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NOTABLE! Eric from Erics Cheesecakes

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Ericito

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Hello,
Im Eric from Eric's Cheesecakes in NC. Its a home business bakery. Just want to get ideas on how to expand or grow my business or is it even a good idea to try to expand a food type business. I do have an amazing cheesecake, as l have been told. But in my situation, it cant go anywhere, even though l have a good customer base, its only local. So l just need information on how grow it, or is it a waste of time.
Thank You
 

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Hello,
Im Eric from Eric's Cheesecakes in NC. Its a home business bakery. Just want to get ideas on how to expand or grow my business or is it even a good idea to try to expand a food type business. I do have an amazing cheesecake, as l have been told. But in my situation, it cant go anywhere, even though l have a good customer base, its only local. So l just need information on how grow it, or is it a waste of time.
Thank You
Welcome Eric.

If your product constitutes a productocracy, I'd say "Yes" it would be worth it to scale and expand.

Core obstacles in this objective would be:

A) Branding -- My gut tells me you would have to target the gift category as a primary market and go upscale with premium pricing.
B) Cold shipping -- the primary obstacle in expanding. How does Omaha steaks do it? How do other consumable products do it?

Again, this assumes a productocracy exists.
 
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Ericito

Ericito

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Welcome Eric.

If your product constitutes a productocracy, I'd say "Yes" it would be worth it to scale and expand.

Core obstacles in this objective would be:

A) Branding -- My gut tells me you would have to target the gift category as a primary market and go upscale with premium pricing.
B) Cold shipping -- the primary obstacle in expanding. How does Omaha steaks do it? How do other consumable products do it?
Thank you for your response.
Again, this assumes a productocracy exists.
I had to Google that word productocracy before l could reply. My only problem is being a home bakery in NC is the worst for my product, due to DPA regulations, makes it hard for small businesses, and worse for home kitchens. If you dont have a brick and mortar, then its impossible to bake and freeze cheesecakes. When you are small as me, banks turn their noses. So l am at a catch 22 situation, with a good product. There is a story behind it too.
 
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Philip Marlowe

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Are you asking US if it's a waste of time? You're the cheesecake expert. Have you done any research?

This took 30 seconds: Locate your competition. You can buy cheesecakes on Amazon shipped to your house (Read the reviews and Q&A - lots of helpful hints for you), for example: "Yes. We ask that someone be available at the delivery location to accept the package at the time of delivery. This cheese cake ships frozen in a cooler with dry ice to ensure it arrives in good condition. " (To MJ's point - just like Omaha Steaks)

Question is, can you differentiate yourself and is there a market for high end cheesecake (when a Sara Lee frozen cake is $5). I'd imagine you'd first need to establish some kind of a following, get on a show or something. If your cakes are "pretty" then a place like Pinterest might be great for you.

I think about 20 minutes on Google reviewing your competition on Amazon, Jet, etc will tell you what you need to know...
 
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Ericito

Ericito

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Are you asking US if it's a waste of time? You're the cheesecake expert. Have you done any research?

This took 30 seconds: Locate your competition. You can buy cheesecakes on Amazon shipped to your house (Read the reviews and Q&A - lots of helpful hints for you), for example: "Yes. We ask that someone be available at the delivery location to accept the package at the time of delivery. This cheese cake ships frozen in a cooler with dry ice to ensure it arrives in good condition. " (To MJ's point - just like Omaha Steaks)

Question is, can you differentiate yourself and is there a market for high end cheesecake (when a Sara Lee frozen cake is $5). I'd imagine you'd first need to establish some kind of a following, get on a show or something. If your cakes are "pretty" then a place like Pinterest might be great for you.

