Starting A Cake Shop/bakery

Business By flavacakes Updated 6 Dec 2010 , 3:23am by annacakes

flavacakes Posted 25 Nov 2010 , 5:03am
post #1 of 34

Hi yall! My dream is to start a cake shop/bakery and would so much appreciate some advice on how to start one successfully. I will have a business partner, I will be the cake decorater/baker.

One question is, can I use any recipes? Can I use a doctored up box mix if I needed to? How much experience should I have working at a bakery? Ok, this is more than one question.... icon_redface.gif I don't have that much experience besides taking decorating classes and doing many cakes on my own but I know this is what I am supposed to do and I'm anxious to get the ball rolling!

All and any advice is welcome and very much appreciated!!!

33 replies
cakesonoccasion Posted 26 Nov 2010 , 2:58am
post #2 of 34

I would recommend interning in a bakery if you can- this will give you an idea of all aspects of the job- it's a dirty, tiring, hard job- you really have to love the end result to keep pluggin away! You then need to start with a business plan to get all of your finances straight. I budgeted 8,000 for my start up, and it cost 13,000.00. So be sure to have some serious cash flow, and at least 5 years to get it up and running smoothly and to turn a profit. Good luck!

cakenovice2010 Posted 26 Nov 2010 , 3:27am
post #3 of 34

I don't own a bakery but I did just retire from a retail store and I can tell you it was a ton of work. All the fun stuff comes after the serious stuff.

Location, rent, insurance are first priorities.
Cash register/POS system, inventory, shelving units, equipment
Staff/hours/payroll/accountant hiring (you'll need this whether it's just you or a few helpers)

What is your client base like? How many orders per day can you crank out? What are you current sales etc.. in comparison if you had a shop and had extra items ready for immediate sale - are you planning on having different baked goods etc..?

I know when I started my store I had no experience, I set up very quickly and jumped right in. I learned a lot of valuable lessons but the most important I would say I learned is to slow down and do baby steps. I just started caking and I love it so I'm doing a few small orders here and there. If after a year I feel like I want to expand I might.

I don't want to sound discouraging but having your own business is a huge undertaking and I had no idea how much so until I actually did it and tried to have a family life and my own life outside of work.

In my opinion, I would be leery of a bakery/baker using box mixes for my pricey cake order. I'm also allergic to certain additives in box mixes so just my personal preference, I'm sure they are great as some of the recipes on here attest.

My strongest advice would be to work in a bakery first before opening your own and pick up some tips. It's amazing what you learn from others and it could save you a lot of expense in the end. icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 26 Nov 2010 , 5:27am
post #4 of 34

What is your business background? Loving to decorate cakes is NOT the same as running a business. Those are two different talents and skills. One may be good at one and really bad at the other and those two extremes don't mix when you're talking thousands (and thousands) of dollars investment.

Contact your SBDC and SCORE to get some business classes and mentoring on the business side of it. Writing a business plan is a MUST!!

If workign with a partner, you should become very well educated on partnerships and the legalities of it all, so hire a good attorney (which you would need anyway, partner or not). This also, is more involved than just saying "Let's make cakes together."

As mentioned above, not trying to discourage .... not at all. Just wanting to help you get started on the right foot with ALL the bases covered! thumbs_up.gif

justducky Posted 26 Nov 2010 , 2:12pm
post #5 of 34

A side note on Deb's post..For all you talented, experienced business owners.. If you have time volunteer at SCORE or the SBDC.

mamakasst Posted 26 Nov 2010 , 2:37pm
post #6 of 34

I am also interested in the original poster's questions. I am no where near the point of starting an actual bakery but where I live it is legal to have an in home bakery so I am looking into that. The question I had is what is SCORE and SBDC? icon_redface.gif

whimsicalcupcakediva Posted 26 Nov 2010 , 4:12pm
post #7 of 34

SCORE http://www.score.org/index.html

SBDC http://www.sba.gov/localresources/district/md/index.html

They are sites that direct you to companies and people who help you start on the right track when trying to start a small business icon_smile.gif
Just type in your zip and they'll find what's in your area.

