Tips for Starting a Business

A dash of inspiration? A sprinkle of passion? Kelly Jones - from The Manchester Cakehouse - revealed to AXA her recipe for small business success.

Starting up

16 November 2017

For Britain’s entrepreneurs, inspiration can strike at any time.

It could come when out for a run or when in another boring business meeting. It could even come when sitting at home watching your favourite TV show.

For Kelly Jones, owner of The Manchester Cakehouse, the Great British Bake Off helped her realise that her passion for baking could be more than just a hobby: it could be her next career more.

We spoke to Kelly to find out how her hobby became a show stopping small business and her tips for anyone thinking of starting a business of their own.

Tell us about how Bake Off ended up inspiring you to take up baking at a higher level

I think it was watching the contestants of each series wow us with their showstoppers and master the technical challenges, week in and week out. It made me realise how exciting baking was! I know it's not white water rafting or jumping out of an aero plane but, to me, it really sparked something.

Watching how much better they all got from the first episode to the final made me think: "Yes! I have some basic skills, but if I work hard and learn everything I can, who says I can't become a professional?" After all, everyone must start, somewhere don't they? I don't think Paul Hollywood was born knowing how to make the perfect baguette!

Did you even consider applying to be on the show?

Ha! No, I didn't. I honestly felt like I wouldn't have had the skill or knowledge to know where to start. There are still times now when they're doing the technical challenge and it says, ‘make a *insert baking product you've never heard of before here*’, and I'm watching thinking "A what? Where do you even begin?!"

How’s business going since you first launched?

Business is going great! I was worried when I first started out, obviously with the Great British Bake Off being so successful people went baking mad. Cutesy baking items were everywhere and I don't think you could walk down the street without seeing a cupcake on something! I was worried that it was just a fad; that after a year or two people would grow bored with cakes and move on to the next big thing.

In my first year after opening, it seemed that every man and his dog said they could bake, with pop-up shops and stands appearing everywhere. I'd say the market was near to saturated. Suddenly, the cupcake side of things died down a bit, but you must evolve with the times, so large celebration cakes became my main source of income.

Now I'm going from strength to strength, adjusting my target audiences and products to suit the current trends!

What’s the perfect recipe for business success?

1) Prepare your station

Step one, before you begin, make sure your working area is clean. No matter what your business is, going into it without a clear plan is asking for trouble. Know your aims and goals, know what you’re selling and all your costs. Know your target market and how you will reach them, once you have all this clear, you’re ready to start!

2) Timing is everything

Step two, weigh out your time accordingly. A balanced home life is as important as all the hours you put into your business. You can’t spend all your time working, you’ll run yourself into the ground and it’ll make you hate what you do! On the other hand, you can’t just sit back and wait for business to come to you, equal amounts of work and play will be best for you!

3) Go with your gut

Step three, don’t use a conventional recipe! If you know of other businesses who do what you do, don’t waste your time watching how they’re doing it. Have confidence in yourself that you know what’s best for you, look at your business and look ahead to your future. If you’re spending your time watching other people’s cakes cooking, how can you see if your cakes burning in the oven?

4) Creative ingredients

Step four, let’s get creative! There are so many different ingredients you could add to this recipe, after all, it belongs to you! Don’t be afraid to try new things, so what if no one in your business field has tried it before, you could be the pioneer, the one leading the way. I bet the inventor of sweet mincemeat got some very funny looks when they changed the age-old recipe but I know which I’d rather be eating on Christmas Day!

5) Work for the dough

Step five, persevere. I know you might be tired, your back might be aching, your feet could be burning and you just want to sit down but trust me, don’t give up. Some days are going to be hard, some days are going to be easy and some days you’ll wonder why you ever started this business. But once you get a taste of that sweet success all the blood, sweat and potentially many tears will have been worth it.

6) Finishing touches

Step six, you’ve pulled your business out of that oven and it’s looking great! The success smells so sweet you can almost taste it but before you tuck in and enjoy the fruits of your labour, it just needs one final sprinkle of passion. If you don’t have passion for what you do, why are you doing it? Sell, make, create something you’re passionate about! How do you expect others to fall in love with your product and desire it in their own lives when you don’t even like or want it yourself?

Now all that’s left is for you to step back and admire your work. Take pictures, spread the news, tell all your friends and family and anyone who’ll listen… ‘Look! Look what I’ve created!’ And be proud of it because you worked so hard to get there.

Tell us what inspired you! Just tweet us @AXAInsurance using the #AXAinspired tag and tell us how you turned your hobby into a business!