Thinking About Giving Up Business

Business By Debiann Updated 7 Oct 2010 , 6:04am by scp1127

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Debiann Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 2:59pm
post #1 of 20

I have a licensed cake business in my home. Its been 1 year, I have advertised in the local paper and I have a web site. Im not getting orders, It seams people are very cheap and expect to pay very little for a cake. so Im thinking about not renewing my license. Im very frustrated, I have sold 3 wedding cakes and around 5 birthday cakes. With this economy I just dont know about putting out more money, when not enough is coming in. what do you all think?

19 replies
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jason_kraft Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 3:12pm
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The key to a successful business is building a cost advantage (undercutting the competition) or a value advantage (providing a product or service your competition can't match). You probably won't be able to sustain a cost advantage over grocery stores, not that you would want to anyway.

So you need to look objectively from the customer's perspective and ask yourself what your business offers that your competitors do not. This can be a certain type of product, a higher level of quality in terms of taste and/or decoration, or even something as simple as a good relationship with a venue or wedding planner to steer business your way. If you don't have a value advantage, additional spending on advertising will have little or no impact.

You should also examine your pricing -- if you price too low, you will only attract price-sensitive customers who will just end up buying a Costco cake. Raising prices may shift your customer base closer to your target demographic (people looking for quality).

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bobwonderbuns Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 3:20pm
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The economy is hitting everyone in some way, shape or form. Some cake places have gone under while others are thriving. Hang in there, it will get better!

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CNCS Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 3:25pm
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yeah its the economy Im in my 4th year and I can see by my receipts things have slowed.

Keep your license dont let it lapse it gets better. Advertise and keep business cards on you at all times.

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weirkd Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 3:31pm
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When I first started my business I had very little business. I live in an area where people do not want to pay for cakes as well. It took a good three years to get a client list and word of mouth going. Most businesses do not make money for their first five years. Depending on what your doing for advertising, it might not be the right kind of advertising. If your advertising lets say in your local paper, thats not going to really bring you the clients you want that will make your money. You want to advertise in places you know that will bring you the clients. Wedding magazines, wedding websites like The Knot, etc. You also want your past customers to refer you so you give them incentive to do so. Like a free 6" cake with every referal. You go to places that YOU do business with like your bank, your doctor, your dentist. Give them a cake and business cards. Word of mouth is one of your biggest money makers.

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Debiann Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 3:43pm
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thanks im just feeling down. Im just trying hard and its not working. icon_cry.gif

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Kiddiekakes Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 3:57pm
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Weirkd is absolutely correct..Word of mouth is any businesses best friend....You need to get out there and market to the areas that need a cake..Like Wedding venues,Kids party places,Schools (If they allow you) Churches,Daycares,Dentists,Doctors etc....There is sooo much potential and you don't have to spend alot...Take samples that are cost effective instead of large cake that takes 4 hours to do etc...Make a few in expensive cookie tins,bouquets and drop them off at the local Bank etc...You would be surprised when someone is looking for a cake for a occasion they remember the lady who brought in the free awesome cake..Leave lots of business cards...It took me about 3 years to get a good client base...and now..I can't keep up!! If you build it...They will come!! LOL

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aundrea Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 4:09pm
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i just looked at your website and your do awesome cakes!!
dont give up. just try to hang in there. i understand how frustrating owning your own business can be.
im sure if you do more marketing you will start getting orders.
plus its only a year into your business give it time.
competition with walmart, sams, cosco is so competitive.
people want custom cakes at those prices. it aint gonna happen!!
good luck!!
btw - welcome to CC

