To Open A Shop Or Not?

Business By sweetartbakery Updated 15 Oct 2009 , 10:07pm by sweetartbakery

sweetartbakery Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 2:00pm
post #1 of 22

Hi everyone! I've been on CC for a while now, but I'm new to this forum in particular. Here is my brief story... I made my brother's wedding cake on a whim and it exploded into a licensed home business. I don't advertise on purpose because I can only handle one involved cake a week while still working a normal job. That "real" job sucks though. I hate it, no re-phrase, LOATH it. The issue is that the money is really good. The cake business is more for fun at this point. I'm at a cross road where I could put myself in a postition to open a formal shop and leave behind my college education and career as a chemist...in exchange for something that brings me joy (and that I would happily bust my butt at). OR stay a chemist and continue to do it on the side. Opening a shop is a huge expense and risk. anyone has success with it? anyone mind sharing what you make (I do realize it'll be low the first years)?

oh, and ignore my picture if you look at them. most of them of my first attemps icon_smile.gif I really am much better now!

Christy

21 replies
minicuppie Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 2:21pm
post #2 of 22

I don't want to bust your bubble but even caking is a job. Keep reading this forum and you will find plenty of bakers that are burned out and thinking of looking to reenter the mainstream job market. Have you seen that the unemployment rate is almost 10%? I am sure your employer will have plenty of chemists that will take entry level pay for your well paying position. I was thinking of going back into nursing. I was offered part time $24 no benefits for the same skill set that used to bring me $70 K plus 401 match, 100% paid medical for me AND my family plus bonuses...you get the idea. Think about it. Maybe you can take a sabbatical...

sweetartbakery Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 2:29pm
post #3 of 22

oh, believe me, my whole family is self employed. I know owning your own business is even harder work than a 9-5 because you never leave it. Work followed us on vacation and was there every weekend. That is why I entered that glorious world of "Big Pharma". Yeah, well its so curropt and disgusting. Like you said, people would kill for my job though. I know it, yet I still hate it. I would rather work twice the amount of time for something that directly benefits my family rather than further these corrupt business people that only care about $$$. I used to feel that my job was honorable, drug research seemed promising. I no longer believe that. My husband is also a chemist so it's double loathing in our house. icon_smile.gif
so you are really burnt out and want back into the work force, huh??? Can I ask why? Is it just too hard, no business, just sick of it? this helps me so much!
christy

cakesweetiecake Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 2:55pm
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by minicuppie

I don't want to bust your bubble but even caking is a job. Keep reading this forum and you will find plenty of bakers that are burned out and thinking of looking to reenter the mainstream job market. Have you seen that the unemployment rate is almost 10%? I am sure your employer will have plenty of chemists that will take entry level pay for your well paying position. I was thinking of going back into nursing. I was offered part time $24 no benefits for the same skill set that used to bring me $70 K plus 401 match, 100% paid medical for me AND my family plus bonuses...you get the idea. Think about it. Maybe you can take a sabbatical...




Wow! I've read the forums and havent seen to much of what you posted . What I have seen is business owners who admit that it is very hard work, enjoy what they do and advise that the business aspect is just as important as the baking/decorating.

Your situation is much more different than people who want to START a busines. You already have a business and want to expand.

ccr03 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 2:57pm
post #5 of 22

One thing that gets brought up here a lot on the "I want to start a business" thread is the fact that creativity and how much you love it/are good at it are NOTHING if you don't have the business mentality. You say your family has always bee self-employed. That's a good start. I think one thing with our line of work is - yes, we love it, yes, it is creative and fun - but it's so much more.

I'm not trying to discourage you - not at all - just want you to consider the following things:

1. Do you have a business plan?
2. Have you done research what it takes to be legal in your state/city?
3. Do you know what target market you want to hit? You'll see on here lots of ppl. complain about how their customers won't pay their price and such. I tend to think that the problem is because they are not marketing themselves properly. Which brings me to....

4. Marketing strageties - you say you don't advertise, so where do you want to begin? Remember how you advertise depends on the target market you want to reach.
5. How are you going to finance all this new legal venture? As many will attest it takes a LOT of $$$$. (Insert indydebi's $50 mop bucket story here, and grease trap story icon_wink.gif )
6. Oh, and will you be a custom shop by appt. only or a retail shop? In either case what hours will you be available to the public?
7. Where would you ideally like to be located? What is the cost of real estate in the area? Are you going to want to own/rent/lease?
8. IF you can have a home bakery, would that be an option?

