Thoughts on starting and running a small business

Doing what’s in front of us

In May of 2015 I wrote here:

Currently in the business we’re promoting our customizing capabilities (the edible printer’s toppers and cakes); launching the online sale of packaged frozen gluten free minis; starting to plan the cookbook launch early next year; and exploring the idea of doing more in the wedding market. It is hard to keep straight some days where each project is at – a good sign that a written plan may be in order.

Dear 2015 Self, you didn’t need a plan.

5 year plans, 1 year plans, quite likely a plan for the next month, are fruitless exercises. I itch to do these written plans because part of me believes I can corral the future and all its uncertainty by writing down the way I want the future to unfold.

But really –  good luck with that.

As I have said here more than once since that Spring 2015 post, I couldn’t have known the high end wedding cake market was not to be ours. I needed to believe that it would be, put my best foot forward on that project and go for it.

Now in Fall 2018 we are completely renovating our main store, planning to open 6 more stores, launching a frozen line of cupcakes and doubling down on buttercream cakes. I do not plan to write a plan.

What I believe in now is:

  • bringing one’s experience to bear on all decisions;
  • together with the experience factor, following one’s intuition;
  • on top of #1 and 2, not risking so much of something (say. money) that will torpedo you if it goes sideway; and
  •  when all of the above 3 factors are covered, running with your forward-looking ideas and visions with all the energy and enthusiasm in the  world.

Will everything always work? Hell no. But the other option is standing still which really means moving backward: if PGB had the  same menu, same boxes, same store, same website as the day we opened, chances are very good we wouldn’t be open.

So I’ve decided to ditch even thinking about the lure of the 5 year plan.

On another note, Mom and Dad had silver anniversary pins made for the girls in the  family when their business was 25 years old.  I lost mine and hadn’t thought of it for years until my sister asked me recently if I wanted the  extra one she had found in a drawer. The pin arrived on the weekend and a couple of things about it struck me right away. The first is that I opened PGB on the 50th anniversary of their business and the second is that the PGB logo with its oval shape, swirls of icing and one letter much longer than the  rest is oddly reminiscent of the SAM logo. Cool.

And another thing – pretty sure Mom and Dad didn’t do 5 year plans either.

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