questions to ask yourself before starting a business

by Lori and Michelle on May 23, 2012

When we asked on our facebook page awhile back if people wanted to see more about how to start a business? How to start a bakery or food related business? The response was YES!

We listened. And now we are answering those questions.

We will try to make these series of business related posts as short and to the point as we can. As there are many sides of running a business especially a food business. We will also share our own experience with owning a bakery.  What we have learned and what we are experiencing.

 

But first, you need to know the basics.

Part 1:

Our story-

We thought about these questions before we started our bakery. We started as personal chefs because it was a low start-up cost business with not much inventory to keep track of (since the clients paid for the food).  Then fell in love with the idea of baking! We changed our business model from a personal chef business to a small local bakery business. We sold for about 2-3 years at local farmers markets before we changed our business model again.

source

We have learned so much over the years. We have changed our business focus and products a lot! Which is probably not the best thing to do. But we can not help it, we come across one thing and do it then we find something else that we feel is better, so we change it again. Presently, we are making just a few more changes to our bakery. Ever since getting into wholesale and having our products in stores nationwide really has been an eye opening experience. We still do enjoy it but it is a lot MORE work for A LOT less profit. The whole idea of wholesale is volume to make up for the drastic profit cut. We are learning that more and more every day! We do our best to make products that are different than what you already see on the market, products made with new ingredients that we feel are the best for our customers health, and making products that YOU our customers demand each day to us.

Here are our questions to ask yourself before you start a business?

  • make sure you pick a business to start that you TRULY love to do day in and day out, and with very little pay (because all the money goes back into the business, and starting up you tend to have a lot of expenses)
  • make sure you have support from family and friends, not only financially, but emotionally as well. as owning your own business you will go through a lot of different emotions almost on a daily basis.
  • make sure your loved ones are ok with not seeing you that much. running your own business takes a lot of time.
  • make sure you pick a name for your business that you can see long term. we have gone back and forth if we wanted to change our bakery’s name from Twin Cakes to something else, but decided to leave it as we like the name. it is cute and simple to remember and that is key!
  • make sure you have a good computer and remember to make back-ups of everything. and then make a back-up of your back-up. loosing data that you spent hours on is never a fun thing.—> something we are experiencing right now!
  • be ready for many unexpected expenses, because they will happen!
  • make sure you are ok with very little pay, especially if you do something in the food business. we have not really paid ourselves in years. everything goes back into the business to help it grow.

source

Once you have answered these questions and feel you are ready then you can proceed to actually getting the business up and running.  Now you really need to think hard about these questions.

Running your own business is not always so glamorous. It is a lot of hard work, dedication, time, and MONEY!

Now we are not saying that there are not very profitable food related businesses out there because there are! And those companies are who we look up to for daily inspiration to keep going. To keep working hard as our BIG break will happen soon.

source

But to be honest, we are unsure what to think anymore about our future. We are nervous and excited at the same time. We have so many difficult business decisions that have to be made here very soon as our future of our bakery is about to change. You will get to a point in your business that you have to make some really hard decisions. But to be successful in business you need to be profitable.  The one good thing about running your own business is that YOU get to make the decisions, but that is also the scary part. As we are always nervous about are we making the BEST decisions for our business and for us personally.

So our final thoughts are:

  • be 110% sure you are ready to start a business
  • be ready for anything as each day is always different
  • know it is alright to change as long as you are still heading towards your ultimate goal of the business, you have to learn what is best for the business as a whole
  • remember to reach out to others for help or inspiration
  • nothing is as easy as it seems. be ready to make difficult decisions along the way.

to be continued…

we will try to cover more of our story, what wholesale is all about, and issues we faced with our business.

what else would you like us to cover?

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) May 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

Wow, you two hit the nail on the head! Starting your own business is NOT easy, but it can be so rewarding. Definitely make sure you love what you do and that you are willing to do it for little money. I know you two will do great in whatever direction you go in! I wish you both so much success and happiness!
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Lori and Michelle May 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

thank you Sarena!!! we hope we are going in the right direction

Sam @ Fit for My Fork May 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

I am keen to start my own food-related business, so thank you so much for this post. I have bookmarked it to comb through later and I’m looking forward to reading more in the future.

