From Side Hustle to Career Entrepreneur with Pete Tidwell

Jun 12, 2019

Starting a business is never easy, but with grit, determination, sacrifice and a clear perspective, building the business of your dreams may be closer than you realize!

  • (03:35) My grandpa Brinkman ran his own typewriter repair business and office supply store. I saw his hard work, but I also saw that he was able to put together his life how he wanted. He was able to go golfing. He was able to go on vacation with his wife. I was really impressed by that.
  • (04:26) I started watching food network shows and food shows and started baking and doing cakes on the side a little bit. It was mainly just a hobby. It was something I enjoyed. 
  • (08:34) I ordered a pastry textbook online and I taught myself from beginning to end of this huge pastry book of cake recipes, pastry recipes, croissant dough, everything. In the evenings and on the weekends, that's what I would work on. 
  • (09:10) I was the most happy when I was in the kitchen working on a recipe or learning something new. That was a big learning for me because I hadn't necessarily noticed it myself up until that point, but my wife noticed, she said "If that makes you happy, if your day job doesn't make you happy, maybe there's something to this baking thing. I see that it makes a difference in your attitude and how you hold yourself." The goal became move back to Utah, get a job in marketing and start a bakery business from home. 
  • (11:42) From the beginning just because of my learning about business and marketing, I wanted to make sure that I opened a fully legit legal business from home. I jumped through all the hoops to get my business license and get my kitchen inspected amongst having a full time job. I was working my nine to five and then I would come home and work on my business. I looked at it from the perspective of, I wanted to do this, I wanted to do it seriously so that people would take me seriously.
    Speaker 2: (13:08)
    Ever since I was a kid I've always had this attitude and work ethic of "do whatever it takes to get the job done". Even if it's not fun, even if it's not pleasant, there's certain things you have to do to take it to that next step. I'm not going to let this stop me.

What barriers do you allow to get in your way? Channel your determination and your dedication to push past whatever comes your way. That ability becomes a really good identifier and separator between those who are taking themselves seriously and those who are a little more passive or less believing in what they're trying to accomplish. 

  • (14:55) When we launched the business we began to consider what we could do to get the word out. How do I actually get it out there to see if people like my stuff? I did a lot of research. One Saturday we were walking around downtown Provo saw the Provo farmer's market. I looked into how much it would cost to put up a booth and what licensing was involved. The next Saturday we booked a booth and made a bunch of cookies. We printed pictures of some wedding cakes that I had done to put on display. We didn't know how much to make or really even how much to charge.
  • (16:07) In the beginning we didn't charge enough for what we were doing. The most important part is making sure that you pay yourself what you're worth for the time that you're spending to produce that product. I was taking my cost of ingredients, the amount of time that it took me to make it, but I didn't really put together all the other time, like going to the store, the clean up, the travel back and forth to set up, sitting at the market all day and all those little time pieces. So then when I actually did the breakdown, I realized I didn't make very much money. We slowly learned each week and ended up doing the farmer's markets for 22 weeks in a row. 
  • (18:08) I was getting no sleep. I would work 40 hours during the week and then coming home and work to 3:00 AM, sleep for about four or five hours, get up the next day and do it all again. In the very beginning I wasn't sure what I wanted, but once I was in to it about a year and a half, that's when I started thinking there's some real potential in this. It could come a full time thing.
  • (19:12) I started focusing on the more profitable parts of my business. I started promoting weddings like crazy and I was able to book enough weddings through June of 2015 and went to my wife and said, "Hey, on paper, this makes sense. It's crazy, but I have enough wedding cakes booked that it should carry us through these months." At the same time I was looking for a potential location too. Luckily my wife was a huge supporter. I was probably more scared than she was actually.

Part of the success journey is being able to stack up all of the learning experiences and grow from them. To take on the next challenge and pivot. 