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TrixieTreats Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 4:29pm
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I think the key, especially in the beginning is relationships. Obviously, if you can create a relationship with someone at a busy venue (of any kind), event planners, etc that is wonderful....but don't forget about your day to day relationships as well. Offer cheap or even free cakes on a one time basis for someone you know that will be an advocate for you. You can't imagine the amount of referrals that can be generated from one very excited, socially active person. It is easy to mistakenly think that your best friends and family will be the ones to rave about you...sometimes it takes just one or two acquaintances that are social, friendly, and very active on Facebook and in the right community to spread the word. Nurture those relationships. I guarantee that many times eating the cost and labor of a cake here and there will do wonders for your business, and will likely be cheaper and more effective in the long run than the more traditional marketing avenues. It is a short term sacrifice/cost for a long term result.
Lastly, I had my ah-ha moment when I was able to draw the difference between my cakes and the "other" cakes...not just intellectually understand it, but really accept it as fact. Know that you can offer people something that they are not going to find elsewhere, especially at a grocery store or Costco or WalMart. There is nothing wrong with wanting a cake from there, it just isn't what you will be providing them. You don't go to a Honda dealership expecting Fords. You have to get to the point where you can let a "no thanks, that's too much" roll off your back because you don't want that person's business anyway. Those people are not your clientele....if they are being cheap, they will likely never buy from you again, and they will tell everyone how "expensive" they thought it was. It is a one time deal, and will be more stress and heartache than the income from the project is worth. You need to be okay with knowing that there are plenty of people that see the value in a custom cake, and know the work and care that goes into it, and understand the cost. Once you can honestly grab hold of that and not apologize for will see that the right clients will start showing up...
That was a rant....hope there is some value in that...

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Msjckson Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 4:44pm
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Hang in there cake sister! I started my business back in May. I average 3 cakes a week. I work full time so I really wouldn't be able to handle much more than that. I do not have a website (working on it though) or business cards. Facebook is how I've managed to get the word out. People who I've made cakes for post reviews, from there I'm being referred to people I don't even know. I have several orders already for Oct, Nov, & December. There are so many ways that you can the word out. Also, try doing a cake sampling and visiting local resteraunts and hotels. There is a couple that have DVD's specifically based on marketing your cake business. Their blog is I hope this helps

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weirkd Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 5:57pm
post #11 of 20

I know. I was there Debiann. I thought of giving up sooo many times. My husband had told me to drop my website because it was useless. It was literally the day after that I got a call from someone that said they saw my website and wanted to order a cake. So it made me feel a llittle bit better. But I still felt like it was a hobby, not a business and it didnt make me feel any better that my husband get throwing that in my face. I talked to my mom a lot about it. She encouraged me to stick with it. She told me that when her and my dad first started their business that they were scared, had bill collectors knocking on their door (my mom ended up having massive surgery on her back and they had no health insurance since he was self employed). They didnt know where their next dollar was coming from. But they stuck it out, and they worked on what they knew they were good at. And he retired from it and left me mom financially comfortable when he passed away.
You have to really soul search. If this is something that you absolutely LOVE and want to do then you do it. You find a way. If its not self employed then find a part time job or something. But really, your work is great and it would be ashamed to give on something that you enjoy.

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IsaSW Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 6:26pm
post #12 of 20

Hang in there!
Every where I read about small biz, it says it takes 2 to 3 years to see profit.
At the end of year 1, I said to my husband, this is it, I am only giving it 2 years, I won't waste my time in this.
But after reading about the real world, this is just the beginning. I have changed my mind, I am trying to understand the accounting part of it, so I can move from red to black. Now I think 5 years its a good commitment.
My motto is I am learning in the small numbers, because the big ones are coming, and then I will be ready!


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indydebi Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 7:09pm
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A conversation I was involved in on Wedding Wire forum with other wedding vendors and hands down all said newspaper ads are worthless in our industry. We are trying to hit a very specific market and the newspaper does not focus specifically on that market. If you are going to do print ads, find a local wedding magazine so your ad is seen by BRIDES.

Consider direct mail. A GOOD and professional direct mail program can do wonders. A caterer friend told me she did a direct mail and landed a $100,000 catering job. Now that *IS* an exception but it can happen with a professional direct mail person who knows their stuff.

