Did you work late at night within the last week?
Do you have any idea what your life could be like, if you get out of your own way?
Kristina Romasco has been passionate about sweets and teaching for her entire life and is the head coach of The Baking Entrepreneur, a company devoted to helping bakers realize their profit potential through no-nonsense business advice. She is going to give us the “truth” on what it will take to regain the passion for your business.
In this interview we discuss:
*There is no glory in working nights so it is a good idea to get help
*The significant shift in her business when she finally documented her procedures
*The hidden “gems” when you empower your employees to care about your business
We hope this episode helps you learn from this successful business owner how to cut through the noise of your business and realize that your people can do that “task” better than you.
Josh Fonger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Work the System podcast, where we help entrepreneurs make more and work less using systems. And I’m your host, Josh Fonger. And today we have a special guest. We have Kristina Romasco. Kristina is the principal cake designer and owner of Dolcezza, Dolcezza Custom Cakes, a boutique cake shop in downtown Brampton. Where she designs and creates works of edible art for discerning clients. Kristina is also the head coach of the Baking Entrepreneur, a company devoted to helping bakers realize their profit potential through a no nonsense business advice. All right, Kristina, I’m looking forward to having you on today’s show.
Kristina Romasco: [00:00:39] Thank you very much Josh.
Josh Fonger: [00:00:40] Looks like all of our technology is working good here. So let’s start off. Let’s start up by giving your your story. How did you get into becoming the baking entrepreneur and also to start your custom cake shop?
Kristina Romasco: [00:00:51] Well, it started when I really wanted a cake for my daughter’s first birthday and I was looking through and this was just about the time it was before YouTube, before Facebook for any real social media. And there was TV shows that have just started to come on TV. About, you know, Cake Boss and all those types of things. And I got all I want that. I want that. So I went to my local cake shop and I said, OK, this is what I want. And she looked at me and like, yeah, no, no, we can’t do that. And I went, and this happened like three or four times. You know, you can have a round cake with a pink trend and we’ll put her name on it. That’s all that was available. I said, no, you know what? I can do this myself. So I went to the library. I took out books like you do. Turns out I wasn’t as good as I thought. If I could show you a picture of that first birthday cake that I did right now, it was slanted and the ice was dripping off the side and it was looking back at it now, like, I still get, you know, heart complications. So crazy. But at the time, I thought. Wow. First of all, like. If I tried so, I decided then that I would go back to school and learn actually how to make this or how to do these things, how to make cake. So I took a very simple course just to, you know, what my appetite. See if I really did like it. And then I said, OK. Do I mean, I’m good at it. And I’m really good at it. But do I want to do this for a living? So I took a job in that same bakery that I went to that first time to ask for the cake. And they didn’t recognize me because I had caused kind of a big stink about them not being able to do it. So luckily they didn’t recognize me, but they gave me the job and I said, I’ll work for six months and if I like it, then I’ll pursue it further. I ended up staying there for about 13 months. And then I went back to school again and I got my master cake decorated certificate and I built my business slowly from there, so it was my daughter’s first birthday. By the time she was 2, I had started my little tiny business at home, but I still had two kids under three at the house. So I was building my business very, very slowly to accommodate the fact that I had two small young children. When they started school, then I ramped it up a little bit more and then they were a little more independent. I got a little further ahead, so I opened up a little shop that renting some space from a caterer. And then I took it a step further and I went retail. And that was about seven years ago.
Josh Fonger: [00:03:32] Wow. OK. So this is quite a long journey. But I think the one thing I like about this is that you pick something that you loved and so you, and you found a problem, found a problem, in something love. And then you just pursued it over the long term. I think I’ll want to make money quickly. Kind of miss out on that on that journey. So what what did you learn during these transition years from going to doing it from your house to doing it in a retail location where you are now with actual employees? What were some of the transition points?
Kristina Romasco: [00:04:06] Well, I bootstrapped the whole thing, so there was that I never went to the bank to; which I did go to the bank and they asked the first question they asked was, does your husband know you’re here? And I said, you know what? Thanks very much. I’ll find a different way. So it was learning to navigate those types of waters as well. You know, having two children in tow and building a business, having to meet with clients. But also just trying to gauge time, how much time do I actually have I became a master at time management because it has to be so trying to reconcile all of those things until one while still maintaining a home life and running a business.
Josh Fonger: [00:04:51] So there are some secrets to the time management that you learned? I’m kind of curious about any, did batch your time? You did have a split schedule with your husband?l What would you do?
