When Did You Start Your Business? How Much Experience?

Business By CarrieBear Updated 30 Jan 2010 , 6:45am by thecookieladycc

CarrieBear Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 8:33pm
post #1 of 46

Just something I am curious about. At what age most people started their cake business and how much experience did you have when you started? do you wish you would have waited or started it earlier?

I think about maybe someday its something I would like to do, but realistically its probably not something I could do for 10+ years. Financially and working on trying to start a family comes first...
just curious about other peoples experience..

TIA
Carrie

45 replies
ApplegumKitchen Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 10:25pm
post #2 of 46

The minute you take money for a cake - you ARE in business!

It's up to you whether you want to be in the business of making money or giving it away.

I have been decorating for over 30 years now (on and off) - I have seen the 'industry' change SO much over that time.

It used to be like serving an apprenticeship - you would start with the fundamentals and MASTER those before you moved on to the next stage - but as has happened with everything today ... people want INSTANT GRATIFICATION! - they make ONE cake and are suddenly an EXPERT!

You only have to look at the threads on here.... Questions like

" I have got my first wedding cake order YEE HA! - can somebody please GIVE me a tried and tested NO-FAIL recipe - how do I make fondant do I refrigerate it - HOW MUCH DO I CHARGE?????? and oh.... by the way ...... it is for THIS WEEKEND!

All jesting aside - people don't seem to work through the stages of decorating these days.

They start with a 3-tier topsy-turvy and have no idea of how to stack a straight cake let alone a lop-sided one - they have no understanding of structural integrity or "what might go wrong" and they have no idea what to do should things suddenly go pear-shaped.

Not trying to discourage you - but my advice would be to learn to walk before you run. To set up a business operation properly costs a lot of money - an investment that needs to be carefully considered.
There are lots of legalities that need to be considered, including INSURANCE.

Practice your craft - take the opportunities that arise to provide cakes, and you don't always need a cake to practice with - piping can be done on boards using cheap toothpaste (it has the same consistency as royal and can be scraped back into a container to be used over and over)

LEARN how to price - keep an exercise book - a shoebox with envelopes where you can put your receipts - and ADD these up - when people realise how much money they have spent - they suddenly see the need to get that pricing right!

GOOD LUCK

Deb_ Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 10:43pm
post #3 of 46

I've been baking/decorating since I was 14, my first job was at the town bakery.

I made free cakes for family and friends for years before I finally was able to start my business 6 yrs ago March, at the age of 41.

For me it was the right thing to do. I wanted to raise my kids first because I didn't want to take time away from my family.

I'm happy I waited......I'm much more focused and I have a lot more free time now that the kids are grown.

My next step is to back off from my career as a hairstylist and gradually increase my baking business.

Now if I can only figure out how to do that..... icon_rolleyes.gif

Evoir Posted 18 Jan 2010 , 11:11pm
post #4 of 46

Hi CarrieBear!

I have been baking and decorating non-professionally for 20 years. You could say it was my passion/hobby, but I was "encouraged" to go to university and get a degree and work as a PT for over 12 years. I also got married and had two kids. Then the chronic illness I have got worse, and I was no longer able to perform the physical demands of PT anymore.

A couple years ago at age 38, I made the decision to give my passion a proper go and started my small home-based business. I must say it is a wonderful career choice for a multi-tasking mother of school-aged kids. I run the household, do the shopping, cook dinner, act as Mum's taxi - AND I run my cake decorating business. I love what I do, and I need to turn away business much of the time. But I must admit I am still getting used to the balancing act required of running my own business, managing house and family, and taking care of (ie prioritizing) my health issues. My weakness is perhaps saying 'yes' too often. Did I wait too long? No...I think my position now is optimal in starting something like this up. I know I definitely could NOT have moonlighted as a professional cake decorator when I was working fulltime as a physio!

