How Do You Find A Good Life Balance?

Business By FrostedMoon Updated 1 Oct 2014 , 10:18am by cakebaby2

FrostedMoon Posted 17 Sep 2014 , 6:40am
post #1 of 28

I have gotten to the point where if I don't mark off a weekend and decline orders I won't have a weekend off for months.  I'm thrilled that my business is successful, and yet I'm worn down and burned out and my husband is annoyed I'm always working on the weekends.  I thought once both my kids were in school full day (just started about a week and a half ago) that I could do more work during the typical work day, but I still find myself up at night & working all weekend.

 

I know other cakers have the same issue, and a friend just send me the blogger post from Rose Bakes about this very issue.  Take a look if you would like  http://rosebakes.com/help-dont-know-keep/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=help-dont-know-keep

 

So how do you keep going?  If you didn't have to do it for money, would you keep up your current pace?  If you wanted to take a break or cut down, how would you?

 

I just don't know how long I can keep this up.

27 replies
mcaulir Posted 17 Sep 2014 , 9:11am
post #2 of 28

All jobs have perks and downsides.

 

Caking has weekend work as one of its downsides. Pesky people want to eat cake at their celebrations on the weekends. It's not really something that you can avoid.

 

Which is why when people say to me, 'Why aren't you selling these as a job?' I say, "Because I want all my weekends free."

 

I don't do it for money, and there's no way I would ever consider that. Not only would it ruin my enjoyment of my hobby, I couldn't cope with the hours.

costumeczar Posted 17 Sep 2014 , 1:35pm
post #3 of 28

Balance is a bunch of hooey, something has to give somewhere in most situations. I've cut back on the number of cakes I'm doing next year because my Etsy shop has increased in business, and I get a better profit margin from that than I do from cakes. At one point I was making up to 120 wedding and grooms cakes a year, and most of those were clustered in the busier months. I would end the weekend pretty much crippled on the couch not being able to move, and I was doing physical therapy for my bad shoulder. What's the point of making the extra money if you have to spend it on PT? There's no point to that.

 

It's interesting to me that whenever people cut back on something it's on the cakes. When the Cake Girls had their fire they decided not to do cakes anymore and are now doing online stuff. When Earlene Moore decide to cut back it was the cakes that went. Cakes are hard physically, and there's the marketing that goes along with them which isn't fun for a lot of people either. If you're just doing one or two a month that's one thing, but if you're trying to make a real business of it where you're relying on the income, watch out. Most of the people I see who would be considered "celebrity" decorators are either teaching more than selling cakes, writing tutorials and selling those more than selling cakes, or they have a lot of employees who probably do most of the hands-on work (I'm thinking Ron Ben-Israel and sylvia weinstock level here). They're not spending all their weekends delivering cakes, they have people who do that for them while they're out posing for magazine shoots.

 

My best advice, as someone who's gone through the cycle of building up a business and is now trying to cut back on the cake part of it, is to be realistic about what's going on in your life. If you're overscheduled cut back. Saying no to jobs isn't the worst thing that you can do. If it's affecting the overall happiness level in your household it isn't worth it to be super busy.

 

Also make sure that you're actually working during the hours that you have to work, and try not to let that turn into wasted time. Don't even get on the computer unless you're checking email and you have the time to spend to answer emails. Facebook and social media are addicting and they make you feel like you're acomplishing something when you're not.

 

The saying is that 20% of your effort results in 80% of the return on it, so try to pinpoint what 20% of your effort is the most effective. That also means that 80% of your effort only results in 20% of the return, so see if there are things that you can eliminate doing that would free time up. Concentrate on the things that you know are bringing results and get rid of things that don't seem productive.

 

If you work at home, try not to get distracted (haha). I have to walk around thinking "one thing at a time, one thing at a time" becasue I'll go to get somethng and I'll see something else that I need to do, so I do that, then something else, and that isn't good.

