How to Create a 2023 Plan For Your Food Business

July 15, 2023

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December 15, 2022

Ready to crush 2023? We'll help you craft a plan to make 2023 the best year yet for your independent food business.

From financial planning to creating a schedule that works for you, Cyd Mitchell of Sugar Coin Academy shares all the tips you need to make the new year a great one.

Watch previous episodes of Cooking Up Sales:

Video Transcript

Cyd Mitchell: Hello, welcome. Welcome everyone into Cooking Up Sales, the final one of 2022. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Hello. And we also have Emily, you guys. She is in the background, making sure that you guys have any links that I talked about, or that you guys have any support that we need. So just thank you. Thank you guys so much for showing up. I know this is a busy time of the year, December, right at the end of the year. You know, we're playing with holiday stuff. We're doing business things, we're, you know, putting out orders and all that fun stuff. So thank you guys so much for taking some time to hang out with me. So welcome, you guys, to Cooking Up Sales with Castiron. 

I am Cyd Mitchell, your host, I'm the CEO of Sugar Coin Academy. And I've been doing this series for a couple months now. And you should see you should be able to see all of them either on the Castiron website, so, or you can go to the Castiron YouTube channel. And you can find the whole playlist there as well and Emily, if you have any specific link, you want to send them about watching the replays, go ahead and just place it in the chat as well. So here we go.

I am Cyd like I said of Sweet Fest and Sugar Coin Academy, I'll talk about that in a little bit. This is our agenda, we're going to do an introduction, we're going to do an overview. We're going to talk about reflection areas and all of that will make sense after I go over the overview, as well as we'll do a Q&A. All right. So intro, I am a UNC alumni of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is where I went to school for undergrad as well as for grad school, where I you know, specialized in accounting and got my master's in accounting, and went on to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is one of the largest public accounting firms. I was a public accountant for a little while, as well as working for Lincoln Financial and Comcast where I was an expense analyst as well as a financial analyst. So everything I do is related to numbers and that is my background. But then in 2014, I started Sweet Fest, which is a business support company that helps with providing resources, business tools, and all kinds of other information to help you guys understand how to start and grow profitable baking and sweets and food businesses. Alright, so that's why I'm on here, supporting Castiron, helping them with getting the word out about their wonderful platform, which I'm a partner of which I have showcased to you guys as well and showcase to my community. So thank you guys so much for hanging out and you know, being here to learn right? 

Some other things about me as far as in the actual food related industry are the Sugar Coin Academy, which is a food business academy that helps you guys understand more about the business side of the industry. And then I also have the Ultimate Sugar Show which is Atlanta and I should say Georgia's largest trade show and conference. Then I'm also the business blogger for the Retail Bakers of America, as well as I have a business column in American Cake Decorating Magazine. And then I've also been featured in Pastry Arts magazine, on their podcast, as well as in the Pastry Arts Summit, and then a whole host of other places as well, including being featured with Castiron and being one of their brand partners, and ambassadors. So thank you guys, again, for hanging out with me today. I'm trying to get past all of that so we can get to the meat of it. But before we move on, I'm going to tell you guys about Emily. Emily is like I said in the chat, but she is also going to be your point of contact when it comes to connecting with Castiron getting help and support with your actual website. Definitely if you feel a little bit overwhelmed about how to get your, you know, get your site up and running and started. And if you have any additional questions related to the tech side, this is Emily's direct contact information, she or someone else maybe at Castiron will also be there to help you and support you along the way as you are starting your business on Castiron. And hopefully you guys have not only created an account, but launched your website as well on Castiron, I promise you it is a wonderful tool, as well as they just added new features in the past couple of weeks. And I think I just saw an email come out about pricing plans as well, that gives you bonus features, in addition to what you get with the free plan. So continue to look into Castiron after this session is over. 

All right. And then finally, if you are watching this and watching the replay over on YouTube, make sure that you like this video, and you subscribe and make sure that you keep connected with Castiron as well as look up the Sugar Coin Academy where I have other business content, also on YouTube. All right. Okay, so we're past the intro. We're past the intro, this is the overview. 