I built it up relatively slowly, buying equipment as I earned more money, made sure I had set up my operation legally, with insurance and council approval etc. It is a LOT of work, definitely not 9 - 5. But because it is my passion, I am happiest when designing and creating a cake, and I can accept or refuse any job I want. Mind you - we do not rely on my one income only to support the family, so there is less risk there. The other thing that worked for me was moving to a house where I have a separate studio to work in and store the tonnes of stuff you need to run a home-based business!

If cake decorating is truly your passion, one day you will decide to just go for it. Be well-informed of the local legalities where you live, insure yourself, and start small! But I do not think there is an age limit to when you can start your own business...its all about where you are in life and what makes you happy.

Good luck! icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 1:37am
post #5 of 46

Applegum, that is an excellent post and so on target!! It should live forever as a classic.

To the OP, I was 48 before I opened my own shop, after close to 30 years of making cakes.

Opening a cake business is more about business than it is about cakes. It doesn't matter how talented you are in the cake making world .... if you don't know how to run a business, then don't open one.

HarleyDee Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 1:55am
post #6 of 46

I started working in the bakery at WalMart at age 23 because I knew one day I wanted to own a bakery, and wanted all the experience I could get. A year and a half later a retail store made me a good offer to come manage, and I was getting married so the money was something we needed. I kept doing free cakes for family and friends during that time. A year and a half after that the retail store closed, and I started substitute teaching, and decided to get all of my licenses to start getting legal. I officially started my business last year at the age of 27. For what it's worth, I'm married, but we don't have children yet.

Evoir Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 2:03am
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Quote:

Opening a cake business is more about business than it is about cakes. It doesn't matter how talented you are in the cake making world .... if you don't know how to run a business, then don't open one.




Amen to that, Debbie! I spend justb as much if not more time on the business/preparation side of things than sitting down and playing with GP!

[/quote]

ApplegumKitchen Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 2:34am
post #8 of 46

And to add to the above.....

The ONLY people that think it would be FUN - and an EASY way to combine a family and a quick source of income.....

Are STILL living the pipe dream and have not done it !! It is 100% harder than you can ever imagine - and ONLY the truly determined, gutsy, can cope with ALL the flack types survive

I think the difference in us "old girls" is that we came from the era where it was a REAL task to learn cake decorating.

Their was NO internet, NO youtube videos to watch, books were expensive and few and far between - you had to travel to learn NEW techniques, the cake guild was probably the only place where visiting demonstrators might come to show you something new. Their was NO inspiration OVERLOAD - you had to think up your own designs! We have all INVESTED a lot of money to learn our craft - and I think that is why a few (me included) get a little narky when people come on here asking for everything to be handed to them on a silver platter - like they are 'newbies' and it is their right to ALL the assistance they need - most make no attempt to search or look for any answers at all - when the information if given without a bucket load of sugar coating - somehow we are MEAN - if we try and get them to THINK for themselves and try to get the thought processes churning - somehow we are not being helpful

I try to liken it to my children when they were at school - can't possibly get them to remember ALL that there is to know - but we can TEACH them to be resourceful - to know how to look for answers - instead of expecting soembody to hand it to them

Oh - I don't know!!! - maybe I am just turning into a cranky old lady!!

indydebi Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 2:36am
post #9 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by ApplegumKitchen

Oh - I don't know!!! - maybe I am just turning into a cranky old lady!!


Geesh, you say that likes it's a BAD thing! icon_lol.gif

Renaejrk Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 2:38am
post #10 of 46

I guess why this is the perfect thing for me - passion for cake, and associates degree in accounting! lol

indydebi Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 2:45am
post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renaejrk

I guess why this is the perfect thing for me - passion for cake, and associates degree in accounting! lol




You're a step up from a lot of folks but it made me LOL with the idea of "I have a 2 year degree in accounting so that qualifies me to run a business!" icon_lol.gif

Dont' forget your degree in Human Resources, in purchasing and negotiation, in sales and marketing, in logistics, in time management, in construction and building repair (when you Triple Net lease a space), in Customer Service Management ......

