Side Gig Success

So You Want To Open A Bakery? (And good advice no matter WHAT you want to do as your business!)


by Darrell Crosgrove

Recently, in a Facebook small business group, someone posted a query asking for advice on what the should do to open their first bakery. Naturally, they received a slew of one-sentence suggestions, and the typical “Hey! Contact me so *I* can make YOU rich!” spam.

I decided to write him a reply that I am presenting below:

  1. Get a good website that allows YOU to modify the offerings and prices on a whim. You do NOT want to have a crappy website that requires you to pay your “designer” $100.00 every time you want something modified.
  2. Get a logo. (Fiverr)
  3. Learn how to photograph your food products. You don’t want to, or need to, pay a professional. (Here is a link to an article I wrote on the subject.)
  4. Business plans are… OK. Some people swear by them, but in today’s digital and Social media age, I think they are secondary to being adaptable. Have an idea of what you want to achieve, and move towards it. As situations and opportunities change–adapt quickly.
  5. YOU decide WHAT your market is. No, it is NOT everyone who eats bread. (Imagine trying to market to parents who want healthy organic wheat products right next to kids who want creamy sugar-laden donuts–If you generalize, and market to everyone, you are more likely to fail.) Figure out WHO who you want for customers, and build everything from your company name to you your logo to your prices to your menu to them.
  6. Copy others who have been successful in your field. For your reference, I refer you to Papa Moose’s Donuts–a local baker. They post lots of pics of their delicious treats in the “Toledo To Go” group, and they have a cult following. I would STRONGLY suggest you study everything they have done, because in my opinion, they are getting it right.
  7. And, don’t spend a lot on a web page. You will get lots of offers of 50% off their usual $5,000 web page package. Those web pages take maybe an hour to build and are little better than you could build yourself on Wix.
  8. Read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Too many new entrepreneurs make the mistake of being an employee to their business. YOU. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. DO. THAT! Your goal is to get your company up and running to the point where you can employ other people to do the work, while YOU promote, grow, and manage your business. (Actually, here are 8 books I recommend ALL Entrepreneurs to read, and how to get them all digitally from your local library IF it subscribes to the HOOPLA service .)
  9. Post pictures–good pictures–of EVERYTHING you make. Your entire menu should be online, and you should be posting 1-2 pics of fresh creations all across the social media platforms every day.
  10. Focus into LOCAL groups if possible. You share business questions here, but you MARKET your bakery products in LOCAL groups and pages! Focus on ones that serve YOUR town!

And if you have any more questions, please DM me 🙂

PS. YOUR picture goes on the website too. No, no one cares what you look like, but posting your pic tells everyone that you stand behind your product, and are proud to do so. That is something sorely lacking in most marketing by solopreneurs and small businesses. If you will stand up in the public square and proudly proclaim that you bake the best bread… People are a lot more likely to believe you care about your wares, and are more likely to try them.

While this reply was tailored specifically to a bakery, NONE of what I suggested is exclusive to bakeries. All ten pointers ally equally to almost any business most people are likely to open. Beautician? Tree trimmer? Child care? Today they ALL follow the same rules–get onto social media and build a following by impressing them with steady and RELEVANT posts showing them WHY your service or product is the one they need.

Already, I can hear objections:

“Darrell, what if I am an auto mechanic? My pictures would suck–no one wants to see them.”

I disagree. You should show pictures of the cars your have repaired. The sports cars and the sedans. The mini-vans and the “junkers”. Post pictures of some of the worst case problems brought in by customers, what you did to fix the problem, and how sharp the car looked when it left your shop. Post pics of the time someone brought in the family care with a strange rattle and weird smoking smell, and it turned out to be their daughter’s Barbie melting on the manifold.

Remember Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe? NINE seasons and 173 episodes of him doing dirty and smelly and hard jobs that most people are thankful they NEVER have to do themselves. Mike made us like watching how things get cleaned and repaired. He did it with a smile and made us like and respect the people who had those jobs.

The reason why they are taking your car to you is because they CAN’T, or don’t WANT TO do the work themselves.

Your pics help show them that you are the mechanic to come to.

Whatever your profession is, you need to impress upon people that you are a professional, you take pride in your work, and that whatever they throw your way, you are the person who can fix their problem.

And you do that with pictures and posts in your local groups if your products or services are local in nature, and national groups if they are national in nature.

Yes, it takes some planning–but it is your marketing. Educate your customers. Entertain them. And make them want to come in and purchase goods or services from you.

And if you do it right, it doesn’t cost anything–remember, posting on Facebook is free.