Again, SO not trying to discourage you - at all! These are all questions everyone has asked ourselves or is currently asking themselves. The icing dreams of just being able to be in the kitchen all day baking and decorating need to face the reality of finances and business administration.

I would suggest you do what a lot of ppl. did on here - keep the day job until you have RESEARCHED and PLANNED what you want to do. I know it's tempting to quit the job and dedicate yourself fulltime into researching and planning this, and if you can financially afford to do so, then awesome/congrats. But what happens if you halfway during research decide it's way too much? Then what?

And trust me, I get the notion of being disillusioned with the industry you choose (corp. messes up the beauty journalism can be). I didn't have the luxury of quiting my job - I got laid off. But it was the best thing to happen to me! I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Oh, and as far as education goes. I am a firm believer in getting a good education. If you can take business courses in addition to your chem classes - do it! I know it's different, by I have my degree in Communication & Spanish and boy has it EVER been helpful! My sister has here's in Political Science and has totally helped her too in her business. Remember, college isn't just about the major or degree you get, rather it's about the skills you learn/acquire while trying to obtain that degree.

Whew....that was long! But I hope it helps!

Spuddysmom Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 3:19pm
post #6 of 22

ccr03
What great advice! SweetArtBakery, probably everyone here kind of understands your frustration with you job situation. Sounds like some of the reason you are talking yourself into quitting is that you may feel your moral integrity is being compromised - a whole other facet to this question. Aside from that, to open your own shop may be fabulous or may be not-so-fabulous. Pros on here have wonderful counsel - think it all over before you make the move. Creating cakes for friends is a whole different ball game from really doing it professionally. Also, there are likely many expenses you haven't considered. Remember you must not only have a business license but also a Health dept. approved kitchen (reuirements depend on where you live). When you get serious, ask IndyDebi for her business plan - you HAVE to create one - and reading hers may help you in making your decision.

cakesweetiecake Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 3:30pm
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetartbakery

Hi everyone! I've been on CC for a while now, but I'm new to this forum in particular. Here is my brief story... I made my brother's wedding cake on a whim and it exploded into a licensed home business. I don't advertise on purpose because I can only handle one involved cake a week while still working a normal job. That "real" job sucks though. I hate it, no re-phrase, LOATH it. The issue is that the money is really good. The cake business is more for fun at this point. I'm at a cross road where I could put myself in a postition to open a formal shop and leave behind my college education and career as a chemist...in exchange for something that brings me joy (and that I would happily bust my butt at). OR stay a chemist and continue to do it on the side. Opening a shop is a huge expense and risk. anyone has success with it? anyone mind sharing what you make (I do realize it'll be low the first years)?

oh, and ignore my picture if you look at them. most of them of my first attemps icon_smile.gif I really am much better now!

Christy




I definitely understand your position about being in a job that you loathe! Uggh! I am experiencing the same. However, I am not sure if I am ready for a full-fledge business. One day, but not now. Lucky, for you, you have been able to test it out (with your legal, homebased business) before taking the plunge. Perhaps, you can drum up more business before making the move to go full-time. If I were to ever take the plunge, I'd do it part-time for a while before taking that leap. For now, I am looking for a new job to replace my current full-time job because I just need a change.

There are alot of people on here who are managing full-time jobs and a part-time cake business.

ccr03 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 3:39pm
post #8 of 22

@cakesweetiecake

The OP's situation isn't that much different from starting. She's only at home (I missed that the first time so you can kinda disgard my previous post about researching the home licensing). I am in the processing of doing just that - going from home to shop - and it is kinda like starting from square one again. We have to get licensed again, and depending on your city kitchen requirements may be different. And you have to deal with city regulations towards retails shops (parking, handicap requirements, etc...) The advertising needs be kicked up a knotch, as does everything else. With a bigger overhead you HAVE to reevaluate everything to make sure you are making the best business move.