Just to get you started! icon_wink.gif

mamawrobin Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 3:03am
post #12 of 46

Applegum and Indy, love to read your post! Very wise you are icon_smile.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 3:09am
post #13 of 46

Hmmm, started doing the big fancy cakes? 17. Started baking at 14. So for 20 years on & off. And yes, please learn your craft and your market before selling.

tarheelgirl Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 3:25am
post #14 of 46

I started making cakes in high school. Did my first decorative cake when I had my 1st child which was his 1st birthday cake 10 years ago. Last year at the age of 32 I opened a legal home bakery. Its not all peaches and cream! I am trying to grow as a business owner as well as my decorating skills. Never took a class in my life but have learned a ton from CC! I would definitely agree.. know your craft before even thinking of selling. Practice makes perfect! icon_biggrin.gif

snarkybaker Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 3:32am
post #15 of 46

Okay, I totally disagree. To be successful in business, you need to understand business. Have you seen the cakes from Cake Love ? They are terribly amateurish, and from what I hear, pretty dry and ordinary...but boy can that guy market!! He's got a nice little patter about learning to bake at his nana's knee and calls his cakes " homestyle" and in just 5 years, he has about 3 locations and is featured on a Am Ex commercial.

And I will bet you a thousand decorators most of you could out decorate him blindfolded.

Learn about business, and the product will take care of itself.

Mark-Mexicano Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 4:42am
post #16 of 46

Hey Carriebear
I started my business a little less than 2 years ago. I just turned 16 last month so Ive been in business for almost 2 years. Ive been interested in cakes for as long as I could remember, and Ive probably been doing cakes pro or nice cakes for maybe 3-4 years. So I dont think there is an age where you should or shouldnt start a business. I think as long as you have the ability to produce beautiful well done cakes you could have a business IF you have what it takes. Most people have to worry about licensing and all the legal things. I didnt because I am Native American and live on a reservation so the rules here are drastically different, so it was very easy for me to start a business. But you have to really love it and be very committed because it is incredibly stressful BUT really rewarding.
Mark Mexicano
Good luck your cakes are gorgeous

CarrieBear Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 3:28pm
post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly


For me it was the right thing to do. I wanted to raise my kids first because I didn't want to take time away from my family.

I'm happy I waited......I'm much more focused and I have a lot more free time now that the kids are grown.




This is also a concern for me about raising a family and not taking any attention away from them

I havent been able to have children yet and im hoping this is my lucky year. I just turned 30 so Im not getting any younger.

And they would be my #1 priority which is why I originally posted this question. And was curious to see every ones responses were.

I have no plans to just 'jump' into a business which is the reason I orginally posted that its not something I can do for 10+ years, and probably heavy on that "+" maybe 20years. I am trying to be realistic, and set goals and not just jump into a business. In my state we cant have a home business, so thats not an option.

I see people post all the time that just made their 1st cake and instantly think they are just going to open a business becuase its fun and they think its so easy.

That is not even close to what my thoughts are. I have only been doing cakes just over a year, so obviously I have alot to learn still and I would need years of saving up to become financially, in a position to even start a business.
I'd want to be able to focus on my family and not have a business take anything away. So maybe not for another 18years once they are moved out or whatever, but just curious to see how every one else balances it out..

Thanks for your responses...

tarheelgirl Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 4:01pm
post #18 of 46

I have 2 children ages 6 and 9. My son has ADHD so that is a challenge in itself. When my little one started kindergarten this is when I decided to become legal. I normally bake/decorate when they are at school. It is not easy to balance it all out especially with the summer but somehow we do. I consider myself a great mom who is very hands on with my kids and they always come 1st. If I don't get it all finished during the school day I will do it when hubby gets home so one of us can spend time with them. I would just do what feels right for you and your family! Good luck with your decision!

cakesweetiecake Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 7:48pm
post #19 of 46

Great thread!

