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At 2:00 AM, while most of us have sugar plums dancing in our heads, Elisabeth Johnson’s kitchen swells with the sweet scent of pastries. Chocolate fudge cookies watch from the counter as the entrepreneur flits about, glazing fig pecan scones and pulling peach pies from the oven.

A few years ago, Elisabeth was just a cog in the machine of a baked-goods franchise.

“I felt so stifled there,” Elisabeth said. “I was promised the world and then wasn’t given a lot of opportunities—I was barely baking. It was mostly just shaping bread.”

Coincidentally, one of her fellow employees shared Elisabeth’s passion for baking and suggested a radical idea. Why didn’t Elisabeth take advantage of Minnesota’s cottage laws and open a home pastry shop?

Elisabeth latched onto the idea. She quit her job and started preparing for her first day at the farmer’s market. She could just imagine herself bringing mountains of pastries to the market and selling out in record time.

Except she didn’t.

Startup reality sets in

During her first week, Elisabeth brought home more than half of what she set out to sell.

“At the beginning, it was hit and miss,” Elisabeth said. “I didn’t have a strong customer base. I had successes here and there, but it wasn’t until months later when I started recognizing familiar faces and building a more consistent clientele.”

As Elisabeth’s business began slowly rising, she received a message from her brother at Podium. He told Elisabeth the company was working on Podium Starter, a free version of the software for small businesses. Elisabeth concealed her skepticism.

“I wanted to be supportive, but I didn’t actually think that it was right for my business,” Elisabeth said. “I just wanted to be a nice sister, so I said ‘yeah, lets try it out and see what happens.’”

Little did she know, Podium Starter was about to simplify customer interactions and establish her online reviews.

Podium Starter facilitates a five-star experience

“One of the reasons I didn’t think it was going to work for me was because farmer’s market patrons are typically older and I don’t have their numbers,” Elisabeth said. “But when I was setting up Podium Starter, I learned that I can also use email. That was exciting because I already have a huge database of emails and people I can contact that way.”

Elisabeth sends out weekly menus to clients to gage interest and collect pre-orders. With Podium Starter, she can leverage that platform to easily message clients and collect payments through a simple, secure link.

Elisabeth is also using Podium to kickstart her reviews.

“I just sent out a few review requests to some of my regulars and had an overwhelmingly positive response,” Elisabeth said. “I went from having zero Google reviews to several five-star reviews just because it never occurred to me to ask. Podium was the door that busted open my reviews.”

At Podium, we’re proud to support entrepreneurs like Elisabeth who make their dreams a reality. It takes hope and courage to make something great, and we’re dedicated to helping you succeed. That’s why we’ve introduced Podium Starter.

With Podium Starter, you can message customers, get reviews, and text payment requests for free. Learn more about how Podium Starter can boost your business here.

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