 

Also, stop cleaning your house, that saves a lot of time:-P

cai0311 Posted 17 Sep 2014 , 2:15pm
post #4 of 28

AI work full time and decorate cakes on the side as, what started as a hobby, and is now a full flege business (licensed home bakery). Last year was my busiest year. I wanted to see: 1. What I could personally handle 2. How many orders I could book with my current advertising (when I turn away orders I can't really get an accurate booking rate)

Well, I took up to 3 orders per weekend - most of those orders were from May - Nov (wedding season in NE Ohio) and it almost killed me. Plus, by the end of wedding season my hubby, who is usually very supportive, started to complain that we had no life because every weekend was all cakes.

So this year I modified the type of orders I accepted. Last minute orders - no. Not my problem you didn't plan accordingly. Small orders - no. Unless the design was something I have been really wanting to try I would turn down the $50-$100 orders.

Now, I feel like I should add since this is a side business we don't rely on the money from cakes to pay bills. That is the main reason when deciding what needed to change so we had a life on the weekends - cakes was what changed.

ellavanilla Posted 17 Sep 2014 , 7:23pm
post #5 of 28

The question is, how much do you want to work and how much do you want to earn?  Maybe the time when your kids are young is not the time to build up your business, but as pointed out, all jobs have up and down sides. I have worked from home since my son was 8. On the upside, I'm here when he leaves for school and I'm here when he gets home. On the downside, I haven't been able to attend any school activities that happen during the work day, like teacher conferences and the like. We also cut back to one car to reduce our outlay, which was also limiting. 

 

Balance is about deciding what you want out of your work and what you're willing to do. If I work my schedule right, I can take Friday night off, but it means that I have to work on Monday, my day off.  As was already pointed out, Saturday is your big delivery day. That's not going to change, ever. But you can be finished by noon, if you schedule it right.  

 

Regardless, all the family things need to be done, whether you work a nine-to-five, or work from home. We ALL have trouble finding time to fold the laundry and clean the bathroom. IMO, that's a matter to work out with the rest of the family, as in, if you want clean towels, get them in the hamper and help to fold them when they are dry! good luck

jen

Edible Art Co Posted 17 Sep 2014 , 9:07pm
post #6 of 28

The only thing I can add to the above is to remember, it's only been a week and a half! Routines don't change that quickly and certainly not by themselves.

MBalaska Posted 17 Sep 2014 , 9:37pm
post #7 of 28

Quote:

Originally Posted by FrostedMoon 

I just don't know how long I can keep this up.

 

You just got started, no one is cool as a cucumber and slick as ice their first few months on any job.  There is a learning curve to get started, then you find ways to make life easier, quicker, safer, less expensive, streamlined, more efficient:  in other words 'better balanced'.

 

And while your considering things, I'll tell you that it's much MUCH easier to hustle and make money when you are young & healthy than when you are older.

AZCouture Posted 18 Sep 2014 , 7:32am
post #8 of 28

Do you have to offer all that stuff on your menu? Can you get away with cutting everything out but cakes? Or everything but______________? I would be on a track to burnout if I had cookie orders and cupcake orders AND tiered cake orders too. I focus solely on cakes, and that's it. May not be a realistic proposition for you, but it's a thought. And up your minimum order to something that you can get away with. Over a hundred at least.

AZCouture Posted 18 Sep 2014 , 7:34am
post #9 of 28

Because yeah, you're going to miss out on everything. Everything fun is on Friday nights and Saturday mornings/early afternoons, when we're working. :(  So…when I'm missing something, at least I'm getting compensated handsomely for it. But I definitely schedule weekends off, because I don't want to miss allllll of the fun stuff with my family.

FrostedMoon Posted 18 Sep 2014 , 6:24pm
post #10 of 28

Some very good points!  Thank you!

