Balboa Capital recently invited business owners to participate in an essay-writing contest. The concept was to write a short essay on what it takes to become a successful small business, and include real-world tips and information. The response to our first-ever Small Business Success Contest was overwhelming. Balboa Capital received hundreds of well-written essays, which made choosing a clear-cut winner very difficult. That being said, we felt the overall message of Kayisha Thompson’s essay was excellent, so hers took top honors. We wish her business, Pink Princess Pastry, LLC continued success. Below is Kayisha’s essay.

A sweet beginning

My interest in the art of cake decorating peaked in 2008 after relocating to the south. I took a few cake decorating courses between 2008 and 2011 at various places, including the Viking Cooking School in Atlanta, Georgia. I reached out to Legalzoom.com to register a business name. While completing some recreational courses, I began posting pictures on my Facebook page. A well-known Florida-based jewelry seller (an entrepreneur herself) recommended that I start a Facebook business page and have a professional logo created by a graphic designer.

Perfecting the craft

I researched licensing information and registered as an event planning company since I was baking on a small scale. (My kitchen didn’t meet cottage requirement laws.) Simultaneously, after completing my third Wilton Method course, my instructor announced openings and encouraged me to apply. I applied to teach cake decorating and was approved. Having the opportunity to teach cake decorating really strengthened my skills. I used my Facebook business page to post the cake decorating courses that I was teaching at a local JoAnn’s store. To date, I’ve taught well over 150 students of all ages – from kids to adults. I became a Wilton Method Instructor and was able to enjoy a number of great benefits, including complimentary supplies and discounts on products from their catalog.

Taking it to the next level

I knew there was a lot to learn about the cake decorating business, so I purchased a “How to Become a Cake Decorator” guide which provided me with an abundance of helpful tips and information. Then, someone told me about an organization called Women Intelligently Networking that was having a boot camp event. I registered as a vendor and supplied complimentary cake and cheesecake. From that event, I realized the power of business networking and went on to do several interviews. I did one radio interview with Tamara Eckles of “Jem of the South.” Ms. Eckles’ motto is “searching for something sweet,” and her show is geared towards bakers, cake decorators, ice cream makers, sugar artisans, etc.

Create buzz

Learn to create your own buzz! I’ve auditioned for Food Network and TLC shows. I even made it to round three for one show. Although I wasn’t picked, I wrote a blog post about it. I give back to the community by offering complimentary cupcakes or gift certificates to reputable non-profit organizations. This is tax-deductible and allows you to obtain new leads. On a weekly or monthly basis, you should write blog posts and send newsletters. Depending on your ultimate goal, you may want to consider creating YouTube videos. It is best to do some research and find out if it’s a smart move. I’ve seen some videos that aren’t career worthy. I hope you enjoyed my small business success essay, and have a wonderful day.

– Kayisha Thompson