cakes back in 2003 when my oldest was a baby. I got my Wilton certs and got fairly decent at decorating. I loved it. But now, I dread making cakes. I really enjoy doing cupcakes, cookies and little desserts like that but I detest cakes anymore. I made my nieces 10th birthday cake for a party today and it looks awful. Im embarrassed to even take a picture of it to add to my portfolio. I just wasnt feeling it when I made that cake. And for my sons 3rd birthday in November, I bought him a grocery store cake ::gasp:: I just didnt care. Cakes dont float my boat anymore. Cake burn-out has set in.

leah_s Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 7:04pm
post #6 of

Been there. I came home one day last year, looked at my DH and said, "I don't want to do this any more." He answered with "Thank God."

He was tired of wedding cakes every weekend. I was tired. I was tired of being tired.

I hung up the apron and haven't looked back. And I don't miss it at all. I have four more wedding cakes to do that were already under contract and that's it.

However, I did open a food truck, but I work when I want to and doing festivals is fun. Well, it's work too, but it's fun. And right now, I'm recipe testing for a chef friend who's publishing a cookbook. That's been a blast!

GarciaGM Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 7:07pm
post #7 of

Can you guys trace your cake burnout to something specific? For me, I am thrilled to do just dessert cakes, like the one in my profile pic. They are still a joy to me. But custom cakes? It's always such a hassle to deal with customers who don't understand the work they require. Personally, if I felt like people were truly willing to pay good prices for cakes, I might be more motivated to do them, and I'm not even one to do cheap cakes - I think I charge reasonably.

The other thing I've found over the past week that really drains me is the amount of time cakes occupy my thoughts. Over the past couple of months, I felt much more focused on home life since I didn't have any orders. I was more on top of housework, I was cooking better meals for my family, and my head was "in the game" for my kids. Now that cakes are back on the radar, I can't pull my thoughts away from them. Just the other day I was at a Bible study and I couldn't stay focused on the speaker because I had cake thoughts running through my head. thumbsdown.gif It feels to me like the custom work just requires a lot more of me than I should be giving.

Sweetlayers, how do you know that it's time to move on? Is it because other doors have opened for you?

jason_kraft Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 8:01pm
post #8 of

We made a similar decision last year -- after opening our custom order bakery in 2008 and enjoying quite a bit of success we decided to sell the business for several reasons. Part of it was burnout for both me and my wife (business manager and pastry chef, respectively), and part of it was that our first child was born in March 2011. A god didn't really enter into the decision-making process for us, we are both atheists. We moved from northern CA to southern CA (OC) to look for a house a few months ago so that was a natural exit point.

There were also financial considerations involved -- I've recently become involved in some independent contracting work related to my day job in IT that is considerably more profitable than running the bakery. I just didn't have the time to do my day job, do the contracting work, and run the business. The experience of running the business was great though, it involved hands-on applications of concepts I learned from my MBA and also provided insights that help me in my day job and contracting work.

MimiFix Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 8:10pm
post #9 of

Jason, I'm happy to hear about your new path. But does this mean you won't be joining us anymore?

jason_kraft Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 9:02pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix

Jason, I'm happy to hear about your new path. But does this mean you won't be joining us anymore?



I'll still be around. Just like everyone else here I'm addicted to this site, and I'm constantly learning something new (not to mention the entertainment value of some threads).

syarber Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 9:46pm

I have worked in the food industry since I was 16, I am now 35. I took me forever to gather the courage to leave my job of 8 years to open my own business but now I am scared to leave my business to go back to a regular job. My husband and I have 5 kids and we can make it on his income alone but I have no idea what I would with myself. Which is terrifing to me because I have ALWAYS worked. But I know that I am not giving my business my all, which isnt really fair to my customers. I have tried to figure out what was the turning point for me so maybe then I can get back to enjoying it but so far it hasn't been that simple to figure out.

crushed Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 10:52pm

LNW - I felt the same way. I loved cupcakes and cookies, but cakes were stressing me out BIG TIME! So now I only advertise that I do cupcakes and cookies and do the occasional cake for close friends. My stress level is way down and I'm really enjoying it again.

Remember, you are in control of what you decide to do with your business. You can decided to do something else or refocus your business on what you truly enjoy, like Leah_S did.