All right, the latter part of the year. And going into the first part of the next is a great time to reflect and organize yourself. So reorganize your life. That's what I do right around this time of the year, I take time to reflect on what I liked and what I didn't like about the current year. And then I make some adjustments based off of what I would like to see going forward. I found that reflecting has helped me to identify things that I want to continue to do into the next year as well as things that I want to cut out throughout the next year. And I say throughout the next year, because I know that even if it's the you know, I have like three or four weeks left in the year, I knew how many I don't even know how many weeks we have left in the year. But let's just say we have three weeks left in the year, I know that there's some things I'm not going to be able to just stop doing coming into the new year. And so I give myself a little bit of grace. And I say that throughout the next three months, six months, I'm going to make sure that I don't take whatever this thing is that's really bugging me that I think is not going well in my business. I'm not going to carry it any farther into even more of another year. Okay, so I make sure that I assess or reflect what did I like, what did I not like, and I want to continue on with this, I maybe want to start up something new. And I want to cut out this old stuff that isn't serving me anymore. Okay? Once you've identified the continues in the cutouts, I use them as a guide to help me develop an action plan for the upcoming year. The goal of this annual exercise that I would really encourage you to also do when you have some time, either in the next couple of weeks, or maybe going into the beginning of the year. The whole purpose is to reorganize my personal life, as well as my business life so that I can stay on a path toward fulfillment, peace and joy. The older that I get, the more I've realized that I want to create this life. That is I mean, obviously there's going to be stressors in your life, but I want it to be as stress free as possible. I want to be able to enjoy my life. And if there's something going on that I don't like that I don't want to be there anymore, then I want to make sure that I cut it out and I don't continue on with it into future years, if I can help that. Okay. Also your life is what you make it. Okay, so I do have a quote, I wasn't gonna write this out. But something that I was reminded of from this book that I've read earlier in the year and then I'm starting to reread this this past couple of weeks. It's called breaking the chains of dieting. Now I know this is not a diet webinar.

I know we're really not talking about dieting and especially like we're foodies, I get it, but this quote really stuck by me. So I'm going to read to you guys. And it's about an airplane. Alright, so an airplane traveling from Los Angeles to New York will end up 150 miles from its intended destination by being pointed merely one degree off course, at the beginning of the flight. However, the average plane traveling from LA to New York will be off course more than 90% of the time along its journey. Each time the plane drifts slightly off course, its computerized gyroscope corrects it. This gyroscope recalibrates and corrects the flight path to hold the nose of the plane directly towards its destination. Now, I read that, and I was reminded of this quote, because that's exactly what I'm talking about doing. Whenever I go through this process of I'm going to reflect, and I'm going to reorganize, all right, and so yes, I may be off course for a little while, maybe I'm off course for this whole year, maybe I've been going one direction, I thought that this was the direction I was supposed to be going. But this time of the year is perfect to try to put myself back in alignment for you to put yourself back in alignment of what it is that you're trying to do and achieve with having a business or with, you know, starting up a business or growing your business. Whatever it is, your goal is you want to make sure you take some time to reflect and make sure that you're headed in the right direction. And if you're not, then you make those adjustments. 

Okay, so I hope that quote stood out with you guys. Also, side note, this is a very good book, especially if you're someone who needs help shifting your mindset related to dieting, break the chains of dieting, DM me, email me email, Emily, I'll send her the link. Because it's actually a really good book. It's on Amazon. All right. Okay. Since I don't know the details of everyone's personal or business life who's watching this training, I'm going to share a few reflection areas in business that will help guide your new year planning efforts. Now, I can't really speak on reflection areas in your personal life, because I am not a life coach. But we've been talking about reflection areas in your business, although I do definitely recommend reflecting on your personal goals as well when you're doing this process over the next couple of weeks. 

All right reflection areas. In this training, we will discuss five areas of business that you should consider when reflecting on your year, and what you want in your business in the years to come. Okay. Marketing. All right. How did you do with marketing this year? You don't have to answer out loud. You don't have to put it in the chat. You don't have to write it down. But maybe you do want to write it down. But don't put in the chat if you don't want to share publicly, but how do you feel that you did with your marketing efforts this year? All right. Here are some questions that you might want to ask me reflecting on this. How did people find your business? What platforms did you use for your marketing? Did you try anything new? Or were you doing the same old thing you've been doing for the past? Two, three years? 5, 10, 20 years, however long you've been in business? Or are you happy? And are you happy with the results of your marketing efforts? Alright, so these are things to consider, go ahead and screenshot this. And address these when you have some time to reflect? Okay. Marketing is an extremely – I don't have to tell you guys this. I know you know this. Marketing is an extremely vital part of running a business and more consideration should go into your marketing efforts than simply posting on social media. Now, I know some of you on here, have heard me get on my soapbox about email marketing and text message marketing. But if you're new to hearing me talk, you know, you definitely don't want to just rely completely on social media because you're at the whim of the algorithm. And whether someone's going to see your post maybe depends on whether they were online at that time of the day or something else. So you want to make sure that you're doing more than just social media. What other platforms are you using? What other tools are you using? Consider those things when you start to really dig into your marketing efforts, okay. 