 

Making cakes does not pay the bills for us, nor does it significantly affect our financial situation as it's a pretty small percentage of our income.  If I needed to bring in money, I would most likely return to the career I had prior to having kids.  However, I chose to be a stay at home mom and that is my priority.  Almost 2.5 years ago I started this business because I had lost my identity in being a mom and I needed something that was mine.  Something I could be proud of other than being someone's mom or wife.  My son (my youngest) was going to be starting preschool and I saw an opportunity to do something I loved.  I researched everything, perfected my recipes, and went through the licensing process.  My plan was to do only 1-2 cakes a week.  I just didn't anticipate how hard it would be to stick to that.  

 

Costumeczar, you are so right about something having to give.  So far it has mostly been my sleep and my health, but it's definitely affect my relationship with my husband too.  For a while my husband's bone of contention was that I wasn't making enough to warrant the time I put in to it.  So I kicked it up a bit and took virtually every order I could for a while.  It was awful.  It sometimes affects my ability to parent, too.  There have definitely been days where I've let my kids watch way too much TV or have iPad time because I just needed to get cake work done.  Four months after my daughter's birthday I still feel horrible because I had to throw together a birthday cake for her because I was doing too many cakes for strangers.  I had marked off the weekend of her party as no cakes, but we ended up having to change the dates of her party due to her venue.

 

I don't want to be the mom who "missed it" because I had to work.  If I wanted that I could go back to my career and at least have the financial reward that goes with it.  I do still want to be the lady who made that great cake, though.  I am hopeful I will get better at managing my cake time while the kids are in school.  I also plan to work on setting better limits and being better about marking a weekend off a month for dedicated family time.  Maybe even take a month off here and there to catch my breath a bit. 

 

AZ, I need to update my website.  My prices have increased and I don't have a problem passing on a cake if the budget isn't there. I'm averaging 4-10 dollars a serving on most cakes.  I typically don't mind the cupcakes & cookies because they usually have some sort of topper or design that satisfies an artistic interest in the process for me and they are a once in a while thing typically.  Most of my orders have been for cake at this point.  My biggest stumbling point is I'm doing mostly kids birthday cakes.    I'm nervous to get in to bigger wedding/anniversary cakes because it is just me and if I'm sick or someone in the family is sick it's a bigger commitment to break.  I do have two wonderful and talented caker friends who have agreed to help out if an issue ever comes up, but it's still a fear of mine.  Your idea of a a cake minimum is a good one.  Just need to figure out the right number without alienating loyal customers whose orders might fall under that minimum.

 

Thanks again for your input everyone!

costumeczar Posted 18 Sep 2014 , 7:00pm
post #11 of 28

Quote:

Originally Posted by FrostedMoon 
 

 

 

Costumeczar, you are so right about something having to give.  So far it has mostly been my sleep and my health, but it's definitely affect my relationship with my husband too.  For a while my husband's bone of contention was that I wasn't making enough to warrant the time I put in to it.  So I kicked it up a bit and took virtually every order I could for a while.  It was awful.  It sometimes affects my ability to parent, too.  There have definitely been days where I've let my kids watch way too much TV or have iPad time because I just needed to get cake work done.  Four months after my daughter's birthday I still feel horrible because I had to throw together a birthday cake for her because I was doing too many cakes for strangers.  I had marked off the weekend of her party as no cakes, but we ended up having to change the dates of her party due to her venue.

 

 

 

 

My kids don't get cakes on their birthdays, they get them when it's convenient fo rme, which could be four months later, hahaha! When they were little I did them for their birthday but as they got older an I got busier I told them that they could choose a crappy cake on their birthday, or exactly the cake they wanted at a random time to be determined later. My husband is the one who totally got the shaft because I never made him squat unless it was thrown together. But I always did something stupid on it to amuse him so he didn't care.

 

It's also interesting that you say that your husband's bone of contention was that you weren't making enough money to justify the time. My husband didn't take my business seriously (I felt) until maybe about three years into it at tax time when I told him how much money I had made the past year.I swear, I actually saw the look on his face change, and from then on he took it seriously. Last year I made as much as he did, and for some reason he's been encouraging me to cut back :roll:. The male ego is weird when it comes to money.

mcaulir Posted 19 Sep 2014 , 6:51am
post #12 of 28

Quote:

Originally Posted by FrostedMoon 

 I do still want to be the lady who made that great cake, though.  

