For those of you that own a bakery can you help me out? I am still in highschool but I am trying to decide what I want to do when I am out of highschool and college. How hard is to own a bakery? How much time do you spend there? How much effort do you put into it? How often are you there? Do you still have time for family? How much money do you make a month or a year? How much do you have to spend on expenses? How much on paying employees? Anything else I need to know to make my decision on what to do? Thanks
Owning a retail bakery is very time- and capital-intensive and requires a good amount of business savvy, either on your part or from a hired business manager. If you want to bake and decorate cakes, I would advise starting slowly -- if your state allows you to sell cakes made in your home kitchen, that's where I would start. If not, you can practice doing cakes for free, decorating on dummies, or working for other bakeries, and when you are confident in your skills you can put together a business plan and start looking for rented commercial kitchen space. If you are successful in a rented space, that's when you would look at opening a retail shop.
Most businesses (especially in retail) start out losing money and don't turn a profit for years, if at all. Running a bakery won't be enough to pay the bills for the first several years unless you already have a hefty savings account or someone else in your household is supporting you with another job. If you can accumulate capital with a lower-overhead business first, this is less of an issue since the money from the beginning stages of the business can fund the expansion.
There's a lot of great free info and samples for writing business plans. Here's a few helpful sites to get you started:
Business Resource Software, Inc. (businessplans.org)
Palo Alto Software, Inc. (bplans.com)
Any small business is very hard work. Not only do I bake, but I have to take on the roles of sales, marketing, accounting, maintenance, customer service and receptionist. I never work a 40 hour week, it's usually more like 60 (or 80!).
I would recommend getting a job at a local bakery or pastry shop. You will learn a lot about the cake industry and how to run (or NOT run) a business. If you like it, and don't mind working harder than you do working for someone else, then owning your own cake shop may be in your future!
Having your own business can be very rewarding too. I wish you the best of luck!
My best advise to you is to go to school and get a business degree. There is so much to opening and operating a business, of any kind, much less a bakery. It's awesome that you are planning ahead and know what you want to do. Just don't get ahead of yourself.
Get a business degree, take marketing classes, accounting, learn the business side because you spend so much more on that. While you are in school, work at a bakery and get that practical knowledge.
Once you have obtained all of that knowledge, you will know when you are ready to start a business. It takes tons of time and money and near impossible to do all on your own.
All the best to you!
To add what Tracycakes said. Get a summer job working at a bakery too. See for yourself just how long and hard you work. It will be an eye opener.
My DH had a summer job in high school working at a plant that process baby food. He came home after the first day and told his Mother that there is no way he was going to do that kind of work for the rest of his life. His Mom told me she saw that it was a turning point for him in going to college. One bachelors and two masters later he has never regretted the route he took.
If baking and caking is a passion, then go for it. Because nothing else will satisfy that itch. If you are exploring all options for careers and this is one of them, then do the summer job thing. You owe it to yourself to try now while you are young and have time to redirect yourself.
My middle son went through so many majors in college, I thought he was never going to settle. He finally fell in love with Economics, started his own business, sold out his share of that and went to work in the CS field. Just this past September he started Law School. And finally he said his itch is satisfied. It took awhile, but he found it.
Bottom line is the only you are going to know for sure is to actually experience it. Nothing else beats first hand knowledge. We can all tell you our experiences, but it is what happens inside your head when you experience what you are doing that counts.
When you own a business you do not just work 8-5, 5 days a week. It isn't a job that at 5 o'clock you walk away from and don't think about again until 8 the next morning.
When you add in the fact that celebrations/weddings are more often than not on the weekends, that means you work on the weekends as well. And in the busy wedding months that means every weekend of the month for several months in a row.
Read everything you can in this forum about owning, opening and operating a business.
If you are serious about starting a business, then I would look into business classes in college. You will learn all the ends and outs that are so easy to over look when thinking about starting a business.
It's good that you are taking the initiative to look into your passion!
In short, no, it is not easy. It is very very hard and time consuming. I spend most of my time on my business. When you own a cake biz you have to do many things: baking, decorating, accounting, customer service, website designer, etc...You have to become all these things in order to be successful...and thats alot for one person!
On top of all the work it's also not as lucrative at first as you would think. Ingredients, equiptment, boxes, boards, utilities, and help...all these cost alot of money. If you add in rent it skyrockets. You have to be able to make enough product to make it worth it.
Start slow and build your reputation and a customer base. I would recommend renting a kitchen to get your feet wet and see if (after all the hard work) that you still are passionate about it.
On another thought...you could start out at a local market like I did. This is still very expensive. For example I spent (for one event):
60.00 for the space rental
10.00 for the table
10.00 for the table cloth
50.00 on the health permit
34.00 for the kitchen rental
75.00 for ingredients
30.00 for packaging (with coupons)
This means I had to make 269.00 just to break even. That would be about 170 cake pops or 130 cupcakes. Then you have to sell more to start making your profit. For these events I stayed up all night every night for days doing it all on my own and then worked 8 hours during the day at the event.
There is alot more to the business that should be looked at before you jump in. It is very rewarding, but you have to be willing to start slow.
I would like to recommend a wonderful book by Sharon Fullen, & Douglas R. Brown titled, How to Open a Financially Successful Bakery : With a Companion CD-ROM for developing your business plan.
When you post a link after recommending a purchase, you should disclose that you get a kickback from the retailer when people use the link, and provide an alternative link (like the one below) if people wish to buy the product without the referral fee.
This is especially egregious when you obfuscate the URL to hide the fact that you are linking people to your own storefront.