  • (22:22) My wife challenged me to apply to Cake Wars on The Food Network. We ended up going on and ended up winning. I was not expecting to win. At the end of the first year in business we were invited a second time to go on Cake Wars and we ended up winning again. 
  • (23:12) My wife and I bootstrapped the whole thing together. We didn't have any money. We had to buy used equipment. We did not get everything that we wanted. My dad loaned us a little bit. I was working 80 hour weeks and my wife would be in there with our newly born son at the time. He was four months old and crying while she's helping customers. We were full on family business style.
  • (24:01) I was in fight mode, ready to do whatever it takes. This is going to work! There was times definitely where I thought to myself, I know I have to make this work because I signed a three year lease, but on the other hand this is going to be rough. I need to hire employees. I'm going to kill myself if I keep working this much. I'm really going to suffer from this.
  • (25:14) 2016 and 2017 were amazing years in business. My goal going into 2018 was build up my staff. I was ready for a super amazing year in business. Then some things happened. Local construction happened right by our shop and our in-store traffic went down by 65%. The construction would close our roads from time to time. I ended up having to let my full time baker go because I couldn't afford to pay him anymore. Then I had to let a couple other employees go. So then I started taking on the burden of everything myself again. I was in the bakery at probably 2 or 3 AM every day working 15, 18 hour days sometimes and just trying to keep things going and keep the doors open. We had our good months and we had our really bad months, but all in all at the end of the summer it was coming up to the time that my lease was coming up and I had to make a very pivotal choice right then. It was the hardest decision of my life to make. It was so hard because I wanted to do everything possible to keep this thing going. I started to have some back problems and some other health issues that came up because I was not getting sleep and I was working too much. It wasn't long term sustainable. I'm working 80 hours a week.. and I had to ask myself, "What kind of lifestyle are you trying to create for yourself?"
  • (28:27) Having to bring all my employees into a meeting and tell them they didn't have a job was such a hard experience. It took me an extra couple of weeks to actually do it. I probably should have done it earlier, but I was trying to hold on, hoping that maybe we'd have a miraculous sales day or something. I hope to never have to do that again. I wanted to regroup on my business.
  • (30:11) In the first couple months, I just needed a break. I needed to focus on myself and my family and get grounded again in life. I had been working so much I needed to catch up a little bit. 

In entrepreneurship, there are going to be good years with good times and difficult years with difficult times. The ability to step back and keep yourself in check, to do an inventory of your life and your time, your finances and your efforts to see where you're headed and determine if the ultimate destination is okay with you or if you need to pivot. To change direction or change degrees just slightly so that you can be more in line with where your end goal was when you started.

  • (32:20) I had a huge awakening. After my business was closed for a few months I was able to get back with myself and get back into a good place. I was able to sit down and think. To see with fresh different eyes. I was able to recognize the struggles and recognize how I got certain places; things I did right, things I did wrong. I knew I wanted to start and work on something different. There was a business idea that I had had years ago that came to mind. So I started working on this new angle and this new business plan. Now as I build a new business, I'm looking at it from the perspective. I'm trying to create a business that I can employ people, it can be profitable and I can be the more CEO, CMO, creative person for the business rather than everyday in and out operations. What I've learned is that I really love to teach, especially things that I'm passionate about like cakes. 
  • (34:38) I'm opening a location in The Shops of Riverwoods in Provo this September. It's going to be a cake decorating supply shop with cake decorating classes.
The only difference between successful entrepreneur and one that doesn't succeed is the one that doesn't succeed takes that first trial, that first major roadblock and says, "Oh, this isn't for me. I'm done." They throw their hands up and assume that they are no longer a successful entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs take their trial as an opportunity to step back, gain clarity, pivot direction and make it more inline with what you really want.
  • (35:40) Every time you fail in a business or in life, it's an opportunity to grow and become an even stronger person and a stronger entrepreneur.

Successful entrepreneurs: 

  1. Make sacrifices. Turning that side hustle into the vision in your head takes a degree of sacrifice. Be willing to make the sacrifice but not to the ultimate detriment of you. 
  2. Establish healthy limitations. You can't get water from an empty well. Establish boundaries that protect your emotional and physical wellbeing to ensure that you don't become the last priority on your list.
  3. Know when it's time to pivot. Not if, but WHEN big challenges comes along, it's not a dead end but rather a turn in the road. Take the time to step back and gain clarity, making appropriate and timely shifts.
  4. Surround yourself with a network of cheerleaders and challengers. Every entrepreneur needs people around them to help bolster them up and others who are willing to give a reality check when needed.

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