Small business update – Yvonne Donald

10 Mar
Let’s say a big hello to Yvonne Donald from delicious cake company, Kake and Cupkakery. Yvonne’s first interview was in September 2012, and we had catch-ups in in October 2013 and then November 2014, January 2016 and January 2017. I’m so pleased to see Yvonne still going strong: this is where she wanted to be by now, “After all this time I finally realise my main priority is to see Kake and Cupkakery grow and flourish whether that’s online, through a store front or both. So for the year ahead I want this to be my main focus as I see Kake and Cupkakery as a brand which I would like to become stronger within the local community and Birmingham as a whole. I want to have more of a presence amongst the wedding market as I still have a little concept that I haven’t given my full attention to. And maybe look into having an app, as we all have mobiles and I think an app alongside my website might be a good idea to save customers even more time and have ease of access for ordering.. So if any fellow small techy businesses reading this can help with this, I would love to hear from you: I’m happy to give you cake …” Lots of lovely aims there, so let’s see how she’s getting on!

Hello, Yvonne, it’s lovely to chat with you again. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Hello! I think I can safely say it’s been a good year. Am I where I thought I would be? It’s a big yes and a little no. I’m still operating from home in my registered kitchen but a big yes regarding the business overall, as last year I wanted the business to grow and flourish and I feel that it has due to the volume of orders I am receiving.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Well I didn’t look into the app, I basically didn’t have the time to, as I built a new website. I’ve taken a another tiny step into the wedding market as I’m getting commissions for a few more wedding cakes every year, it’s not my primary market like some cake makers but I feel I’m an all-rounder so I’m keeping one foot in the wedding camp.

The beginning of 2017 I bought a biz planner that made me take a good look at my biz from the inside out and one area which I wanted to get right was my branding, I know I have focused on this before with little tweaks here and there but this planner really made me think, as I really wanted a strong look to make me stand out in what is a very competitive market. Rebranding became an even clearer goal as in march 2017 I was chosen as Theo Paphitis (previous dragon on Dragons’ Den) #SBS (small business Sunday) winner on twitter. I had entered this many years ago and basically you tweet Theo your business and his fave 6 he retweets on a Monday. I decided to enter for the first time in years and won (wooo hooo). I got to go to a #SBS event with other winners who come from many other industries, and even got to meet him [see a photo of Yyonne and Theo on her Instagram).

My #SBS win and rebrand I feel has really helped boost my business, The decision to invest and get the job done properly to have a clear brand identity was the best decision ever, I now have a new logo, brand colours, specific fonts, brand patterns and a new website. Both of these (#SBS/rebrand) have helped propel me on to the coveted page 1 on Google for my specific search terms so I’m getting noticed on the web, resulting in increased orders.

I also took the plunge and entered the most intimidating cake competition ever, which is Cake International: people come from all over the world to enter. There are a number of categories and I entered the wedding cake category and pushed myself by using royal icing which is a medium not used that often but is creeping back in vogue. I didn’t place, but I haven’t let that deter me as the competition was fierce and standards extremely high plus it would help if I read the competition schedule properly. (Roll on November).

I also now have help with my admin regarding the everyday recording of figures etc.. I do use an accountant but my sister is kindly helping me and freeing up more of my operating time for baking, planning etc .… so she’s not exactly my first employee but kind of is.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

This year I have learnt me time and work life balance are so very important. This area has improved a lot for me. I still continue to schedule in down time and actually managed to fit in a holiday and went alone, which was a huge personal goal of mine and I would definitely recommend. But also being much stricter with myself and allocating specific days and times for the business to operate as well as a (no compromise) day off has made me feel much calmer less frantic and more in control and more organised.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Challenge yourself often as that’s how we grow, being judged by your peers can be tough but entering competitions etc.. within your industry or outside of your industry can be very exciting and rewarding.

Don’t underestimate you’re “ME” time. If you’re not functioning 100%, your business will suffer and we are our businesses.

Your business is more than just a name or a logo: going through the design process really helped me clearly identify who my market is, so every now and then take time to do a little audit on who you are selling to, is it a good fit, are your prices right, are your products right?

Studying your social media analytics can be a great way to instantly see who is connecting with you as well who your social media is reaching.

Don’t be scared of change as it can work wonders.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Bigger and better that hopefully I can seriously make a move to work full-time in the business. This business is self-evolving – I plan but things never go to plan so I set myself small goals.

Within the next year ideally I want or rather need a bigger space to work, so I think for this year I either need to think of extending or looking for a separate kitchen/workshop space, but I will continue to seek out opportunities and increase sales even more.

I’m so pleased Yvonne’s been able to take some me time this year and even a holiday – a big step for a small business owner! Sometimes running your own business does take over a bit, and that’s fine, as long as it’s only sometimes. It’s so important to have space and time for you. As usual, I can’t wait to find out what Yvonne gets up to in the next year!

Twitter @Cupkakery
Phone: 07837 876604

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