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Lessons learned from Kathleen King, Rockstar Founder of Tate's Bake Shop!

Kathleen King launched Kathleen's Bake Shop in 1980 at 20 years old and purchased her store in 1983 in Southampton, New York. After an unsuccessful partnership, she lost the rights to use the name "Kathleen's Bake Shop" in 1999. With no money left, Kathleen started over from scratch at age 40 to build Tate's Bake Shop (named after her father). In 2014, she brought on Riverside Company, who purchased a majority share in Tate's for $100 million and ultimately the company was sold for $500 million to Mondolēz International in 2018!

1. Do not micromanage!

I learned a lot of things through my transition from Kathleen's Bake Shop to Tate's Bake Shop. The only difference between the two businesses was me learning what I did wrong the first time and and incorporating that the second time to create success. My first business was my baby. I "gave blood" every day. I had a workaholic mode of thinking nobody works as hard as I do or could do it as well as I can. The mentality of working hard and it being my passion and having to sacrifice things for it is different than saying nobody works as hard as I do; nobody can do it as well as I can. Those are two different things. And, it is important that people understand the difference. It is the issue around micromanaging. When you are micromanaging, you are not empowering others to do their job. You are not creating responsibility for them to do their jobs because you are going to go in and fix it no matter what. And, you don't create a good team around you because you micromanage and you are too emotionally invested. You have to be able to let people rise and grow. Plus, employees will leave if they are feeling trapped.

When I lost my company at 40, I had 40 employees or so. It was still a nice place to work, but I really couldn't get further than I wanted to because I was so bogged down by working because I thought that nobody could do the job that needed to be done. It is impossible for one person to do everything, and it is impossible for one person to be good at everything. One thing I learned is that managers are afraid to have people that are smarter than them below them because they want to be in control. You always want to hire people smarter than you so everybody can bring something to the table.

2. Leave emotions aside.

Another issue was being emotionally attached to everything. If you take the emotions out of everything, it is much easier to see what the problems are and execute quickly and clearly. When you are emotionally attached, you bring in all sorts of drama. "Oh, what is this person going to think, and this person might lose their job." You worry about every small detail, and you just can't. It will paralyze you.

3. Partnerships are tricky.

In my opinion, don't ever take a partner. I know some partnerships work, but I call partnerships in business, marriage without love. And, we all know how hard marriage is. A partnership is challenging, and a lot of people want to get partnerships because it makes them feel safer and more secure and less alone, but they can hire people instead. It is only a false feeling.

4. Do not start a business without having an endgame.

It is essential when you start a business to set up a goal. You have to know what your endgame is. A lot of people don't do that because they are so excited about creating something. When you set a goal, it is very easy to make decisions. It is key because it is you that is driving the car. If you don't have a goal, you can drive the car all over. If you have a goal, you are driving right to it, straight. The objective the second time around was to sell. I had to build the business so that I could retire at 55. Sometimes things work out bigger than your goal!

If you are in the early stage, imagine that you are going to work ten times harder than you think you are going to work. There are going to be a lot of sacrifices you are going to have to make to get the ball rolling, and once you get the ball rolling, you have to learn to let go. I definitely wanted to sell when I turned 55. I had enough to retire if I sold for 5 to 10 Million. Everything else went beyond my dreams. Now I don't know how I ever had time to work. People used to say "Oh Kathleen, you can't retire, what are you going to do." And I always said, "what am I NOT going to do!" Because there is a whole life out there to live. And I am living it which is a great thing! Because I went into business so young, there were so many things I didn't get to do and explore. My motto is I am not dead yet!

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