Managing the challenges as a cake business owner


Our friends over at The Cake Professionals have put together this incredibly helpful, thoughtful and level-headed blog for cake business owners in these challenging times. Read their advice on navigating the difficulties and supporting each other along the way.

What a difference a month makes! Just a few weeks ago we were celebrating The Cake Professionals Awards and Conference. That now feels like a different planet, not just a different month.

These are challenging times. Scary even. It’s okay to feel a bit wobbly. Actually, it’s a very natural reaction to such huge changes.

As people, and as cake businesses we need to navigate this time well so that we can help get through this next patch of history well. Here are some tips we’re finding useful:

Focus on what you CAN change, not what you can’t

We can spend so much mental, emotional and physical energy getting stuck on things we can’t control. We don’t control the virus, the government response, the overall economy…there’s just a whole heap we don’t get a say in. Focusing on our lack of control only pulls us deeper into powerlessness. It's the mental equivalent of standing and punching a wall - it might release some tension and fear, but it only injures us in the long run.

Reinhold Niebuhr said it much better than we ever will:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.”

There should absolutely be room for the confusion, loss, grief, anger and numbness we feel as we navigate circumstances we’ve never before had to face. There should be space for sharing our concerns about our family, finances, community and health. But, it’s important to intentionally recall the truth that there are still many small, yet deeply important ways we can choose to act for the good of our own well-being, and the community around us. 

Tackling the things we can control can make a huge difference. Leaning into what we can do will help shift our attitude in facing these hard times ahead. 

A phrase we have used with our children since they were toddlers, and which is becoming rather more used of late, is this… “What are our options?” Everything is allowable as an answer, from “lie down on the floor and never get up!”, through to “take over the world!”. Then there’s all the good stuff in between to choose from. It’s a helpful exercise.

Some of the good stuff is squeezing the positive out of the coming difficulties, hardship and loss. We’ve an unexpected business holiday. So what can we do with that time? Do we invest it in the important things away from cake? Do we prepare for the time when people start ordering again? A new website? A well-stocked blog? Your new Corona Collection of dummy designs? A batch of new flavours to roll out? There will always be options, even in the foggiest of situations. 

Don’t be a Tigger or an Eeyore

"The sky has finally fallen. Always knew it would." Eeyore. 

"Come on Rabbit. It's just a silly storm. Let's you and me bounce! Oh, boy! It'll make us feel grrrreat!" Tigger.

With all that is happening we often swing to extremes (sometimes different ones in the same day!). Our Eeyore response is where everything is impossibly negative. We can end up getting caught in a downward spiral of hopelessness that paralyses us, and often infects those around us with the same gloom. 

When we go to that place we need to remember, this too will pass. Many of us have faced major difficulties in life. In the moment they happened, they eclipsed everything. Yet here we are on the other side. This season is really hard, but it won’t be forever.

Saying that, the opposite reaction can be just as harmful to ourselves and to those around us. To be a bit too like Tigger is where we plug our ears and try being super positive. It might seem cheery, but if doesn’t face the seriousness of what’s actually happening then that can be dangerous. 

Our Tigger response is one based on unrealistic optimism. We’re simply not taking the situation as seriously as we should. It’s an understandable defence mechanism in the face of bad news, however, it means we avoid facing the severity of the situation. An ostrich with its head in the sand is not a safe or smart way to deal with life’s reality. 

So maybe we need to be a little bit like Christopher Robin. Finding that sweet spot in the middle where we have a clear-eyed view of the seriousness of what we face AND YET we keep a positive attitude. 

‘There is something you must always remember’. Said Christopher to Pooh,
‘You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think’.

Share facts, not rumours

This is a scary time. Let’s just own that. The question is, how do we face those fears and look after one another in the midst of all that is going on.

One of the best ways we can do that is to share facts, not rumours. Rumours only help to make us all hyper-ventilate! Now is not the time to claim expertise in virus control because we watched ‘Outbreak’ eating a bag of Butterkist back in 1995! 

There’s a huge need to have a solid foundation of truth on which we base our actions. That means the sources of our knowledge are really REALLY important. Even well-meaning rumours add to confusion and anxiety. So, let’s pledge to each other that we won’t be saying things like ‘my friend heard that…’ 

Instead, let’s share information provided by experts who have more data and understanding than we do. So, be guided by the information as it comes from the NHS, government, scientists, clinicians and legal experts as we track through this. 
If you don’t know then the kindest thing to do is simply to say ‘I don’t know yet’, and do all we can to be a calming presence and work to discover reliable sources for answers. 

At The Cake Professionals, our commitment here and in any conversation is to share information provided by experts who have more data and understanding than we do. So we’ll be guided by the information as it comes from the NHS, government, scientists, clinicians and legal experts as we track through this season of our history. 
Got questions? You can find links to really useful websites on our most recent blog on www.thecakeprofessionals.com

See opportunities rather than obstacles

We’re all having to take a major break from running our businesses as usual. So what opportunities are there in this moment? Loads, here’s just a few ways to use this time well:

  1. Connecting with family, friends near and far, neighbours and our local community – physical isolation should not mean social isolation. We need each other more than ever.
  2. Building your cake network – we’re going to need each other in the coming months. Reach out, send a text, start a conversation, we’ve got time to deepen our friendships. What a gift.
  3. Skill up – free or paid for, there are going to be a LOT of learning opportunities online. Now is the time to do some serious skill development. Learn new baking techniques, discover Facebook marketing, or write a book. 
  4. Business development – that website you keep meaning to update. The magazine advert that needs refreshing. The filing systems you’ve not quite got round to. The photos that need collating and sharing. The spring clean your business needs?... now’s the time!

Sending each of you our very best wishes as we navigate the road ahead. In it with you. Christine, Phil and the CD&S team.

Here's some more business advice that might be helpful to you:

Starting a cake business: 5 things you need to know

Food safety for cake decorators

Everything you need to know when scaling up cake recipes

A beginner's guide to cake photography

The essential cake decorating equipment you'll find in every pro's kitchen