sweetartbakery Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 3:45pm
post #9 of 22

wow thanks, all of you!
ccro3, thank you for all the thought in your reply! Fortunate for me, I grew up with parents who ran 5 successful businesses. I am business savy to a point (I need to get and understand the reglations to apply that to food). I am currently registered and inspected as a home-baker. My father owns a restaurant, so I'm some what familar with that aspect, just not a bakery/cafe. As of right now, all my clients are complete strangers. I am booked almost every week of the months (unless I don't do it on purpose), that is why I don't advertise. I couldn't handle the extra business at this point. The deal is that my company is laying people off. I made a big stink about a safety violoation that they tried to cover up, SO I think i'll be on the chopping block. I'm happy about it though because I think I can do this (with a whole lot of sweat and tears). I've researched location, and local prices. I have a huge steel building free of charge that once housed my mom's business. Free land to build on too, if I go that way. The big question is if it's worth it. All the free space is FREE but not a good location for foot traffic. Fine if I just special order only though. We DREAM of starting a bakery/cafe (college town area), but I could always start with the free space and see where it takes me. the big expense would be ovens and all the guts of the place. Again, thought of that too. I have savings from my nice company job of crap, but I would probably finance some of it since I don't owe any other money at this point. there are good rates out there if your credit it good. that being said, if it fails then POW! I loose! There go the savings! Did I mention I have two kids under 3! Ah! thanfully, my husband is a chemist too and in IT school on the side to fall back on if he gets laid off.

so those of you that did it, whether of choice or forced because of lay off...are you happy?

sweetartbakery Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 3:51pm
post #10 of 22

ccr03- EXACTLY! it's like starting all over. I do ok now, but my prices are low. If I expand I'll have to raise them a little. Then you loose the convenience of doing it at home. No sitters, being a big thing.... I've thought of building onto the house...then again, why to do that for now and then be stuck again and have to move. so many options. becoming a home-baker was pretty darn easy once I got in contact with the right people and got a list!

Spuddysmom Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 4:18pm
post #11 of 22

Sweetartbakery - sounds like you have many more advantages than most when starting out. Free space? Your own licensed kitchen? Parents who ran successful businesses so you have seen what a commitment it is... Wow! You should do very well. The woman I worked for began her shop knowing she would not make a profit for two years. She was prepared for that, and her shop is a success, unfortunately she was not prepared for the toll it took on her family.

ccr03 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 4:43pm
post #12 of 22

Awesome sweetartbakery! I know we don't know the whole background of ppl. on here and so many times I hear/read the stories of "I've done this for a month and now I want to quit my job and do it full-time." (I say it with love people.)

Anyway, I would say there are advantages to being laid off - aka severance packages, unemployment benefits - all things that could help financially regardless of what position you are in.

sweetartbakery Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 4:43pm
post #13 of 22

I figured that I wouldn't make any money either for the first couple of years. the family issue is a the trouble and why I've stayed a home-baker. I do it when the kids naps and my husband it at work. he only sees the end product most times. its funny because if he's home, he always comes in the kitchen and frowns at what I'm doing and I can see doubt forming. he knows better not to say anything. then when I'm done, he sees a pretty fire truck and always tells me i'm great. icon_smile.gif thats the best part. icon_smile.gif off topic on that one. i'm in a chatty mood!

sweetartbakery Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 4:48pm
post #14 of 22

just re-read one of my posts. holy spelling errors! i hate to proof read. thus, the reason i chose chemistry not english in college!

IsaSW Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 6:08pm
post #15 of 22

The best advice I heard here is: keep your job while you do the research and test the waters.

I bake from home.I am in my first year of business and still keeping my full time job. It sucks! but it makes me so happy that my business adventure is not hurting my family financially. My bills are paid with my regular paycheck, and we keep our life style.

And the longer I can keep both of them, the more mature my cake biz will be and the less chances of failure, and at the same time I am discovering, that yes! I want to be a full time wedding cake designer.

When I am baking the day before the wedding, I question myself, do I want to do this the rest of my life?. Most of the time I answer, NO. But I tell my self its because I am tired. And its true. I have two jobs!

Then when I get the pictures with the cake and the bride, I just love it!!! and I can't wait to start my next cake again.

It is good to have both jobs to compare and to make a decision, if option "B" fails , there is still option "A" to go back to.

IsaSW Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 6:09pm
post #16 of 22

The best advice I heard here is: keep your job while you do the research and test the waters.

I bake from home.I am in my first year of business and still keeping my full time job. It sucks! but it makes me so happy that my business adventure is not hurting my family financially. My bills are paid with my regular paycheck, and we keep our life style.

And the longer I can keep both of them, the more mature my cake biz will be and the less chances of failure, and at the same time I am discovering, that yes! I want to be a full time wedding cake designer.

When I am baking the day before the wedding, I question myself, do I want to do this the rest of my life?. Most of the time I answer, NO. But I tell my self its because I am tired. And its true. I have two jobs!

Then when I get the pictures with the cake and the bride, I just love it!!! and I can't wait to start my next cake again.