Ruthiechef Posted 27 Nov 2010 , 3:26am
post #8 of 34

There's some great ideas here. I am currently writing a business plan for a small bakery. I will be meeting with someone from the small business alliance, but in meantime, can someone help me? I don't know where to start estimating costs. Do you figure out every item you offer and how many you plan on making? How do you get an estimate on sales? Any direction in that are would be appreciated.

mamakasst Posted 27 Nov 2010 , 3:02pm
post #9 of 34

Thank you! icon_smile.gif

AbouttheCake Posted 27 Nov 2010 , 4:11pm
post #11 of 34

as a side note on the doctoring mixes...yes, you can. Almost every bakery uses some form of a mix. Not every, but a vast majority of them. There is nothing wrong with this. I use both. I have good scratch data base for my cookies, pastries, cakes, etc but still do many of my cakes from doctored mixes. I do allergy intolerant products as well as main stream. Intolerant because I cannot guarantee no cross contamination (such as gluten, nut, etc)

Starting a business is a stressful and HUGE undertaking. Business plans, company policy manual, employee policy manual, standardizing recipes (because we're so used to just dumping stuff in there...employees don't know that), pricing, costing, equipment, payroll, inventory, ordering, and so much more. and that's before you even pick up the phone to take an order.

A good friend recommended reading the book "E-Myth" before moving forward. I highly recommend it as well.

Don't think that the majority of your time will be spent decorating. You'll be too busy dealing with customers, problems, accounting, ordering, ...all the business side of things. Until you can hire a manager, it's all on you.

Just be sure you're being realistic. Life as you know it will be over...and you will start a whole new life!

LindaF144a Posted 27 Nov 2010 , 8:47pm
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbouttheCake

as a side note on the doctoring mixes...yes, you can. Almost every bakery uses some form of a mix. Not every, but a vast majority of them. There is nothing wrong with this. I use both. I have good scratch data base for my cookies, pastries, cakes, etc but still do many of my cakes from doctored mixes. I do allergy intolerant products as well as main stream. Intolerant because I cannot guarantee no cross contamination (such as gluten, nut, etc)

Starting a business is a stressful and HUGE undertaking. Business plans, company policy manual, employee policy manual, standardizing recipes (because we're so used to just dumping stuff in there...employees don't know that), pricing, costing, equipment, payroll, inventory, ordering, and so much more. and that's before you even pick up the phone to take an order.

A good friend recommended reading the book "E-Myth" before moving forward. I highly recommend it as well.

Don't think that the majority of your time will be spent decorating. You'll be too busy dealing with customers, problems, accounting, ordering, ...all the business side of things. Until you can hire a manager, it's all on you.

Just be sure you're being realistic. Life as you know it will be over...and you will start a whole new life!




I second all of this here. I work at a bakery now. Just remember along with the fun stuff of decorating a tree is everything else. I won't get into the business side because there are more experienced ones here to answer all that.

I just want to point out the dirty side. The dishes, dishes, dishes, scrubbing the floor, cleaning the counter tops, etc. Keeping everything in stock. It is amazing how quickly you can run out of something, even if you do get it by the case. Plan on your days off being spent running around getting all the little things needed (the own of the place where I work has her regular Monday errands, all business related). And I know she is working a lot longer hours than me. It was something like til 9 the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and that is from 7 in the morning.

I am not trying to discourage you, I just want to point all the other stuff that goes with this kind of business. And you can't always hire someone to take care of it. It bites into your profit, so keep that in mind also.

digitalprincess Posted 28 Nov 2010 , 6:24am
post #13 of 34

Thanks a lot for these, very useful as I am considering on having a photo cake business on the side, nothing big for now. I just want to start off doing it for friends and family first. But these links are definitely a step in the right direction of which I am envisioning later on.


