I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


One of the MOST vital exercises I did under the guidance of Guru Guy was working out why I'm in business in the first place. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? What a basic question. Why on earth am I in business in the first place? I'll tell you what I told him when he asked: the business began in a somewhat organic way (as I think most businesses do). Some friends got together and bought me an "Buttercream Level One" class after I'd been messing about with cake decorating as a hobby (my first official cake was when I was 16 years old.) I was reminded of how much I enjoyed it and so I just started messing about with cake a little more seriously- and eventually word got around, and people I didn't know started to ask for my cakes. Some el cheapo business cards from Vista Print later and suddenly I found myself in business.

As time went on, and I made bigger business decisions, things just started to kind of...happen. So my second lot of business cards were a little nicer, I started to look around for a commercial kitchen, I began to buy more cake tools, and things just grew organically from there. I never stopped for a second to consider why I was doing any of it, I just did it. Natural progression and a complete belief in myself (even if I didn't know it at the time) just kept propelling me forward. It was only when Guru Guy asked the question that it occurred to me to even think about it in the first place.

Working out the answer was a bit of a process, but the end result was pretty simple - I am in the business of cake for reasons which have nothing to do with cake at all. I'm in the business of happiness - my own happiness and the happiness of my clients, and the two are of course intermingled. By making my clients happy, *I* am therefore happy and fulfilled - and the business earning money makes me happy because it means I can provide for my family, and use that money to give what I can to the people I love to make them happy (eg SSOTH fees!). I'm actually simplifying it here quite a bit but you get the gist of it - as much as I love the actual art and science of cake decorating, ultimately it's not about the actual cake at all.

Because I know it's not just about the cake - and I am not quiet about that fact - over the past couple of years I've had other business owners (cake or not) ask me for advice about their own ventures. A few have asked for a formal mentoring relationship, some have asked a question or two and that was it, a few come in and out of my life as needed. Whatever the circumstance, I'm generally pretty happy to share my knowledge and experience, with the proviso that I don't know it all and that different people have different takes on things.

Why do I share my advice? Because my business and my life is not about cake, and if I'm honest, it was probably only really about actual cake in those very early days.

A few nights ago I was mighty upset about that client who emailed me a nasty-gram (read back two blogs to read about that situation). I spent a good part of the next day being quite crumpled about it all, mostly because it's so hard to keep the motivation for working so hard when you get knocked down. I was still carrying around some of that annoyance when I got an email on facebook from another business owner, asking my opinion about a business situation. I replied the only way I know how - with frank honesty and with a decidedly emzee spin on things (I pulled no punches!).

This is the reply I got from her (a few bits edited out for blog purposes):

THANK YOU so much for your honest and prompt response. I just wanted to say that you have been a huge inspiration to me in my career. The very obvious love of the job, care and tremendous effort put into all your cakes is so easily seen. I followed you as you moved your business from your home to it's current location with great interest as I am a mother of 2 young children and desperately wanted to take that next step but thought 'it's just a hobby - no one will be interested in my cakes'. But seeing what you've achieved and you've obviously found the balance between your work/home life, I've recently just completed the fit out of my gorgeous new XYZ business.  But I just wanted to thank you for being such an inspiration to the up and coming cake decorators of tomorrow.
Kindest regards,
Facebooker Fan xxx

Clearly, she has a rosy view of my life, based on what she's read/seen - but If I ever needed any more clear cut message that this business - and my life - are NOT AT ALL about cake, this was it. Right there. In black and white.

And so today, on the eve of American Thankgiving, here is my bit of gratitude and thanks - to Guru Guy for asking the question, and to this business owner for reminding me of the importance of the answer exactly when I needed to hear it.

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