Thoughts on starting and running a small business

Reflections

Twelve months is a perfect length of time for looking back and reflecting on what has happened…in my experience a year never goes by without at least one completely unexpected event taking place.

EVOLVING PROJECTS

For PGB, it has been a year of lots of activity and developments. For example, I loved the two strategy sessions with the senior team and I know that they laid the groundwork for more strategic thinking and planning in 2015. In another area,  we’ve continued all year to deepen our wholesale relationships with Marche and Mcewan. [shout outs to George of Marche and George of Mcewan who are each incredibly upbeat, positive people to work with and who support PGB’s products so much as part of their respective stores’  selection of high quality baking].

Also in the category of matters that will continue to evolve is the launch of the new menu. Our early results were strong, but compared to our cupcake sales, the sales of the new items tell us that our customers see us as “the cupcake place”. So we have work to do to get the word out about our amazing cookies, brownies and tarts, but I’m confident about it and happy we expanded our offering.  I think the Celebration Cakes have tremendous potential especially in the wedding market where so often a couple wants to have a “cake to cut” on top of their tower of cupcakes. Most importantly, in the first weeks with our new baked goods, we’ve received a really favourable response from customers and on social media – thanks to JennJenn, Head Editor of Awesome, for including us in her blog…

http://www.awesomejennjenn.com/2014/12/prairie-girl-bakery-more-than-just.html

THE COOKBOOK!!

In terms of pivotal events that happened pretty well overnight, I would point to the email in January from Random House asking if we were interested in doing the Prairie Girl Bakery Cookbook. Yes! It has been a lot of work, including the week of photography but when we see that first copy a year from now, it will be really worth it. The book will be sold in book stores both in Canada and the United States – so exciting! Head baker Andrea, photographer Christina (also our graphic designer and website creator/manager), and Robert, Zoe and Terry at Random House have all been amazing for their hard work on the PGB Cookbook project.

AND ANOTHER PIVOTAL EVENT…

As my other pivotal moment that happened midway through the year, I would choose the transition of our assistant head baker Ailish into the Catering Coordinator role, a transition I never saw coming but which has worked out so well.  We’ve had a few people in the role since we opened and all of them have been terrific, but Ailish has brought a real professionalism to the desk. As I write this early Wednesday morning, I know that Ailish will be starting her day with an inbox full of emails and PGB’s confirmation emails of overnight online orders, as well as numerous phone messages and of course matters carrying over from yesterday. I did an entry-level version of the orders desk job myself for the first 6 months in 2011 and I can tell you that on some days it is like being the triage person in an emergency room…our wonderful customers take their cupcakes seriously!

I am super excited about 2015 and what it holds for Prairie Girl Bakery. I’ve started work on our strategic plan which will include both projects we started this year and some big new ideas.

As this is my last post for the year, I will wish readers a really happy holiday season and all the best in 2015. I appreciate everyone who takes a few moments to read my often random thoughts and I look forward to sharing more of them next year.

Jean 

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