Need Advice For Plan To Become Legal

Business By Larkin121 Updated 27 Apr 2009 , 8:45pm by pattycakesnj

Larkin121 Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 2:56pm
post #1 of 11

Can anyone share tips how they went from home baker/decorator to legal without taking out huge loans (in a state that requires a commercial kitchen)? I'd really appreciate it!

There is a kitchen that is just for rentals north of me, but it's quite expensive. $25 an hour or $900 a month, and never having sold cakes it would seem I'd go in debt for months before i'd have regular business.

I wanted to start by selling from home but I am afraid of the fines. I know someone who started this way, and I know a lot do, and I really thought I should, too, but I don't think I could afford to be fined. I thought maybe I should just start by giving cakes away for free, but then I wonder if anyone would see value in them once I do go into business (as in... "That cake I got for free and now for the same kind you want $400??!?") Has anyone started with free cakes and avoided that issue?

I have heard somewhere that some people start by begging their way into caterer's or restaurant kitchens on their off hours in exchange for a small fee or cakes... tips on how to find the caterers who might be interested in this? Are there any other low cost locations? I don't belong to a church, so that's not an option, unless a church for some reason wouldn't mind a non member in their kitchen.

I truly appreciate hearing how others have started their business without taking out a loan. I do understand that starting a business is an investment... but for our family, this business would only be part time for years to come because I have a 3 yr old and 3 month old and will not/cannot do full time until both are in school. So I'm looking for the least investment that will still allow me to do this as a part time career.

10 replies
jewelykaye Posted 23 Apr 2009 , 3:18pm
post #2 of 11

I'm kinda in the same boat as you. I have a 14 month old and my husband is the only one bringing in income. So we are low on funds as well. We also are not willing to take out a loan (not that we could get approved anyway).

Churches will rent to non members. You just have to find a church that has a licensed kitchen. You could also try calling your Health Department and ask if they know of any places that rent out space.

I used to rent space from another cake decorator. I would say look for the smaller operations, they are the ones that seem more willing to rent space. They also usually don't charge $25/hour.

I was paying $5-$10/hour for the kitchen that I used to rent and due to the fact that I'm not the quickest decorator that was really eating into my profit. So you might want to try to work out something with the place that you find that you have a hourly choice or a monthly choice. So if you know you are going to have a lot of orders that month you can just play the flat rate but if not then you can pay hourly.

Everyone I know that has went into business has either gotten loans or have racked up lots of debt on their credit cards. A couple of them, their businesses did not survive and a other couple are surviving but that is all.

I think it is extremely wise of you to try to get into this without the use of loans. Just be patient and you will be able to build up from there.

As for finding a place to rent, just keep calling every place you can think of. You are going to get some people that are going to think you are crazy for asking them to rent their kitchen but just keep calling!

Good luck!

sjholderman Posted 24 Apr 2009 , 6:39am
post #3 of 11

[quote="Larkin121"]
I have heard somewhere that some people start by begging their way into caterer's or restaurant kitchens on their off hours in exchange for a small fee or cakes... tips on how to find the caterers who might be interested in this? Are there any other low cost locations? I don't belong to a church, so that's not an option, unless a church for some reason wouldn't mind a non member in their kitchen.
quote]

Bump/Hijack icon_smile.gif
I'm looking for the same set up and I'm interested to know how others have approached the business owners. There's a couple lunch time cafes in the area that I think I could angle as a good investment in their downtime, but I don't know if that would be insulting somehow? Also, how did you handle contracts? Did you go to an attorney or just draw up something informal and sign it without any legal consel?

jewelykaye Posted 25 Apr 2009 , 8:31pm
post #4 of 11

Whatever you do make sure you have a contract. I used to rent a space from someone and we got along so well that we never drew up a contract. Which meant that the expectations weren't out on the table. We both had some stressful weeks and it ended up in me having cakes on contract and having to beg that she let me use her space to finish them out.

I don't know if you want to use the "downtime" approach since you don't know everything about their business. I would just approach them as you and bring some samples of what you do (taste samples and pictures). Let them know why you need their space and how often you would need to be there. Come with as much information as you can but don't overload them with information when you talk to them. What I mean is have a quick snippet to say to them but have the information in your head in case they have questions.

I hope that helps!

sjholderman Posted 25 Apr 2009 , 9:44pm
post #5 of 11

Thanks that does help!

Juds2323 Posted 25 Apr 2009 , 9:58pm
post #6 of 11

Just wanted to add my 2 cents. I've been in the same boat for quite a while. There are going to be a couple other things you will need to check into. You will need a separate inspection & license, also liability insurance, taxes etc. Where I am I figured I would need about 5k to start in a rented kitchen - to over the initial costs and a month or so of overhead - I have enough equipment to get by so I that amount doesn't include additional equipment.

HTH

Judi

SweetArt Posted 25 Apr 2009 , 10:31pm
post #7 of 11

I started out by renting a bakery's evening down time. (In my state I could not use a church because they are zoned private.) I just cold called places that would be closed in the evenings.

My inspection cost $400, license was $100, food handlers class was $30, insurance was $33/month, and I paid an hourly rate of $15. The first year was really slow, the second year picked up, and the third year was very busy. I couldn't imagine paying a monthly rate in the beginning.

At the end of the 3rd year, the bakery abruptly shut down. I was given a 4 day notice to get my stuff out. This was the only real down side to this arrangement. If I hadn't of been going on vacation anyway, I would have been screwed. But after 3 years of working this way, I had enough money to build a commercial kitchen in an existing building on my property.

notjustcake Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 1:28am
post #8 of 11

[quote="sjholderman"][quote="Larkin121"]
I have heard somewhere that some people start by begging their way into caterer's or restaurant kitchens on their off hours in exchange for a small fee or cakes...
quote]

Well I found a place after many phone calls and I did not beg anybody so... the secret to finding a kitchen to rent without having to beg is simply to find the right person that has the need of cake or a little extra money.

Phone calls, many phone calls. and no begging

steddy1974 Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 1:40am
post #9 of 11

I agree. I believe I have found a kitchen to work out of and it just takes time and a lot of calling around. I called many different restaurants and caterer's and some of them even gave me the names of other people to call. Finally I got 3 or 4 that agreed to rent to me and I am just deciding which one will be the best fit, time wise, space and rental rate. If you keep on trying you will eventually find someone. I thought I never would and I finally did. Good luck!

notjustcake Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 8:34pm
post #10 of 11

Don't be discouraged by the No's you will get, some of the no's I got were even rude. Anyhow I saw every No as a good thing, for every No you get gets you closer to a yes, you are bound to get a yes

good luck and call a health inspector, call all of them if you have to stay within your county though and ask them if they know of any caterers or kitchens that rent out space

Good Luck

pattycakesnj Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 8:45pm
post #11 of 11

It is easier for some to say no to a telephone call than in person. IMHO, I would go in person with a small sample, you may even get them to agree to take product rather than money. good luck

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