I think about 20 minutes on Google reviewing your competition on Amazon, Jet, etc will tell you what you need to know...
Thank you for that great information. I have done my homework. I have researched shipping cost, supplies, dry ice, l even found one of those special made boxes that had the compartment for dry ice. However being a small unknown home bakery business....cost was high for ice and boxes, shipping was high and storage was not available. I know all the needs, but l dont have the backing or space to make it happen as my not so competitors.
I know all my competition. Actually im not competition, because they are already fully equipped and have brick and mortar establishments.
The good question is do people want to pay for quality if they have Sara Lee? Maybe a small portion. I saw a video about Juniors Cheesecakes in NYC, which is where l am from, how they mas produce. Mostly machines to do everything now, when they started as a hand/home made product. Maybe l would become that too, for mas production.

As far as what l have, here is my website and you can judge for yourselves.
I hope this is ok to post. www.ericscheesecakes.com
Let me know what you think.
Thanks again for the support.
 
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Ericito

Ericito

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Welcome to the forum!

What about franchising, or selling to business directly.

We have a local brewery here that has a STRONG following and they are fully stocked at the grocery stores. They have beers that grocery stores get and are gone within a day.
Im not big enough to franchise. I am no where near that.
There is a local Brewery in my town. My only demon is the DPA and regulations that prevents me from being able to sell there.
I actually made a cheesecake from one of the Ales from that brewery. Coffee/Oatmeal....Big hit but no deal.
Yes there is so much opportunity for brick and mortar, but not home bakery in NC. Any other state, we would not be having this forum dscussion. I have definitely tried.
 

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Im not big enough to franchise. I am no where near that.
There is a local Brewery in my town. My only demon is the DPA and regulations that prevents me from being able to sell there.
I actually made a cheesecake from one of the Ales from that brewery. Coffee/Oatmeal....Big hit but no deal.
Yes there is so much opportunity for brick and mortar, but not home bakery in NC. Any other state, we would not be having this forum dscussion. I have definitely tried.
The first thing you need to do is get out of your kitchen. I don't know what cottage food laws are like in NC, but in Florida, the minute you make more than $10,000 per year, home made is a no go.

Start looking into commercial kitchen rentals. We have a bunch near me, where you pay hourly or daily. They have the facilities to bake and freeze, plus all inspections necessary for a legal food facility.

Once you've got that, then you can start expanding.

You need to do what every food brand does when they start.

HUSTLE

Get a booth at every farmers market in your area. Sample them and sell them there. Go into every local grocery story and find someone to stock them in their freezer section. Grind out every sale until you have the capital and the brand to scale.

Your brewery partnership thing, beer cheesecake, that right there is your USP. Make more stuff like that and you'll be selling cheesecakes left and right.
 

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I had to Google that word productocracy before l could reply. My only problem is being a home bakery in NC is the worst for my product, due to DPA regulations, makes it hard for small businesses, and worse for home kitchens. If you dont have a brick and mortar, then its impossible to bake and freeze cheesecakes. When you are small as me, banks turn their noses. So l am at a catch 22 situation, with a good product. There is a story behind it too.
Make sure you read @MJ DeMarco's new book, "Unscripted"
 

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Any chance you could get in to a few local restaurants (with your name on the menu)? Possibly even selling at a deep discount? Might be a way to become known and generate a following.

There are tons of things I never even thought I'd pay for 10 years ago (Satellite radio, bottled water) so I'm sure you can create a market for high-end cheesecake if you work hard enough.
 

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The first thing you need to do is get out of your kitchen. I don't know what cottage food laws are like in NC, but in Florida, the minute you make more than $10,000 per year, home made is a no go.

Start looking into commercial kitchen rentals. We have a bunch near me, where you pay hourly or daily. They have the facilities to bake and freeze, plus all inspections necessary for a legal food facility.

Once you've got that, then you can start expanding.

You need to do what every food brand does when they start.

HUSTLE

Get a booth at every farmers market in your area. Sample them and sell them there. Go into every local grocery story and find someone to stock them in their freezer section. Grind out every sale until you have the capital and the brand to scale.

