It has come to my attention recently that A LOT of people want to "chuck it all and open my own cupcake shop." I get emails DAILY asking me about what to do, when to do it, who to talk to, what to purchase. I try to answer as honestly as I can, but I really want to put it all in ONE place (which I thought I did in THIS blog), but I want to condense it in ONE post that I can just say (or YOU can say if you know someone who's thinking of doin' their own thing), "CHECK OUT FEB. 19, 2009."
I also want to condense it even further by giving the TOP 5 reasons you KNOW you're ready to open your own place (WHATEVER it is...I'll go with CUPCAKE BAKERY):
5. You have FUNDING and LOTS of it.
-I'm talking LOTS of funding if you are doing a complete build-out (like we did with Retro). If you are doing ANY construction work START SAVING NOW...even if you're 20 years away from your dream. It's THAT expensive. Think in the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars...not just THOUSANDS.
Even if you THINK you have enough money-you've budgeted everything from start to finish to RUNNING the place-it's not enough. TRUST ME. Extras come (think grease traps, packaging, t-shirts, MARKETING, tiny fees that add up to BIG fees). All those surprise costs that sneak up when you think you've got everything covered. BELIEVE ME, there's ALWAYS something ELSE you forgot to buy...or NEED to buy according to REGULATIONS that you don't know about now...but you WILL when you try to OPEN.
4. You have people who you TRUST who will watch your kids (OR if you don't have kids, you don't plan on having ANY for the next FIVE YEARS):
-I have two kids. One who is 10, and one who is three. I am EXTREMELY lucky to have a mother who can watch them whenever I need her to, AND I have VERY CLOSE friends who I trust to watch them if need be. I HAVE HELP. I don't do it alone. I have help because I NEED HELP and so will you.
If you plan on opening a shop and running it yourself, you WILL NOT HAVE TIME for your kids. They will be #2 on your list. It sounds harsh, but it's true. I HATE to say it, but YOU need to hear REALITY. It's not all buttercream and roses. You will work 24/7 (even if you're closed one day a week), and your kids will suffer. I've seen it first hand. Abbi and Lucy miss me, and I go out of my way to make sure that they get attention, but I can't guarantee anything to them in terms of spending time together during the work week. I've missed events at school. I've let them down. It's taken me A YEAR to get my routine straight (and it's still iffy). So, KNOW that you won't have time.
Go into this with your eyes OPEN. Don't think you can do it all, because you can't. You have to have a real talk with your children about what will happen to their lives.
If you don't have kids, just give yourself five years to build your business and eventually hire a staff, so you can have some time to raise your baby old enough to be able to help you ice cupcakes.
Come to think about it, you won't be home long enough to have time to MAKE that baby, anyway.
3. Your place will be DIFFERENT
-Take cupcakes. They are a TREND. Yes...They are SUPER COOL and SUPER TASTY, but they will eventually burn out. I know it. You know it...BUT, you can help yourself before the trend goes the way of the "yogurt shoppe": DIVERSIFY yourself from the competition.
Most major cities (and smaller ones) across the country have established cupcake shops. If you want to compete, BE DIFFERENT. Offer something NEW and make sure you can KEEP offering NEW types of things to keep yourself FRESH and IN BUSINESS. The worst thing you could do is open a shop with the SAME menu as others in your town. Even if you're the first one in your town, remember, the competition will show up some time...so BE READY to BE DIFFERENT.
2. You are ready for BAD reviews.
-You love your cupcakes, but not EVERYONE will. You HAVE to have a tough skin in this business. You will hear ALL about what you're doing is wrong. Why your flavors are all wrong...that your cupcakes taste like crap...that someone else's in town is WAY better...that there's no way you'll make enough selling cupcakes...that you should have sugar free/gluten free/nut free/WHATEVER free...that you should do some OTHER product...that you're too young, too old, too THIS, too THAT. THEY WILL SAY IT. You have to be able to shrug it off and MOVE forward. You will have to CONSTANTLY remind yourself that your business is YOURS and trust YOU. This might be the toughest one...because you get tired...but, you HAVE to keep going and trust in your product.
What's the LAST thing you need to have that makes you know that you're ready to open your own business???
1. You EAT, SLEEP, and BLEED cupcakes (or whatever your dream shop will sell). It's YOU. You can't STOP thinking about it. It gets you out of bed. It HAUNTS you. It is all encompassing, and YOU LOVE IT. You love eating them, touching them, baking them ('cause you'll be bakin' A LOT), talkin' about them to the point where your friends and family say, "ENOUGH!! All you think about is CUPCAKES!!"
Of COURSE it's all you think about. It's your life now. They won't understand...trust me. They will think you're crazy...and maybe you are....I know I am. I've embraced it...so should you. It'll keep your business NEW and FUN.
Believe me: You'll be EXHAUSTED. You'll be a ZOMBIE at times. You're body will ache more than you've EVER thought possible. But, it's CUPCAKES. It's FUN.
Bottom line? If you're in it for the money...WALK AWAY and SAVE YOUR MONEY. Money is NOT quick...don't believe the hype. IT WILL BE A STRUGGLE, but if you have the Top 5 reasons taken care of, you're well on your way.
Keep in mind that this is just the BEGINNING....
Started saving yet?