 

Is this the crux of it?

 

I like having my ego stroked when I get lovely compliments on a cake I've done. But for me, the stress and mess and as you say, the kids in front of the TV for hours at a time is less and less worth the ego stroking.

 

I have trouble saying no, too. I try to remember that people will get their cake somewhere else if I don't make it. I'm not ruining their party if I can't make the a cake. I'm not responsible for making the cake of anyone who asks.

 

You can just say no, I can't do it. It gets easier and easier!

Crazy-Gray Posted 19 Sep 2014 , 12:50pm
post #13 of 28

A

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcaulir 

 

Is this the crux of it?

 

I like having my ego stroked when I get lovely compliments on a cake I've done. But for me, the stress and mess and as you say, the kids in front of the TV for hours at a time is less and less worth the ego stroking.

 

I have trouble saying no, too. I try to remember that people will get their cake somewhere else if I don't make it. I'm not ruining their party if I can't make the a cake. I'm not responsible for making the cake of anyone who asks.

 

You can just say no, I can't do it. It gets easier and easier!

 

Saying no is hard!! You described it perfectly: I feel like I am letting them down if I can't making their cake, or I'd rather sit with the good lady and watch a movie... so I decided on a month for which I would refuse every order for no reason, I said "unfortunately i can't take any orders for that week" but I wanted to teach myself that it's my life and I can take the orders I want for whatever reason I have..... I don't rely on my cake income as I work full time so i know that I'm very lucky that I could afford to do that, but it did teach me a good lesson and I feel much more comfortable turning down cakes when I'm booked up or if I'm going away etc etc...

IsaSW Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 2:37pm
post #14 of 28

WOW! you guys just made my day!

After 2 years of not doing business, I got the itch to start again, like one of you guys mentioned:

"I like having my ego stroked when I get lovely compliments on a cake I've done"

Is exactly what I was looking for, my husband got transferred to a different state, and now I am blessed to be a stay at home mom, but I was missing that thing that its just me, not related to husband or daughter, so this weekend I made a cake for somebody else, and it brought back memories of how you loose your weekend, friday and saturday. Not to mentioned the mess I still have in my kitchen. 

So thank you!!!! Thank You! for all your input, It has helped me a lot to think about what is important to me right now.

costumeczar Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 2:59pm
post #15 of 28

Quote:

Originally Posted by IsaSW 
 

WOW! you guys just made my day!

After 2 years of not doing business, I got the itch to start again, like one of you guys mentioned:

"I like having my ego stroked when I get lovely compliments on a cake I've done"

Is exactly what I was looking for, my husband got transferred to a different state, and now I am blessed to be a stay at home mom, but I was missing that thing that its just me, not related to husband or daughter, so this weekend I made a cake for somebody else, and it brought back memories of how you loose your weekend, friday and saturday. Not to mentioned the mess I still have in my kitchen. 

So thank you!!!! Thank You! for all your input, It has helped me a lot to think about what is important to me right now.

If you're doing it for your ego and not because you want to run a business, don't do it unless it's going to stay a hobby! I've been itching to write something along those lines for my blog for the past six months, but there's no good way to tell people to get over themselves. A lot of people just do cakes because they want the attention, and that's not a good way to run a business.

IsaSW Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 3:12pm
post #16 of 28

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

If you're doing it for your ego and not because you want to run a business, don't do it unless it's going to stay a hobby! I've been itching to write something along those lines for my blog for the past six months, but there's no good way to tell people to get over themselves. A lot of people just do cakes because they want the attention, and that's not a good way to run a business.

