New Year, New Start...thinking of starting something challenging?
New Year,New Start
The first few days of January mark a pressure geared towards change, all positive generally, yet all this positivity can get annoying and can be slightly off putting in your journey of change.
Fact, January is the start of a new year, so mentally it seems to be a good starting point. However, I found by waiting for a specific time to start something that could potentially change your life is pointless, might as well get going now!
As part of various things I have told myself to work on during 2019, one is to tell my story of my daily life in business and how Pleesecakes operates, how hard it can be to start a business, the amazing opportunities it can create, the constant mental battles and struggles and how to take that daunting step into the unknown, not fully understanding how it will pan out long term…I will try and put it into words and share some experiences I have encountered, which I hope in turn will inspire, if not educate some of you…
Today marks two years since I started Pleesecakes.
It was January 3rd 2017, I was about to go back on site as a painter having had two weeks off over the Xmas period (something I didn’t realise you don’t get in the catering industry).
I was jotting names and ideas down on a notepad, the word Pleesecakes kept appearing, bearing in mind I was casually making very amateurish cheesecakes for the previous two years for family and friends birthdays (never done a cake decorating or catering course), hence the word Pleese and cheese had a ring to it. The cakes I had been making were well moody and nothing to shout about, yes the flavours worked and I used to bring them on site for the boys to try, but look wise they were average. This did not deter me..
With zero market research being carried out regarding the industry I was about to throw myself in to, I set up an Instagram account, made a logo on app on my phone and Pleesecakes was launched.
I didn’t have a strategy, I didn’t have a plan, in fact I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
I uploaded 6 pictures which were all taken on my iPhone (all of which are still taken on my iPhone to this day) and I gained about 40 followers over the course of 2 days.
Obviously, as most people know Joe Wicks Aka The Body Coach gave my page a shout out to his 2 million followers, which in turn generated a lot of followers to which I had to immediately engage with. The page ended the first week on 15k followers and multiple order enquiries, it was an overnight business. I had never made a cake to order, I didn’t have a packaging or produce supplier, at this point I still struggled to get the metal base from my cake tin off the cakes I made, sometimes I even sent them out to friends and family with the metal base still attached and I’d have to go and buy a whole new cake tin.
So, to say that I was chucked in the deep end was an understatement. Exciting though!
Learn, Learn very quick!
Things moved quickly at first and Brendon jumped on straight away to help with things, he was still painting while I worked fully on Pleesecakes. Since that day in January 2017 I haven’t done a day painting, it was a very sudden transition, led by passion but with a massive lack of knowledge and experience. We soon realised this was going to be hard work.
Even with a huge initial push from Wicksy, growing, exposing and developing a product and business is BLOODY HARD WORK! What I’ve learnt in business in the last two years has been incredible. Being thrown in the deep end, in fact gave me the needed pressure to learn, to gain knowledge, to gain experience quickly so I could learn essential business survival skills necessary to grow the company.
And so the journey begun…
The first year (2017) was all about learning and making mistakes.
We grew our social media following worked with some amazing brands, developed the products and had some incredible experiences, all of which wouldn’t of been possible hadn’t I decided to set up that Instagram page, looking back it was such a simple, small action taking exercise that has changed every aspect of my life and I will stress to everyone reading, it doesn’t necessarily take a massive effort to trigger something big. It can be something small and at the time, something that seems insignificant, but by taking action clearly is the key, be it a business venture, a change in direction regarding your health, ACTION is what will kick start your journey to change!
Having said this, please realise from the word go you will have hard times ahead, there will be obstacles, there will be moments you’ll want to give up or quit, but those exact moments are the most important character building moments you should be very grateful for!
It sounds strange to welcome this, but those moments when you’re barely earning enough money to survive or you're seeing no change in your body having trained for hours, weeks on end. You are actually subconsciously creating a character that is able to seamlessly adapt to challenging times, a trait that is essential in any success story. A lot of people will give up, but by continuing, by not being discouraged, you will find that pain is temporary, it will subside, things will change, things will get better.
Brendon and I would always say to each other in a tough situation, “argh, it’s all just character building” and we’d keep going….
Towards the end of a hectic 2017, we had made some mistakes that had put the business in a precarious situation. We had taken on too many staff, it wasn’t reflective in sales, we didn’t have any investment, it was a scary time, we were working so hard, 18/19 hours a day sometimes, it was relentless hard, a real test..
The nationwide courier failed, we had some debts from over staffing, we were treading water. This for me was the toughest time mentally, it was so hard to keep going. We had to keep pushing on with our social media, we loved engaging with our audience as that was the main thing keeping the business alive, had we not had our social media platforms the business may have ended. Social media can be a beautiful thing for a business, stats wise you can reach such a large audience very quickly with almost zero costs. For me, from day one it wasn’t about using social media to sell, sell, sell I was always passionate and aware about sharing the story, putting our personalities across and trying to be genuine people about the message we were giving and the true passion we had for the product we were selling.
Plugging away during January 2017 was tough, not only because we had to let some staff go and the fact no one eats cheesecake during January because everyone’s in the gym, but Brendon also had to make a decision to go back to painting, we just weren’t earning enough for him to comfortably support his family. It was a dark time and to be honest I wasn’t sure how things would turn out. I had worked with Brendon for the past 6/7 years, we’d been business partners and so there was always someone to turn to in a sticky situation.
Now fully on my own, chucked into another deep end of the endless pools of deep ends, I had to focus and try and remind myself that I was doing a job that I was massively passionate about.
The team was small, apart from myself, I had two chefs in the kitchen at any one time, Sam who does about 35 roles, mainly heading up the admin side of things, who works 37 hours a day and my mum who delivered all the cakes. But everyone was passionate and it was the most encouraging thing to seeing other people passionate about my passion. That’s a great feeling, which brings me onto my next business point. INFRACSTRUCTURE.
Having a good team around you is essential, having a passionate team around you is what will make the difference.
As an owner of a business, no one will ever be as passionate as you and you will want to try and do everything and take on every job role and work yourself into the ground and that is very unproductive. Having great people around you, helping you, stopping you having a mental breakdown is probably one of the most important things in business, this includes supportive families and partners.
2018 has been another year of learning, although I have noticed change within the business, it’s starting to feel like a business. There’s still a huge amount of work to be done, but there’s noticeable change. We released the Pleesecake recipe book, we did more TV/radio, did Dragons Den, secured investment, it’s moving in an upwards direction, bearing in mind the start of the year had me really questioning myself and if this idea of mine would work.
We move into 2019 with an array of opportunities, with a second to none work ethic and a passion to share more amazing stories and products!
Over the last two years I have learnt some key traits that you should almost certainly consider adopting if you’re thinking about taking on a challenge of any kind...
- Resilience– whether you’re thinking about starting a new business venture or taking on the iron man challenge, you will need to turn your character in to a resilient one. You’ll experience the toughest times you will probably have ever experienced; therefore, you will need to be ready.
- Welcome the Deep End– I found being chucked into the deep end will not work for everyone as it can be sudden and overwhelming, but the one thing is, is you’ll have to learn quick and that can only help speed up progression.
- People– surround yourself with great people, who have passion and have a mind-set that matches yours. Do not surround yourself with people who are pessimistic it will only slow you down.
I have given a brief outline of the last two years at Pleesecakes and I hope it has given you some inspiration or you’ve taken something from it
This is my first ever blog, so if you’d like hear more about something more specific please let me know. If you want to hear more business related experiences, or personal challenges I’ve got a lot of stories to share.
Please share if you like
Big up yeah!