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Small business update – Yvonne Donald

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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Small business update – Yvonne Donald

Small business update – Yvonne Donald
I’m very pleased to be saying hello again to the lovely 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. and most recently January 2016. What I love about Yvonne is that she’s always trying something new and always then assessing whether that was a good idea – so often we either think about new things but don’t do them, or we try something out but forget to take a good, hard look at the consequences for our business. In January last year, Yvonne’s plan was this: “In another years’ time I think the main goal is to take a massive step forward with Kake and Cupkakery being my full-time job. All the other times when I thought I was ready, I really wasn’t, but now I feel more established as a business and a little local brand, the winds of change are beckoning to help me sail on out to my next adventure”. 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?
Well, I felt I was making positive moves with the business in having a store front which was the main goal for me to run kake and cupkakery as my full-time job, and 2016 seemed the perfect time after a very busy year for me in the world of cake, I decided the time was right to make a serious move towards fulfilling my goal of owning a shop front, even viewing a property local to me and looking into gaining some extra financial support through a local organisation, but in the first couple of months of 2016 there was an unexpected illness in the family that threw us all. Thankfully, everything is fine and dandy now, I’m very happy to say, but it was a stressful time that threw my concentration and focus and  made me re-evaluate my aims and goals, it sounds doom and gloom, but it really wasn’t: if anything it was a  bit of an epiphany really, and a little sign for me to focus on the things that are truly important and think about how I want to live my life and run my business in the future.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

My online presence has changed massively, so much so that it has made me reassess my business model from having a store front coffee shop style bakery to rethinking and looking into having a business unit instead to run the online business from, or even build upon my home to keep overheads as low as possible, which for me has always been an issue with running a storefront like it is for any business. With every step of my business, it has dictated where it was going. I would like to think it was me guiding it but it really isn’t, when demand grows for a certain item that I offer I tend to follow my gut and give it more focus and that’s one of the reasons (as mentioned in my previous update) I decided not to do wholesale orders to coffee shops any more, as it just didn’t feel right for me or the direction of the business.

I have continued to listen to my customers new and old, who seem to like the fact they can order cakes online and have cupcakes/celebration cakes delivered to their door or sent to friends or family, all done virtually, saving them time in having to go to a store to order or collect from a shop.

This is something I have realised more than ever in 2016, so because of this I decided to give the website a tweak and  researched a little about SEO and meta tags and got some nifty advice from someone I met at a networking event to make my website show earlier in Google searches.

In May I had one of my own cupcake recipes (blackberry Mojito) featured in a national baking magazine, to say I was over the moon was an understatement and then to top it off I was featured within the Birmingham Mail online as one of the best places to buy cupcakes in Birmingham, I’m still smiling about that as I type, as one of my ambitions was always to make one of these type of list, and after 5 years of hard work my business did, which in turn really helped raise my online profile which has me now gaining more orders via my website. I always get a little thrill when I get a form submission from my website for orders (simple pleasures).

Because of increased web orders, members of my family deliver orders for me when I’m not able, but I need to look into making my delivery and admin more streamlined and efficient so am going to get one of my sisters to help with that.

My blog called Adventures in Kakeland is still going and I’ve added a feature called “Meet the Baker” ,which was inspired by you Liz and your business updates. I basically send out questions to other cake business and bakers who can shout about what they do, the products they use and issues that we all share and feature them on my blog. I’ll be starting it up again for 2017 with a new batch of bakers. This helps me to create blog content which is linked to my business and will help increase web presence.

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

To not equate my vision of success with someone else’s vision of success.

Any more hints and tips for people?

  • If you have a website, work on keeping it updated with fresh content and make it as user friendly as possible
  • Think about writing a blog, you never know, you could become an influencer
  • Network and always seek out opportunities that will help raise the profile of your business
  • Listen to your customers: we can get so romantic about doing things that we want to do rather than what the customers want
  • Always let the customer be your focus and always try to add a little value or exceed their expectations
  • Get some balance in your life: this has been my number one tip with each of my updates as I’ve learned the hard way
  • We are all time poor and time is precious, so anything you can do to save someone (a customer) time is a win-win situation
  • Look at other industries as well as your own to see what innovations are taking place, I’m a little bit inspired by how Uber and Air bnb have dominated the market in what are pretty much traditional industries with the main focus I believe as saving (us) the consumer time in making booking a taxi or accommodation, just a click of an app away

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

What time-saving online tool or app would you recommend for other small business users?

