Sheryl Thai – 'Melbourne’s Cupcake Queen' – is the Founder of Cupcake Central, which produces delicious cupcakes freshly baked every day.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
During my studies at RMIT, I developed an obsession for cupcakes when I flew over to New York and devoured my first 'real' cupcake from the world-famous Magnolia Bakery. After I finished my studies, I ventured out into the corporate world and landed my 'dream' job as an IT Consultant, but I quickly realised that it wasn’t for me. I was baking every other week for any occasion possible and kept imagining myself working in my own cupcake bakery one day. Then, one fateful day, the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hit in 2009, and I lost my job as the company went into bankruptcy. I was shocked, but it made me realise that I could finally take steps to follow my dream of Cupcake Central.
How did you get your business started?
I started Cupcake Central from home as I didn’t have the capital to set up a retail brick and mortar store straight away. Instead, I used my IT skills to create an online business with the assistance of a web developer friend. Within three months, I registered my home kitchen, registered as a sole trader with a business name, and launched my online business with less than $2000. I started selling at markets, and heavily relied on social media to get the name of my business out there.
What lessons have you learned so far on your business journey?
Seek advice from the right mentors – people that have had the experience achieving what you’re trying to achieve. Success leaves clues! Solve them, and you can have a business like Cupcake Central!
How important is it to have a business mentor?
Without the numerous mentors I’ve had over the years, I wouldn’t have had the fast growth I’ve experienced. We grew Cupcake Central to three stores in less than three years. We also have a huge team of 38 staff and now have a head office with lots of other ventures in the works. All of this would not have been possible if I worked as an "owner-operator" – I had to change my mindset to be a true entrepreneur. That is, constantly growing, pushing boundaries and innovating.
What are your top three tips for starting a business?
1. Don’t try to be perfect, doing something is better than doing nothing. If you’re just doing it for the money, the fuel that drives you will dwindle very quickly.
2. Find something that you really enjoy doing.
3. Learn from the success of other entrepreneurs that have done it. Everyone has opinions and advice but only ask those that have had experience achieving what you’re trying to achieve like I did with Cupcake Central.
Sheryl Thai is a graduate of the RMIT Bachelor of Business (Information Systems) 2006. She is willing to answer your questions about starting a new business.
Sheryl is also the co-founder of The League of Extraordinary Women, Australia's premier female entrepreneur community. Find Sheryl in the Members section.
"I had to change my mindset to being a true entrepreneur. That is, constantly growing, pushing boundaries and innovating." - Sheryl Thai - Founder, Cupcake Central - Delicious cupcakes freshly baked every day