Secret 6: The Skills
This is the final 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.
Like the majority of you out there, I started playing around with cake and sugar paste and I loved it. But it doesn’t mean I was good at it. Sure, learning new things might have come easily but I was not part of the 5% of cake decorators who was already a natural artist.
It’s easy to look at someone’s work and think that it’s so amazing and that there’s no way you will get that good. I can tell you now that if you don’t even try to practice and improve that there really IS no way you will get that good. The thing to remember here is that everyone has to start somewhere.
My early cakes don’t look any different to those who are just starting out. In fact, I’m pretty sure they look worse than most beginner cakes these days. There was no YouTube or Craftsy when I started out, so a lot of my work was based on trial and error.
But with every cake I did, I tried to be better. Create a better finish, make better figurines and take better photos.
My goal was always to push myself and to be the best that I could be – not to be like someone else. I took classes and constantly looked for ways to improve. Even now, six years on, I still make an effort to attend at least one class a year. It does not have to be a cake class but it has to be something that will push me out of my comfort zone. I’ve attended floral arrangement classes, painting, sculpting, pottery, rock climbing, and more. I really believe that putting yourself in learning situations really humbles you and brings out the best in you.
I never assume I know everything and I really believe that there is always something to learn… even if I have learnt that skill before, I might still pick up a handy tip from that teacher.
It saddens me when I meet people who tell me they don’t need to go to classes because they already know everything or that they can just figure things out themselves. I have no doubt that they probably know a lot and can figure things out themselves. It’s their attitude that kills me a little inside… In this world where they are lucky to be surrounded by knowledge and opportunities how can anyone just shut themselves off and think that they have nothing else to learn?
I have veered slightly off topic here, but what I actually wanted to say about skills is this: you can have all the skills in the world and make the best cake anyone has ever seen, but if you don’t have the business skills to market and price correctly, or a plan for the future of your cakes, you are going to go nowhere fast. Too often I meet many people who are insanely talented (I mean they sneeze and a masterpiece just appears!), who win awards, whose cakes go viral… but they are still struggling to get orders, to find someone who will host them to teach, or to get noticed by the general public.
So I am here to tell you what I have learnt in the last 6 years. Your creations have to be good but your business skills must be better. There is a certain level at which your cakes hit the ‘amazing’ mark for most people. After that it’s all about your marketing skills to make your customers see it as a far better cake than anyone else’s.
You have to have skill, don’t get me wrong. But there is a certain point where it becomes far more important to work on your business skills than to master a new trendy technique.
By the way, if you want to learn about business skills in person, I will be visiting the US and NZ with Michelle Green for the Business of Baking On Tour later this year 🙂 Click the links below to find our more.
September 20th (Tuesday) – Business of Baking Workshop – LA, USA
September 22th (Thursday) – Business of Baking Workshop – Las Vegas, USA
September 24th (Saturday) – Business of Baking Workshop – Houston, USA **Almost Full**
September 26th (Monday) – Business of Baking Workshop – Atlanta, USA
September 29th (Thursday) – Business of Baking Workshop – Chicago, USA **Almost Full**
October 1st (Saturday) – Business of Baking Workshop – Fairfax, USA **Full**
October 15th-16th (Saturday/Sunday) – Business of Baking Workshop – Auckland, NZ