Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The Highlight Reel
When I started Truly Custom Cakery, I did it out of necessity. I was starting to get a LOT of requests from people to make custom cakes for them. But, without being licensed, I had to turn them away. So, we decided that instead of watching money walk away, it was time to take the next step. It was an easy decision because the laws of our area allow me to work right out of my home kitchen. For a very small financial investment, I was able to get my inspection, license, insurance, and file all the necessary legal paperwork.
Over time, I started getting too many requests for what my kitchen would allow me to handle. I decided that it was time to raise my minimum order amount so that I could work smarter, rather than harder. I've done that 3 times since Truly Custom Cakery, LLC opened in November of 2009. Then a year ago, we renovated the kitchen so I could have 2 ovens, move counter space, and more storage in my small 10' x 12' kitchen. Raising my minimums increased the quality of the orders I was receiving from a financial standpoint, but as a result, I've had to turn away a LOT of business. It was a decision made out of necessity. I just can't do it all. And if you could choose between a $75 cake or a $350 cake, which order would you rather have??? No brainer...
BUT... What if I could take those smaller orders too? What about all the people that were my customer when I started and can't afford me anymore? What about the people that taste my cakes and like it so much, call to order, and then walk away when they hear my price? Is it good business to turn them away? Or should I have been growing instead of shrinking my customer base? And how do I combat the feast/famine scenario? It happens all the time. You have a week with more orders than you can handle and you turn away several more. Then, the very next week, NOTHING! Not even a phone call! I'd probably have cakes those weeks too if I hadn't raised that minimum... But, like I said, I can't do it all. I'm just one person.
And therein lies the next question. Should I remain just one person? When is the right time to expand? How do you know when you should take that leap of faith and change your circumstances so that you CAN take all the orders that come your way. When do I say "YES" to all the Pastry Arts students that ask to intern with me?
And of course, if I do move forward.... HOW? I mean, the economy is pretty lousy! Do I get a business loan and take a chance at a brick and mortar shop? Isn't that a bit risky in this economy? And then I'm not a stay at home mom anymore. Which I really would miss! Do I build a garage out back for my husband and convert my existing garage into a shop? I could have displays, a workroom, a place to meet with clients, and a place for staff/interns to work! But all that takes money and a loan... When is the right time to move in that direction?
And of course, all my insecurities... Am I good enough, am I ready, would I get all the business back that I turned away, would I be able to pay the loan back, would it be worth it? WILL I FAIL?
And it is always worse when you look around. I should know better. In the last few years, Cake Shows have made the custom baking/decorating business EXPLODE! People are flying out of the woodwork to try their hand at it and succeeding! And not only that, but they have blogs, facebook and twitter accounts, pinterest, flickr, and a whole bunch of other stuff I know nothing about. And they have followers. LOTS OF THEM, thousands of them! And it's no wonder. Some of the work these people put out is phenomenal! It's breathtaking, astounding, and downright intimidating!
When I look at some of their work and see that they charged $12.00 for ONE CUPCAKE and the order included about 100 of them plus a super fancy cake and they have only been in business for 1 year, I start to doubt myself. SERIOUSLY! OH, and they do it out of their home kitchen... And they have about 10,000 followers on facebook...
And here come more doubts... am I doing things right? Why don't I have 10,000 followers? Do I engage my fans properly? Do I come across as a snot? Am I not thanking my customers and fans enough for their loyalty? Etc.. etc.... etc....
It doesn't take long to make yourself feel like you are doing everything wrong. I was chatting with a friend of mine this morning and she reminded me of something. That "when you compare yourself to others, all you are seeing is their highlight reel too".
I needed that! People look at my work and see what I've accomplished. They don't see my insecurities, fears, doubts, and struggles. They just see the final product. And when we compare ourselves to others, we are ONLY seeing their highlight reel. We don't know what they went through, their fears, challenges, finances, or insecurities. We see the best of the best. What they want us to see. As if they'd walk around town in their underwear. There's always more going on than what you can see. And often, that more, is layers deep.
I know that the Bible tells us in II Corinthians 5:7 "that we walk by faith and not by sight". AND I do have faith in my Savior and I know my eternity. What I do not have faith in, is myself and the economy. So if you are a praying person, I covet your prayers. Somethings gonna have to give and I just don't know what or how.
And a BIG thank you Kristie, for reminding me not to compare myself to someone else's highlight reel. I love you Chickie!