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

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

I love Yvonne’s learning points above and the time and trouble she takes to share them with us. Having a blog is certainly key: giving the search engines something that’s regularly updated means they are more likely to show your results high in the list and a blog is the easiest way to do this. I can’t wait to see what Yvonne does in the coming year!

Website: www.kakeandcupkakery.co.uk and blog Adventures in Kakeland
Twitter @Cupkakery
Instagram@KakeandCupkakery
Phone: 07837 876604
 
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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Business, Celebration, Small Business Chat

 

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What I do when I’m not being Liz from Libro

IMG_20160823_174246954_HDRI’ve been away for a few days, running my first marathon, in Iceland (as you do). As I haven’t had time to write up a blog post on language or business for this week, I thought my readers might enjoy my report over on my personal (and usually book reviewing) blog. Do pop over to have a read!

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Celebration

 

Season’s Greetings from Liz at Libro

Reykjavik in the snow

Reykjavik in the snow

Season’s Greetings, however and whatever you celebrate, as we slip past the turn of the year and, in the Northern Hemisphere, the days get longer again.

I wish all the readers of this blog and Libro customers older and newer a happy, peaceful and healthy 2016.

2015 has been a good year, and I’m looking forward to achieving some personal and business goals in 2016. Thank you to everyone who’s helped get me to this position of freedom to be able to work hard, give back, maintain connections, read a fair bit and keep fit.

The Small Business chats and other blog posts will be taking a short break, but will be back with a vengeance in the New Year. I will be taking time off 24-26 December inclusive, and working part time between Christmas and the New Year.

With best wishes from Liz and the household.

xx

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2015 in Celebration

 

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Happy fifth birthday, Libro!

Libro birthday cartoonI started working for myself (very much part time) in August 2009 – so now it’s Libro’s fifth birthday!

What am I doing to celebrate? Well …

I’m having a little party today over on the Libro Facebook page … including a draw to win a free Kiva loan

I’m making some loans to Kiva (see below) and donating one to someone else

I’m celebrating the relaunch of my two main business books, with their new titles and covers …

… And I’m launching my new website devoted entirely to the books I write, where people can find info, links, reviews and news in one place

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Libro’s birthday by popping over to say hello on the Facebook page or by doing a Kiva loan yourselves.

Happy Birthday to me!

Quick update: the Kiva competition in now CLOSED. Alison Mead won the free loan and was sent a voucher. I started new loans to a man selling spare parts in Benin, a travelling salesman in Paraguay and a food stall in Bolivia. These were all people who friends of mine had already lent to.

Kiva is an organisation that facilitates loans to small businesses around the world, who traditionally find it hard to raise capital. You commit from $25 upwards, and you can choose by gender, country, industry sector and individuals within those areas. They then pay the loan back to you in small increments – you get an update email on repayments once a month and sometimes updates on the individual or group you’ve loaned to, if the organisation handling the loan provides them. Once the money’s paid back, you can reinvest it or withdraw it if you want to. I love helping people to help themselves in this way; it feels like I’m helping to make a difference to another small business somewhere far away from me.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Business, Celebration, Ebooks

 

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Happy Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Well, here I am with books, chocolate, dinner and friends – all that’s missing is Matthew and the cat … Happy Holidays to all of Libro’s lovely clients and all of the various Friends of Libro. Hope you have a good rest and catch up with the things that you like to do.

(Photo taken by Catherine Fitzsimons and reproduced with permission)

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Celebration

 

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Season’s Greetings 2012

165 L 3 day trip 2.78 Tozeur oasis

Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays to all of Libro’s friends and clients. Thank you for a great first year of Libro full time, and here’s to a happy and healthy 2013 for all of us!

I thought we could do with a cheery pic, and there are many dates in the shops at the moment, after all …

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Celebration