I own a small bakery that has been around for 11 years in a smaller town. Does the stress of wanting to create perfect cakes for clients ever go away? I still wake up in the middle of the night worrying about how I am going to construct or decorate a cake. Working too many 16-18 hour days is killing me. I don't want to hire more people and grow bigger because I want to retire sometime in the next year. Is the trick just to take less orders until I get the business sold? People often say "Oh it must be so fun to own a bakery" but they have no idea how 24/7 it is. With the emails, calls, quotes, sketches, consultations, ordering, baking, decorating and delivering it is so overwhelming. After all this time I just still can't get a handle on it and it really affects every other aspect of my life. Any advice from any of you who have been in a similar situation would be so appreciated!
Why don't you want to grow bigger? I assume you will sell the business when you retire? The "books"/ business revenue will increase the selling price. Secondly, a buyer would probably be more likely to buy with a small staff in place.
My brother in law owned a pizza/take out small business. He actually made a deal with his employee/ manager to buy the business. It was a win/win.
The real question may be, are you making money working those 16-18 hours? If it is production, sales and cash...that's great. If it is stress, worry and insomnia, then not so much.
I was a little hesitant to answer this post as you might not want to hear want I have to say.
I don't think your problem is with your cakes or your business as such, but more your attitude and how you deal with it. You could substitute cakes for anything else and I suspect you would still be waking up in the middle of the night worrying about how to do what you had to do. This level of stress and anxiety is something you are putting on yourself.
Why are you working such long hours? Have you worked out a proper budget where you know what your fixed and variable costs and profit are and once you have taken enough work, that's it, you are booked out for the week. If you reach this point and are still getting enquiries and orders, do you have what it takes to say NO. Do you recognise that by not saying NO when necessary you are putting yourself and your health at risk. Are you a people pleaser who finds it difficult to prioritise your own needs physically, mentally and emotionally over your potential customer's want for a cake?
Alternately, do you have to work too many 16-18 hour days in order to cover your costs, in other words your business does require an extra staff member, and is your pricing set up in order to cover not only the extra staff member but additional profit this person needs to generate to make it worth your while employing them ie not just covering what it costs to make the cake.
As you are one year off retirement I can understand you not wanting to grow the business.
I agree with @810whitechoc ... Not everyone has the personality to run a small business. A perfectionist (that's you, right?) will struggle more with tasks than someone with a "good enough" mentality. Finding a compromise between these two mindsets would help you through your last year. I hope you can find some peace as you wind down and look forward to retirement.
Thank you all for your food for thought. 810whitechoc you sound like you have known me for a long time. I think you hit the nail right on the head. I do say no but not enough.
Hi Marla505, you have worked long and hard enough, spend some time and energy working on yourself, you've earned it. I hope the coming year is an easier one - it can be if you choose it to be. Best of luck :-)