Secret 4: Learning to say ‘No’

This is the fourth post of a six part series about some truths behind the first 6 years of my cake journey. We hope you enjoyed reading it, be sure to comment and let us know. If you want to start at the beginning please head to the introduction, Let Me Tell You a Secret.

It’s amazing how a 2 letter word can be so easy to say out loud but at the same time so hard to say to someone.

Not going to lie… in the beginning I was the biggest people pleaser of all time. I desperately wanted people to like me, to think I was a nice person. As a result, I got walked on by a lot of clients, I got taken advantage of, and people took me for granted. Time after time, I would say yes to everything and reason with myself that it was because I should be grateful people were asking me, that it was for the exposure and that it was because I loved what I was doing.

The truth is… because I was so worried of letting other people down, I was sacrificing my own happiness and in turn letting myself suffer for the benefit of other people who either:

1. Could not care less that I had to stay up until 2am baking because of their last minute flavour change request.


2. Had no idea that their passing request for gluten free options at the cake tasting meant that I had to bake a whole cake just for their sample.

One day, while I was exhausted and asking myself why the heck I was doing this and seriously contemplating going back to the corporate life, I realised something. I was sacrificing all my time and bending over backwards for people I didn’t even know –when the people I did know like my friends and family didn’t even get to see me anymore. How ridiculous right? I was treating strangers far better than I was treating myself, my friends and my family. Think about that for a second… it really is insane!

I kept asking myself why? And I kept answering myself with ‘I don’t know’. Because, I really didn’t know anymore. I was tired of clients telling me I was too expensive and me reducing my price only to deliver the cake to a mansion or fancy venue. I was tired of being told that because I was not ‘famous’ enough that I had to charge less for my classes. I was tired of being asked to go to events on my own dime (paying for all my flights and accommodation) for the promise of ‘exposure’ and a shout out on social media. I was tired of people making me feel guilty by telling me they are not making any money from my classes but then asking me to squeeze in more students or to come back and teach time and time again. I was tired of it all and probably just pushed too far.

It was then, at my breaking point, when I decided I had enough. Everyone can either take what they are given or get stuffed. My metal and physical health and well-being was far more important. And I don’t care if they think that is being selfish because I know I am no good to anyone if I can’t function at my best. I really believe that in order to help or serve others, you need to serve yourself first.

So once I had that mental shift in my head – that looking out for me first is in fact not being selfish, I had no problem pushing back and saying no. Truthfully? Saying ‘no’ to things you don’t even want to do in the first place opens you up for way more opportunities.

Continue reading the next part in the series, Secret 5: The Myth of Endless Opportunities

6 thoughts on “Secret 4: Learning to say ‘No’

  1. Hi there Sharon
    I started a year ago and what you’ve said is very true.
    I always worry that I’m charging too much and that I should be grateful that people want to order from me.
    I’m now beginning to realise that i not going to be known as the cheap cake lady and reading your blog will help me to accomplish this many thanks Sharon 😊

  2. Oh god Sharon , you are so right !!!!!
    I’m currently doing 2 cakes one for my niece the other or my son , both wedding cakes , no I didn’t volunteer, I was told , we don’t want a present , you can make our cake , Ahhhhhhhhhhhh
    It’s very hard to say no to family , but this is definitely the last time !!!!!!!
    It would have been so much cheaper to give them money !!!!!!!!! And more time to spend with my husband and disabled daughter , it’s getting so bad I’m thinking of telling family I’ve given up cakes !!!!!!!

  3. I could have written the exact same blog as you. It really drains me when people try to haggle over the price, they wouldn’t work for less but they expect a cake maker to. I’ve been in the business for 6 years too, though I don’t have your success. I think I’m going to be more assertive and think of myself and family a bit more too. Thank you for writing this, it’s helped to hear someone write the truth.

  4. Hi Sharon

    Thanks for this invaluable advice. I am doing bsking on the side. This is officially my first year and I threading very carefully. While I am excited to be doing new projects for people I am also finding my ground as far as pricing is concern. I have alot to learn in baking and handling customers. But as I am doing this on the side I am learning to say “No” especially when I know that it is not worth the trouble for selling too cheaply. People quoted ridiculous prices demanding for a 3d fondant cakes. Innitially I took the orders because I want the opportunity but now I reslised I got to be fair to myself. I tried to give a reasonable quote. If they think its too expensive I pass it. I rather do for someone that values my effort and time than simply trying make sales.

  5. Hi Sharon,
    How many years/months into business was it before you realized you needed to start saying no? & once you started did it empower you?

    1. I think it was somewhere in my 3rd year of business when things really started to pick up… I found myself getting caught up with all the commitments I had said yes to. In the yearly years it was not so much of a big deal since I was not as busy, but as I got busier, I found that saying yes meant that I was overcommitting myself and therefore causing stress and pushing myself to the breaking point. The first no was hard… but then it got easier because each time I said no, a huge weight got lifted off my shoulders. I felt my conscious was clear and I no longer had to worry about how to say no to that thing or how I was going to fit it in… it was all over and I could move forward 🙂

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