OMG you could have not said it better! you are right, I should just stay as a hobby then. It is not a good way to run a business. But on the other hand, having a business just because you want to make some profit just doesn't sound good either, I know that is the definition of a business, but...what about: finding a job you are Passionate about? I love making cakes, but as everybody knows here, you have to kill your self and ignore your family to make money, so then what is the point? Maybe is just not the right time for me, I want to enjoy my marriage and my daughter more than being booked every weekend and seeing profit on the W2 form at the end of the year.

Thanks so much for your comments!

costumeczar Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 4:06pm
post #17 of 28

Quote:

Originally Posted by IsaSW 
 

OMG you could have not said it better! you are right, I should just stay as a hobby then. It is not a good way to run a business. But on the other hand, having a business just because you want to make some profit just doesn't sound good either, I know that is the definition of a business, but...what about: finding a job you are Passionate about? I love making cakes, but as everybody knows here, you have to kill your self and ignore your family to make money, so then what is the point? Maybe is just not the right time for me, I want to enjoy my marriage and my daughter more than being booked every weekend and seeing profit on the W2 form at the end of the year.

Thanks so much for your comments!

Here's what I think about doing cakes for passion: http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-passion-for-cakes-can-be-detrimental.html

 

That's the most overused word these days. "Find your passion" blah blah blah. Good for you if you can combine that with work but reality is different. Here's another article I read that pretty much sums it up when it says "find a job that you don't  hate doing." https:[email protected]/dont-do-what-you-love-41312c943e2

-K8memphis Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 4:17pm
post #18 of 28

have you tried capsaicin for your back, kara -- that might bring some relief from your back pain -- that you mentioned in your blog 

FrostedMoon Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 4:44pm
post #19 of 28

20/20 hindsight always sees better, doesn't it?

 

While it's nice, I don't do cakes just for the ego stroke.  I wanted something that is mine.  Something that I can work on and excel at.  Something that made ME happy.  No you don't need a business for that, and using 20/20 hindsight I certainly would have waited a few years to officially go in to business, but that didn't happen.  Now I need to figure out what to do.  Can I get enough stuff for orders done during the school day so I'm not up all night every weekend?  Can I arrange pick-ups and deliveries so that I'm not missing out on things?  Is it possible for my husband to not be pissed at me come Monday every week?  Can I take care of myself and my family and still have a successful business?  Honestly I just don't know.  I have orders coming in for Oct and Dec and my heart sinks with every one.  I know I need to take time off, but do I decline all orders for coming months just in case I figure out I can't do the above?  

 

IsaSW,  if I were in your shoes I would totally stay a hobby baker for now!  I'm glad you have this opportunity!

-K8memphis Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 5:13pm
post #20 of 28

do you have enough business and high enough prices to hire someone to do some grunt work for you? 

 

not you op but -- i see these threads where some of us say something like 'wow wait till they see how much i'm gonna charge for this cake' and it's not even an up chargeable design -- or 'oh it took me 4 hours to do this' -- i wanna say why? didja stop to shop and have pizza? 

 

so we get all assertive about our pricing but some of us are taking five or ten times as long to do stuff as it should take -- wonky time managements blows the money thing -- not to mention the family thing --

 

i have a friend who lines their pans with waxed paper and never has to wash them -- god that is brilliant -- think of all the money and time and hot water you'd save by not washing pans -- and the inevitable mess on the floor that you gotta mop up -- and your aching back -- teach a nearby responsible teenager to make icing and to bake, have them set up your cake pans, cut boards, make boxes, wash dishes make/color flowers, wash & dry & dip strawberries -- even just covering things up at end of day -- you could get a speed rack cover -- maybe you already have one -- makes things so much easier than all that eternal plastic wrap --

 

start a new line of cookies and get your helper mixing cookies, cutting 'em out storing in freezer then bake and decorate -- this could pay for your helper all in itself -- or just pay them a percentage of the cakes they work on -- my girl that worked with me in the tea room would have gotten the proceeds from the fifth cake booked in the month -- will work for bonus!

