New ideas: 3-step process


There’s a popular saying that Andrew likes: “throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks”.    I’ve thought of this a lot lately as we have been getting to know our customer base and what they want from Sticky.
Some new items since we opened have been barn-burning successes: cakes; sticky buns without pecans; sticky buns with cream cheese icing; mini fudgies; cookies; and mini sticky buns.
These items are really popular and were from the first day they were launched.
Other new ideas haven’t had the same dry-tinder effect: strawberry icing and frozen bake-at-home sticky buns. These two items have been “ok” but in particular the frozen buns need more time on my part to figure out.
Is the at-home baker interested in waiting 13 hours for rising period?

• After we dropped the size of the buns to a 4 hour rise period,  do people want to wait 4 hours? (It wouldn’t be ready for breakfast!)

• Do people in fact want to bake at all?
These and other questions from the diligent panel of testers make me  ask: is this a good idea that just needs more refinement OR is it an idea that sucks no matter what approach we take?
Other suggestions we receive are: sticky toffee pudding; bread pudding; going nut-free across the bakery; making gluten free and vegan cakes and sticky buns; and offering cake slices.
Before diving into R&D on a new idea, a business owner first needs to do research, talk to people, tap into his/her past experience and make a ballpark estimate of  sales of the new item. After that, it’s important to think about what the development process will look like (new ingredients; new supplies; new people?). Then the question is: does the possib upside exceed the R&D work required? If success means only a few sales each week, the investment is just not worth it.
In the case of cakes, we immediately started getting lots of orders and the development was minimal: get the cake pans and cake boards and add cakes to the website.
But, say, developing a gluten free/vegan cake? I know this to be a detailed process requiring new ingredients and an entirely separate baking time to avoid cross contamination from the other cakes. Although we did sell V/GF cakes at PGB, overall they were a small share of the sales.
Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks – great advice that requires lots of thinking before you throw too much.

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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