As you reflect on the results of your marketing efforts for this year, research, resources or tools that can make your life easier. Of course, the first thing that I'm going to talk about is Castiron’s email marketing tool, which they recently launched within the past couple of weeks. Obviously, if you have a Castiron store, then you can automatically use this feature. We talked about the feature previously in our previous video. And then there's plenty of resources out on the blog that will help you understand more about how to use the marketing tool, the email marketing tool, but it's definitely something to consider especially If you haven't been using email marketing in the past, you definitely want to use that going forward because people are interested in hearing from you, regardless of whether you think they're interested in hearing from you, they actually are interested in hearing more about what products you have out. Any announcements, new menu items, that type of stuff, okay? Oh, also, when it comes to marketing, some other resources and tools that you have available to you is maybe to hire a virtual assistant, if you feel like social media, or if you feel like email marketing, or if you feel like text message marketing is not your thing, you already feel like you have so much more on your plate, then maybe hire a virtual assistant to manage that stuff for you to be a social media manager to be, you know, a person who writes the email content for you and maybe writes a blog for you go ahead and consider hiring a virtual assistant, that is going to be a good resource for you as well. Other things too, are other marketing apps, right? So other apps that can help you with scheduling apps that can help you with sending out text messages. You know, obviously, there's other like Facebook and Instagram, where you can schedule your posts as well. So those are apps that can help you with your marketing efforts, instead of having to feel like I have to post at 11:30 every single day. Now, you can actually go ahead and plan ahead, which we will talk about in a couple more slides. Okay. So these are some resources that you can use to help with your marketing efforts going into the new year. But you guys already knew some of those. 

All right, analytics is another reflection area, I want you to reflect, really dig into your analytics, okay. What stories are your analytics telling you about your business? Okay, what happened this year in your business based on the analytics, alright, taking a closer look at your analytics will help you better understand how well your business is running. And if it's running efficiently. I of course, I'm an accountant. And I'm a financial analyst by trade. So I really love digging into the numbers, and figuring out what the story is behind the numbers. But even if you're not someone who's interested in that, you should try to force yourself, maybe play a game with it. So that you can dig into the numbers and learn more about your business is very, very important. Just like I talked about how vital marketing is, it's just the same with analytics. And we'll talk a little bit more about that here. Analytics will tell you what products are popular, what type of content to share on social media, how people are finding your business. And way more than that, all right, I'm giving you guys an example. So for example, with your menu, consider your sales data. So like if you go into your Castiron store, right now, you can go into the analytics section, which you see on the sidebar, and it'll tell you more about your sales, and how much money you've made based off of the orders. Right, focus your attention on what menu items are more popular, and more profitable than others. Right? Refine your menu by removing low performing and expensive items. This will help lower your costs by keeping fewer ingredients and supplies on hand. So for instance, when you have an expansive menu of items, that means you're going to have to have certain specialty ingredients and supplies on hand in order to make sure that you're ready to service up whatever these orders might be. So if you narrow down your menu, or if you make sure that your menu is full of mostly profitable items, then that's going to lower your costs. That's going to decrease the amount of space you're going to need. Because you're not going to need as much space for different types of ingredients. There's so many more benefits to figuring out and narrowing down your menu instead of offering all the things all the time. Perfect example is the Cheesecake Factory, no shade to the Cheesecake Factory. But every time I go there, and I look at their full menu, I'm like how big is this kitchen? How big is this refrigerator? How big is this pantry? Because they have all kinds of events, Asian food, they have Italian, they have all different types of cuisine. And then of course, they've got all the cheesecakes. So you know, they have obviously figured it out. They've been pretty profitable. So far, it seems like they're doing pretty good. But also I realized that those of us who have small businesses to run or maybe we don't have the budget for having a big space to hold all the things and all the ingredients, then we need to be able to narrow down our menu to make sure that we are running profitable businesses. Almost every app or program you use for business will have an area that will showcase analytics. Take time to dig into that data, then use that information to figure out What to keep or change within your business, right? Almost literally, I can't think of an app. I can't think of an app right now, that doesn't have an analytics feature that I use for my business, they all do. They all have it, where you can go in and figure out your impressions, or they figure out your sales number, or they figure out where your traffic is coming from, of course, you're gonna, you know, you're going to add Google Analytics to your Castiron side as well. Talk to Emily about that, because they may be able to hook you up with that. But also, you know, your Instagram, your Facebook, social media, there's always analytics available, okay. So make sure that you are paying attention to those things. So then you can figure out where it is to need to put your energy, right, if you're getting a lot of traffic from Pinterest, that maybe we need to start focusing more of our energy over on Pinterest, if you're getting a lot of traffic over on YouTube are over on Instagram, and maybe we need to figure out what content is doing well on those platforms and share more of that type of content as well. These are all the things that analytics are going to tell you. 