Your brewery partnership thing, beer cheesecake, that right there is your USP. Make more stuff like that and you'll be selling cheesecakes left and right.
I actually work part time for two guys who own a kitchen they rent in Florida. Small world!
 

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I actually work part time for two guys who own a kitchen they rent in Florida. Small world!
It's not a bad business to own. It's also a great deal for food startups trying to get out of their home kitchen and go legit.
 

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The good question is do people want to pay for quality if they have Sara Lee?
Absolutely. It's why we pay more for a starbucks mocha than one from McDonald's, more for a Five-Guys burgers than one from Burger King, more for a pint of haagen dazs ice cream than a whole gallon of Kroger-brand.

But with all of these cases, the premium product really IS that much better. If your cheesecakes are truly that much better than Sara Lee, then there's probably a market for them. But your customers won't be selecting yours on price. They'll be selecting it for quality and eventually maybe even name-recognition.

Side note: My son did a band fundraiser where they sold frozen cheesecakes. While looking at the catalog, I thought the cheesecakes were kind of pricey, but bought a few anyway to support his band. And OMG, the cheesecakes were SO good that I thought, "I need to get these again!" But I swear, I can't find a place to buy them online, and my son is graduating from that school, which means I'll now need to stalk his younger bandmates to get my cheesecake fix. All this to say, a wonderful product can get even budget-conscious people hooked.
 

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I had to Google that word productocracy before l could reply.
You might not find anything as it is a new term in my book UNSCRIPTED.

Productocracy: A valued product/service that pulls versus pushes due to a differentiated and superior value proposition. As such, the product is so good the company grows by virtue of word of mouth, recommendations, and shares. 1+1 = 3. Advertising for a productocracy is an accelerant whereas in a non-productocracy advertising is the fire. A productocracy grows even if it doesn't advertise.

The true test of a productocracy is the existence of gravitons -- instances of customers going outside of normal consumer behavior with respect to your product. "I just drove an hour to buy 1 of your cheesecakes." "OMG, just had the best cheesecake EVER!" <-- posted on instagram, etc.
 

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I'd do some research on the Netherlands, Germany, advertising, branding, etc. Since I've been in Europe, I have to say they're food is just the best tasting stuff. Frozen or fresh, it does taste better than american stuff. I am spoiled with pies here. I've bee making cheese cakes myself lately, and just picked some fresh wild black berries, mixed it with some sour cream, whip cream, and cheese. Made a different one two weeks ago with cherries. Well those were American Recipes. I keep trying to show we do know how to make good stuff in America too.

Hope you have a great adventure. Think big! Think of the possibilities. My grandmother's favorite. She always bought one of these for our birthday's. lol
Bill Knapps&#174 - GOOD things to EAT. :: Our Products
Even in my local town, everyone knows to go Russ' Restaurant for pies. If you can even do it on consignment with some restaurants, I'm sure it would help you some get your name out there. You never know, you may become a legend in your town. The guy that does this show called Under the Radar Michigan on You Tube, is kind of geeky himself, but he goes around and talks to business owners in small towns in Michigan, and I find it gives me some ideas about stuff as an Entrepreneur. There's a bunch of episodes on different business owners.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnFof7OtTLw
 

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I'm in Cary, NC. I'll buy one of your cheese cakes.
 
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Ericito

Ericito

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The first thing you need to do is get out of your kitchen. I don't know what cottage food laws are like in NC, but in Florida, the minute you make more than $10,000 per year, home made is a no go.

Start looking into commercial kitchen rentals. We have a bunch near me, where you pay hourly or daily. They have the facilities to bake and freeze, plus all inspections necessary for a legal food facility.

Once you've got that, then you can start expanding.

You need to do what every food brand does when they start.

HUSTLE

Get a booth at every farmers market in your area. Sample them and sell them there. Go into every local grocery story and find someone to stock them in their freezer section. Grind out every sale until you have the capital and the brand to scale.

