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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Sunday, February 08, 2004
PowerBlog Review: Cracked Cauldron Spillings

Editor's note: This is the first in what we expect to become a weekly series of PowerBlog Reviews of other weblogs...

Cracked Cauldron Spillings tells you that it is a weblog "Wherein we follow our intrepid entrepreneurs as they flounder around opening a bakery." And that humorous byline sets the tone for this wonderful, witty business weblog.

On the Web since October 2003, it is one of the most entertaining business blogs around.

It's a weblog telling the story of two Oklahoma (USA) women, a mother and daughter. We follow them as they pursue their dream to open a bakery/cafe business together. They plan to name it the "Cracked Cauldron."

Mother calls herself "Moneybags" because she will be putting up the collateral -- her home -- for a small business loan. As Moneybags quips in one post, she's not worried about the risk of mortgaging her home for a business loan because she was "homeless once before and it wasn't that bad." And of course, nothing could better drive home the point about the risks entrepreneurs take when putting their homes on the line for their businesses!

Daughter is called "Manager" because she is going to be running the bakery. Manager is a sociologist by training, and she is learning about business at Moneybags' knee, so to speak. Indeed, Manager will be getting a summer job in a bakery in order to learn the bakery business before they open their own.

With lots of humor and some social commentary on subjects such as the homeless and taxes thrown in for good measure, Cracked Cauldron Spillings makes you want to keep reading... and smiling.

In the process, you learn a lot about the practical side of opening a small business. In fact, Cracked Cauldron Spillings is really a case study about entrepreneurs planning to open a small business.

We follow Moneybags and Manager as they create a business plan, develop pricing strategies, scout for locations, estimate staffing costs, investigate business equipment, decide which products they will offer, develop a marketing plan, research government regulations, try to navigate tax requirements -- oh, and test their products. By product testing, we mean the recipes and menus for the baked goods, soups and other food they will sell once they open their business.

We learn all about competitive advantage from the discussions about which foods they will offer at the Cracked Cauldron, and which ones they will not. For instance, we learn early on that they will offer unique breads, because there is no place in their town to buy specialty breads. However, we later learn that they do not intend to offer donuts, because their town has a great donut shop already, and why try to duplicate what someone else is already doing well? Instead of competing, they decide to partner with the donut maker and cross sell each other's products.

The posts about food give this weblog a special character. Scattered amongst recipes and menus you hear the authors' opinions on faddish diets and food trends, including the Atkins Diet and low-carb breads. All of it keeps you coming back for seconds.

The Power: The Power of the Cracked Cauldron Spillings weblog is in how it makes business concepts come to life for the reader. Instead of reading about concepts such as "competitive advantage" as abstractions, we experience them in a very real sense, as we follow Moneybags' and Manager's dream to start their own small business. Along the way, you can't help but gain a renewed sense of respect for the challenges facing any small business owner today.

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