Think about a monthly newsletter (via Constant Contact, for example) to put the word out to existing customers about monthly specials, new flavors on the menu, tidbits of party/wedding advice, or just to brag about the latest cake you've done. It keeps your name out. When I sent mine out, I also included other wedding vendors on the mailing list.

Make some changes to your website. Your pricing and FAQ's are on the "About Us" page. When people want pricing info, they look for a Pricing Page. The "About Us" page is usually the last page I look at, if I look at it at all, when I'm shopping for something.

I finally saw where you are located hidden at the very very bottom of the web page, in teeny tiny print. Put your city/state on the About Us page or better yet, on the Contact Us page so people know where you are located. People in Fla need to know you are not in their delivery area. icon_wink.gif

Are you a member of your local chamber? Do you belong to any networking groups (BNI, Rainmakers, any local wedding networking groups)? If you read my previous article in CC magz about networking, you will find that, as mentioned above, it's all about relationships. (It's NOT about dropping your biz card in a vendor's hand and saying "refer me".) Relationships take awhile to build.

Have you been in any bridal shows yet? The BIG benefit to being in a bridal show is networking with the other vendors. Booking a bride is just a side benefit.

YOur cake photos are beautiful. Excellent work; good backgrounds. I would reconsider the one with the mickey mouse sillouette on it for copyright issues, though.

It takes time for a business to get up and running. A year is just a drop in the bucket, time-wise. thumbs_up.gif

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weirkd Posted 5 Oct 2010 , 8:59pm
post #14 of 20

Yes, Debbie has some great advice there!! To add to her wonderful knowledge she is sharing, also add a testemonial page! Show your potential customers that you already have happy customers! On your Contact page you can actually have a way they can fill out information like their name and date,event type, etc. and click enter and its automatically sent to your email!
And like she said, it takes time. Not every business is an overnight success!

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Debiann Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 7:54pm
post #15 of 20

Thanks for everyones in put. I have decided to change some things and keep pushing forward!!! You have all helped more than you know.
Thanks again

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Debiann Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 7:55pm
post #16 of 20

Thanks for everyones in put. I have decided to change some things and keep pushing forward!!! You have all helped more than you know.
Thanks again

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Debiann Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 7:55pm
post #17 of 20

Thanks for everyones in put. I have decided to change some things and keep pushing forward!!! You have all helped more than you know.
Thanks again

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homebasedbaking Posted 7 Oct 2010 , 1:22am
post #18 of 20

This is all great advice and it really does take time to "grow" your business. I want to add that cake professionals may also want to think outside the box from time to time. I once worked at a University in North Carolina with the Executive Assistant (EA) to the MBA program. This woman was the gatekeeper who approved all vendors working with the program. Well, to may a long store short, one day the program needed a graduation cake for the 37 MBA students, which they did every year. There were bakers from all over Raleigh/Durham NC putting in bids and eventually the EA went with a home-based baker who later I found out had been making the graduation cakes for another university for 5 years (now she's baking for 2 schools).

The motto here is sometimes, as your business starts to build an identity you need to look at unconventional ways to expose your talents and take your product to market. I was at the W Hotel last year (Atlanta, GA) and learned they do not have a baker on staff. When they need a birthday cake they have a home-based baker (commercial kitchen in her garage) who supplies the cakes. The cake was exceptional, I might add.

There are loads of businesses that need your services. Start talking, "building relationships" and thinking about who can benefit from your talent and product. It is unrealistic to think customer will or should come to you, it is your job to find the business, develop it, nurture it and go from there. I know this is challenging... thinking outside the box is essential to success and that's with any business.

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madgeowens Posted 7 Oct 2010 , 1:54am
post #19 of 20

I don't see the economy turning around anytime soon, but I would keep license and try and hang in there until it does get better....many small businesses have peaks and valleys...and the first two years are the hardest when starting up.

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scp1127 Posted 7 Oct 2010 , 6:04am
post #20 of 20

Well said, homebasedbaking. My business is 100% outside the box. There is always plenty of business out there if you know where to find it. Sometimes you have to actually create a new market that didn't exist.

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