Kristina Romasco: [00:05:02] There was a lot of time batching involved when they were little, when the kids were little. It was a lot of working at night. And there’s no glory in that. Absolutely not. But right now, it’s more of working backwards from your deadlines. So knowing that you have firm deadlines that you can’t afford to, you can’t you can’t, you know, postpone a wedding. You can’t postpone when somebody is going to pick up their cake. So you have to work back and you have to work with the medium that you’re given. So you can’t you can’t make a cake, ice it, decorate it and do it all within two hours. Technically, it all works, but there’s a lot of waiting time in between. So if you don’t have those twelve hours of the first step, 18 hours of the second step, six hours, it’s a third step and you’re going to miss out on something and quality is going to be affected. So the first thing I talk about, even with my coaching clients or with my students is learn to love your calendar, block it all out, and you have to find the right space and the right time and the right place to do those things.
Josh Fonger: [00:06:01] Yeah, I think the other thing, which is a skill you’ve learned and you’ve mastered, is that the skill of never missing deadline and how that comes from working from the deadline backwards and then adding lag time in between each step so that no matter what, you’re going to hit your deadline. So that’s really a skill that entrepreneurs don’t, don’t have.
Kristina Romasco: [00:06:22] You always have to build in that time for this stuff that’s gonna go wrong. You can be as efficient as I’ll get out, but you have to build in the times just in case, because when you were organic materials, too, you never know what could happen. It could open up your eggs and they’re gone either bad or something. You have to build on that time to go back to the store, to the farm or get more eggs. Bring them in.
Josh Fonger: [00:06:44] Yeah, I think that probably is a good nugget of advice. I think a lot of entrepreneurs maybe should hold on to that. If you’re constantly feeling stressed, if you’re constantly feeling like you’re missing deadlines, you’re constantly feeling like you can’t you can’t tighten the screws any tighter in terms of efficiency. It might just be because you have not, you know, spaced out the work like you’ve done over several days and giving yourself room for the unknown to happen. And when you give yourself a little bit of room, the stress can go way down because you’re not strung so tight.
Kristina Romasco: [00:07:16] That’s right now where I have to work on what I have to work on is actually not giving myself so much space and trusting that my team can, you know, fill in the gaps when when they can’t. So if I think it takes twelve hours to make a certain product and they say we can do with six and have a lot of extra time. Sometimes I have an issue with letting that go. But, you know, I’ve learned so far to try and trust them to see how much time they actually need and how much time they can build in.
Josh Fonger: [00:07:45] Mm hmm. Let’s talk a little bit about Work the System, just because you’re currently one of the coaching clients. And, you know, we had a coaching session a few weeks ago and I said, hey, I wish you could join the podcast because you had an interesting story, you know, because you’re still early on the program where you actually made a big shift. You want to share a story about a shift in mindset and how that shifted with your team? What they’re able to do?
Kristina Romasco: [00:08:08] So a few weeks ago, what happened was I; my daughter actually got sick. She had appendicitis. And so that entailed a trip, hospital and surgery and her recovery and then a subsequent allergy that she developed because of the medication. So that kind of put me out of commission for, at least in work wise, for a good weeks, two to three weeks. And I was worried and I was still, you know, using my phone. And I was in contact with with my team at the shop. But I was I was worried. I was worried about what was going to happen. And, you know, I kept seeing orders being updated and, you know, things going out. I’m thinking, what’s going on there? They’re taking my orders. How can we do this? There’s not enough time. There’s not a space. Not enough, not enough. Not enough. When I came back, when everything was done and I mean over reviewing everything, because there are no major catastrophes, nothing happened. And actually to the opposite end of that, it was such a success. If I can say that with me not being there because they were able to use the guidelines that I had put in place before thanks to Work the System. But I had set it aside some guidelines is that all decisions need to be based on these documents that we did. And they followed them. And then we had the best two weeks we have ever had in the history of the company. And that was just so eye-opening to me to realize that maybe I’m a bottleneck in my own business. I need to let go once I’ve set out the way I want things to go, let them do it. And I have an issue with that because I’m kind of a control freak. I think most entrepreneurs are to some extent. That was an aha for me.
Josh Fonger: [00:09:49] Yeah, you are. You helped me on a presentation that I was doing recently. Specific to mindset. And I think hopefully after you get that is that you didn’t just let your team do whatever you had given them, a company strategy, a strategic objective. You had give them some principles, couple procedures, and you’re still you’re still there involved. But then something bad happens. And this this happens with any entrepreneur. You know, someone gets sick, someone passed away, you know, whatever. The fact that your company was able to do even better when you weren’t there is. Know, Sam Carpenter, you know, the author of Work the System behind me says the same thing. So that’s when he’s not their sales go up the most. I thought that was very fascinating.