Quote:
Originally Posted by whimsicalcupcakediva

SCORE http://www.score.org/index.html

SBDC http://www.sba.gov/localresources/district/md/index.html

They are sites that direct you to companies and people who help you start on the right track when trying to start a small business icon_smile.gif
Just type in your zip and they'll find what's in your area.


tracycakes Posted 29 Nov 2010 , 4:46pm
post #14 of 34

I started my business just over a year ago and believe me, HARD work, long hours, no free time and lost contact with family and friends. It's really not for someone who wants a life outside of the job. I'm extremely blessed that my husband pays the bills, washes the dishes and buys my supplies (after I make the list). Without him, I really wouldn't be able to do this and get any sleep.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but be prepared. We get little time to actually decorate.

kookycutter Posted 29 Nov 2010 , 7:51pm
post #15 of 34

I am pretty new to Cake Central. I too am in the process of trying to go from home baking to opening up a retail site as I am growing out of my kitchen, but also see the loss of sales from cakes that people want quickly, not to mention small orders. I have already completed my business plan and done my numbers, as well as incorporating, etc. But I so have much more to go.

I am pretty realistic about how much work it is as I am expecting that I will probably have to work 14 hour days or so. I am just concerned that I will never see my little daughter next year who is starting preschool. For how long will the tireless torture go on is what I am curious about. I have worked as a cook in a professional kitchen and I know that it is no fun. I also realize that I will be constantly tied up with the management side of things.

How do I figure out how much and what I should be baking each day? Is there a formula for figuring out a baking/decorating schedule? How much inventory will I need? How many bakers/decorators will I need? I guess a lot of my luck will also be on how good my employees are. Oh sigh.

TBallad Posted 30 Nov 2010 , 1:08pm
post #16 of 34

Hi everyone,

I may soon be moving to a state that allows home kitchens (Mass.), which makes my baking dreams a little closer to reality. I've been baking/decorating for almost a decade and know my way around that side of things pretty well.

My question is for those of you with successful home kitchens, what is the difference on the business end between what you do and a standalone bakery? Several of you have mentioned that starting a bakery means giving up life outside of cakes for several years. Is the same true for a home kitchen business? How difficult is it to gain a client base? Would you still recommend doing an internship in a bakery before getting started?

thank you!

cakenovice2010 Posted 30 Nov 2010 , 5:26pm
post #17 of 34

"I am just concerned that I will never see my little daughter next year who is starting preschool. For how long will the tireless torture go on is what I am curious about. I have worked as a cook in a professional kitchen and I know that it is no fun. I also realize that I will be constantly tied up with the management side of things. "

When I opened my retail baby store, I thought it was the perfect way to make money and spend time with my daughter who was 5 months old when I opened. She was almost 4 years old when I closed, my older daughter was 10 and I had just had a son. I worked non-stop and I truly regret it. I missed so much with them because I was working so hard to make my business successful and grow it. Despite all of my efforts I became overwhelmed and guilty about the time lost with my children so I sold the business and the location.

My main issue was that I did not hire enough staff early on and I didn't hire people that were willing to make a long term commitment and really learn the ins and outs of products etc...

My advice would be to have a sufficient amount of staff that can also do what you do so that you can take holidays and spend time with your children. Everyone told me I would regret it but I wanted to prove them wrong. I learned SO much so quickly, but in the end I wished I had slowed down and started smaller before building it up into such a huge location and daily operation.

kookycutter Posted 1 Dec 2010 , 1:27am
post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakenovice2010

"I am just concerned that I will never see my little daughter next year who is starting preschool. For how long will the tireless torture go on is what I am curious about. I have worked as a cook in a professional kitchen and I know that it is no fun. I also realize that I will be constantly tied up with the management side of things. "

When I opened my retail baby store, I thought it was the perfect way to make money and spend time with my daughter who was 5 months old when I opened. She was almost 4 years old when I closed, my older daughter was 10 and I had just had a son. I worked non-stop and I truly regret it. I missed so much with them because I was working so hard to make my business successful and grow it. Despite all of my efforts I became overwhelmed and guilty about the time lost with my children so I sold the business and the location.

My main issue was that I did not hire enough staff early on and I didn't hire people that were willing to make a long term commitment and really learn the ins and outs of products etc...

My advice would be to have a sufficient amount of staff that can also do what you do so that you can take holidays and spend time with your children. Everyone told me I would regret it but I wanted to prove them wrong. I learned SO much so quickly, but in the end I wished I had slowed down and started smaller before building it up into such a huge location and daily operation.