It is good to have both jobs to compare and to make a decision, if option "B" fails , there is still option "A" to go back to.

tracycakes Posted 14 Oct 2009 , 2:27am
post #17 of 22

I agree with IsaSW, test the waters, do it part-time. My part-time cake business started officially on Sept. 1. This past weekend, I was able to move into a new location (special thanks to SugarFrosted for the info ), it's a great deal and as soon as the business picks up enough, I will quit my despised dayjob. I have been a computer programmer for 20+ years and I used to love it, but those days are long gone.

Back in early summer, as we were just getting started on looking into opening a part-time business, we got a lead on a great place where a deli had recently closed. We seriously considered opening a storefront but the expense was much bigger than we had planned and after some heartwrenching discussion, we decided to go part-time.

Sure, I'm working alot of hours and I'm not young any longer icon_wink.gif but I can still work 10 hours a day and then go to the bakery for 4 hours. I love the work and I am so glad that we are going this way instead of opening a storefront right off. We do plan on opening a storefront but this gives me a really good chance to see if I'm really willing to go all the way with this, deal with bridezilla, late nights, etc. and I still have my salary and HEALTH INSURANCE.

Sorry to hijack. icon_redface.gif I just know what we just went through and still going through and completely understand hating the 'dayjob'.

sweetartbakery Posted 14 Oct 2009 , 11:20am
post #18 of 22

tracy- good for you! thats a lot of hours, but glad you are loving it! health insurance is one of my biggest hang-ups, even though I can go under my husband's. who knows how secure his job is. for now, I'm just getting a mental plan.

I'm an obsessed planner, so I want to have prices for the ovens I want, prices for display cases, estimate of expense for everything figured out first. The building I have up for grabs for free once housed a machine shop. It's dirty and yucky. Would need a COMPLETE over haul $$$$. No rent though and in my mom's back yard where the kids could play safely. Ah, the dream. I can't seriously go wild until my kids are in school though. Never too early to plan, right ladies! If I'm going to do it, I want be prepared. I have 6 months until we have the potential to relocate (4 hour drive to this town). I'm doing all my research in that area though. icon_smile.gif Till then I'll keep up with my home-based business. I'm excited I found this group with real advice that makes sense! Thanks so much!

Amylou Posted 14 Oct 2009 , 4:05pm
post #19 of 22

This is such great info to read right now. I too, really don't like my dayjob right now. Thing is, I cut back to 5hrs/day after having my kids, it's a stable job, good pay...and yes...the healthcare (hubby is self-employed). I went to college to do what I do, have been doing it since 1994 but am just burnt out. Problem is I really like the people I work with, I just don't get ANY satisfaction or stimulation out of what I do.

I am in a position of turning 1/2 our garage into a licensed kitchen. That makes me ecstatic to be able to do it at home, legally, and keep my part-time day job. I've been doing cakes/cookies for 5 years now and doing it just really channels me. I tell my husband that he has his hunting, his racing, his golfing...I have my baking icon_smile.gif

I'm putting "a year-plan" into place for this. To research, come up with plans, pricing, etc. ...and to fine tune my skills and get a well-photographed portfolio in place.

To just know that this can really happen, well, has me squirming in my chonies icon_biggrin.gif

sweetartbakery Posted 14 Oct 2009 , 5:41pm
post #20 of 22

amy, you sound so much like me. I used to enjoy the people i worked with too UNTIL the stupid company layed off most of them. Now the one thing keeping me here is that I have a wonderful boss. I was told an hour ago that they want him to move to another lab and replace him with a girl that worked with in the past that is dumb, and even worse, thinks she's smart. so my one and only thing left is crap now. I got on here to take my mind off it. like you said, at least we have our baking. i'm so depressed at the moment.

Cathy26 Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 9:18pm
post #21 of 22

im in a the same position - i work full time, am comfortable, 9-5 monday to friday, paid holidays, sick pay, pension no responsbilities, etc but am seriously considering opening a cupcake takeway/bakery also offering wedding and occaision cakes on order. have found an excellent premises in a good area close to the university and a lot of offices and other good shops but its a massive risk leaving everything i know to try and run a full time business i would be relying upon when at the minute i just do about 3 or 4 cakes a week.

am pricing stuff at the minute to see how much i would actually have to bring in a day to keep us at the same standard of living but it really is so difficult and scary, not sure what we'll end up doing!

sweetartbakery Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 10:07pm
post #22 of 22

cathy, 3 to 4 cakes a week is great! I can only handle one and I just work part time!

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