What One Piece Of Advice....?

Business By cakecrumb Updated 18 Nov 2006 , 1:59pm by justducky

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cakecrumb Posted 15 Nov 2006 , 4:18am
post #1 of 14

i'm taking a small business class and we just got our first assignment. icon_eek.gif i was wondering if any of you wouldn't mind answering a couple of questions to help me out. any input is so very appreciated.

For those of you who are in business, what one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out?

In hindsight, what would you have done differently?


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13 replies
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CoutureCake Posted 15 Nov 2006 , 7:09am
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icon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gif Never believe your professors unless they've been in the industry for at least 20 years SUCCESSFULLY. icon_surprised.gificon_surprised.gificon_surprised.gificon_surprised.gif

Now, seriously, never listen to a professor who hasn't made it in the real world and take extra notes from the ones who have. I had two professors in college, one who was a head honcho guy for 3M in marketing and another who owns his own consulting company. Both knew their butts from a hole in the ground and whenever you recognized a business reality were first to say "Hey, you're going to make it", the rest, well, let's just say when you focused on things like the cost of insurance, licensing, rent/mortgage, supplies, and the REAL costs of doing business, they marked us down instead of upgrading us because we knew what business was REALLY about.

When it comes to tried and true business advice... I'm still starting out, but when calculating the cost of getting into business, triple the expected amount you think it's going to cost. 1/3 goes to getting the business ready to go, 1/3 goes to buying your groceries while you're getting things established and for the unexpected costs that you're going to discover, and the other 1/3 goes to pay for setting up things like a logo, uniforms, marketing, public tastings, advertising, etc. Without good advertising, you're spinning your wheels in the mud and getting nowhere fast other than broke.

I guess that's the thing so far that I would do differently besides building my own kitchen instead of using my in-law's kitchen because it'd be nice to be in my own space where I can be meticulous about how clean it is ALL of the time instead of dealing with others, that, when I'm not in the space, don't keep it nearly as clean as I tend to.

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cakecrumb Posted 15 Nov 2006 , 1:17pm
post #3 of 14

thank you. sounds like excellent advice.
i really appreciate you taking the time to answer my post. icon_smile.gif

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cakecrumb Posted 15 Nov 2006 , 8:37pm
post #4 of 14

does anyone else have any input? i know there are tons of CCers out there that are in business. please? can ya help a girl out? icon_biggrin.gif

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whimsette Posted 16 Nov 2006 , 12:09am
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Originally Posted by cakecrumb

For those of you who are in business, what one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out?

In hindsight, what would you have done differently?

For those just starting out: Don't underprice your work. I'm not sure why, but I see a lot of bakers not charging enough for their products. Making a profit (and live-able wage) is essential to staying in business. Don't feel guilty about charging what your time and supplies are worth.

In hindsight? I would've more closely managed my finances in the beginning and would've spent more on marketing.

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cupcake Posted 16 Nov 2006 , 5:58am
post #6 of 14

Make sure you have a good business plan and enough capital to work with. Most businesses fail because they are undercapitalized. The hardest thing in the world is to be in business and have no money to work with. Treat your customers with the utmost of integrity, and honesty. Charge a fair price. Do quality work, with good ingredients. Keep it clean. Keep yourself organized and do what you say you will do. Always give 110%. If I had to do something different, I would have spent more of my money on catering equipment, instead of little things I could have done without. I ask myself now.... Do I really need this.... first.

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SweetConfectionsChef Posted 16 Nov 2006 , 1:29pm
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My best piece of advice is: Don't take money out for yourself too soon and keep really good records of dates, sales, and expenses. I know it sounds like a given, but it's easy to get "off track" when you are really busy! Also, call your HD and work WITH them! They are not as bad as what they can be portrayed and their job is to get you open by the rules and keep you educated to keep the public safe...not to come in and close you down. My inspector is great...she's even ordered cakes from me.

What would I do differently? I would have not had friends help me get open or work in my shop. They mean well, but not one of those friendships/workships worked out and I lost an employee and friend several times.