Next up is finance, which is of course, my favorite. When it comes to reflection areas, I want you to reflect on your finances and how things are going from the numbers standpoint. Okay, what do your financial reports say about this year. And when I say financial reports, before I go any further into the session, when I say financial reports, that could really be anything that shows your sales information, and shows your expenses. So for instance, like I said, if you go into Castiron, and you go to analytics, you'll see your sales report. But also, if you have a Pay Pal, or if you have square or stripe, or any of the other payment processor platforms, then you should be able to go in there and see your sales numbers. All right. But that's only one side of the conversation. That's only the income, you also need to figure out how your expenses are looking. And usually you can use something like a QuickBooks, or I think it's like ways, there's other ones that also will help you with the basically bookkeeping side of your business. You can also use I believe Cake Boss cloud, may be able to help you with that as well. But my personal favorite is QuickBooks, that's what I put all my clients on. That's what I recommend to the Sweet Fest and Sugar Coin Academy community. And so I would highly recommend that if you don't have a bookkeeping software, that you look into getting that going into the new year, so that you can continue to track not only your income, but your expenses. The other great thing about having a bookkeeping software is that it'll take in all of your income from all of the different places. So for instance, if you do take money from square or cash app, or Paypal or wherever, then if you connect all of that to your QuickBooks account, then all of the income is going to show up on your QuickBooks and you're not going to have to worry about figuring out all the multiple different places and where the money was coming from, you'll actually be able to see it all in one place in your QuickBooks account. 

 I do see I have a question. Let's see. All right, so I'm going to answer those in the q&a. So just know, hold on, I'm gonna get to them. Of course, you will need to prepare your financial information for tax purposes. But your financial reports can tell a story, just like your other analytics, okay. Go review your financial reports to better understand, like I said, both sides of the coin, your income as well as your expenses, you might discover that you can afford to hire another assistant, or that you make more money selling treat tables than wedding cakes. Alright. So if you look at the numbers, just like we talked about with analytics, then you can figure out what's going well, what's not going well, what you need to change, and maybe you can afford to buy that new mixer and maybe you can afford to buy a new oven, okay. Okay, also, when it comes to taxes, if you're new to paying taxes in your business, or you recently turned your hobby into a business, the idea of paying taxes can feel a little bit overwhelming and I understand that okay, so you may be wondering, do you have to pay your state? Do you have to pay income taxes? Do you have to pay sales taxes? What type of taxes should you be paying? What forms should you file what expenses can you deduct? Should you be paying taxes throughout the year? There's a whole bunch of questions that may be kind of like buzzing around in your head related to taxes and I totally get it. And that's totally normal when you are new, or you know, not even just new to business, but maybe you've been in business for maybe five years or so. And you still haven't quite figured out what that looks like, okay? 

It can be a lot to wrap your head around, especially when you consider all of the other areas of business that you're managing, you may be doing the social media, you may be doing the banking, you may be the customer service person, you may be doing all the things and the last thing you want to think about is taxes. I get it. Okay. So fortunately, I am an accountant, and I am available to help you guys better understand the tax part of your business. Um, however, because we are limited in time on this conversation, we can't really dig into taxes too, too much. But that is okay, I have something to help you guys. Of course, I have a class that is related to taxes that's available over on the Sugar Coin Academy platform and actually do have a discount code for you guys, if you absolutely want to learn a little bit more about taxes when it comes to your business. Alright, so we're gonna talk about that in a minute. The good news is that already have a tax class available for you guys. Okay? All right. In the class, you learn which taxes are relevant to your business, what expenses you can use to reduce how much you owe to the government and ways to plan ahead throughout the year to reduce the size of your next tax bill. So like right now, it may not be relevant, but it may be relevant for your very next tax bill. Okay. You also have additional access to me outside of the class to help with your specific tax questions. Okay. So if you write this down, or take a screenshot, when you check out which actually, you won't even really need to write it down. Because if you go to this particular link, it already actually has the discount applied to it. Okay, so I promise I will answer all of your tax questions, if you sign up for the class, and if you email me as well, because there may already be answered in the class too. Okay. And thank you, Emily just posted the link in the chat. Okay. So taxes are important, you should pay them, period.