Your brewery partnership thing, beer cheesecake, that right there is your USP. Make more stuff like that and you'll be selling cheesecakes left and right.
Thank you for your response. I probably need to clarify some things, l should have earlier. My home kitchen used to be my garage. I converted it into a bakery. It has pretty much all the bells a whistles as a commercial kitchen, except it has a regular home oven, refrigerator a freezer chest and a stand up freezer. Of course not the commercial ventilation as a commercial kitchen, but a little updated home version, l created myself that vents. I have a 20 qt Hobart commercial mixer and several 5 and 6 qt Kitchenaids. However even though it has a separate outside entrance, it is still attached to my home. So DPA regulations follow. Im not good enough to qualify. They dont care or respond to inquiries. Typical.

Getting out of the home, is not an option at this time because of finances. Even though the business pays for itself, it is not enough to fund a brick and mortar. Banks are out, because im no big enough t peek their interests. Any commercial or former commercial kitchens are asking insane rental fees, which make it impossible for me to even get started. There are no community kitchens available and no bakery owners are interested in sharing their kitchens. Im sure its an insurance thing, and possible competition. Even though it could benefit them since they have no cheesecakes.

Farmers Markets, street hustling, supermarkets and breweries...etc, are all on the same page, because of the regulations, not by choice, but by law. I have taken cheesecakes to NYC and sold out in 1 day. The problem was l needed more and could not transport but so many.
I have a great customer base in NYC, NC, SC and Florida. Even reaching as far as Greece, and tasted and loved by visitors from Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Also tasted and commented as "A Game Changer" by the staff of Shark Tanks Daymond John, who personally does not eat cheesecake, and not interested. (Bummer) I am internationally known, but locally distributed. But im not at that level or able to expand beyond where l am at based on the situation.

Speaking of Florida....I heard that in Bradenton Fl, a bakery was about to go out of business because everyone is buying cakes and breads from Publix. He got the idea to just focus on only cheesecakes, and now his business is booming beyond expectation. Florida would be ideal, but not possible for me.

There are so many suggestions presented and l totally appreciate them very much. Some how, some way l need to figure it out or give up. Giving up is not an option, but it has sure poked at me a bit.

I will just give a portion of my story....
A few decades ago, l was a young pastry cook/lead baker at Host Marriott Corp in NYC. I was really gifted and talented. I reinvented a NY Style cheesecake and made it my own. They wanted my recipe and made me an pretty good offer and HQ in DC. Along with giving up my cheesecake. Being young and unadvised, l declined the offer, eventually leaving the industry. Fast forwarding to the present....Marriott now owns or partially owns Cheesecake Factory. Basically they got their cheesecake. Just not mines.
Did l make a mistake, or was it a smart move? Maybe or Maybe not. Well l still have a great cheesecake, but where am l as far a that cheesecake? That is the question l always ask myself decades later. You be the judge.

This is where l stand now.
Thank you for listening.
 
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Ericito

Ericito

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I'd do some research on the Netherlands, Germany, advertising, branding, etc. Since I've been in Europe, I have to say they're food is just the best tasting stuff. Frozen or fresh, it does taste better than american stuff. I am spoiled with pies here. I've bee making cheese cakes myself lately, and just picked some fresh wild black berries, mixed it with some sour cream, whip cream, and cheese. Made a different one two weeks ago with cherries. Well those were American Recipes. I keep trying to show we do know how to make good stuff in America too.

Hope you have a great adventure. Think big! Think of the possibilities. My grandmother's favorite. She always bought one of these for our birthday's. lol
Bill Knapps&#174 - GOOD things to EAT. :: Our Products
Even in my local town, everyone knows to go Russ' Restaurant for pies. If you can even do it on consignment with some restaurants, I'm sure it would help you some get your name out there. You never know, you may become a legend in your town. The guy that does this show called Under the Radar Michigan on You Tube, is kind of geeky himself, but he goes around and talks to business owners in small towns in Michigan, and I find it gives me some ideas about stuff as an Entrepreneur. There's a bunch of episodes on different business owners.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnFof7OtTLw
Thank you. I will definitely review it and more research homework too.
 