Thanks! I appreciate any advice from anyone who has been there. I know at least the first several months, I won't be around too often for my little girl, but I hope to get that place well-staffed and running for me to not be killing myself by the end of the year. I plan on starting out small, and then expanding over time. Does that sound good?

elliegails Posted 1 Dec 2010 , 2:04am
post #19 of 34

I have never found a topic that rings as true as this one. I SO WISH I could have had this wonderful advice when I started my bakery. PLEASE listen to these comments and really consider all of this when starting your business. It can be a rewarding career, but there are so many behind-the-scenes parts that no one else knows about. GOOD LUCK - it can be done! icon_smile.gif

UpAt2am Posted 1 Dec 2010 , 2:14am
post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBallad

Hi everyone,

I may soon be moving to a state that allows home kitchens (Mass.), which makes my baking dreams a little closer to reality. I've been baking/decorating for almost a decade and know my way around that side of things pretty well.

My question is for those of you with successful home kitchens, what is the difference on the business end between what you do and a standalone bakery? Several of you have mentioned that starting a bakery means giving up life outside of cakes for several years. Is the same true for a home kitchen business? How difficult is it to gain a client base? Would you still recommend doing an internship in a bakery before getting started?

thank you!




I'm not sure how to answer this b/c I've never had a storefront bakery, but I do have a home based cake business, and it is a TON of work! I did free cakes for family and friends for two years and then I got legal, inspected, started my website and facebook page, advertised around town, etc. and BOOM! Within two weeks, I was booking 4-10 cake/weekend. So I guess how much you work depends on how many cake you take on! I didn't want to turn anyone away (now, I do) for the possibility that i may have lost a "customer for life." I still take on an average of 6-8 cakes/weekend (depending on size and complexity, etc.).

Oh, and I have a 1 and 4 year old too!!!

I can honestly say I wasn't prepared for how fast the business would expand. I wasn't prepared for the sheer volume of cake I was going to try to crank out. I didn't have enough pans, enough mixing bowls, enough mixers, enough fridge space, enough ovens, enough ingredients, etc. Now, I do (minus another oven and a third fridge)! I've slowly aquired things as I grow. I wasn't prepared for the amount of time I would spend emailing customers about their orders!!!!!!!!!!!! And how much time I'd have to invest in updating my website and editing photos, and posting them for advertising. Mostly, I didn't expect to work this many hours, pulling all nighters every week, week in and week out. I also had to come to the realization that my home is my work and my work is at home...I literally never get to separate from it! Cooking dinners is not happening as much b/c my oven is always baking cakes, and I can't find my stove icon_wink.gif

BUT, I do have to say that I wouldn't change a thing! I'm blessed to live in a state that allows me to work at home (LITTLE OVERHEAD!!!). I'm blessed to spend every day with my daughers...even if the majority of our time is spent shopping for ingredients and cake supplies and them watching me work in the kitchen (when I can while they're awake).

I do look forward to the day that they're both in school and I can work during the day and not all night long!!! And maybe, just maybe, I'll get the cake boutique I've dreamed about...maybe not! icon_wink.gif

Bottom line is how much you'll work is dependant on how many orders you choose to take! The more orders, the more emails/phone calls, the more ingredients and supplies to buy, the more appliances you'll need, the more taxes you'll pay, the more your utilities will rise, the more time away from your family and loved ones. It's a great balancing act...you just have to find the right balance.

TBallad Posted 1 Dec 2010 , 12:05pm
post #21 of 34

UpAt2am - thank you so much for your great advice! I have little ones too, so making sure that baking doesn't push aside family is crucial to me. I'm really surprised at how quickly your business has grown. You must be doing something amazing there!

neelycharmed Posted 1 Dec 2010 , 12:42pm
post #22 of 34

All great advice..
I can just tell you use your time wisely, especially when it comes to your family. I am taking less and less orders now because my son is 2 and I know last year I spent way too much time in the kitchen and it wasn't fair to him(missed other kids birthday parties, sunny days that should have been outdoors and not inside baking)
Good Luck and I hope it all works out.
Jodi icon_smile.gif

