Onward And, Um, Sideways?

I really need to make a plan for the new year for my business… Seeing my results for the full year has kinda brought my mood down. I suppose I should have waited till January so I could at least enjoy my Christmas without worrying about next year. Ah well.

I started the year very confidently. I actually managed to reduce my prices a little at the beginning of 2012, I set up an email newsletter with a special offer on it for subscribers, and I made sure my blog and Facebook page were regularly updated. I had work throughout 2012, and I have five wedding orders and a birthday cake for 2013 already.
My competition has more than quadrupled in the last year without the same increase in the number of customers. In fact, because things like sugarpaste and decorations are increasingly easily available in supermarkets, more and more people are doing their own baking.
Businesses who used to order from me for special events are having their staff bake for them (I expressed my opinion on that subject here) and every supermarket now sells pretty cupcakes in nifty packages of 6, for easily half of what I charge- but I can’t buy my ingredients in the kind of bulk these people do!

I also lose at least an order a week because I won’t do any kind of cake or cupcake theme that may infringe on copyright (Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, CBeebies, Nickelodeon, and so on). I know most people have no problem with it, but I’m not  prepared to take that risk.

And sadly, for me, the kind of sugar art I am good at doesn’t come cheap, and few people are prepared to pay for it.

I have continued to experiment with recipes and flavours, and I currently have more than forty five cupcake flavours on my price list (not counting cakes and cookies) with more than ten different kinds of icing, and the choices for secret centres and cupcake fillings are almost endless! And most of my flavours are available in a gluten-free option and I can cater for egg and dairy allergies or dietary restrictions too.
This isn’t enough though.

I really don’t want to have to start working, full time or half time. Whilst it would certainly help to have a steady income, I have been able to spend the last two and a half years putting far more attention on the causes that are important to me, namely ADHD awareness and SA Guide-dogs. Working anywhere but at home means I can’t do that like I have been. And baking is my happy place. Seriously! If I don’t get to bake anything for more than a couple of days I start having withdrawal symptoms!

So I will be spending my holiday working on a plan… Or five.

4 thoughts on “Onward And, Um, Sideways?

  1. Can you talk to some of the organic or specialty food stores/coffee houses/restaurant and see if they’d sell yours amongst their products? Getting an account like that with regular orders would help.

  2. No honey, ONWARDS and UPWARDS. You recognise that there are weaknesses, you recognise WHY the weakness exists and you are working out a plan going forward. It WILL get better. Onwards and Upwards.

  3. Maybe you need to specialise a bit and find a niche, do gluten free options, sugar free options, etc….. You are very talented, and the work involved carries a price so I guess special occassions are your main core, do you know lots of wedding planners who could recommend you to their clients.

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