 

you can do this -- you gotta work smarter 

cai0311 Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 8:27pm
post #21 of 28

AI would suggest putting up a calendar on your website showing weekends you are available / already booked. Now, "booked" doesn't have to mean a cake - it just means you schedule is already filled. Then put up a calendar in your house (which you probably already have) and mark with weekends you will take orders and which ones you won't take orders. You can do this a year in advance. That way you know far in advance what weekends to plan parties, date nights, pizza night, movie night and which ones are off limits because you will be taken a cake order.

There is a decorator in Ohio that is very clear on his website that he wants a life that check the calendar on his website before contacting him. Most people live on the weekends so it shouldn't come as a surprise to clients that we have a life then too.

Cevamal Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 8:39pm
post #22 of 28

A

Original message sent by cai0311

Most people live on the weekends so it shouldn't come as a surprise to clients that we have a life then too.

Oh, but I bet it does.

MBalaska Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 9:16pm
post #23 of 28
Quote:

Originally Posted by -K8memphis 

"...you can do this -- you gotta work smarter...."

 

 

Yes @K8memphis is right.

Because 'balance' is a verb.  It's something that you do.  Not a thing that you find one time and you're set for life.  It is the actions that you take and the choices that you make on a day-by-day basis to meet your goals. Since your goals change through out your life, so will the things that you have to balance.

mcaulir Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 9:51pm
post #24 of 28

Quote:

Originally Posted by IsaSW 
 

, but...what about: finding a job you are Passionate about?

 

Not many people have the luxury of having a job they're passionate about. That's OK. It's OK to have a job so you can pay the bills and do fun stuff in your leisure time.

 

And even people who are 'passionate' about whatever they do for a living still have downsides to their work. No-one has a job with no downsides. There's always hours you don't want to work, or mess to clean up after the creative bit is done, or more paperwork than you'd like, or less pay.

-K8memphis Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 10:12pm
post #25 of 28

i've said this before -- there's a book called drawing on the right side of the brain -- the right side is where the creativity comes from and there is no sense of time there -- on friday when you switch back to the left side of the brain (where you focus in on the time) it's when you realize it's finally gotten quiet in the house, distractions disappeared, you could concentrate at long last -- it's 3 AM -- and there's still xyz to do  -- aghh --

 

so consider making a list of realistically how long each task should take -- watch the clock -- set timers to go off -- if you might be getting lost in the right side of your brain in order to custom create the cake design -- lost as in loosing track of time -- keep yourself yanked back to where you can stay on target -- it works --

 

get the book maybe -- it's written by a drawing teacher and it's a brilliant fascinating book

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=right+side+brain+drawing&tag=mh0b-20&index=aps&hvadid=3527165133&ref=pd_sl_pua6a08tn_b

 

some are listed for a little as a penny! plus shipping -- but btw--it's also got great lessons on how to draw better too -- can't recommend it highly enough --

 

it sounds like you also need to cut back some maybe --

 

best of the best to you

morganchampagne Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 10:43pm
post #26 of 28

AI may have missed this up top but I have a suggestion [B]order minimums[/B]

We are going to miss fun stuff. Like AZ said, at least you're paid handsomely for it. Staying up all night is NEVER FUN. But! It's a hell of a lot worse when you are getting $60 instead of $200 for the cake.

Also, scheduling. It's a concept I haven't all the way made friends with lol. But last week I did it and I was done with cakes by 8 pm. I'm going for round 2 this weekend!

morganchampagne Posted 22 Sep 2014 , 10:45pm
post #27 of 28

AAlso, if cakes don't have to be your sole source then don't. If you don't want to take a cake for less than $150 or $100 then don't :)

cakebaby2 Posted 1 Oct 2014 , 10:18am
post #28 of 28

How about baking and freezing your most regular sizes and flavours a week ahead of time so that all you have to do is ice and decorate, or spend a few hours making random flowers etc so you always have some on standby? Maybe that's too simplistic if your volume is truly hectic but you should know a few weeks in advance where your "rush" is going to be. Best to you x

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