UpAt2am Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 8:27pm
post #20 of 46

i had been making free cakes for friends and family for 2 1/2 years (never did it dawn on any of them to offer me money for them...ugh). it was starting to really irritate me and i thought, how can i get people to pay me for my cakes without seeming mean? so when my youngest was 6 weeks old, i got business cards and a website. all the sudden, people said, "you started your own business? how much do they cost?" woo hoo! my plan worked...people realized i should get paid icon_smile.gif

then i joined cc and saw that i had to become legal and so i did...i have owned and operated my legal home cake business for 9 months now and it has exploded!!! i was very determined, marketed myself, got a facebook account, etc. all while raising my 3 year old, and now 11 month old. neither of them are in any kind of preschool or daycare, which means caking happens from 8pm (when they go to bed) til 1, 2, 3am...depends on the day (we all know how late we are up on fridays icon_smile.gif)

what i realized is that, i had a lot to learn and i still do. i am very thankful for this site, you tube, google and everything else that had enabled me to learn at a rapid rate. i had to become a businesswoman (thank you indydebi) as well as a cake decorator/baker, all while being a great wife and a great mom.

i look forward to the days when both my girls are in school and i can do all my cake stuff during the day (and just maybe be able to sit down on the couch at night and watch a good show with my husband), but i'm not trying to rush them to grow up at the same time!

do what's best for you, when it's best for you and everything will fall into place icon_smile.gif

iamelms Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 8:52pm
post #21 of 46

This is such a great thread! I have no aspirations to open my own business as of yet. Mostly because I've only been decorating for a mere 1.5 years and don't feel at all competent to run a business. I'm also Navy wife, so I don't live in the same place long enough anyhow. However, are there any recommendations as to how someone can find apprenticeship type opportunities like Applegum brought up? Also, what are some of the classes ya'll have taken that have helped you out the most? (I don't mean to change the topic of the thread, I'm just hoping maybe some of the answers will help the op as well as answer some questions I've been wondering)

Deb_ Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 9:56pm
post #22 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamawrobin

Applegum and Indy, love to read your post! Very wise you are icon_smile.gif





Hey you ladies do know this is code for "you're very old" lol icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Deb_ Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 9:58pm
post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieBear

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly


For me it was the right thing to do. I wanted to raise my kids first because I didn't want to take time away from my family.

I'm happy I waited......I'm much more focused and I have a lot more free time now that the kids are grown.



This is also a concern for me about raising a family and not taking any attention away from them

I havent been able to have children yet and im hoping this is my lucky year. I just turned 30 so Im not getting any younger.

And they would be my #1 priority which is why I originally posted this question. And was curious to see every ones responses were.

I have no plans to just 'jump' into a business which is the reason I orginally posted that its not something I can do for 10+ years, and probably heavy on that "+" maybe 20years. I am trying to be realistic, and set goals and not just jump into a business. In my state we cant have a home business, so thats not an option.

I see people post all the time that just made their 1st cake and instantly think they are just going to open a business becuase its fun and they think its so easy.

That is not even close to what my thoughts are. I have only been doing cakes just over a year, so obviously I have alot to learn still and I would need years of saving up to become financially, in a position to even start a business.
I'd want to be able to focus on my family and not have a business take anything away. So maybe not for another 18years once they are moved out or whatever, but just curious to see how every one else balances it out..

Thanks for your responses...




Oh I wish you many healthy babies in your future!!

I should add I did work while my kids were young I opened my Hair Salon in 1995 which is the year that they both started school full time so I worked at the salon from 9 to 3 and then was home with them during vacations and only worked part time in the summer.

It's definitely a balancing act when you have children, but it can be done.

Good luck!

confectionsofahousewife Posted 19 Jan 2010 , 10:25pm
post #24 of 46

Great thread, Carrie! I am in a somewhat similar position. I have been doing cakes for about a year. I certainly have a lot more to learn and am looking into taking classes to advance my skills. I have three children (4, 3, and 18 months and number 4 hopefully on the way soon). We are currently looking to move so that we have more room for the kids and also a basement where I can have a commercial kitchen to start a business. It will realistically be a couple years before we can afford to put in all of the things that our county requires to have a home food establishment. During that time I hope to improve my craft, build a website, and get licensed. It is, at times, difficult to decorate with three little kids who are not yet school age. I do it from 1-4 pm while they nap and then after 7:30pm when they are in bed. Thankfully my husband is supportive and if I am in the middle of a project he will take care of dinner, baths, and bedtime. But at this point in my life, I can't realistically complete more than two cakes in a week because my time is limited. Not sure if this is helpful or not since I have not yet started a business but thought I would contribute anyway. Doesn't matter too much, but I'm 30 also.