Serena4016 Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 11:00pm

I've just been doing this as a hobby for a couple of years now and quite honestly I do not know how any one does this as a profession!! I get all excited designing the cake and thinking about it and then the reality sets in....Shopping, baking, cleaning up, making frosting, cleaning up, making decorations, cleaning up, icing the cake, cleaning up, putting the decorations on the cake, did I mention cleaning up, transporting it!! It is the most energy sucking, time consuming thing I have ever done. I'm a graphic designer by trade, so I love designing and I even love making some decorations...until the simplist thing takes me hours and I'm aking myself "what the hell am I doing?"

jason_kraft Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 11:18pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serena4016

cleaning up



That's why part of the duties of a professional bakery's first outside employee usually involve cleaning up. icon_wink.gif

Norasmom Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 12:23am

I'm starting small and staying small. I turn down orders, but it's for sanity's sake. Jason, congratulations on your baby!

cakesbycathy Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 12:40am

I can really relate to how you are feeling. This weekend was the first time since Nov that I had any cake orders. I had 2 this weekend and at 2am was thinking how much I missed being in bed at that time icon_rolleyes.gif

The last few weekends I have really enjoyed just hanging out with my kids on Friday night and having a nice clean kitchen. I too haven't done anything to promote my business. These 2 orders were from customers whose kids birthday cakes I have done for years. I do like the money of course but wonder how much I would miss it if I gave it up...

JSKConfections Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 1:23am

Wow...alot of this burn out going around. Haven't done much for months and this weekend I'm helping my daughter do a 2 tier baby shower cake for her friends shower tomorrow and I'm really realizing how much work it is....my its winter dull drums! I too love doing cupcakes, did 3 dozen last weekend for my daughters work party, that was more fun.

Good luck to all in future endeavors or getting back in the groove!!

BizCoCos Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 1:55am

Many people have told me to open a business, (Cakes). I admire those who do, but i get bored easily and can't imagine the pressure of a perfect cake every time. Right now I will continue to learn, improve and keep this a hobby. I have no customers, today I dealt with a horrible woman who received $150.00 worth of items for $11.50. She ranted on ad on, long story short, I offerred a full refund, she still ranted but will not return the items (aunction site, non edible items) just the thought of having to deal with customers that complain about everything and want everything for free is exhausting. Good luck on whatever decision you make icon_smile.gif.

olleharr Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 2:21am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serena4016

I've just been doing this as a hobby for a couple of years now and quite honestly I do not know how any one does this as a profession!! I get all excited designing the cake and thinking about it and then the reality sets in....Shopping, baking, cleaning up, making frosting, cleaning up, making decorations, cleaning up, icing the cake, cleaning up, putting the decorations on the cake, did I mention cleaning up, transporting it!! It is the most energy sucking, time consuming thing I have ever done. I'm a graphic designer by trade, so I love designing and I even love making some decorations...until the simplist thing takes me hours and I'm aking myself "what the hell am I doing?"




Serena I could have written your post dotting every i and crossing every t!! You sounds just like me!! LOL!

cookiekisses Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 2:36am

Sometimes, when we get into this rut, it's best to take a break for awhile. If you can trace it back to the thing that started the burnout than you can eliminate that in the future, hopefully. I told my husband I will bake and sell until it's not fun anymore, then I'm finished. I have taken periodic breaks over the years, like after a c-section or when I hear from annoying customers. But at times I have baked for no-charge, for my friends' events and such, just like I used to. Then I go back to charging again. The idea that I can start and stop whenever I want helps me get through the late nights too. Good luck to everyone!

crp7 Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 2:37am

I have never felt that I would want to be a 'professional' because I have realized that I want to do the designs that I want to do. When someone I know gives me a picture of a cake or specific design I feel too much pressure and do not enjoy it at all. I have no desire to deal with the general public and their demands.

If you do free or cakes at cost no one really complains about what they get!

AZCouture Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 2:46am
Quote:
Originally Posted by crp7

I have never felt that I would want to be a 'professional' because I have realized that I want to do the designs that I want to do. When someone I know gives me a picture of a cake or specific design I feel too much pressure and do not enjoy it at all. I have no desire to deal with the general public and their demands.

If you do free or cakes at cost no one really complains about what they get!


Oh that's an easy one! Just refuse to do designs you don't want to. That is exactly what I had to do last year. I swore if someone asked for one more swiss dotted or ribbon edged tiered cake I'd scream. So I cut anything out that didn't interest me. I haven't looked back. I have more business than I've ever had, and I'm loving (nearly) every minute. It did require that I get creative most times, and come up with interesting ideas to counteract the boring requests, but when I have a cake to work on now, it's exciting. And people are receptive to the idea that they don't have to pick something from a website. They get something as unique as possible. I still do some that are recognizeable as having been before, but only because I find them interesting. Really, just say no to stuff you don't want to do. You're the boss. There's nothing wrong with politely referring elsewhere.

