This is Colette Coffeman with Colette's Catering and Specialty Cakes, a business that I've owned for the past eight years. We have made some mistakes yet had a lot of successes in business. My biggest mistakes have been not being a good manager of my employees and also not having long-term business plans and goals. The communication shortcomings between myself and my staff has been my major problem.
You definitely need to have a good marketing plan and a good business plan and have some long-range goals and definitely good communication with your employees.
You need to have very, very high attention to details in all sorts of business details and really make sure that your customers know that they will be taken care of. Although I don't do too well with my employees, I take excellent care of my customers. We have had a lot of successes. It is very important to make sure that you do exactly what you say you are going to do. Don't ever just not do something or not do what you promise.
Although we don't communicate too well with our staff, we are very flexible and we work together with their schedules and that makes it a good, fun place to work.
Another mistake that some people make, especially in the catering business, is to accept jobs that will make them look bad. You always want to make sure that you don't accept a job, be it a charity event or something where you're going in front of hundreds and hundreds of people, and not being able to do your best work. If it can't be profitable, make sure that you don't go out and show yourself off in a bad light.