I’d be interested in reading more about sourcing your materials, not just the food but also your packaging, and how you went about branding yourself/designing a logo.
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Lori and Michelle May 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Sam great questions we will work on post that answers those questions.

Lisa May 23, 2012 at 11:18 am

Great post—thanks for the insights! I’ve often thought about starting a product-food-related business, but have not leaped because the profit seemed too low… I am sticking to the service-aspect of my business for now, even though it’s tempting to branch out.
Thank you for sharing your story!
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Lori and Michelle May 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Lisa yes the profit is low. We are thinking of going more service oriented as well, it is very tempting not to have inventory to manage ;)

katie @KatieDid May 23, 2012 at 11:35 am

This was really interesting to read and it seems like small business ownership always ends up to be way more than people set out to do, but also more worth it than they ever thought too! Just curious what you girls did prior to owning the bakery? Keep up the amazing hard work!
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Lori and Michelle May 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

thanks Katie :)
it can be rewarding!
MIchelle was in retail beforehand, and I did some sales and administrative assistant jobs.

lindsay May 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm

oh how i can relate to all these!!! thanks for such wonderful advice as always!
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Lauren May 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Amazing insight and thanks for the tips. Like you said you really have to be prepared for starting your business and be willing to dedicate yourself 100%. It is most certainly a journey, so being prepared, making great connections and finding an mentor is always going to help you. I always find having your own business is more about your own personal challenges than anything else. It really challenges you on a personal and emotional level, but the growth that you have is invaluable making it all worth it in the end, regardless of whether it ends up being successful on a monetary level.
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carrie May 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I’ve purchased from TwinCakes directly and also on Raw Food World – have meant to ask which is better for you? (which gets you more profit?) . Sorry its slightly off-topic, but i didnt realize the wholesale world was a lower profit for you. I want to support small businesses in the best way possible! thanks!

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Jessica Nazarali (@JessicaNazarali) May 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Thank you Laurie and Michelle! Very inspiring, I am in the process of launching a vegan food bar so your post was very timely :)
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Nicole @ Making Good Choices May 24, 2012 at 4:26 am

thanks for the great post girls! you are SUCH an inspiration to me. for me when i was starting out the hardest part was learning how to get properly licensed. The info isn’t just out there, it took a lot of digging to find! Thanks again and can’t wait to read more!
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Laury@TheFitnessDish May 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I started my own business when I was 24. You are so right. A lot of time, money and hard work!!!! I did a low overhead start up by dong in-home training. Then I got contracts with some specialty gyms and high school sports teams and hired a staff and was doing great! Once the economy tanked, the gym closed and the schools cut back and so did I. I decided to KISS (“keep it simple stupid”) instead of spreading myself so thin! Unfortunately for my business, not for me, I have really cut back since becoming a mom but am really looking to reinvent myself and go in another direction. You girls inspire me and motivate me more than you know! Thank you for the amazing tips and dedication!!!
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Shakti May 26, 2012 at 2:04 am

Hello ladies, greetings from australia, i just found you whilst looking for some inspiration to make a raw treat tonight, and mint and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations! Which is how google got me here! I am a small business owner, have been a chef and then private yacht and rock and roll chef for a really long time, and decided a few years ago after a really grueling experience to go on to benefits (quite easy in oz) briefly and wait/seek inspiration to be I business myself. 2 1/2 years later and a government scheme kindly and gratefully funded by the govt, I produce a really fantastic superfood product and educate people about the wonders of superfoods and whole foods. The moral of my tale is that everything you say is so so true, and even today I ran in tears from a health food store where the owners couldn’t agree on stocking the product, the way It was rejected was soul destroying…and I am in more debt than I have ever been and I am 45! If I had known some of the realities though, like the amount I would actually make as a manufacturer a fete distribution and all the ongoing costs, I wouldn’t have done it and the product would not have been birthed…. I believe in this product and will keep forging forward, with trust and faith that this IS my purpose, but oh man some days it’s so lonely and really exhausting…..I say to anyone follow your dreams no matter what, because no matter the outcome you stood up tall and tried…. I love your blog, and I love that you broached this topic, as I don’t see it discussed much in the massive wave of healthy foods…blessings love Shakti x

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