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Ericito

Ericito

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Absolutely. It's why we pay more for a starbucks mocha than one from McDonald's, more for a Five-Guys burgers than one from Burger King, more for a pint of haagen dazs ice cream than a whole gallon of Kroger-brand.

But with all of these cases, the premium product really IS that much better. If your cheesecakes are truly that much better than Sara Lee, then there's probably a market for them. But your customers won't be selecting yours on price. They'll be selecting it for quality and eventually maybe even name-recognition.

Side note: My son did a band fundraiser where they sold frozen cheesecakes. While looking at the catalog, I thought the cheesecakes were kind of pricey, but bought a few anyway to support his band. And OMG, the cheesecakes were SO good that I thought, "I need to get these again!" But I swear, I can't find a place to buy them online, and my son is graduating from that school, which means I'll now need to stalk his younger bandmates to get my cheesecake fix. All this to say, a wonderful product can get even budget-conscious people hooked.
Thanks so much for that encouragement. I have been told that l charge to little for my cakes. But its North Carolina and people dont want to pay much....But we do have many Starbucks, Haagen Daz and Five Guys here, and they are slammed. Go figure.
Have you seen my website. Let me know whey you think...www.ericscheesecakes.com
 
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Ericito

Ericito

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Any chance you could get in to a few local restaurants (with your name on the menu)? Possibly even selling at a deep discount? Might be a way to become known and generate a following.

There are tons of things I never even thought I'd pay for 10 years ago (Satellite radio, bottled water) so I'm sure you can create a market for high-end cheesecake if you work hard enough.
I tried that even before the DPA (Department of Agriculture) changed the laws. I was selling in a brand new restaurant. They did not want to use my name, they only wanted 1 kind (I have 10), and they used canned strawberries as a topping. I made all my flavors. Then they dropped me to go cheaper. Customers complained about the cheaper quality, and they asked me to come back but at below cost, but they would make a killing, though they were before. So l declined.
Thanks for the suggestions.
 

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The good question is do people want to pay for quality if they have Sara Lee?
Hey Eric - Welcome to the Forum.

Well, based on your question, what you have to differentiate is the ideal customer for a Sara Lee cheesecake vs the ideal customer for a premium cheesecake. Sometimes some people actually want to pay for a rich, creamy, enticing slice of cheesecake, we know that box cakes won't exactly cut it. I saw MJ mentioned above that there are two options, once a productocracy can be built around your product, and I'll quote:
A) Branding -- My gut tells me you would have to target the gift category as a primary market and go upscale with premium pricing.
Don't become scared by, "Oh my gosh, Sara Lee is so cheap and yet so successful," which would lead you to think how you can 'cheapen' your process to beat Sara Lee. What are the common issues people have with cheesecakes? Is it that it's too bland? Is it that it's made with cheap ingredients? What exactly are the underlying issues of cheesecakes in general (then, compare it to the general issues people have where your ideal customer is located) and there, you'd find the option to build a productocracy around your cheesecake, thus branding it and targeting the option MJ mentioned above.

The bottomline is, once there is a productocracy circulating your cheesecakes, it's a matter of you taking the time to look at existing problems in the industry, and utilise such as the basis to build your value, which would allow you to differentiate, and even bypass other seasoned businesses in the industry.
 
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@Ericito
Are cheesecakes popular in your area?

Find a new location with heavy foot traffic, easily accessible, located on a corner location, and positioned on the north or south side of town, depending on where the traffic is greater.

Be mindful of any large factories, plants, and community institutions, or colleges in the area. These are all prime for wholesale delivery and can warrant implementation of new products or desserts.

Then market the grand opening of your new location with advertising. Make sure to have a good brand.