All right. And another thing when it comes to finance before we move on to the next piece, is to not forget to have a separate bank account from your business and your personal use. Okay, so I'm taking a moment to talk about LLC is and how you protect yourself and protect your business. When you first set up your business. If you establish an LLC, which means that you made your business a limited liability company, then you have protection as a corporation. Okay. So that's something that's very important when it comes to establishing a business entity. Okay. Now, the great thing about an LLC is that it will protect your personal assets. If anything, heaven forbid, were to ever happen with your business. Okay. So if you have an LLC, that means that your business is different, it's separate from your personal, okay. Now, my little asterisk to this is that you can actually void your protection as an LLC if you commingle your finances. Okay, so newbies, pay attention, please. And even people who may have may have never heard this before. If you commingle, for instance, if you have one bank account, and you pay your personal bills, you pay your mortgage and everything else out of that account, as well as you are paying your lease for your food truck, all out of this same account, if something were to ever happen to your business. And again, heaven forbid you were sued, then they actually could come after your personal assets as well. Even though you have an LLC, if a judge sees that you have commingled your finances, okay, so it's so important, regardless of whether you have an LLC or not to have separate bank accounts, you want to have a business bank account, and you want to have a personal bank account. All right? 

A thing to keep in mind, though, is out of your business bank account, you can pay yourself, okay, you can pay yourself. We'll talk more about that in the tax class, but you can pay yourself out of the business account, but it's literally like you need to take that money and you need to put it in your personal account. And then you pay your personal bills out of your personal account. Alright, it's two separate things. But I wanted to at least go down that road because we are talking about finances. So if you're planning ahead into the new year, and you have commingled you know you've started your business as a hobby and you only had one bank account, you didn't know it was gonna grow into a business, then you know In the next few months, make sure that you establish a business bank account, whether it is still at your same financial institution, or whether it is at a different business institution or financial institution, so that you don't have easy access to it. I know plenty of people who are like, I don't want it to be at my same bank, because I don't want to be able to just easily pull money out of it, I get it. But just make sure that you establish a business bank account as well as your personal account. Okay, I wanted to give you that two cents before we moved any further. 

Okay, your schedule. How do you want your schedule to look? And what can you plan ahead of time? All right, when it comes to your schedule, and this is something that I'm pretty much a stickler about, we had a whole conversation, as it was like a panel discussion, I think you could probably find it on the YouTube channel as well right here on Castiron. And we, you know, I'm a stickler about, if I'm a business owner, I need to be able to create the life that I want. That's the whole point. Otherwise, I should be working for someone else who's going to set my schedule, for me at least, being a business owner, one of the perks is for me to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it within reason, obviously, right. And so when it comes to your schedule, this is going to be your responsibility to make sure that you don't get burned out, that you set out blocks of time, okay. So when it comes to work life balance, black out times of the year, when you will go on vacation, and generally take time for yourself to recharge, then stick to that schedule. 

I hear so many people in our industry who get burnt out because they're doing, you know, four or five weddings a weekend, and they never get to spend time with their children. And they don't ever really get to go on family trips, and it's just become too much and it's overwhelming. This is the perfect time for you to block out like just put, I mean, just like an airline, right? That does blackout dates, we are not available the second weekend of every month, or we do not take any wedding orders on the you know, fifth Saturday, if there's a fifth Saturday, you know what I mean? Like so figure out what that looks like look at your kids, you know schedule as it relates to school things or look at your you know, your family vacations with your extended family, whatever it is, even if it's a staycation, I want you to block out times plan ahead, that you are not going to be available to the masses so that you can recharge for yourself and not get burnt out. 

Now, when you're planning ahead, blocking out time, so you have work life balance, this may mean that you need to store away some extra money, you need to pile up some extra savings, so that you can afford to close your business for a few days, if you don't have a staff. Or it may mean training others to manage the business while you're away. So that you don't have to close down the business. So think ahead to what that even looks like, you know, training people to be able to decorate the way you do or to figure out what the recipes are okay, or maybe training someone to do deliveries for you so that you bake ahead of time, and then you can take a weekend off and someone else is in charge of delivering. 

As it relates to marketing, take time to plan ahead, right? This is all about schedule. Take time to plan ahead when it comes to your marketing efforts, not just with your workload, okay, brainstorm topics, things that you can talk about on social media, things that you could talk about on your blog, or your newsletter, whatever it is. organize and plan posts, right? So we know certain holidays are going to come up every around, you know, the same time of the year, Easter Mother's Day, whatever. Go ahead and plan out, you know, plan out your posts, figure out what pictures you're going to use, figure out what the wording is going to say go ahead and do these things in advance, save them in some special folder that you have on your computer or that you have in the cloud that you will get access to so that you could you know, basically manage your time a little bit better. All right, I'm not saying to do this right now if you're super duper busy, but if you know that January and February is a slower time, these are some things that you can do to plan ahead and get yourself ahead of the game. Okay. organize and plan post. You can plan promotional dates. So that may mean that like if Easter is on, you know, maybe you do some type of Easter basket special or maybe you do some type of cookie baskets or something, then plan ahead. What is your promotional schedule going to be? When are you going to send out the first email about your menu? Do you need to take pictures in advance? Do you need to schedule something with a photographer, go ahead and look at the calendar and figure these things out in advance so that you don't have to, so that you don't have to worry about them later down the road where you your future self will thank you, I promise. And then finally, draft and schedule content. So I've talked about some apps previously, I believe there's later there's HootSuite, there's all these other ones that you can use to schedule social media posts within your CRM, which is the you know, whatever you use for emailing or whether it is with Castiron, and then you can go ahead and draft up things, maybe you can schedule them to go ahead and automatically post for you. I would caution though, about scheduling things too far in advance, because you never know when something unexpected is going to come up. So maybe you schedule, maybe you just put them as a draft. Or maybe you write them up in like, you know, a Word document, and then you revisit them later a week at a time. But go ahead and think ahead to make sure that you are prepared for those things. Okay.

