Friday September 9th 2016 | 12:58

How to balance cake and other commitments

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A how to guide...

HOMEPAGE

For many bakers, their cake business starts out on the side while they juggle family life and a 9-5 on top. This can be a beneficial start as you can grow your client base with the security of your regular 9-5 income until you’re ready to work full time creating cakes. Even when you’re focusing full time on your baking, you’ll still likely be juggling the demands of your family and other interests, and, while working from home sounds restful and idyllic, it can also make it incredibly hard to switch off. Here are three tips to balance cake and other commitments so you can relax when you should be!

Have cake time and non-cake time

When your kitchen becomes your workplace, you no longer shut the door on your job at the end of the day. This makes it a lot harder to keep to regular working hours, whatever you decide they should be, because there’s no clear signal to ‘clock off’ and relax for the night. You’re forever tempted just to pop back and finish a few more sugar peonies, crumb coat that cake, or simply to reply to cake enquiries that could (and probably should) wait until the morning.

For this reason, in order to balance cake and other commitments, it’s a great idea to give yourself cake and non-cake time. In other words, you should set yourself working hours. You need not restrict yourself to the traditional 9-5 if this won’t suit your lifestyle – if you’re doing the school run twice a day, for example – but by having definite working hours, both you and your customers know when they should expect to be able to reach you.

Make it clear on your daily schedule and your website so that everyone is on the same page about when you’re in cake mode and when you’re enjoying time off with family, friends or hobbies. Working from home does not mean you always have to be at work or in work mode, and it’s important to remember that.

Automate as much as possible

With that in mind, let’s tackle one of the niggling interruptions that make cake business owners find intruding on their life right through from getting up first thing to after they’ve gone to bed: emails.

The temptation can be hard to resist to reply to every enquiry or customer email as it comes through, even if that means interrupting dinner or TV or quality time with your friends and family. You don’t need to do it, though. People understand that you have your own time and life outside of work, and by managing their expectations so they know your working hours, they can more easily respect the boundaries of business and personal time.

To make it easier and put your mind at ease, consider setting up an autoresponder on your emails. It can be a friendly response to say you appreciate the enquiry and will get back to them in X hours, depending on what time frame is realistic and workable for your business. If people know when they should hear from you, they won’t worry that they aren’t getting an answer to their question right there and then, and they definitely won’t worry that you’ll ignore or miss their email completely, because your autoresponder has already got back to them.

Get a calendar and use it

The third trick you can use to balance your cake and other commitments is to get a calendar and to make sure you use it.

Once you’ve established what your working hours for the day and week will be, use a calendar or diary to set yourself a schedule for each order, from the ingredients shop right through to delivery or customer collection. This way you can take on the number of orders you can fit in to still give you the free time and the work/life balance you want, because you’ll have a realistic schedule for each day to complete each cake order.

Managing your weekly work, or should I say cake, flow is essential for two reasons. Firstly, it lets you know that you absolutely can complete the cake orders on time, so there’s no need for extra late nights trying to get ahead because you feel like you won’t manage otherwise – you’ve planned each step and added buffer room, so you know you can take the evening off. Secondly, with a schedule in place, even if it varies from day to day, you have a planned end of work time, which makes it easier to actually down utensils, switch off the oven and step out of the kitchen for a while.

Balancing your cake and other commitments ultimately comes down to managing your time and how your customers perceive your time. Make your cake making times clear as well as the boundaries when time becomes your own so customers know what to expect. To help with this, set up an autoresponder to help you switch off from emails outside of work but still make your customers feel looked after. A daily diary or calendar will allow you to plan your time so that late night cake panics can become things of the past and you can get the balance between baking and everything else just right. Working from home making cakes can be as idyllic as it sounds as long as you remember that working from home does not mean always being at work.

How do you balance cake and other commitments?

Blog by Knead to dough commissioned by Mums Bake Cakes

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