You can market your cheesescakes by organizing a charity event where you donate a small percentage of sales to a local community charity, sponsoring a charity event by providing cheesecakes, give away free cheesecakes to churches, ministries, the legions, hotels, motels, fire department, and homeless shelters... etc.

I would focus on securing daily contractual cheesecake wholesale accounts, this will allow you to grow the business instead of working the business. If you acquire 15-20 daily accounts, you can hire a cheesecake maker and assistant, essentially freeing you and allowing you to focus on growing the business.

Focus on acquiring accounts from hotels, motels, large plants, factories, and colleges.
 
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Iammelissamoore

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I'm also reading your 'Our Story' - has a lot of "I", "Me" connotations, which can, to a point, immediately tell the customer it's really all about you and not necessarily about them; at the part where you have - and I quote:

"I hope you’ll take a moment to try one." - this is like if you are begging me (the customer) to give you my money. In expressing confidence and giving your customer your word that this is the best cheesecake they will have, it simply leaves them to try it, just to see if they can prove such or if they can prove you wrong. Then with that one try, which is what you want, they'll recognise for themselves that you are true to your word and possibly become a regular, if not also recommend to others.
 
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Ericito

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I'm also reading your 'Our Story' - has a lot of "I", "Me" connotations, which can, to a point, immediately tell the customer it's really all about you and not necessarily about them; at the part where you have - and I quote:

"I hope you’ll take a moment to try one." - this is like if you are begging me (the customer) to give you my money. In expressing confidence and giving your customer your word that this is the best cheesecake they will have, it simply leaves them to try it, just to see if they can prove such or if they can prove you wrong. Then with that one try, which is what you want, they'll recognise for themselves that you are true to your word and possibly become a regular, if not also recommend to others.
Wow....Thank you for that suggestion. I will restructure it right away. Never thought of that way. I guess thats why we have forums like this. Thanks again
 
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Ericito

Ericito

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@Ericito
Are cheesecakes popular in your area?

Find a new location with heavy foot traffic, easily accessible, located on a corner location, and positioned on the north or south side of town, depending on where the traffic is greater.

Be mindful of any large factories, plants, and community institutions, or colleges in the area. These are all prime for wholesale delivery and can warrant implementation of new products or desserts.

Then market the grand opening of your new location with advertising. Make sure to have a good brand.

You can market your cheesescakes by organizing a charity event where you donate a small percentage of sales to a local community charity, sponsoring a charity event by providing cheesecakes, give away free cheesecakes to churches, ministries, the legions, hotels, motels, fire department, and homeless shelters... etc.

I would focus on securing daily contractual cheesecake wholesale accounts, this will allow you to grow the business instead of working the business. If you acquire 15-20 daily accounts, you can hire a cheesecake maker and assistant, essentially freeing you and allowing you to focus on growing the business.

Focus on acquiring accounts from hotels, motels, large plants, factories, and colleges.
Location is a great suggestion to get out to the home. But thats where funding comes into play. Im not there yet, and not sure if that will happen. I still never give up trying.
Thank you
 

Iammelissamoore

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Wow....Thank you for that suggestion. I will restructure it right away. Never thought of that way. I guess thats why we have forums like this. Thanks again
Lol, you're welcome. You can also do a search for 'writing impactful about me' pages or something similar to such. In writing the 'our story/about me, while it should give information about the drive to create whatever product or service, the bottomline is the drive should be based on your solution that you are bringing to the market. You know how in both TMF and Unscripted, MJ speaks about the importance of bringing value to the customer - your story should speak about the value you are bringing your customer via your cheesecakes.

With all the algorithms and seo where web-services/web-products are concerned, we're learning that there is a science in making everything effective. Maybe you can check out online copywriting courses which will assist you with sales-writing or, you can work with a copywriter (there are a great few who are active on the forum) to word it properly so it helps deliver your message while making the customer recognise from the get-go, your work encircles their happiness which may help convert to sales.
 

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