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justducky Posted 16 Nov 2006 , 7:14pm
post #8 of 14

Great advice from all. I know it sounds trite, but those who fail to plan, plan to fail. It is so true. Do a written plan. Include goals. Where do you want to be in 1..3..5..10 years. Both personally and professionally. If it is a customer oriented business... hire for personality. Much of what an assistant does can be done by alot of folks, but if that person is good with the public, you are way ahead. And good advice on no friends. I know Duff makes it work somehow, but that is not reality.
I just hired two new people in my full time business. They each had three interviews. One was an office party type of situation, so I could see them interact with the other people here as well as check out how they act with their family.

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TPDC Posted 17 Nov 2006 , 2:43am
post #9 of 14

I am a brand new business and I love this topic! Now, I can not talk from experience, but my advice from a friend that owns her own business is to not give discounts to friends, because they will (eventually) start to take advantage of you.

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littlecake Posted 17 Nov 2006 , 6:00am
post #10 of 14

keep it simple!
customers will have you running off in 50 different directions if you'll listen to them, you cannot be everything to everybody.

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AnythingSugar Posted 17 Nov 2006 , 6:12am
post #11 of 14

I would suggest writing a very good business plan with a vision and mission statement. My next suggestion would be to hire the very best employees that you can and treat them as valued assets instead of "workers". Your employees can make you very successful if you choose the right kind of people and treat them well.

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countrygal7782 Posted 17 Nov 2006 , 9:27am
post #12 of 14

This is a subject that I could speak volumes about, but I will give you some advice, and please keep in mind these are things that I learned the hard way.

First of all, I am in college for business management, even though I have owned my own business for about 4 years now, and to be honest I learned more through my busniess than I have in college. I run a restaurant, and it is some of the hardest work out there. Some of the best advice I can give someone wanting to open a business, is be aware of everything envolved before getting in to anything.

*Make sure you have enough money to work with. Maintaining a business is just as expensive as opening one, and you cant aford to run out of money.
*When hiring employees, make sure they can work well with others and customers. Always remember, your employees are what represent your business. One employee treating customers badly can ruin you forever.
*Treat your employees like real people. This is not to say that you should let things slide when they are doing something wrong, but remember, everyone has bad days. Stay firm, but gental at the same time, they will appreciate you for this and you will be less likley to loose great employees.
*Be fair. Treat your employees and customers all alike. Customers all pay the same price and employees all get the same treatment.
*Advertisement is good, but dont over do it. You can spend gobs of money in a years time advertising, but if you dont advertise in the right places, it wont do you any good. Pick a few prime places to advertise, and concentrate on those only.
*You cant aford to dontate to every charity. Donations are good for business, but dont over do it. Pick a few and donate to them each year.
*Remember, what you are selling is your only source of income. If you need to raise prices, do it. Dont go overboard, but if your price goes up, then the customers price needs to go up. With out it, you will drown in your overhead.

If there could be anything that I would have done differently, it would be that I would have taken the advice that I told you in to consideration when I faced them, rather than learning the hard way. For the first year in business I learned that everything you do affects your customers, and if they are unhappy, you loose business. Keep your customers happy, but dont cut your own throat to do it.

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CrystalsCakes5 Posted 17 Nov 2006 , 7:06pm
post #13 of 14


Could you give us some more info on how you conduct your hiring and interviews.

Thank you so much!

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justducky Posted 18 Nov 2006 , 1:59pm
post #14 of 14

Sorry it took me so long to get back. Here is an overview.

I start out explaining the company. It's history, growth, competitive position and future plans.

We go over the job description. During this time I am checking out their appearance, listening skills and communication skills.

I ask some questions that give me an idea of their attitude towards people and the public in general and what motivates them.

I make sure they understand what will be expected and what their responsibilities will be.

This is all done in a conversational manner.

Our company has an informal gathering each month where family is welcome and everyone can kick back. If I was comfortable in the first interview, I invite them to this to see how they interact when it is less formal and with their own family around.

Then we meet a third time to go over any questions they may have come up with.

Every new person gets a copy of the procedures handbook (a must have in your business) and an employment contract spelling out what is expected from both parties including terms of compensation and a moral turpitude clause. We also do a criminal records check.

Man, it takes almost as long to type it as to do it icon_smile.gif

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