MimiFix Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 1:21pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetlayers

However, I now am certain that it is time to move on. I have a few more consultations for a few weddings sprinkled throughout the year. But seriously, I'm just not moved by cakes anymore. I almost feel guilty about it, but the feeling is gone. Anyone else been down this road?




My circumstances were somewhat different, but my story is the same. I owned a bakery and cafe when I met my husband. After selling my shop we moved to another state and (at my husband's insistence) we opened a bakery. I loved it, but my husband realized that he hated everything about being in business. But this was our livelihood so we continued on even though he was quite vocal which greatly irritated me. One day I saw a customer approaching the front door and thought to myself, "What the heck do you want?" That was my aha moment. It was time to move on.

BizCoCos Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 3:41pm

MimiFix, lol, I can just see that moment, I think I love the beauty of cakes, the design, execution, so forth but not the grind of the business end. I admire thoise that have made it work forthem, but admire even more, those that knew when to move on. icon_smile.gif

mplaidgirl2 Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 4:12pm

I only take orders for celebration cakes.. No wedding cakes. And if someone comes to me with a cake to replicate. I actually tell them no. I tell them its like painting someone elses painting. I will do it in a similar style but not the same cake. I went to art school so I draw them up something I think they would like and something I want to do. I've been lucky so far with people saying ' I dont know your the expert' I've realized I really hate baking. lol.. Its really just the prep and cleaning. But I can decorate for hours on end.

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 8:55pm

I must join the crowd. I too am feeling the burnout. I've only been decorating about 5 years, but it seems like much more. I've been nodding my head in agreement to most of the posts in this thread. I do have one of my own to mention that I haven't read yet.

I feel the most exasperation when I put a lot of effort into a beautiful cake, only to hand it to the client and for them to barely crack a smile and reply with "That's fine, thanks!" Then I whip out a quick sheet cake with balloons and sprinkles on it and that client is just over the moon with how amazing the cake is. Seriously? It's just balloons. I just worked for almost an hour on a tiered fondant masterpiece and barely got any credit for it. While I appreciate the gratitude, it almost feels like I don't deserve it because those balloons took no effort at all. It makes me wonder why I bother with the big stuff then.

Lately I've been dreaming about opening my own bakery that specializes in dessert items. Tarts, cookies, bars, brownies, stuff like that. I would still do dessert cakes though. Like four layer dessert tortes that are wrapped in plastic so you can see the layers of cake and filling. Then only doing custom cakes when I feel the desire to. I just can't help but think a place like that wouldn't take off in my area. I would plan to use 99% scratch recipes (maybe just ordering in bettercreme or something similar so I can do mousse fillings that don't need refrigeration) and that doesn't seem to matter to many people around here.

princesscatt Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 10:30pm

Thought it was just me!!! The cake gig is a side thing for me. I work full time, two kids and a husband so like the rest of you my time is precious. When i started making cakes 3 years ago I loved it, I still love it now but I'm burnt out from back to back orders and icing cookies at 1am with my eyes crossing and a load of laundry sitting just waiting to be folded. I laugh when people come out of the woodwork and say I'm going to be a cake decorator or hey I have a cupcake business now...yeah, talk to me in a year when you have 2 to 3 orders in one weekend and bags under your eyes to prove it! Let me see how much you love it!

2012 has started off slow and I'm enjoying the time off. I have a few cakes in Feb and March but nothing crazy. I think I might do some kid's cake decorating classes!

I think you need to take the time off and relax. I get burnt out by my full time job too. It's normal. Maybe find something else cake/pastry related and go from there. If in a few months you don't miss this stuff then it just was not meant to be!

scp1127 Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 10:48pm

I can understand where you all are coming from. I have only had the bakery for about 1 1/2 years, but I learned a valuable lesson from my father, a self-employed true entrpreneur. Don't get bored. He owned four companies over the course of his life.