Then the final piece is continuing education. I'm all about continuing education, right? My mom's an educator, she drove home, the point of education to me is very important. And so continuing education is something you want to reflect on, as well going into the new year. Okay, what did you learn this year? And what do you want to learn in the future? Now this can be, there's gonna be a very broad question. But specifically, I'm talking about skills and tech knowledge or business knowledge. But also this can be broader to something like, what did you learn about your business? What are some things that you don't want? Again? What do you not want to do in your business? What are some things that didn't work out? This year that you learned about yourself? You know, what did you realize you did not want in an assistant because you had a really bad assistant? Or what did you find that you really love about having an assistant and something you look for in the next person? So this could mean something very broad, but right now I'm specifically talking about what you learn as it relates to classes and skills in your business? And what is it you want to learn more about? Okay. All right, there's always something new in this industry, there's always something new that you can learn in this industry, right? There's techniques, there's recipes, there's trends, there's tools, you know, a lot of us just learned about Castiron this year. So there's so many things that you can learn. But you also want to make sure that you are connected so that you can stay tapped into all of this. All right. So here are some continuing education options, you can go to in person trade shows, I go to them all throughout the year, right. Make sure that you plug in other cake, friends or foodie friends, people in the industry to see what other food industry trade shows are out there that you can participate in. As an attendee, or even maybe as a vendor, there may be some that you can tap into locally. And that will help you get you know, plugged in with whoever it is in your community that you need to be connected with. All right. So in-person trade shows, industry conferences, and usually at those conferences, we'll look back up at the industry trade shows and in person trade shows you may find out about other tools and resources and and connect with other you know, vendors, things that you would not normally have learned if you would have stayed at home, okay. Also at industry conferences, same thing, you may learn some new techniques, you may learn about some new tools, you may learn about some new software. So these are these are places that you want to definitely participate in or attend. 

Virtual classes and webinars, just like how we have here, the more you hear about these type of things, especially if they're free and available to you, then definitely register, check it out, watch the replays, take notes. And even if you can't attend, then send somebody in your stead, right, or listen to them on replay while you're in the kitchen or at the gym, right. So virtual classes and webinars can definitely be very beneficial. I mean, there's some things that maybe you would need to pay for. But you know, that is also going to be a business expense that you can write off as well. But you'll learn more about that in the tax class. But things that help you with supporting your business, alright, so consider that as well. Then there's also online summits, which I'll talk about in just a second, like in the next slide, as well as other hands-on classes where you can learn other skills where you maybe can learn other techniques. I know friends who take other art classes that help them in their skills that transfer over to edible medium, so I have plenty of friends who take sculpting classes, and that's maybe sculpting with clay. But they have used that to transition over into sculpting cakes and using those techniques as well. So maybe you want to do something like a painting class, then that may help you with painting on cakes or painting on cookies, or painting on in other edible mediums. So just consider all the things that you may be able to learn, just go ahead and Google and research and figure out what is out there for you to continue to elevate your skills as well as your knowledge. 

Now, I did say I was gonna come back to the summit, there actually is a Food Entrepreneur Growth Summit. That is on January 25. It is from 12 to 5 pm Eastern, so from noon to 5 pm  Eastern, it is absolutely free. And I actually am sure Emily's gonna post the link right here in the chat. But you can go to If you're watching on YouTube, I'm sure it'll be in the caption as well And it will be myself and a couple of other really awesome coaches who will talk about different areas of business that will help you with growth as a food entrepreneur. Okay. Yes. You guys are getting a sneak peek, yes. They haven't even started promoting this. If you know if you're new. If you're new to this webinar series, you will start to realize that I like to give teasers and I like to put stuff out there before it's actually known to the public. Like I'm the one that's like breaking news. Okay, so, Food Entrepreneur Growth Summit is coming January 25. Okay. Let's see. And then also, next month's topic for Cooking Up Sales with Castiron is packaging and the customer experience. We have a lot of questions from folks related to, you know, how to package things up and what those should look like the branding related to it. And so we're going to talk about that in the next episode of Cooking Up Sales with Castiron. Okay, so keep that in mind. Date coming soon. So keep an eye out on your emails. 

