I would love to start decorating cakes as a small business. To be legal, the best thing for me, personally, to do is to build a small kitchen on our property (16x12 or so) and work out of there. But I am wondering if I will be able to sustain enough business to make it worth the cost? I don't want to borrow money to start this venture, because I am afraid I will never be able to pay it back. I live in a weird area ~ pretty rural but on the outskirts of a medium-sized city. People around here gasp at prices that are higher than Wal-Mart's, but people in the city would never consider coming to this area for anything, especially quality cakes.
Does anyone have any advice or stories about how they started and any success/failure stories that I can get some insight from? I have started up small businesses before, so I have good common business sense, but I have never operated in a bakery. I just finished the Wilton 1 course, and I am taking #2 in a few weeks, and this have given me a little more confidence about decorating my skills (although I know I need more practice!).
Also, does anyone have a link to a good business plan that I can look over and modify for my business?
Thanks for your input and sharing!!!
Hi there! I have been thinking everything you are talking about for about the past 5 months! I believe I have come up with an answer to this challenge and will be able to enjoy cake decorating and make money at the same time. I can save up to invest in my "legal" kitchen. I've found a direct in home sales company that caters to cake decorating. I can do that in conjunction with my own business & get customers at the same time. I'm really excited about it. You can e-mail me for more info if you'd like to at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck in making your decision!
Thanks, joy. Does anyone else have any start-up stories or ideas? What about a link to a good business plan? And are there small business grants for people who want to start a home business?
I know there are a lot of you out there in business ~ how did you start?
I have to tell you, its the scariest thing in the world I have ever done and every once in a while I wake up in the middle of the night in a complete panic...even after doing this for almost 4 years. I have everything in the world riding on my business and if it goes down, I have lost my retirement, my home, everything.
But is it worth it?
But can I give you some advice? (you did ask, right?)
Cake decorating for a busy shop is a LOT and I mean a LOT of work. (if you want to make money. Taking 1-2 cake orders a week is not going to make you any money..) You have to REALLY love cake. I dont just mean making pretty cakes, but LOVE cake. You will smell like cake and buttercream all the time. During the busy times, you will be working 18 hour days, getting no sleep, and working on tight deadlines (afterall, this is CAKE and you can't do a cake two weeks before its due) You have to be able to schedule do ahead stuff like bows and things like that. You have to be friendly and happy all the time to your customers, you have to be a salesmen to the brides (weddings ARE the money makers) and you have to be able to decorate a cake even if you are sick, exhausted or just tooo busy to do it. AND you hve to learn accountanting, contracts and how to collect money. And amoung all of this, TAKE A DAY OFF A WEEK. (this is so important) A day to not do anything cake related. (I go out with friends or go shopping..just get OUT) or you will go insane!
If this all makes you excited then GO FOR IT because you are going to LOVE it.
I don't know what your current situaction is, but what I did was my first year I kept my full time job and did 3-4 cakes a week. I charged less then the local bakeries but more then walmart. I made the best tasting cakes I could come up with, and did designs I knew I could handle but were different. (I didnt do sheet cakes with roses on them things they can get at walmart) The first year I did 6 weddings. Word spread very quickly (especailly in church groups) and by the middle of my second year, I went full time cakes. I did 20 weddings the second year and this year I did the bridal show and have already booked almost 100 weddings. 50% of my celebration cakes are repeat business or people who have been at parties that they had my cake. The rest are just from internet searches (I dont advertise celebration cakes..just the wedding cake business) Every year I buy something big for the business from any profits I make (tax savings GALORE if you do it that way) I have gone from a small car to a large car to now am looking for a van.
Baby steps is the only way to go if you can, try to buy just what you need to get legal and do your work and then with profits buy more supplies. Take deposits on all larger cakes to buy supplies with. Get tax ids so you can get discounts and charge what your cakes are worth!!!
Do I have disasters? Oh yea, I have disasters (my first wedding cake melted as I stood there assembling it. I didnt know you shouldn't use all butter buttercream on a wedding cake in a 80 degree room) and yes I have waisted money on things I didnt need (dont buy generic fondant..YECK) and I am STILL learning (which is why I love this job!) on how to decorate and have a LONG way to go. But my cakes taste good, my work is not too bad, and my customers are happy. There is nothing like a bride who calls you and tells you that her wedding cake was the favorite part of her wedding reception!
Good luck to you! Hope this wasnt too long!! hahahaha! (I havent had any sleep this week yet hahha)
Excellent advice! I had a wedding business for 15 yrs. and decided to close it up for awhile (10 yrs.) Now I'm starting all over again, but with cakes only. I'm just now getting the word out that I'm back in business and will have to take the "small" stuff to get started, but I also only want the wedding business because that is where the money is. But with the money comes the "night sweats" regarding their delivery!!! I still dream about something bad happening to a cake. I have an outside room (an enclosed carport) that I'm thinking about making into my business to work from home at my own pace. Had an opportunity to buy a bakery at a great price but decided that at this stage of the game I just don't want to be tied to a place 24/7. I agree that starting slow, learn as your grow & pay cash to build your inventory is a smart way to go. If you decide that you really don't want to do it then you haven't lost much. If its your thing---then you'll grow & know! Hope this helps.