Advice for Entrepreneurs – from The Cupcake Girls
Last year we were inspired by a Dragon and this year, thanks to the Sage Inspire Tour that stopped in Toronto on May 19th, we were delighted with cupcake dreams!
The 2nd Sage Inspire Tour was a huge success! The Sage North America team brought learning, sharing, and inspiration to partners, customers, and prospects alike! Sessions focused on products such as Sage BusinessVision Accounting, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage 50, and Sage ERP X3.
One of our customers shared “As per the event, it was the first Sage event for me and it was well received. It was nice to see the culture of Sage was not product driven but rather client (merchant) driven. Anyone from Sage that I heard from took a real sense of ownership and pride because they knew how and why it was useful to their clients. A presence that could only be established by actively learning/participating in each respective merchant’s business”.
Along with these specific sessions Sage also presented amazing learning and inspiration from one of their customers, Original Cupcakes. Owners, Lori Joyce and Heather White (dubbed The Cupcake Girls), were genuine and transparent in sharing their entrepreneurial journey!
Original Cupcakes opened their first bakery in April 2002. Today with 2 corporate bakeries and 6 franchised locations across Vancouver’s Lower Mainland and one in Ontario, their company is still growing.
Heather and Lori talked about how they broke all three key business rules right frim the beginning:
Never start a business with your best friend
Never start a business you know nothing about
Never start a business without a business plan
The co-owners met at age 15 while working in retail jobs. They shared passion for high school, boys, and work! Every moment that they had together they talked and dreamt about one things – having their own business!
One key inspiration for Original Cupcakes came from Magnolia Bakery in New York. The Cupcake Girls observed that everyone was walking out of this bakery with cupcakes. Another inspiration was their own taste for typical North American desserts.
Original Cupcakes was the first cupcakes only bakery. Vancouver locals gave them 2 months – said they’d never make it. It took 1 year before they were taken seriously and sales were awesome from the onset. They focused on the front end of the business but had no control of back end expenses (such as rent, labour, R&D). And they still didn’t have a business plan!
Upon reflection they believe the #1 skill they both brought into their business was sales skills. They believe you are either born with sales skills or not. It’s not something you really learn but rather are natural at.
In addition to sales, Heather and Lori were both really good at marketing and packaging. However, neither one of them was good at baking. They had to recognize what they weren’t good at and hire those skills so the first person they hired was a baker.
As time went on, The Cupcakes Girls were approached to start a reality t.v. show. Cupcake Girls won their first Gemini against Dragon’s Den at a time that no one even knew who they were.
Social media has changed their business forever (for the good)
Use personality tools to understand yourselves better and to understand your team (Cupcake Girls use Insights, Mantralogix uses True Colours)
Always stay open to new ideas even when you are successful
Leverage entrepreneurs as mentors. Entrepreneurs will always help other entrepreneurs. Listen to advice AND apply the advice. Be open to ask for it! No entrepreneur got to where they did without help.
Sage University gave them the confidence with crunching numbers. They wish they had Sage right from the onset. “All businesses need to retain customers and everyone needs CRM” – Lori and Heather
Their key competency development need (and what they recommend for other entrepreneurs) was financial literacy.
Our very own President, Kerry, asked the Cupcake Girls “Are entrepreneurs born or cultivated?” He shared with Lori and Heather that he is the father of 2 daughters and wondered what advice to give them.
Lori said vision and the uneasiness of there being something better in life is something you are born with. Heather said that she knew from age 7 that she wanted to be in business, specifically related to retail, and something that would be creative.
Congratulations to The Cupcake Girls for living their dream and thank you to both of them and to Sage for sharing their inspiration with everyone that attended The Sage Inspire Tour – what a gift!