Sandra Brown started a business doing what she does best: baking. After years of receiving compliments from family and friends about her baked goodies, Sandra decided to turn her passion into a business.
She started Sandy’s Dessert Cafe http://www.sandysdessertcafe.com in Atlanta, Georgia, offering yummy treats and eye-catching deserts.
Learn how Sandra is starting her baked goods business, the challenges she is facing, and the difficulties of starting a business part-time:
Can you tell us about Sandy’s Dessert Cafe? What products do you currently offer?
Sandy’s Dessert Cafe is an online, family owned and operated business located in the west Metro Atlanta, GA area. All of our products are made from scratch using the simplest and freshest ingredients available. We offer brownies, cakes, cookies and muffins; perfect for self-enjoyment or can be given as a gift. Catering services are also available.
What made you decide to go into the baked goods business and start a dessert business?
Family members, friends and co-workers always love the various desserts I bring to events so I thought to myself “Why not start my own business”?
You started the business as a part time business. What are the challenges in creating a business on the side?
The challenges of any side business are balancing home, work (day) and the actual side business itself. Time management is something I definitely strive hard to manage since my products are all made from scratch–including my frostings and marshmallow fondant.
Sandy’s Dessert Café is a family owned business. Who is involved in this family business? What are the challenges when working with your family together in a business?
I am the owner, my husband (Patrick) is the co-owner, and our two children (ages 23 & 20) help with deliveries, product ideas and marketing. The main challenge I face is from extended family members offering “unauthorized” discounts to their co-workers or friends.
How are you managing the offline part of your business with the online part?
Managing the offline part of my business is a lot trickier to handle because it involves envisioning a cake design or other edible product, creating the product, taste testings and pricing the products. Once the offline decisions have been made, all info is then applied to the website.
The challenges of selling baked goods on the web is that there is no smell-a-vision! People–especially the hungry ones–buy products based on 2 key senses: sight and smell.
How tough are the government regulations in the baked goods business?
Government regulations are tougher on smaller business rather than larger companies and, unfortunately, this discourages a lot of wannabe entrepreneurs from pursuing their true passions. I choose to look at it as a mountain that must be climbed in order to plant my flag!
How are you marketing your business?
I use social media, e-mails and good old-fashioned mailers/flyers for marketing purposes.
How has social media helped you spread the word out about your business?
Social media–depending on the site–is a free marketing tool that EVERY entrepreneur must use. I use Facebook (Sandys Dessert Cafe), Twitter (@SandysDesserts) and Constant Contact to reach new customers. As a small business owner, pinching pennies is a must.
How are you balancing your business with your personal life?
I am determined to keep a balance of faith, family and business at all times (in that order). My immediate family members and 2 best friends know/understand this. my extended family members initially had trouble understanding this but are slowly beginning to understand that every little incident in their lives should not be turned into a major crisis just for sympathy.
What lessons have you learned so far about being an entrepreneur?
The main lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur are:
- Remember your faith and family. You will need them both.
- Have/Raise a lot of capital.
- Learn time management and be organized.
- Be knowledgeable about your product. Be even more knowledgeable about the ongoing trends in your industry.
- Keep up with technology.
- Give great customer service.
- Love what you do!
How do you see the business 5 years from now?
My prayers and goal for the next 5 years is to have a brick-and-mortar location here in the Metro Atlanta area so that I can say goodbye to my daytime cubicle!!
What lessons can you share other women entrepreneurs out there?
We, as women, are naturally strong and when an obstacle gets in our way we overcome it. The best advice I can offer to other women entrepreneurs is to be true to yourself, remain confident in the face of adversity and have a great support system. You’ll need it for the journey you are on.