When you run a home-based business you're in control of your schedule, which can be good or bad. You're responsible for finding all of your business, and you're the one who has to decide how much of that business to book. It can be feast or famine, but you have to decide when you're going to say no.
(On a side note, here's a blog post from someone who decideed to stop doing cakes. The list of things she traded will point out what saying no can get in return. http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/2013/08/good-trade-memoir-of-ex-wedding-cake.html)
At the beginning of each year I try to set an annual income goal for myself. That will give me parameters for how much income I need per week, and that will then set the limits for how many cakes I need to book.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that if you set your goal too high you might need to raise your prices, or else you'll be killing yourself trying to make that high amount. A few years ago I was taking on way too much and I ended up pretty much crippled by the end of the weekend. I was working myself way too hard and I ended up spending a lot of my profits at the physical therapist, which defeats the purpose of earning the money. So if you set your goal high, you might need to increase your pricing to avoid physical burnout.
This past year I decided to concentrate on my Etsy shop more, and to reduce the number of cakes that I did to a firm number per week. No more taking "just one more" and overworking myself. I set a goal for my Etsy numbers and decided that if I ended up earning less, then big deal, at least I'd be able to stand up without limping at the end of the week. The end result was that Etsy took the slack from the reduced cake income, and I've enjoyed myself this year instead of being frazzled from April through October. I'm adding another online venue for next year with my Zibbet shop, too.
Limiting the number of cakes that you do is important both physically and mentally. Nothing will make you hate doing cakes more than overworking yourself. Deciding how to limit the number, though, is what seems to give people trouble.
One way to do it is to set a number of servings that you'll do per week, and when the cakes come to that amount, you stop booking. That tends to be a good way to go if you do a lot of the same types of cakes. But if you do a lot of different styles you might want to go with a cash-based system.
I find that setting a dollar amount per week works better for me. That's because wedding cakes tend to be all over the place design-wise, so two cakes that both serve 100 might be substantially different in price. If I have one cake that costs $1000 I know that it's going to be a lot of work for whatever reason, whether size or design. If I've set a dollar goal for myself then I can stop when I get to that amount and not overwork myself. A serving count goal might end up being difficult from a time-management standpoint.
Next year I'm going to do a combination of setting a monetary goal and limiting the number of cakes per week that I do. I have no desire to overwork myself, but I still want to get to my goal. Between the cakes and my online sales I should be able to do that without too much effort.
How do you limit the number of cakes that you do, or do you limit it? Have you even thought about this as an issue, or do you take whatever business that comes your way?
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com