Kristina Romasco: [00:10:32] No, for sure, and it’s not that I haven’t been through this type of situation before, so we tried, you know, like you said, that’s in the family. And as the you know, someone who organized this, things like that. That’s me and the family, too. I can just think of the loss of wives having to deal with, you know, organizing receptions, all that stuff and cake at the same time. And no one and no one helping me at that time or not trusting the people that I have to help me. So I’d end up, you know, family all during the day and then working another twelve hours at night trying to get orders out or do what has to be done, because again, you can’t you can’t change deadlines in my business and change them. So like I said at the beginning, there’s no glory in working nights because you haven’t either scheduled the time right. Or trusted the people that are working with.
Josh Fonger: [00:11:21] What have you. So what? I mean, obviously, the circumstances made you forced you to trust your team. But is there anything else that you put in place that made you feel like now you can trust your team?
Kristina Romasco: [00:11:33] Yeah. Like even just setting up procedures. We talk a lot about how they need to be done and sometimes I think, well, there’s just a general understanding that this is the way I like things done. That’s not the case. Writing them down and going through those things with the team has really, really shown me that nobody can actually read my mind. Who knew right? That nobody reads my mind. So like even just orders into our order system. How to answer the phone correctly? How da answer emails using punctuation, things like that. That’s all stuff that I’ve written down now and that I’ve seen change. So how people and letting people do that. It’s I think honestly, it’s just getting out of the way of what you. Sometimes we say, I want this, I want this, I want this. And then we stand in front of everybody and say this, But don’t do it yet because I don’t trust. You have to stop. We have to stop. We have to get out of the way and let it happen.
Josh Fonger: [00:12:32] Well, so what? What did your employees think when they started seeing you have documentation for how they should answer the phone or how they should do certain things? Are they were they rejecting it or did they think this is a good idea?
Kristina Romasco: [00:12:48] They loved it. I didn’t realize how many things I was just assuming. And when I showed them these documents, when I know for them, when we actually read to them line by line. You know, I thought, OK, this is silly. Everyone can read and, you know, just go to it is what I would normally have done. Then I’m like, no, let’s just read through it and we’ll talk about it after. And that’s exactly what we did. Did. Thank you. They were thanking me, which was not the case. That wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Oh, by them thanking me, saying thank you for letting us know, for telling us this, for having it written down. And I thought, well. Lets do it, lets start writing, writing, writing. Writing everything.
Josh Fonger: [00:13:28] That’s really cool. I think. I mean, I think it’s good for the audience to hear also. Employees staff are typically not entrepreneurs. They’re different mindset. So they actually they want clear direction, they want boundaries, they want rules. Whereas an entrepreneur kind of likes to have figured it out. Most people are not like that actually enjoy having that structure, that safety in that common environment where they know what to do. So that was interesting to to see that happen in your own business. Very cool.
Kristina Romasco: [00:14:00] Well, it’s also good for them. I think maybe we’re a little bit of a different feel than a lot of people because most of my or all of my employees right now are actually working to become entrepreneurs. And I know this. So I know there they have their own small little side business. And I’m happy to help them with that. When they see things like this, even if it’s just second, third, fourth hand, they’re actually gaining something. So then thing. Thank you. Yes. Now we know what we want. Now we know what you want in this business. But there also, I think taking it in and saying this is what we should adopt for when we get bigger. And I know that they’re building their own business and I’m cool with that. And the company’s advice and people through all of it with them thanking me so that they one day can also build their own business. That’s great. That’s fantastic.
Josh Fonger: [00:14:46] So what is that? What do you do in your. I don’t know much about this, that the baking entrepreneur is that. Tell us about how that company runs.
Kristina Romasco: [00:14:55] So that is the advice based and coaching based, so I have people from all over the world that are asking me questions, asking too, you know, how I pick my brain sessions, where are they? Well, they’re just starting out. And I only have 13 years experience. But for some who have six months experience, that’s wonderful. So they do want to hear about pitfalls, things that they’ve gone through specific. Like a lot of people have issues with pricing and people don’t value themselves as much as they should, especially women in any industry. They’ll tend to, you know, will start really, really low, just like you get the business. And that’s not how how you should start anything or any type of business, all by underpricing so much. A lot of it has to do with finding the right pricing, not schedule sorry, pricing setup for their own business. How works. And I know a lot of them. I don’t really understand the specific markets because they’re, you know, Africa or in the Caribbean or different places all over the world. So I’m not familiar with their markets, but. A lot of things are constant. Well,.
Josh Fonger: [00:16:05] That’s very cool. Well, the power of the Internet. So what about the what about your stress level now? So that we’re actually when. When did you first hear about Work the System and the book? Was it a few months ago or a few years ago or when you hear about it?
