I have decided to lay down everything on the line and expose my business journey! Which is actually quiet scary to do! Not that I keep everything hidden but like most people I try to just share the good things.
Why do I want to share my journey.
I want to be able to be transparent and show that business is a journey. Business success doesn’t just happen overnight. I constantly have to keep reminding myself of that when I look to my idols; Peggy Porschen, Richard Branson, Denise Duffield-Thomas, Joel Gascoigne (yes my idols run businesses in different areas and in all shapes and sizes).
I actually got the inspiration of sharing the journey from Joel Gascoigne (Buffer) and Denise Duffield-Thomas (Lucky Bitch). Both run internet based businesses, both started small, and both are completely transparent in their business journeys. I love reading about what works from them and what doesn’t. It has taught me that failure is ok, somethings just aren’t meant to be plus it has taught me that we all have similar trials and tribulations.
Who am I?
Let’s first start at the beginning, who am I and how did I get where I am today!
My name is Pia Cato, as of 17th December 2016, I am 30 years old. I am passionate about business, food, history and travel. I am a very happy home business owner. As well as Make Money With Cakes, I own two other businesses (more on that below). I live a cute one bed flat in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. I love white roses and as side note, I have a few health concerns, M.E. and E.D.S…but I try not to let them get in the way. However, that is why I work from home.
So how have I come to own three businesses! Well it all started with one back in 2009.
The Vanilla Pod Bakery
I launched The Vanilla Pod Bakery after winning a business planning competition at my university. My dream had always been to run my own business. My parents are self employed as were my grandparents. So I thought if they can do it so can I. I just never had an idea until I reached the grand old age of 22.
With the help of my university I took a year to develop a business plan, test the market and start the business. I launched at the start of recession and went from a home bakery to running it from a small premises in town with a team of 4 within 4 years. I had a lot of fun during those years but for the most part it was extremely hard. I never had any money and my health was a constant threat. In the end after one struggle to many I decided enough is enough.
I was on the brink of closing the doors forever when I took the decision to invest in myself and pay for a mentor. Prior to this I had also had mentors but I have never paid for one. I am so glad I took that step. As it made me see that I could make it a success I just had to find the right audience and change my strategy. So that is what I did.
I am now happy to say the business has been completely turned around. I now work from home and earn a healthy profit. The Vanilla Pod Bakery is growing at a steady rate year on year. However, I don’t like to rest on my laurels so as of 2017 I will be entering the next phase of The Vanilla Pod Bakery’s life.
Digital Marketing Freelancer
This business happened by accident! I have always loved the marketing side of the Vanilla Pod Bakery. Marketing has been a discipline that has been ingrained in me over the years. It all started with a week’s work experience for a marketing department when I was 16. Then on my gap year I went to Singapore for a two month marketing internship (working in a hot country did wonders for my health). Followed by lots more marketing work experience opportunities and a degree in marketing and media communications. Yes I really love marketing!
So becoming a freelance marketer was something I turned to when I was changing The Vanilla Pod Bakery. As I drastically changing The Vanilla Pod Bakery’s strategy, I had this it interim period of taking orders but not actually making the cake until the following year. That meant I had a lot of free time and could do with the extra income. So I took a part time position as a freelance social media manager. It was project based and when that ended I got approached by another client. And then another and then another.
Initially this business was not something I wanted to grow. But I am starting to look at it a little differently. I really enjoy the work and found that I love the digital side of marketing; social media, email campaigns, lead generation strategies, website development and blogging.
Make Money With Cakes
About three years after launching The Vanilla Pod Bakery, I started getting budding, and desperate cake makers asking me “how I did it?”, “How did I start a cake business?”, “How was I still in business after three years?”, “How did I achieve my success”, and so forth. At this point I just used to smile and brush them off with “well it’s a lot of hard work and making sure you get your pricing right”. But I felt like a fraud because I honestly didn’t know how I was still in business, my prices weren’t right and I didn’t turn a profit!
Every year I would “say this time next year it will be different, The Vanilla Pod Bakery will turn a profit”. Well that carried on until 2013 when I drastically changed everything. Over the following two years The Vanilla Pod Bakery evolved into a wonderful business. A business that turned a healthy profit and showed forecasts for continued growth. I finally felt credible when cake makers asked me “How I did it?”.
So after a 6 month test period mentoring two fantastic cake makers I launched Make Money With Cakes. A mentoring service which helps cake makers in need and cake makers starting out.
So what’s next for the three businesses, well you will have to keep following this blog.