I am a One - Woman - Army behind this venture - Rasleen Kaur

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1.Tell us more about your company and your journey?

I started my home - based venture, Cinnamon Treats in August 2016 during the final year of my MBA. It started with just 3 cake items on the menu. Initially, it was just plain iced cakes but with time and practice, I started customising cakes as per the client’s desire.

Once I started getting a response, I expanded my menu from just cakes to cupcakes & brownies. And then came my first food blogger review for chocolate brownies, which only encouraged me to do better and better. I recently added cheesecakes & cake jars to the menu as well.

2. How did you come up with this idea and go about executing it?

When my brother and I were kids, our mother would make us sit on the kitchen shelf while baking a delicious Vanilla Cake. The aroma of that freshly baked cake has been imprinted on my mind since forever. And I believe that that was one of the moments where I fell in love with baking. When I started my graduation in Hotel Management, it only made my love for baking stronger.

The first time I baked a cake was a Lemon Loaf 10 years ago. My family relished it! Ever since then, baking has been an integral part of my life. It has seen me through happy times & tough times. When I started Cinnamon Treats in August 2016, I was apprehensive of putting myself out there. But it was important to take the 1st step because for me it was a “Now or Never” situation.

If I wouldn’t do it then, I knew I wasn’t going to do it ever. So as soon as that motivation struck, I made a page on Instagram before this name was taken. I quickly got the business cards made along with the self - designed logo. All this happened within a span of 3 days. On August 5th, 2016, I uploaded the 1st post on my Instagram page and shared it with all my contacts.

And ever since then, there’s been no looking back! We recently celebrated our 4th Anniversary.

3. What has been your biggest challenge that you faced and how did you overcome that?

I have experienced quite a few challenges ever since I started Cinnamon Treats. Initially, I was sceptical about entering a market which is already booming with so many home - based ventures and commercialised bakery shops. Over time, I learnt to believe in the quality product that I am serving. 

Another challenge I constantly face is cake delivery. While non - iced items can still be delivered (if possible), delivery of customised cakes can be a hassle sometimes. I have a few clients who sometimes travel long distances to pick up their cakes. My father always drives me when I meet them half - way to hand over their cake. I am grateful for that!

I am a One - Woman - Army behind this venture. And that means, each order takes its own sweet time from its execution to pickup. Therefore, I can only take a limited number of orders. Sometimes I have to refuse last minute orders. Orders need to be placed 3-4 days in advance to ensure timely planning from my side.

4. What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

I believe an entrepreneur needs to understand that every day is going to bring on a new set of challenges for you to troubleshoot. One needs to have the patience to deal with them. Personally, I have learnt a great deal of patience when it comes to decorating cakes. 

Having a "bigger picture" or  "WHY AM I DOING IT?" helps put things into perspective and gives you a clear sense of direction. And then one can make a plan of action accordingly. Entrepreneurs need to invest in themselves, be it something personal or enhancing their skill set further. Failure can be a good teacher if you let it.

I have learnt that failing sometimes is necessary to help you understand where you lack so that you can work on it. These are, what my father calls, learning curves. You Win Some, You Learn Some!

5. What are some of the most important factors for running a successful business?

To succeed in any business, planning & organisational skills are imperative. 
Once you have your "WHY AM I DOING IT?" figured out, make a strategy and figure out its execution (Day - to - Day, Weekly, Monthly, etc.). Understand your own product and how it is going to make your customer’s life easier or better. Maintain a balance of new clients and repeat business.

Something I learnt in Business School, "Top of the mind recall" - your product / service should be at the top of their mind when they need it. To sustain a business in the long run, a businessperson needs to be flexible to stay at par with the customer’s current needs and be creative not only in their ideas but in their way of handling certain situations.

Understand this, sacrifices will be inevitable. You’ll lose out on personal time, parties, leisurely activities etc. especially when you start something new. Don’t be afraid to do so! But also know this, check in and be there for your family & friends. They’re your biggest cheerleaders!

6. What are your tips for first time and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Know your product / service. Explain to your potential customer how it is going to make their life better or easier. Decide its value accordingly. Understand the potential risks involved. What is the worst case scenario? How will you cope up with it? Do something that you love! Being passionate about your business idea will reflect in the product / service and will give you immense satisfaction. Persistence & Commitment are the keys!

While it is important to be fully invested in your business, it is a smart move to have a passive source of income to keep you floating through the initial stages of your startup. Focus on marketing the product / service, but build relationships too. Connect with your customer to forge a long - term relationship. This will also ensure repeat business.

Sometimes you may not be successful in delivering a perfect product, and in that instance your connection with the customer will help allay their concerns for future. Have an attitude of gratitude. Celebrate small day - to - day victories. Be grateful for the learning curves for they teach you something new.

7. How can one overcome the hurdle of lack of funds when starting up?

While there are traditional options available such as bank loans, line of credit, small business credit etc. to secure funds for your startup, not every business person will qualify for them or the interest may be too high to pay. Alternatives include putting your own money as a seed investment, opting for online crowdfunding options, perhaps a family member or a peer can loan some amount or looking for an angel investor.

Incubators will aid in formulating a business idea. Accelerators will help in growing your business. There are various other forms of funding available to kick start one’s business. Weigh the pros & cons of options appropriate for your business idea and discuss it with your trusted group of people. Once you start turning a profit, save a little portion every month as a safety net. "A penny saved is a penny earned."

Interview By - Sonam

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