Kristina Romasco: [00:16:20] Well, actually, I’m part of an accountability group in Brampton. And so it’s all women, business owners. And we meet every week on a Monday morning. And one of the entrepreneurs in that group recommended work the system. Because I was talking about I need some way to systemized I need my employees to understand what I want. I don’t know, like it’s not structured enough. And I like structure. And when it’s just me, I’m very structured. But it’s not just me. So I need help. And to look at these ladies recommended the book to me, said, go online. It’s free the audio. Obviously, I did it audio because I’m driving a lot when I’m not in the shop. So I listen to the book and then. So that was probably February and I believe I’ve registered in March or April for the coaching.
Josh Fonger: [00:17:04] Ok. Cool, or that they worked out well. I’m always curious as to how people hear about it, because it’s usually like that. It’s usually through a friend, through a contact, through or something like that. Oh, very good. So how is your stress level change from me back then when you were looking for structure to now while you’re still in the middle of the coaching program? So I started to go up? Go down? How do you feel about the future?
Kristina Romasco: [00:17:29] Definitely go down. It has definitely gone down. I don’t feel the need that I need to be there 24/7 or every single working hour that we have. Even just being able to do this podcast today, I just told them, you know, a couple of days ago, by the way, I’m gonna be away for just a few hours. I might come in in the afternoon because I’m teaching tonight anyway. So, you know, if anything comes up, just send me a message. But before. Absolutely not. There’s all kinds of fires that you have to put out. There’s so many things that you have to do when so many things that I would have thought that I need to do, whereas setting it up so that other people can do this. And I just have to get over myself and trusting that that can happen. But I found a replacement for myself and she’s getting into that position. She’s working into it. So I’m OK. I’ve taken you know, I took four days off to go camping.
Josh Fonger: [00:18:24] Wow.
Kristina Romasco: [00:18:25] A lot for me,.
Josh Fonger: [00:18:27] That’s amazing. What you made the shift very quickly in your business. And as long as you have 100 employees to delegate to, just it’s just a very small team. Well, that’s great. So what does that mean for you, for the future? Is it going to change your future plans or what you want to do with business?
Kristina Romasco: [00:18:44] Yeah, absolutely. So last year, I was thinking I was just gonna sell the business. I was done then. It was too stressful. And if I get rid of it. I will. And I even listed it for sale. But, you know, there were some people that were interested, but they wanted to change it. We’re gonna try and do an ice cream shop and we’re gonna do that. And I thought, what? No, I felt that something so wonderful. I want you to take it over and keep making cakes. We have orders into twenty twenty. Those need to be done. Then, you know, I decided, no, let’s try it again. I joined this accountability group. I can I can figure it out and then work. The system came. And now I’m actually planning not even thinking or dreaming or wishing, but it will. It’s scalable. So it can get bigger in a very specific way, maybe not a fast way, but because I don’t have to be there to do everything. There’s so many more possibilities of where things could go. So the here’s looking very, very bright. I really. It’ll be just about to employ a lot more people in my city. Support the community.
Josh Fonger: [00:19:53] Very cool. That’s awesome. I’m excited to see what it’s gonna be like now, 10 years from now. Who knows? You could have, you know, four or five locations open and people you’re training entrepreneurs could have their own shops. That that’s just really cool. So before you sign up, what’s one piece of advice you’d give other entrepreneurs who are kind of in a similar spot maybe where you were a year ago? What advice would you give them to help them grow their business?
Kristina Romasco: [00:20:17] Sure. I would say develop your sense of trust. The first person you have to trust is yourself, of course. But the second is your customer trust that they know what they want. Job is only to guide them into something that either you have or where they can get what they need. It’s never your job just to sell, sell, sell, whatever you have. Your job is to guide them and hopefully they’ll choose you. Usually they do if you know what you’re talking about and then trust your employees and trust your team to make it happen the way you want it to happen. If you trusted yourself, that’s great.
Josh Fonger: [00:20:55] Good advice. If you don’t trust in that sequence, then you’re gonna be stuck in a nightmare. So we’re going to go find out more about you Kristina? If they want to look up more.
Kristina Romasco: [00:21:06] You can go to Dolcezza cakes dot com and Dolcezza, by the way, means sweetness in Italian and it D O L C E Z Z A cakes dot com or baking entrepreneur dot com.
Josh Fonger: [00:21:18] Okay. Well, Kristina, very good. Really enjoyed having you on and kind of hearing your story, so I don’t even know about. So I learned a few things and hopefully those listening to the podcast learned that you can make it as an entrepreneur if you start small, you can make a great progress just like Kristina did. And now that the sky’s limit, I know she’s got freed up from the day to day, which is very cool. And if you want a copy of the book, certainly and go to work, it isn’t. I can get it for free. Like Kristina did or download or didn’t get a physical copy right there behind me, signed by Sam Carpenter. All you do is leave us review at any of the places you’re watching this podcast or listening to it and send us a screenshot of that review to info at work the system dot com and we’ll be picking out one name a week. And mailing a copy out to you. All right. We’ll see you next week. Thanks, everybody.
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