UpAt2am Posted 1 Dec 2010 , 9:04pm
post #23 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBallad

UpAt2am - thank you so much for your great advice! I have little ones too, so making sure that baking doesn't push aside family is crucial to me. I'm really surprised at how quickly your business has grown. You must be doing something amazing there!




no problem! i'm always here to help! i can definitely say that my girls don't get 100% of me during the day, even tho i'm home all day. but i try to incorporate them as much as i can. when we are out shopping for supplies and ingredients, they are right there to help me (and what other mom doesn't have to take their kids to the grocery?). when i'm home and they're awake, i'm mixing and baking. but while cakes are baking, we are playing together/reading/etc. while they nap, i return phone calls/emails (for some reason as soon as i get on the phone, they need me!). i will also decorate when they're napping (i hardly ever decorate when they are awake...too risky). when they go to bed at 8 sharp, i work some more...usually until 1am. every friday night/saturday morning has become an all nighter. saturdays are delivery/pick up days usually. and if there's a nice gap b/t times, we'll go do something as a family! saturday nights are spent cleaning up the kitchen/dishes. sundays are family days and i try to do nothing related to cake. i also try to take mondays "off," which has helped a bit.

ConfectionsCC Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 12:32am
post #24 of 34

Wow, great advice guys!! I am wanting to push to open a small home bakery in the next year, and I am so glad to read this forum! For me, we are building our house anyways, so instead of finishing the garage as a garage, my husband told me we can make that the licensed kitchen. I have a 3 and 5 year old...after reading this I am considering more than ever to ask another home baker who lives less than a mile from where I am building, if she would like to expand and add me in to the business to be able to share the work and expenses! Does that sound like a bad idea?

scp1127 Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 7:35am
post #25 of 34

My home bakery is part time for me. I don't need the money, so I do what I want. It really can be any size you want with as many hours worked as you want.

whimsicalcupcakediva Posted 2 Dec 2010 , 1:34pm
post #26 of 34

I feel that if it's your passion and it's something you TRUELY do enjoy doing... then go for it! I mean everyone knows that there may be a few long nights, a few orders that will make you go "hmmm?" a not so happy customer (you can't please everyone it's impossible!) and the behind the scenes aspect of things, but over all, if it's something you can see yourself doing and have that support, the skies the limit, in my book!
I'm a mom of 4, my youngest being 4 months and my oldest being 11 and I work from home.....
It's hard a times but my kids are my driving force. They see what mommy does and encourages me. heck they even write up designs for me b/c they too want to be included in what I do. It's all in how you do you. My lesson to them is that if you work hard, stay focused and have the support, you can never fail. Just be prepared
This is just how I think, how I was raised and how I operate icon_smile.gif

scp1127 Posted 3 Dec 2010 , 8:34am
post #27 of 34

Whimsical, maybe those four little ones will be your business partners one day... mine are. Just keep baking with them and they will have another skill that they may need to depend on one day.

cakenovice2010 Posted 5 Dec 2010 , 2:06am
post #28 of 34
Quote:
Quote:

Thanks! I appreciate any advice from anyone who has been there. I know at least the first several months, I won't be around too often for my little girl, but I hope to get that place well-staffed and running for me to not be killing myself by the end of the year. I plan on starting out small, and then expanding over time. Does that sound good?




Sure does! Having a good solid staff would have saved me so many times. It was hard to find reliable steady workers. Although I love my friends and family I would never hire relatives/friends again icon_wink.gif

ConfectionsCC Posted 5 Dec 2010 , 3:15pm
post #29 of 34

would ya'll recommended having at least one person to help even for a small home bakery?

indydebi Posted 5 Dec 2010 , 8:27pm
post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConfectionsCC

would ya'll recommended having at least one person to help even for a small home bakery?


Depends on your volume or schedule.

I was a one-man show and that included catering. I'd do 99% of the baking / cooking / prepping and then had a staff of 3 to 6 come in for the loading of the van and heading out to the catering.

I did have 3 teenagers come in 3 days a week after school (about 10-12 hrs per week, each) to make cookie dough balls and bake the 300-cookies-per-day-order for the car dealership.

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