Today we are introducing you to Debra, the small business owner of Bunni Beez, who sells delicious cinnamon buns that keep you coming back for more.
Debra makes her buns with brioche dough rather than the typical pastry that most cinnamon buns in Australia are made with. After making a name for herself and her buns among her friends and family, Debra’s daughter suggested that she should turn this cinnamon bun craft into a small business.
“I usually start by asking my business coach, Colin, if I cannot work out something on my own, because he knows where to look, and he knows the pitfalls you can face as a small business owner. He also wants me to succeed, a genuine advocate for your business who celebrates your achievements and helps me keep my momentum.”
Read what Debra has to say about her small business journey making cinnamon buns.
Bunni Beez bakes and sells Cinnamon Buns at markets around Perth expanding into rural locations soon. It is an American recipe that I have modified to produce the perfect bun, the icing is also my nans recipe with my own twist. My small businesses cinnamon buns are not like an Aussie Cinni Scroll made with a pastry. Our dough is similar to a brioche, its delicate and so moreish.
In October 2019, I embarked on the NEIS program, implementing the financial/business plan. Upon completion, I secured council Licences and set up my production area and launched my first market March 2020 in Rockingham. After two markets Perth was shut down because of COVID19, so I was unable to return to the markets until July.
I lived in the US for 30 years, I was a Senior Manager in both US and Australia with a focus on Warehouse Management and Operations. As a Senior Manager I worked in various industries, most recently the Safety Industry which heavily utilized my strong background in procedures and operations. My experiences over my working career have been key to manufacturing and distribution with Bunni Beez.
When I moved back to WA, I decided to take a break from the workforce for a while and spend time with family. In April, I made Cinnamon Buns for my daughter’s birthday and then I just kept receiving requests from family and friends for more and more of them. My daughter finally said to me – ‘Mum, why are you looking for work? Why don’t you go into business yourself?’ I thought well that’s not a bad idea, it’s about time for something new. I have made many people a lot of money over the years, so I thought I will give my own business a shot.
Working with Many Rivers
In the beginning, the first thing Colin did was to take the financial / business plan I had completed at NEIS. He provided a sanity check and gave me a second set of eyes. NEIS focused on the foundations of business where I found Many Rivers focused on outcomes. So to me, Many Rivers was the next step. Colin took the time to talk about growth, before he had even committed to helping me. He made sure I was devoted for the long-haul. I appreciated someone who was dedicated enough to want to make sure that if he’s investing time in me that I am serious about this business.
Marketing is an area I have had limited exposure. This is where Colin became an integral support to my business. With Colin’s support I have learned a lot and continue to do so every time we meet. I give him updates as unexpected milestones of achievement occur as well.
Colin has a broad spectrum of knowledge and he has some great contacts. Right now, he is helping me engage with lawyers to draft several documents at no cost. There is a wide variety of what he helps me with, its hard to put into the words the kind of support I get from him. I usually start with Colin if I cannot work out something on my own. Because he knows where to look, and he knows the pitfalls you can face as a small business owner. He also wants me to succeed. He is a genuine advocate for my business who celebrates my achievements and helps me keep my momentum.
I am very proud of the fact that I have managed to do this exclusively as a home-based business. Recently, I received an industrial dough maker that has been making my life much easier. I have an industrial oven coming soon and I am so excited to see how it improves production.
I have been using a company called Silver Chef that lets me do this on a lease to buy payment plan, so its small payments a week.
It is the little successes that make huge impacts to my day to day life. I am comfortable that I will recoup the investment that I put in and I firmly believe that I will make a profit this year as well.
My biggest challenge to date has been growth. Kicking off at Fremantle we had 3 weeks to get licencing approval, complete fit out and to get production going without knowing the demand. Now that I have 2 consistent markets setup, I am focused on wholesale arrangements with some coffee vans. I am also adding Bunbury markets which is fortnightly, and I will be exploring some twilight markets as well.
At this stage, I have plans, but I am extremely flexible. For example, I had a plan for the Goldfields but then COVID-19 hit so everything changed. I have not given up and I will be going back to my plans for Kalgoorlie by Christmas this year. There is business opportunity in the regional areas that a lot of people just forget about.
I used to see my mother and aunt several times during the week. But now I work six days a week, so I have to visit them less. A large part of my family is involved in the business, so I do still get quality time with them. My sister has come down from Exmouth several times to support me. So has my daughter, son, brother, and nieces also help all the time as well. I am fortunate to have a strong family network that want me to succeed, but I am going to have to hire someone because it is starting to get so big. The running family joke is that they earn their wages in Cinni Buns!
Future Goals for Cinnamon Buns small business
I am not going to give up on markets, but long term I would like to diversify the business. However, I will stay with markets in the South of Perth. I will focus the wholesale side of the business in the North of Perth. Then there is the Regional part of the business. I want to try and find several ways to give back to the community as each area expands. Watch this space though I will have some exciting new flavours out in the market soon!
Thanks Debra for sharing your business journey. We know that there are many other people out there looking to take the next step towards setting up their own business. Your story will inspire them to take the first leap. If you would like to keep following Debra’s business journey. Make sure to follow her on Facebook.
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If you loved hearing Debra’s small business journey and would like to read another, read about Gavin who started a handyman small business and has since hired four employees. His business has expanded to include lawn mowing and firewood manufacturing.