So, we're gonna do a quick recap. We're talking about the five reflection areas, areas that I want you guys to reflect on as you go across the next couple of weeks, and planning for the future of your business going into the next year. And over the next few months. Okay, we talked about marketing, right? So figuring out, what did you do? Well, in marketing? How did the results shake out? What places do you need to start using marketing tools, whether that is you want to start with email, or you want to do more emails, or you want to do text message marketing, or you want to figure out what social media content is working? And what content is not? You want to start a blog, whatever it is, okay? Marketing? Do you want to reflect on that? How did it go? And how do you want to change it? Okay, analytics, dig into the analytics all over the place. So whether that is on the apps, or whether that is on Google Analytics, or whether that is within your Castiron store, anywhere that you can find analytics, go in there and dig deep to find out what the story is. So you can see what's working, and what's not working so that you can make the appropriate adjustments within your business. Okay. When it comes to finance, I want you to reflect on not just your sales, but what are your expenses look like? All right, are you? Are you running a profitable business? Are there things that you can cut out? Are there places where you can save some money? Are there menu items that you can cut out right so that you can make sure that you're running a profitable business so dig into the numbers, go ahead and get a an accountant with a bookkeeping software, so that you can make sure you see both sides of the coin and not just the sales part, but also the expenses part. Also, what I was gonna say, oh, yeah, also make sure that you separate your bank accounts, so that you can have a business account as well as a personal account. If you haven't already done that, make sure that you do that. There's also other benefits to having a business bank account as well, which depending on your bank, I'm sure they will explain to you as well and then there's like Amazon benefits and all of the things as well that you can get access to if you have a business bank account, okay? Also make sure that you drill down on your schedule to areas for your schedule was just for your own sanity, okay, for your personal work life balance, go ahead and block out dates that you can have that balance and recharge and not feel burnt out, black out things and also have that little extra savings, ready to roll so that you can close them. things if you absolutely want to, or need to, during those blackout times, and also take the time to train someone or connect with someone in your community that can help support you, if you are a one person show and you don't have an assistant, okay. And then finally going on to continuing education, make sure that you get tapped in to all of the great resources that are out there, whether it is a virtual class or going to a summit, or going to a trade show or a conference, make sure that you get connected and continue to learn more about this industry. stay in tune with the trends. You know, whether that is signing up for a you know, digital magazine, or whatever it is continue to learn. You don't want your business to get stale. And you don't want people to come to your business and say, Oh, that's old, nobody, nobody wants a cake like that. You want to stay up with all of that. 

Okay, so we've got some questions, got some questions. What do people usually buy cupcakes at markets? They usually buy brownies and macarons and I was thinking about getting Square is it any good. Okay, great. So, um, and I think that that is all connected. So I mean, when it comes to payment processing in person, you definitely want to make sure that you are plugged into the right portals I use square whenever I'm at markets, you can also use, you know, PayPal, they have a swipe or Stripe, you know, type of deal as well. But also, depending upon how things work. And Emily, you can chime in on this would you think it would be appropriate and Emily's, like I said is in the background. And you can just unmute yourself, or you can write in the chat. What if someone is doing this? Okay, so let me back up. I know for sure that if you wanted to do sales at markets, you could also promote to folks that you were doing pre orders, right. So that's going to also help you with planning how much inventory to have. So you can encourage people to go to your website and pre order and they can pick it up at the market. Obviously, if you have a Castiron store, then that would be a great way to go about it. Because then they can just come to your Castiron store, go ahead and place an order and then you can set in as a pickup place the new market, all right. But once you are there locally at the market, and you want to collect information. Now mind you, you can have some those people to maybe go to the website on their phone, and then maybe they can go ahead and put in their credit card information as well. Because as far as I know, I don't think Castile even has a swipe just yet. Is that right?

Emily Brungard  

Yeah, thanks. This was an awesome presentation as always. So right now, no in person payments, but keep an eye out early 2023. This is another sneak peek. You guys are just getting it all! I don't have an exact date yet, but coming soon. But we have a lot of people who actually do markets, and they take all of their market pre-sales through Castiron. And I mean, we've got people who sell out their entire market inventory before the market even happens on Castiron because they open it up. And you know, it gets people to preorder for the next market. Right. They know they have to order ahead but I would say definitely pre orders are going to be your your best bet with Castiron right now.

