I can’t believe it’s been a year since I made my first raw vegan cake for a customer, which means it’s a year since my cake business was born!
For those who don’t know the story, I offered my friend to make a cake for her mum’s 60th birthday, as long as they cake could be vegan and raw. She, much to my surprise, said yes and I went on my merry way to testing a few recipes and flavour combinations. I made a salted caramel blueberry cake which my friend loved (phew)!
I posted it on a local vegan facebook group associated with Vegan ACT casually saying ‘hey, if I started a cake business, would anyone be interested’? The interest was astounding and I started receiving cake orders from all around the city.
If someone told me this time last year that I would have a cake business, I would have laughed (very loudly) in their face. You see, I never intended to have a cake business. I grew up in hospitality as my parents owned restaurants throughout my whole childhood. My father always wanted all of us to go into hospitality, although we all detested working in the kitchen. I hated the heat, smell of the deep-fryer and the long hours.
Instead, my brothers and I made our own fun in the kitchen. I remember running around the restaurant playing with the food chute with our soft toys. I remember playing with my brothers to see who could stay in the freezer the longest. I also remember when I had to be a waitress at the age of 14-18, but begging to have a ‘normal’ job as a checkout chick in a supermarket. However, I also dreamed of having my own wholesome bakery or working in an ice cream shop one day.
In my first year of my cake business, I learnt a lot but also learnt that I am a lot more capable than I had thought. I sought advice from close friends and family, only to realise that I was often a few steps ahead of everyone. Good advice was rare and priceless… and it usually came from people from my social media networks!
In hope that I can help someone else, I’ve written a little something up…
5 things I learnt (as a perfectionist) in the first year of my small business
1. Invest in the relevant equipment as soon as practically possible.
In the first 6 months of my cake business, I owned a 1.2L capacity blender and used it to blend over 15kgs of ingredients each week. I made all of my cakes in ridiculously small batches and my body suffered immensely. I should’ve invested in a bigger blender a lot earlier which would’ve saved considerable time, money and pain. I eventually got the Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender which literally changed my life.
Hellllllllo sexy Froothie!
2. Your perfectionist issues will really shine when you are starting up. Be realistic and kind to yourself.
My perfectionist issues were dormant for a few years but when I started my cake business, BOOM and everything came alight! I put in ridiculous amounts of time and energy into all my work (think 8 hours spent on one cake) and set high standards for myself. I definitely achieved a lot, but it wasn’t 100% sustainable and my health suffered! A simple thing that I learnt to manage my anxiety around ‘perfection’, was to basically set plans for the day, week, month, quarter etc. Once I realised how much I’ve got going on, I became more realistic about my achievements.
This is the cake that I spent 8 hours doing. How? Why? Because I felt that I ‘stuffed it up’ and had to redo major parts of it. The cake went viral and ended up on the front page of my local newspaper… but it set unrealistically high expectations for future cakes.3. You can’t get everything right the first time.
Trial and error is a fact of life. I think I once spent a whole day just trying to find the ‘best’ eco and cost-effective cake boxes out there. Fortunately, I did settle on a box, but I just had to remind myself that it’s more than okay for something to not work the first time. Everything is a learning experience.
4. Learn to prioritise tasks and your inbox!
Initially, I treated everything as a priority and accepted all work that came into my inbox. Surprise surprise, I burnt out quickly and I realised I was working long hours for barely enough money to pay my rent. I learnt to say ‘no’ to people and created space for better opportunities that were worth my while.
Such as making beautiful cakes for grateful customers, including this one:
5. Remember to catch up with friends who are entrepreneurs themselves and make good networks.
Running your own business can be rewarding but intimidating and tiring. I found it so useful to catch up with friends who happen to own their own businesses or network with other small business owners. I’m so grateful for knowing the people who own Fairlings, Just Blends and many more! It’s nice to be able to vent to like-minded people or to seek simple advice from them. Even if their business may be a ‘competitor’ to your business, you can benefit from friendships with people in your area.
I hope these 5 tips were useful to you, whether you’re a small business owner, starting a new project or just like reading advice xo.