Teresa Maynard discusses how she left a promising career to start her own cupcake business.

Want to know what it’s like to leave a stable job with a steady paycheck in order to pursue your dream business? Ask Teresa Maynard. Before starting her own cupcake business, she worked for Harvard University doing data analytics for their research department. When she was pregnant with her third child, she started a tradition of bringing cupcakes into work for what she called a “3 o’clock snack.” Eventually she realized that she was getting so much enjoyment out of her cupcake hobby (and seeing the looks of delight on the faces of friends and co-workers who tried them) that she wanted to start her own business. That’s when she decided to leave Harvard and start Sweet Teez Bakery. It took some time and a lot of hard work, but Teresa’s dream has become a reality. Her bakery is starting to take off. Along the way, she has learned valuable lessons that could apply to any new startup business.

Set rules, and stick to them

Woman holding a tray of cupcakes

Teresa Maynard, Sweet Teez Bakery

Teresa knew how big of a risk she was taking by leaving her job to start her own business, so she and her husband agreed to a set of ground rules. Chief among them was a self-imposed deadline of one year to launch the business. This allowed her and husband to forecast their financial needs, and removed the risk of a failing business continuing to drag her down for an indefinite amount of time. It also provided additional motivation for Teresa to get the business off the ground before her window closed, and she certainly made the most of it.

“I did a 10 week course with the Center for Women & Enterprise. I wrote an awesome business plan… I took a pricing workshop. I took a 10 week course and learned about all of the ins and outs like permits, scaling, recipes, and labels. I then continued on and got my ServSafe, became a member of Commonwealth Kitchen, and launched November 2016.”

Because of her self-imposed deadline, Teresa knew that she had to move quickly in order to make her dream happen, so she got right down to work.

Be prepared to manage every aspect of the business

Baking cupcakes for fun is one thing, but it takes much more than that to run a profitable business. As Teresa discovered, some parts of the job are more difficult than others.

“There is no aspect of this job that I have not done. I hate the business side of it – the finance. Figuring out costs and scaling was something that I really learned on the job.”

Eventually, successful business owners are usually able to delegate parts of the business to different employees, but when starting out, most business owners need to be prepared to learn how to manage all of the different factors in order to survive. For Teresa, baking cupcakes was just the beginning.

Fully commit to the idea of being a business owner

This may seem obvious, but there’s no quicker way to fail in business than to think of it as a side project or hobby. As Teresa explains:

“I had to take either something that’s an expensive hobby and make it into a business, or run my business like an expensive hobby, and that’s going to eventually fail. So I recommend really thinking of it as a business, as its own entity, and not just a little thing you do on the side.”

Committing to her business full-time allowed Teresa to turn it from a pipe dream into something real. Running a successful business almost always requires the full attention of its owner. Once Teresa committed herself, she was able to put in the effort required to launch her business. She hasn’t regretted it since, saying she “wouldn’t give up this business for the world.”

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