Fresh out of high school, had you told younger me I’d be celebrating eight years of a successful small business come 2021, I would have laughed hysterically, yet here we are!
Sweet Bakes has evolved over the years – weddings, events, kids’ books – though just prior to Victoria’s lengthy lockdown I was particularly fond of teaching others to bake and make, in a fun and carefree way. With restrictions, I was unable to teach classes and tour through schools, but if there’s anything I’ve learnt on the Sweet Bakes adventure so far, it’s that all problems can be fixed with a slice of cake! Enter the revival of my beloved “cake mail club.”
Originally a creative solution to streamlining the tasting process for potential wedding clients, I very quickly saw “cake mail” as a way to brighten people’s days and ensure Sweet Bakes stayed afloat. The first batch sold out quicker than I ever expected, and eventually, I moved from my parent’s kitchen to a commercial premise so shippable sweets could continue to flourish.
Here’s how I rose to the COVID challenge :
- Read the room – Listening to my clients, community or just the general vibe of the world around me was crucial. Australians were desperate not just for sweets, but to bring a touch of joy to their own lives, and that of their family and friends too which was truly beautiful. The appreciation I have for feedback and being able to make necessary changes has really been pivotal to the success I’ve encountered in the last 18 months.
- Community is key – Establishing a community of those in the same industry that you can reach out to for support is crucial. Those are your peers; I preach community over competition always. There is truly enough work for everyone to have their own piece of pie, a scarcity mindset will not benefit anybody and the connections I’ve made within my own industry (which can very often be extremely isolating) are friendships that I treasure. I encouraged all bakers to jump on the cake mail bandwagon, created a hashtag where all treats could be found for potential customers & was thrilled to share hundreds of other bakers work on my Instagram platform. This helped us all to connect with sweet tooth’s!
- Work with experts – Invest in an accounting system and find a tax preparation firm that works for you, whether that be something quite visual or a stellar spreadsheet, it’s important to know what you need…particularly in times of stress! The pandemic has added new revenue streams and advice from my accountant relating to COVID business grants has been invaluable!
- Give and receive – I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to give back. This doesn’t have to take the form of charitable cash donations but giving any resource or experience to your community that’s going to improve their day! For me, this can be sharing recipes, baking tips, giving out a free box of cake mail, or just offering up a bit of entertainment online like a court jester. I am so grateful for the abundance of support I’ve received during COVID and love being able to give that back at any opportunity I can!
- Know your strengths – It’s important when running a business to understand most aspects of its daily functions, however, wearing every hat is not wise. My strengths lie in the creative facets of Sweet Bakes, but outsourcing roles (like the entirety of my accounting to experts), gives me so much more freedom to focus on what’s important to me. Particularly at the quarterly BAS deadline where H&R Block take care of all those lodgements for me so I can dance about in the kitchen.