Let me ask you ...Does the idea of a dream being bigger than you excite you?
This speaks into that feeling you have deep inside that is driving you to start or redefine your business. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. And if you are here, you probably already know that. It takes a certain type of person to push through this journey. Because it is just that, a journey.
Where are you, at this point, in your business dream? Write it down. This is the start of your mission statement.
In 2004, I started my dream of turning my passion for making cakes into a business.
I knew that I wanted to make cakes from scratch, to offer people home-style baking just like I did with my mom when I was a kid. I remembered how much I loved baking with my mom. Measuring the ingredients, licking the beaters at the end. When I had kids of my own, I naturally went back to baking more.
That is really what propelled me into my cake business. I discovered through experimenting and sharing my cakes, that others were looking for the same quality. I built my business on the premise that I was going to bake from scratch. I found the best possible recipes that I could use to sell to my customers. My WHY was to provide cakes and desserts that were baked from scratch using fresh ingredients.
My home base business grew so steadily over the years, to the point where I was either going to take the leap and open a retail store or close down and find something else. Three months later, I opened my retail location. People came in, took a deep breath, and said, this place smells like my childhood baking with my mom. That would always put a smile on my face.
I was able to share quality products with more people who also wanted to eat fewer chemicals and preservatives. The retail location gave me an opportunity to form relationships with local farms and suppliers to ensure I had the freshest local ingredients delivered. I was able to support charities in our neighbourhoods, knowing that the quality I delivered was exactly what my business stood for.
I will never forget this one customer who came in about a year after we opened. A grandmother who walked into the bakery to order a cake for her grandson’s 6th birthday. She needed it to be dairy-free and gave specific instructions on how it needed to look. “Vanilla cake, vanilla icing, blue border on the top, blue border on the bottom, Happy Birthday written on top” and in big letters MUST LOOK LIKE THE GROCERY STORE Which I thought was a bit strange because usually, our customers do not want anything that looks like the grocery store cakes.
It was a bright winter Saturday morning when she came back to pick up the cake. The bakery was buzzing with lots of people picking up orders and gathering treats. I presented the cake to her and she just stared at it. I immediately went over the checklist in my head to make sure we did everything according to the order. Then I asked her,” Is everything ok?” She looked up at me with tears in her eyes...and asked...is this cake really dairy-free? Is it safe for my grandson to eat? I said yes of course ma’am we took every precaution to make sure your grandson can eat this cake.
She continued to tell me that her grandson had been diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy when he was a baby and almost died. "Every year he gets a cake from the grocery store that looks just like this one. We put a candle in it and sing to him, but he can never eat it. His brothers are so mean and tease so much that he ends up crying on his birthday. He is only 6 and doesn’t really understand. And now you are telling me that HE CAN eat this cake."
Now I have tears streaming down my face and I tell her that her grandson can eat this entire cake all by himself if he wants and will not get sick at all…other than from eating the entire cake.
Then she said the words that I will never forget…. "You have changed our families’ lives today. Thank you.” From that day forward my business added a new WHY. Everyone was going to be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of eating their own birthday cake.
And we provided many firsts for many, many people over the next 3 years with that new WHY.
I did not start my business knowing that I was going to end up being known for dietary needs baking. I could not have imagined the joy this would bring myself and my staff by doing this. Even right now as I am writing this post, over 4 years later, it still fills my heart with joy.
If I didn’t follow that feeling inside of me all those years ago,
if I didn’t take the jump to open a retail location
if I wasn’t open to new ideas
if I wasn’t so determined and defined on my WHY
I would never have been able to provide all these people the joy of eating a celebration cake.
What decisions can you make that will move you toward your dream?
a) What do I have to study while others are sleeping?
b) What is it that I need to prepare while others talk about it?
c) What is it that I need to persist in, while others have quit?
How will you keep yourself on track as you pursue your strategy?
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” - Steve Jobs