We all struggle with knowing our worth as a business and sometimes as individuals. I myself have struggled with both. I can say as an individual you are important, you and the things you do mean something. You are who you are; bent, broken, flawed, and perfectly imperfect but as a business owner, a cake decorator, and a designer, your knowledge is valuable. The materials you use, the ingredients you purchase, the practice it takes to gain the experience and talent not everyone else has is valuable.
When someone has the idea to start a business we don't always go into it for the money; I know I didn't. I wanted to start a business creating cakes honestly because I thought it was silly to buy a cake from a grocery store when I knew I could do better myself for a lot less money and a lot more heart. I jumped in with both feet with small little items purchased from local craft stores and never looked back. I created cakes for my kids scout troops and school functions to gain as much experience as I could. I never looked at it as a business but as a hobby. I didn't care that it was costing me money to provide all these treats for the people I was making them for. As the experience grew so did the amount of people who asked for a cake. I began making birthday cakes and enjoyed every second of it.
There was a time period where my hobby was put on hold and so did the thoughts of actually creating a business of my own, until one day where everything changed.
I began baking every day making treats for every occasion I could. Thank you treats, thinking of you treats, birthday treats, cupcakes, muffins, you name it, I was wanting to make it, yet again, all for free. I wanted to spread the joy and happiness baked goods brought to people. Coming from a large Italian family we always had food and the more food there was, the more love came with it. My mama always taught me, the way to anyone's heart was through food, and I still believe that.
Being a financial savvy shopper, I bought supplies and ingredients on sale, at thrift shops, through marketplaces. I purchased quality ingredients and supplies at a fraction of the cost than someone else, which in turn made me less worried about my cost.
From personal experiences it took me a long time to remember, I myself, was worth a damn. It took me longer to know the experience I had gained meant something too. When I finally decided owning a business and baking for people was a future I actually wanted I really began looking at how I could support my family and not just have a hobby. I looked up the laws for baking from home as a business and realized there was an entire world out there that I knew nothing about. I did my research on how to actually be a business and what I would need to legally operate a bakery from my home. The knowledge proved to be invaluable. I did everything, so I thought, to start a business. I then joined social media pages and groups, I created a business name, I abided by the rules I learned and it all slowly began to fall in place. Not only was I baking for my friends and family but I also began baking for people I didn't know and made a few dollars while I was at it. Until one day I was slapped in the face with reality.... I WAS NOT MAKING ANY MONEY!!!! I mean I didn't think I was losing money either but at the end of the day I was busting my ass with learning all these techniques and purchasing all these supplies to make all these orders. I was gaining experience and I was stoked but I was broke. I realized I had actually told another baker "I don't care that I'm cheap, I just want to gain the experience, I want to learn and I can't very well do that if I'm not actually baking and creating" boy was that a dumb thing to say. As I replayed that conversation over and over in my head I realized how unbelievably wrong I was. That was not how I really felt I knew deep down not only was I costing myself and my family money I knew my dream of owning my own business was going to short lived if I did not understand my worth but I also inadvertently put other "professional" bakers into a shitty predicament where potential clients felt like paying for the custom cake should come at big box store prices. If I, myself, couldn't grasp the knowledge I had was valuable I would fail, and that WAS NOT an option.
I changed my way of thinking, I made a conscious effort to know my worth and to remind myself that the talent I had worked so hard to master was exactly that, it was talent. Talent not everyone holds. I put time and energy into knowing the business. Took the plunge into the unknown and dove in. Building recipes and the skills for creating them took knowledge. It really is a science on how to manipulate ingredients, how to make adjustments for stability, moisture, and the crumb, not just the ability to read the recipe. Consumers look for the beauty of the items as well as the taste and in all forms of the matter, you really do get what you pay for. I have learned that me as a person, how I feel, the perspective I have on life, and who I am matters and I am worth a damn. Me as a business owner and how I operate, my clientele, my recipes, my knowledge, it's all worth a damn. If you're knew to any business know your costs, do the homework, and know that you may not succeed at first. You can ask other people all day long how much you should charge but no one can accurately answer that other than yourself. For example, a client reaches out, asks how much for this cake, you in turn ask a group on social media how much you should charge, I respond with my costs, that's what the baker charges.... now problems arise. Baker who was asking does not buy wholesale or in bulk, needs to purchase specialty items they did not already have on hand, does not have the knowledge or experience on how to work with those materials, one baker uses one buttercream vs another, one bakers skill set is not that of the others. Not only does baker "a" get kicked in the ass but so does baker "b". We as a whole need to help support one another but do it by teaching the others worth not yours. Teach inspiring ambitions for one to know their worth, to support their growth. We as humans need recognition as glorification to grow not to be self centered or egotistical but to know our knowledge is meaningful. You can learn from everyone you meet in every single circumstance and you should remember the value you bring to the table too. The worth you have means something and when you're operating a business you have to make sure you're reimbursed for that knowledge. There is so much information at your finger tips, all you have to do is actually make an effort to do something to benefit your future, not just the here and now. Know that there are people out there more and less experienced than you and that regardless of that you can learn from them still. Someone who has been a baker for years can still learn from someone who is just starting out.
Be the best you, you can be otherwise who else is going to? Life is to short to be anything but happy. Start off slow or start off fast but make the effort to keep going and if it proves to not be going anywhere then ask yourself if there is something you should be doing differently. I know I have struggled with knowing my worth and I work towards benefiting myself and my future as well as my families future everyday and that alone keeps my strides consistent and purposeful.
Your chatterbox baker pal - Carrie