This time last year we were three stores and now we are five. And we are gearing up to have a booth at the Grocery Innovation Congress for a not-yet-developed 6-pack of frozen gluten free, vegan and nut free mini cupcakes.

I am tired. Not physically tired as I write this but mentally tired.

The team is tired in the same way. They don’t say so – but I know they are ready for a period of time when we don’t change anything. None of us can remember when that lasted more than a month.

I was complaining about my mental fatigue to my stepdaughter this week over dinner. Rebecca is 21 and she is the namesake of the PGB mascot, something that she shakes her head at every time we feature the big burgundy velour cupcake in social media or send Rebecca Red Velvet out on the street. (When she was 11, it seemed like a good idea to name a fuzzy cupcake mascot after her.)

Anyway, Rebecca said to me, “I know why you are tired, Jean”.

“Ok, why?”

“Because when you had one store, there was you and Carly doing all the admin stuff, yes?”


“And now you have 5 stores and there is you and Carly and an assistant doing all the admin – and everyone else working on the new things has other jobs at PGB too?”

“Ok, good point, have some more Pad Thai now”.

It’s always nice when a 21-year old can see things better than I can.

Here’s the thing, it all comes down to options, none of which are easy.

A business with 5 stores certainly makes more revenue than one store but all the non-negotiable costs increase too, such as   ingredients, packaging, bakers’ and customer service salaries, rent, cleaning costs and equipment repairs. To add in more costs for new roles in HR, Tech Support, Leasing and Financial Analysis, just to name a few roles that would be “great”, means that our revenue would definitely be less than our expenses for an undetermined period of time. In other words, we’d run at a loss and need to add shareholder capital, bring in partners, and/or borrow money. Adding in capital is an option for sure- Andrew and I certainly believe in the  business – but the other two options are harder for me to get my head around.

My entrepreneurial parents didn’t like business partners. There was a story – from before I was born!-  about a business partner that my dad had for a short time.  The details were fuzzy but the story always ended with Dad saying, “And that was the first and last time I ever had a business partner”. So I have this aversion to partners that is not grounded in personal experience but would be hard to shake.

Mom and Dad also didn’t like debt, like most people who grew up in the Depression years. But I need to get over this because borrowing a prudent amount of capital will be the answer to being able to hire people before the salaries are aligned with the sales.  I will get there, but let me just say that I’ve learned that the expansion of a business includes more than just legal and financial transactions – it involves personal development opportunities too.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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