Scaling a business isn’t easy. But the founders of Wicked Good Cupcakes were able to do it fairly successfully, thanks to a little help from Shark Tank and some good old fashioned business savvy.
Founders Tracey Noonan and Dani Vilagie recently spoke with Small Business Trends as part of our exclusive Smart Hustle Report. During the conversation, the mother-daughter team talked about scaling their business, which happened fairly quickly even though every major growth stage happened organically.
The business started simply because Noonan was looking for a way to spend more time with her youngest daughter. So they took a cake decorating class together, then began baking more from home.
Noonan said, “This was just totally a hobby. And family and friends started to order from us and that was great. But all of a sudden we started to have corporate clients, which was really strange. I’m still to this day not really sure how that happened.”
To hear the full interview with Wicked Good Cupcakes, check out the SoundCloud player here:
They eventually reached a point where their home kitchen wouldn’t support the volume of orders they were receiving. So they had to decide if they were going to scale back or really go for it. They got a small loan from Noonan’s husband and opened a new location.
From there, the growth happened fairly quickly. They got the idea to package their cupcakes in mason jars thanks to a TV show about canning. Then a photo of one of their cupcakes being confiscated by TSA went viral. And they eventually landed a spot on Shark Tank.
All of this contributed to the company’s growth. But they also learned some important lessons along the way. Here are some quick tips and insights from the founders:
How to Scale a Business
Designate Specific Roles
Especially for a family business, having each team member focus on a specific part of the business is essential for growth. For example, Noonan mainly focuses on product development, branding and social media while Dani manages two of the locations.
Noonan said, “The fact that we all have our strengths is really important because it gives us ownership of what we do. And if we were all working on the same thing, being family, I think, invariably, fighting would ensue.”
Stop Selling on Social Media
Social media can be a great way to get the word out about your business and scale. But you can’t hope to grow if you just constantly try to sell on those platforms. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever post about products or sales. But you shouldn’t ONLY post about those things at the expense of adding value for your followers.
Noonan said, “Give your customers something. Give them, for us, let’s say it’s a family business. So people are interested in what we do on our vacation. What we do in our day-to-day life. We post really stupid cupcake puns. We give people recipe tips. We interview people we think are interesting. We don’t always do the hard sell. People know who we are. They know we sell cupcake jars”
Have a Specific Plan and Execute It
When Wicked Good Cupcakes started, it was sort of a basic cupcake shop. But as the company grew and created a more innovative product that could be shipped around the country, the team had to shift its plan. No matter what type of business you run, the important thing is that you focus on one major direction and execute it properly.
Noonan says, “We grew 600 percent the year following Shark Tank, so that’s a little out of the norm. But at the end of the day, if you imagine what I’m telling you and just super-size it, it’s how we managed. You need to be able to execute and you need to have really good systems in place. And in order to do that, we had to really identify what type of business we were.”