Eight Books Every New Entrepreneur Should Read

by Darrell Crosgrove

I see people asking on Facebook and Reddit what kinds of business they should start. Immediately, like wolves seeing a new stumbly fawn without its mother near, scammers charge in. Offers of how the budding entrepreneur can join this particular program and make $2,000 to $5,000 a week easy, working from home (SCAM!!!) or how this helpful web guru can create for your business a new a wonderful website set up for a mere $3,000. (Which works out to about $3,000 an hour for the setup fee, because setting up a basic WordPress site and customizing it takes about an hour.) 

These people want to do something–their own side gig. Something to earn money and be flexible and they can feel good about doing. But they have no idea on WHAT to do, or how to do it. In short, they want, but have no idea how to fill that want.

If you are at that point–wanting to get your own gig, but having no idea on how to actually do it–here are 8 books you should read. Each one will help educate about an aspect of being an entrepreneur so you have the information you need that will allow you to decide on what to do, start it on the cheap, and make it grow.

Yes, all these books are on Amazon. Most in both print and audiobook format. Or, if you are on limited funds, try your local library. Also, don’t dismay if your local library doesn’t have them in stock. Most libraries subscribe to a service known as Hoolpa. Hoopla has GOBS of digital titles and your library card gets you a free Hoolpa account. My Hoopla account allows me to download 10 titles a month in the format of E-books, Audiobooks, Movies, Graphic Novels, CDs, etc, etc…

And I did a check–6 of the 8 are sitting there on Hoopla, waiting for you to download them to your phone, laptop, or tablet. (The titles followed by (H) are available on Hoopla.  The $100 Startup has a summary available on Hoopla. 100 Ways to Make a Living by Courier Magazine you may be forced to purchase.) 

Yeah, will take some time to read these. But, in fairness, I put them in the order they are needed by new entrepreneurs, and by #3 or #4, you might be ready to start. Read (or listen to) all 8 if you can, but you don’t need all 8 before you begin.

In order:

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau (H-Summary)
Teaches you that you CAN start a business on the super-cheap, and how to do it. A must read to get you past the fear of it takes tens of thousands of dollars to start a business. That is BS. You can start a side-gig business for under $100.00, and this book shows you how.

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller (H)
One of the better books on how to present your material in a way that speaks to the needs and wants of the customer. The focus is you must first identify the needs and desires your customer has and then fit your message and product into delivering that product so that they receive their truly desired internal results. This is a focus on HOW to identify what your customers really desire in their own minds, and tailor your message and product to provide that desired end result.

100 Ways to Make a Living by Courier Magazine
100 business ideas to start your creativity flowing. I don’t expect you to use any of these suggestions, as much as this book teaches you how to think about the limitless possibilities of starting you own business, and how to grow it.

Start Your Own Corporation by Garrett Sutton, Esq. (H)
(Part of the Rich Dad’s Advisor Series)
Demystifies what a corporation is, and how to create and maintain one. Also points out the incredibly great legal and tax benefits of running your business under the corporate banner. (And, no, you do NOT need an attorney to create one. In my state all you need is $125 and to fill out some boilerplate 3-page form.)

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber (H)
Explains, in simple terms and analogies, WHY being an Entrepreneur requires you to quickly move your mindset from doing it all yourself to the task of creating instructions for your employees to do, while you build and expand the business. There are a lot of people out there running their own businesses doing 60-70 hour work weeks because they have never made the leap from “chief employee” to actual CEO. This book helps you move past that.

Sales Dogs by Blair Singer (H)
(Part of the Rich Dad’s Advisor Series)
Teaches you the various styles of selling that there are–from Doberman to Collie. The point isn’t to change you into the “best one”, because they are all equally efficient, as much as to teach you HOW to operate within your own natural style, and thus make more sales. BTW: If you are an entrepreneur, you WILL be doing a lot of selling if you are successful.

Influence by Robert Cialdini (H)
There are six methods that you can use to influence a person to do what you want, whether that is which restaurant to go to, or convince them to purchase the more expensive car from you. Cialdini breaks them down and presents them not as tools to use in selling (although, of course, a lot of people do use it for that purpose…) as much as how to defend yourself against these techniques. Once you have read it, you see through marketing and advertising, and salespeople, almost automatically, and their ability to subtly pressure you ceases to exist.

How to Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. (H)
(Also known as HTWFAIP.)
Carnegie published this book in October of 1936, and it remains the pinnacle of the subject of how the make people like you. Not with slick snake-oil mannerisms. No speech tricks. No psychological maneuvers. HTWFAIP teaches you how to grow your personality to where people naturally like you because you are the kind of person that people naturally like. Think back to the people you know who are upbeat and positive. They are a joy to be around in group and are always invited to events and parties. Those people were naturally pleasant to be around. They probably worked to achieve that kind of positive personality, but it paid off in a large circle of friends. You can be that person. And while it might not sound this is an entrepreneur book, think about it–would you rather do business with someone you naturally like, or someone you don’t like quite so much? Get this one and learn how to be more naturally likable.