Cyd Mitchell

Yeah, I think that that would be the way that I would go for sure. Because like I especially for those who do markets it can be really hit or miss like how how much should I prepare for this particular market and then like the like the user said, for instance, you know, people really wanted brownies at this one but then the next one they want to max and now I don't know what to prepare. And you don't want to have wasted product because that's wasted money. And that's money down the drain right if you don't have people to come in and purchase it at the market or even people to come in after the fact and purchase your leftovers. And so you know you really want to try to encourage folks. Hey, we're going to be at such and such market but if you pre Buy Now we'll have it ready and available for you and you could just walk up to us at the market you know show your receipt and we'll give you your order. And to me that's also a part of me going to the market as well right? Because now as a customer I know I don't have to wait the same way that everybody else does. I don't have to because my stuff is already ready and fresh and available to me. I don't have to worry about it being sold out. I can just come up to the table and get what I need. So I'm excited Emily to hear the in-person is coming.

Emily Brungard  

Yeah, we know we know it's huge. We want to be there for you during the Farmers Market season.

Cyd Mitchell

Absolutely. Alright, so it sounds like it's coming in 2023. And it sounds like you may be there by the time it's warm, because you said by farmers market season, I'm just I'm I'm sure.

Emily Brungard  

I mean, man, I hope so.

Cyd Mitchell

I might be pushing it a little bit. But, let's see. All right. So it looks like we handle all the questions that were in the q&a area. Does anybody else have any other questions? Could you suggest some accounting bookkeeping tools? 

Yes. So the accounting and bookkeeping tools that I recommend would be QuickBooks. And I have seen and been in so many others. And I understand that there are some that are kind of geared towards our industry. But I haven't seen any that are geared towards our industry, and also are really good for general accounting, right? So I've seen some that work really well with inventory management and helping you with setting a price. But then when it comes to the actual, like, I want to connect my bank account so that it automatically feeds in and then I can tell what expenses are related to this part of the business. The only one that I can really see that works well with that is QuickBooks. So that's my number one. 

Do you have to pay taxes if you haven't had any sales yet? Alexis, that's a really great question. So, technically, you would, okay. Let's back up. So, depending upon your business, I was okay. I'm sorry. I'm trying to figure out how I exactly want to answer this question without it being too broad. So no, if you haven't made any sales, you don't have to pay taxes. Technically, however, you should still file your taxes, because you may have a loss, which you can carry over into the new year, okay. So for instance, you just started your business, all right. And you've purchased a new mixer, a new oven, all these things, you haven't made any sales yet, but you have made all these purchases in this year. These are expenses that you can use to offset income in future years. So even though you may not be paying taxes on those things, this year, because you haven't made any sales, you want to file your losses so that you can carry forward that loss so that when you make all the money next year, then you can offset that within your business. Hope that makes sense. Oh, that didn't sound too technical. Anything else? And also, like I said, you guys, that tax class is a really great place for a general overview of like, where you should start, what type of what type of taxes you should be paying, like, all the things it talks about all the different areas of just getting started with business taxes as well. 

If you're watching this on YouTube, go ahead and drop your questions in the comments as well. And we will get to those there as well. All right, I think that's a wrap. Whew, I'm sweating. That's a wrap. Oh, my gosh, this was the last Cooking Up Sales for the year. It has been fun. But I'm really looking forward to doing even more coming into the New Year as well as being a part of the summit. You guys. Don't forget to register for that for free. In my opinion, you register for it tonight so that you don't forget about it. And then you get the reminders coming into January. That's how I would do it. But yeah, you guys are awesome. Thank you so much for hanging out with us all of this time. And also for taking notes. Please email Emily, if you have any questions about setting up your website. And then also you can email me if you have any other questions related to the content as well. I don't know. Is there anything else? Emily? Anything you want to chat about?

Emily Brungard  

No, I don't think so. This has been great said I see. Alexis just asked Where can she find the previous sessions? Alexis, if you go to the Castiron website, visit our blog, you can just click blog right at the top of the website. And we've got all of our video recordings stored on our website so you can check them out when you have time. Good to have on in the background. So you can learn a little bit while you're while you're baking or cooking. But yeah, thanks so much, everyone for joining us. Cyd, I think you can take us home.

Cyd Mitchell

Yes, exactly. Thank you Emily too. I appreciate you always being here in the background and supporting the chat and everything too and for answering some questions that we had as well. But I absolutely agree with Emily like you want to listen, you can turn this thing on and you can listen to it in the background if you need to, and then glanced at the screen every now and then if you want to, but it's not really necessary because a lot of the things that I say that is already on the screen and I'm just you know, saying it out, out loud as well. So happy holidays, everybody. Thank you guys so much for hanging out and we will see you guys again soon in the next session. 

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