New Entrepreneur Feature #2: Fulshear Bakery Really Racks Up the Dough

Lori Pope of Fulshear Bakery

Lori Pope of Fulshear Bakery

Welcome to the second edition of my New Entrepreneur feature. The business owner (Lori Pope) in this week’s feature is near and dear to my heart because we communicated a lot during the early phases of her cake business. I think you’ll find her story inspiring not only because she has become a huge success, but also because she offers the perfect example of what it takes to build a successful business.

Starting a Business: Lori's Path

Lori started baking strudel and baklava in her home back in 2016 and selling it to her neighbors. She says she worked hard enough to make a couple of hundred dollars in time for Christmas. So at the end of that year, she decided to get serious and bought my book, How to Start a Home-Based Food Business. “It was an eye opener,” she says, “and a significant catalyst to jump starting my successful food business.”

Lori Made Smart Decisions When Starting a Food Business

Early the next year, Lori began to focus on King Cakes, which are well-known and loved by people who live in Louisiana and the area of Texas where she lives. She says some of the struggles she faced as a new business owner were “product research and development, learning to use my space efficiently, maintaining my financial records (still a struggle because I'm so busy), keeping my kitchen clean (one of my most exhausting struggles), packaging, accurately projecting my ingredient needs and most importantly - TIMELY DELIVERY of a promised product.”

A King Cake. This is one of the first products Lori offered when starting a home-based food business.

A King Cake. This is one of the first products Lori offered when starting a home-based food business.

I love her list because it’s a clear example of what new business owners need to focus on. Product research and development is key because so many new businesses fail every year because they take a product or service to market that people don’t want. Lori avoided this common mistake by first doing product research.

As you can see from her list, she accurately identified the areas that are crucial to her type of business and then mastered them. This is a great example of an entrepreneur who approached starting a business the right way. Here is her list of the steps she took to get her new business off the ground:

  • ·  Named my business
  • ·  Formed an LLC in my business name
  • ·  Opened a business bank account
  • ·  Subscribed to Quickbooks online
  • ·  Purchased a domain name
  • ·  Built Website
  • ·  Started FB Page
  • ·  Started an Instagram account
  • ·  Got a business Gmail account in my business name
  • ·  Opened Business PayPal and Square account
  • ·  Got a business debit card for all my business purchases
  • ·  Started a receipt file system
  • ·  Created a work space for each of the types of work I do
  • ·  Created a Storage system for my work tools
  • ·  Made a logo and custom logo stickers
A beautiful wedding cake by Lori Pope

A beautiful wedding cake by Lori Pope

Growing the Small Business

And one thing she understood about her business—and planned for—is that King Cakes are seasonal. So instead of accepting a business lull, Lori began making artisan specialty cakes and birthday cakes. And here’s what I love about this entrepreneur’s spirit: she had never decorated a cake before. “It was the greatest growing experience in my life,” she says. “And I was terrified. Each day I was committed to doing better than the day before.”

By summer, she had a portfolio of some pretty special cakes. In fact, the cake photos you see spread throughout this post were made by Lori. Beautiful, aren’t they?

Lori started a Facebook page for Fulshear Bakery in March of that year and began posting photos of her cakes. “I look back now and see how imperfect they were, and realize that there are no perfect cakes, and that it takes a lot of planning and preparing to produce good products,” she says.

Living the Entrepreneurial Dream

Eighteen months later, Lori now wakes up every day to run the business of her dreams. She says, “My favorite part of this business is making a product that brings joy to others and oftentimes becomes a meaningful part of their celebration.” Lori has built a successful bakery, offers a quality product, has happy customers, and is building something that will last a lifetime. She has truly accomplished her dream.

But we’re talking about the unstoppable Lori Pope. Did you really think she would sit back and rest on her accomplishments to date?

“I made the decision to re-invest in my own business by purchasing upgraded equipment and tools of the trade and to improve what I offer to my customers,” she tells me.

A custom cake by Lori Pope. Her cottage food business is really taking off!

A custom cake by Lori Pope. Her cottage food business is really taking off!

Once she upgraded her equipment and grew her business sales to an average of $1,800 a week (Remember, she started out a year-and-a-half ago earning a few hundred a week) she realized that she needed help so she hired a part-time employee.

It’s easy to burn out when growing a business, and that almost happened to Lori. “I also learned that this is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life and I was close to burning out. The business had basically taken over my house and my life, so I decided to significantly reduce my schedule for the summer so I could spend time with my kids and take time for better planning.”

Also smart. Lori recognized that she needed to manage the business, not the other way around, and that attitude will surely contribute to the long-term success of the bakery—and to her happiness and peace of mind.

Use Lori’s journey as a road map as to how to successfully start a small business. As you can see, she had the idea, the drive, the motivation, developed the talent and skills she needed, and has that entrepreneurial can-do attitude that is crucial to the success of any small business.

Congratulations, Lori. Your story is one that will inspire home cooks all over the world to pursue their dreams of a cottage food business.

Starting a cottage food business is difficult, but Lori Pope did it the right way.

Starting a cottage food business is difficult, but Lori Pope did it the right way.

Finally, let’s end with Lori’s thoughts about opening a home-based business in the food industry. “This business is a calling and for people with an absolute passion for baking and an internal drive, self-improvement, hard work and  customer service.”

Well said, Lori. Well said.