In the '90's, I owned a marketing company. When print media started taking a downturn with the popularity of the internet, I bowed out and got into my first love, construction. I had 11 rehabs behind me and an opportunity opened up in new construction. After 9/11, I was burned out trying to manage a schedule that was impossible due to the terrorist attack (long story). I again re-invented myself and changed to a custom painting and wallpaper business for clients who wanted perfection. I hired mostly women with artistic detail. After a fall from a ladder while overseeing a job, my husband insisted that I find a safer occupation, as he was my physician attending my cracked vertebrae and dislocated jaw. So SAHM was now my job. After three years, I got bored and opened the bakery at 47 years old. This bakery operates solely for the purpose of benefitting my daughters. One will take over after college.

In this short time, I have taken some products to the national level already and I have a wholesaler wanting to distribute other products of mine to national chains.

If you want to always be happy with your chosen profession, don't look to one thing to do your entire life. I have instructed my children not to be boxed in by a specific degree, but my children have all taken the hereditary road of self-employment. In fact, my seventeen year old daughter just launched her first business venture today about an hour ago. It will help fund spending money for college.

Don't be afraid of change, in fact, anticipate it. After all of these years and three totally unrelated professions, I am never bored. If you look at my site, you will see that there is no way that I do the same thing every day. I love the fun of wondering what each order will be while I open it on my site. And people order the odd things from me, no chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. The national products have been so personally fulfilling to develop and they come with a real feeling of accomplishment.

All I can say is don't be afraid of odd turns and changes. I raised my three girls as a single parent, so I have lived the ups and downs with four mouths to feed on my own. Sometimes I think the tough times are my most inspirational. They sure are a call to action. I can't even begin to tell you all of the mistakes I have made over the years, but I just learn and move on. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Just don't keep making the same ones over and over.

I have always looked to what I do in my spare time for inspiration. In this economy, it isn't difficult to find a need and come up with a way to fill it. It can be something so simple that is being overlooked.

As Leah and a few other posters have mentioned, there are many choices for bakers besides decorated cakes if that now burns you out. I'm a good example of going a different path.

If you are bored, start planning to do something else, baking related or completely different. If you need the income, start your business plan now and take a few years to really plan for success.

Don't be afraid to try something new.

cownsj Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 11:12pm

I recently spent several months where I just didn't want to make any cakes. I knew I still loved it, kept looking for and getting new tools to use, but just hated when I had a cake to make. Then I stumbled upon something. I was shopping and realized I could not read my coupon. I had on the same glasses I use on the computer and while it's been a little strain on my eyes, I just could not read the coupon. So, while in the store I went over to their eyeglass. Lo and behold, I discovered that the ones I was using (1.5 strength), no longer worked and I tried the next strength and next until I discovered I needed to go to a 2.75 to be able to read the coupon. UGH, what a change in one year. But, now that I can see my close work and what I'm doing, I'm back to having loads of fun making my cakes.

I know this isn't the same as anyone else has mentioned, but I would never have guessed that my glasses could ever have been a reason for my burnout.

sweetlayers Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 2:44am
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarciaGM

Wow, I LOVE this topic!! Sweetlayers, I'd love to hear as much of your story as you're willing to share!

Last year I started getting cake orders out of nowhere. In fact, I didn't want ANY orders. Nonetheless, I sheepishly accepted the orders, and I accepted that it must have been God's work, since it truly was the last thing I wanted to do and it was not a result of my own efforts.

Now it's 2012, and up until this weekend, I hadn't TOUCHED a cake since Thanksgiving, nor have I had any new orders, and like you guys, I haven't missed it. So now I'm trying to listen and be obedient.

I'd love to hear how God has worked in your life!




Well GarciaGM, several different things happened. First I graduated with my master's degree and it seemed like the moment I walked across that stage, the thought of the cake decorating process made me nauseous. (The long hours and commitment and cleanup and storage and every Saturday having to make deliveries etc, etc).

Then I got a new full time job that eliminated my need to do cakes part time for money. Then, the new job got really hard and I was too tired to fill orders or answer the phone for orders.

The final straw was when my family said they hated the fact that cakes had taken over our lives and how they constantly felt stress when I had really big orders or busy weekends. (This was hard to hear, especially because my kids are only 4 and 6. They deserve a "normal" mommy. I hope I'm not too late on this one.

So all these events have played a role in my willingness to give this up. Now, I just want to do what normal people do without the stress of cake stuff.

Finally, i don't even have much interest in it anymore. There used to be a time that I would watch cake shows for hours and look at the world in "cake". Now, when someone asks me about cake, I can barely work up a smile about it.

I guess you can say, the thrill is gone!

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