Few people know what they’re getting themselves into in starting a small business. It’s a blessing and a curse I suppose - yes it’s hard to deal with all the unforeseen challenges, but if you knew about those challenges upfront, you may not have gone for it.
I knew running my own business would be a lot of work, but I certainly underestimated how much of my time it would require. It's so much more than just baking and decorating cakes - there's inventory management, social media, content creation, insurance, taxes and accounting (although my husband has been a life saver in this particular department). Even right now, writing this very blog post, is work; after I get done with the first draft, I have to proofread, find photos, and then promote the post via email and through all of my various social media channels.
Needless to say, I'M TIRED. I have thankfully managed to keep my autoimmune condition under control, which is good, but it's always a balancing act to keep my hustle up without overdoing it. I can get a little down on myself from time to time; like maybe I could be doing more if I felt better or wasn't so tired all the time. But I’m learning to come to terms with that; I know it’s unreasonable to blame myself for things I can’t control so long as I focus on things I can.
To that end, I’ve committed to making a few changes:
1) Better organization: As a small business owner, it’s critical to maximize your time. There are only so many hours in a day, and they all need to count. Things are starting to ramp up quite a bit at Samantha Mayfair Cakes, a good problem to have for sure, but I realized writing things down in my planner isn't going to cut it anymore. I need to begin using a formal project management tool. I'm leaning towards Asana (if you have experience with this tool, I’d love to hear your feedback!).
2) Better self-care: I need to make sure I exercise every single day, even if it's a just a walk. You can lose track of time working on things like handmade sugar flowers, which can take hours. But I need to be sure I set aside time to exercise. This has never been my strong suit (a major understatement) but exercise is the best way to keep my energy up and I'm determined this time!
3) Sticking to the rules: I recently instituted an order minimum. The type of high-end, custom cake and sugar work I want to make a hallmark of my business takes a lot of time and accepting smaller orders leaves less time for me to focus on those kinds of project. I may find it difficult to stick to my guns on this when I have the chance to make some cold hard cash. But, if I want to achieve my goal, I need to commit to the business plan. It's just hard; I like money. But I can do it!
In the few months I have been in business, I’ve had a chance to refine my business plan and I know I need to continue to grow as a business owner if I want to achieve my goals. I want to have my own cookbook someday, and teach classes, and who knows, maybe even create a line of spatulas, I don't know. And I'll get there, I just have to remind myself that Rome was not built in a day. What's that expression about hustling? Ah yes, "The dream is free but the hustle is sold separately."
This past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting several other “girl bosses” at a sugar flowers class at the amazing Nine Cakes in Brooklyn, NY. We made sugar flowers (those are the flowers pictured in this post!), we talked about cake, we ate a lot of delicious food, but we also talked A LOT about business. It was so inspiring to hear how these amazing women started their businesses, and the things they’ve done over the years to help those businesses grow. My time with them was also an affirmation that if you’re doing something you love, don’t worry so much; you’ll succeed because you’re happy.
Watch out, world. Sammy's comin' for ya.