CarrieBear Posted 20 Jan 2010 , 4:58pm
post #25 of 46

Thanks everyone for your input! Its really interesting to see how everyone balances it out with the kids... I always wonder how people do it. Looks like a lot of you just pick a time slot out and set that as your cake time.
One I have kids, I guess I'll see just how much energy I even have left for cakes too... icon_smile.gif

mireillea Posted 20 Jan 2010 , 8:43pm
post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker



Learn about business, and the product will take care of itself.




Hi Snarky,
I totally agree that you need good business sense to sell your products in the right way, but I don't agree that a good business plan/ business strategy will automatically make ''the product take care of itself". I think if you sell crap, no matter what your strategy is, it will be noticed and you will loose the customers that you pulled in with the business strategy. I believe a good cake business requires both business skills as well as decoration/baking skills.

indydebi Posted 20 Jan 2010 , 11:08pm
post #27 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mireillea

Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker



Learn about business, and the product will take care of itself.



Hi Snarky,
I totally agree that you need good business sense to sell your products in the right way, but I don't agree that a good business plan/ business strategy will automatically make ''the product take care of itself". I think if you sell crap, no matter what your strategy is, it will be noticed and you will loose the customers that you pulled in with the business strategy. I believe a good cake business requires both business skills as well as decoration/baking skills.


"learn about business" INCLUDES the product. If you learn about business AND the cake business in particular, you will learn not only all of the office management and CEO skills you need to master, but you will learn the skills that are in demand to create the products the public wants in your industry.

I don't read snarky's comments as "one or the other". The business education in the cake industry would obviously include education on the cake industry products. But if you don't take care of the business end, you won't be in business long enough to sell the cakes.

tracycakes Posted 20 Jan 2010 , 11:26pm
post #28 of 46

I took my first classes 20 years ago and made them off and on for the next 17 years, more off and on since I had a busy and demanding career in IT. About 3 years ago, I got back into more seriously and just opened my business last September. I am 46 years old.

When I was younger, I didn't have the money, skills, business knowledge or confidence to do this. Now, I am older, wiser, much more confident in myself and my skills and I have more money. Besides, you hit 40, it's time for a career change. icon_lol.gif

Deb_ Posted 21 Jan 2010 , 12:16am
post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracycakes

I took my first classes 20 years ago and made them off and on for the next 17 years, more off and on since I had a busy and demanding career in IT. About 3 years ago, I got back into more seriously and just opened my business last September. I am 46 years old.

When I was younger, I didn't have the money, skills, business knowledge or confidence to do this. Now, I am older, wiser, much more confident in myself and my skills and I have more money. Besides, you hit 40, it's time for a career change. icon_lol.gif




Boy, ain't that the truth. Hey Tracy we're the same age....I always thought you were so much younger because of your avater. lol!!

LuvLyrics Posted 21 Jan 2010 , 12:52am
post #30 of 46

Thank you everyone for sharing your expiriences and the importance of learning the craft as well as the business. I am trying to start my own business right now. I've been baking cakes for my family and friends on and off for the past couple of years, and went to Le Cordon Blue of Culinary Arts, I got a Culianry degree, not for baking, but baking it's what I love to do. I've never worked in a bakery before, and I wish I had, so I am learning as I go, applaying the things (Basic Techinques) i learned in school and from some of my pastry chefs. I do wish I had soemone to teach me, just for the love of the craft. But I think the diffenrence now a days, it's that not so many people are willing to take anyone under their wings and teach them as on "good old times" .

Thank you for those that share openly their experiences here. I have learned so much, and it's just my first day reading trough the forums...LOL

Anna

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