But is it…cake?

Helen Tremethick
2 min readJan 3, 2023
Black text on a teal background reads, “Think of your business like cake.”

My great grandfather was a baker, a really good one. In fact, one of the first to really dive into sugar crafting. Sugar crafting uses a paste-like substance (sugar paste) to mold and form different shapes. My great grandfather then subsequently my grandmother were known for their complex and gorgeous sugar flower bouquets.

Helen’s great-grandparents stand next to a cake at her great-grandfather’s retirement. The cake is a hexagon, and each panel is sugar crafted and painted. On top of the cake is a bowl of roses, which are also made of sugar.

Growing up, I would visit my grandma (Granny) and we’d sit together for hours, sculpting roses, forget-me-nots, carnations and more into meticulous sprays for decoration, cake toppers, and gifts.

Even as Granny’s fingers started to bend and shake, she’d sit with me while I folded, pressed, and shaped.

There’s a lot that goes into cake decorating.
Over the holidays, my kid binge-watched multiple seasons of Nailed It.

There’s a strong business metaphor here but let’s bypass that:
• the contestants aren’t given the full recipe (ahem, the whole picture of what goes into these massively successful brands) and,
• they’re given an unreasonable amount of time to complete the tasks (oh, do I spot an overnight success trope?)

At the end of the show, it often comes down to what the cakes taste like. The judges of Nailed It put all sorts of garbage into their mouths but the winner is usually the person who has created the most delicious (if not so attractive) dessert.

Similar to sugar crafting, the pretty decorations may be covering nothing but styrofoam or some equally tasteless mess.

What your cake looks like is important but it isn’t the thing that will have your judges coming back for another bite.

So let’s bring this back around shall we?
Your business is your cake.

This is why I’m always on about your foundational elements. They’re your ingredients.

Your methodology is your flour; it’s the basis of everything you do.
Your clients are your sugar, the sweetness and delight.
Your services suite is your flavour; it’s the way you do what you do.
Your brand voice is your eggs; they hold everything together and make it make sense.
Your marketing is your baking powder; it makes it rise.

Skip any one of those ingredients and you get something that’s…not cake.

The decoration — well, that’s your palette, logo, website design, photos. Decoration is important because it attracts the right people, but you need to be sure that your people will keep coming back for more. Otherwise someone else is going home with that $10,000.

The entrepreneurial world is busy. It’s not enough to have a vague idea anymore. You’ve got to be sure.

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Helen Tremethick

Regenerative Business Designer + Coach. ❤️ Weirdos & Queerdos . Renegade . Kinda Nifty . Thinks writing third person bios is hilarious . helentremethick.com