Profile: Roses Cake Shop

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Just over a month ago I posted an article entitled “The Top 10 Most Influential Entrepreneurships in Your Neighbourhood”. Having looked a little bit at small-scale operations such as these, I felt that an in depth  profile of on such enterprise was the order of the day. So I turned to a friend of mine resident in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, Roos De Neys, who opened her own cake shop almost one year ago.

Talking to Roos about her project, a number of words kept popping up. One of those words was ‘passionate’. A recent status update on her Facebook account testifies to this passion; “You know you love food when you start dreaming about lemon tart.” I know from personal experience that Roos is a great baker and, when asked about her motivation for opening Roses Cake Shop, she replied,

“I thought that owning my own cake business was something that I could do on the side to earn some extra cash. I was always keen to bake but not to eat all of my baking since I didn’t want to gain lots of weight and neither did people around me. So I thought that I might sell my baking to generate extra income and to be able to bake lots as well. Sort of a win-win situation. I was really passionate about baking and could see myself doing it for a long time to come. I wanted to set up a business that could possibly grow into a career.”

It is often said, ‘Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’. But, even if you are working at your hobby, a certain level of professionalism will always be required. Even before beginning, and despite not having specific business qualifications, Roos saw herself as a young, budding professional, and was soon taking on professional challenges. She registered her business and received a tax number, but soon things became more difficult:

“The main difficulties I faced were pricing and administration. I had no idea how much to charge for my cakes, which price was fair and how much additional preferences would cost. Also, I started to think about certain cakes that people might request that I had no pleasure in producing: like cakes with intricate details or cakes for children’s parties. So I thought about how to put myself out there in the market in a way that would attract the kind of customers who would order the cakes that I would like to make”.

“As soon as I registered as a business people started calling me, sending me emails and sending me bills. Most of these people wanted money from me, selling me some sort of service like advertising or stationery. What was really difficult was getting the bills. I received invoices from all sorts of companies and most of them were fakes trying to rip me off. I had to read each invoice very carefully to see whether I had to pay it or not. I made the mistake of thinking that one company was a fake when it wasn’t. They kept on sending me letters and started calling me a lot and I just couldn’t shake them. All I had to do was fill out a form and send it back because the government requests that. I didn’t know that and stressed about what I should do since all of their letters were so confusing. In the end, I had to pay an extra fee for their services because I didn’t reply on time.”

Although not every stage in the business experiment went entirely to plan, an important part of setting up, as it is for any business, large or small, was the support and advice offered to Roos.

“I talked to my parents about it mostly because my mother has her own business as well, selling wooden lamps and statues. My father told me that starting your own business was easy and didn’t involve a lot of costs so I couldn’t see any reason not to give it a go.

“If I were ever to start a business again I would not register it straight away. I would start the business on a lower scale first, selling to friends and family to test the waters. Then, when I have a clear overview of my products, the pricing and services, I would register and make it more professional. I would really go for it instead of doing it as a side business. In the end it just took too much time that I didn’t have because my study is my first and foremost priority. Unfortunately, because I registered, it cost me a lot more money than I had anticipated.”

The more I spoke to Roos, the more I began to admire her. It takes courage to start your own business, along with determination and drive. The support she had around her helped, but ultimately the cake shop belongs to her, as do the valuable lessons learnt along the way. At the end of the day, if you are a young person thinking about starting your own business, it all comes down to one important word: passion. As Roos herself said,

“I was right in starting a business that I was passionate about.”

John McLean is one of our online collaborators. You can follow him on Twitter: @billdoesjudo

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