Any Advice? Let Me Have It! (Please?!?!?!)

Business By SweetDreams98 Updated 30 Apr 2011 , 2:06am by VaBelle

SweetDreams98 Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 3:19am
post #1 of 16

Phew,
I'm not sure where to start so I'll give a little background. I'm 27 (28 is FAST approaching) and I've loved baking since I was a kid as I'm sure is typical of most people who may read this. I've kicked around the idea of getting into baking for YEARS...I've worked in restaurants, front and back of house and even tried finding a bakery that would take me on as an apprentice a few years back. Long story short, I found a great job, got married, got a house, etc etc...
Well...things have changed! (haha for the best regardless of how the next bit may sound!) The marriage ended very quickly and I found myself out of work. I've been throwing myself into the job market for the last year to no avail and becoming generally restless. I DO however have an amazing boyfriend who has just moved in, who happens to be a photographer (which if you're not bored yet, you will see I have found a use for...well aside from being the love of my life) who is very supportive of my current endeavor.
I know a WONDERFULLY AMAZING baker who I have had bake cakes for me on several occasions. She has been featured on Ultimate Cake Off and several other shows. I had commissioned her to do a birthday cake for my Grandma's 80th Birthday which was a big deal as you may imagine. Unfortunately a loss in the family prohibited her from actually baking the cake and here is where things get interesting...
I had made some cupcakes for my friends birthday about a month back. Everyone had raved about them but I thought nothing of it as I've always been the cook/baker of the bunch. When we found that our hired baker was unable to complete the cake we wanted, my mom suggested that I make my Red Velvet cupcakes for my Grandma's birthday. I said sure, and promptly made 80. I've always been creative so I paid as much attention to how they looked as I had to how they had tasted. When I delivered the cupcakes everyone at the party was asking what baker my mom had used for them. I assumed that people knew I had made them and were simply being nice but this was not the case. At the party I was asked to do a Birthday cake, 100 additional cupcakes for Professionals Day and later asked to bake for a graduation party.
I took the Admin Professionals Day order to try out a few twists on cake recipes I have used, making a Chai Tea Latte with Spiced Vanilla Chai Buttercream cupcake, Banana cupcake with peanut butter buttercream and candied bacon ("Fat Elvis") cupcake and my fail safe Red Velvet cupcakes. I delivered the 100 cupcakes for Professionals day, by this time already starting to think "hey I could really enjoy doing this!" and later learned that yet another person wanted me to bake for their bridal shower and baby shower. Extra cupcakes were sent to my boyfriends work and again, someone with an upcoming wedding inquired if I might be able to bake for their bridal shower and wedding.
Here is where I need help from some seasoned professionals! I am doing the leg work here; I have signed up for classes on decorating for this month and next. I have inquired with my baker about private lessons after I've taken a few more basic classes AND I've been invited to attend monthly meetings for bakers in the area. Please tell me if there is anything more I should/could be doing. What advice would you have for someone with big dreams but little experience with their own business? I am not looking for the sour "quit while you can" responses (I'm not sure that I would get such a response but I am deeply involved in showing Arabian and Half Arabian horses, being affiliated with such people exposes you to "elitist attitudes" and though disheartening to some, I am rather resilient). I am also not looking for a pat on the back, just for some insight from seasoned professionals. I am new to this, I will not pretend to be knowledgeable on something I am not. I am enrolling in classes to perfect my areas of weakness.
ANY advice would be more than welcome so I throw myself at the mercy of you, seasoned (seasoned, get it? Cooking pun...oh nevermind)baker for any knowledge you may bestow on me, no matter how insignificant you may view it, I promise you it will be taken to heart. I have a ridiculous imagination and I learn quickly...my hopes would be to someday be able to make a business of this and NOT have any of my creations wind up on cakewrecks.com (EVER!).

Well, I will now end this VERY long winded post and hope to get some (ANY?!?!) words of advice in the next few days. Thank you in advance and if you made it to the end of this post, well congratulations!
Sincerely,

Sarah

15 replies
scp1127 Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 4:32am
post #2 of 16

You need real business knowledge... not just working in the business, the responsibility for the bottom line. Until you can run a business, be careful. Take your decorating classes, but that will not help you. Contact your local health department and find out the requirements for what you want to do. Start saving for that, take your decorating classes, and business education is going to be a must. This business is getting saturated quickly. In the long run, weaker businesses will have a hard time.

Sorry, there are no short cuts.

Spuddysmom Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 5:22am
post #3 of 16

You sound like a very energetic, determined, creative person. It also, sort of sounds like you get bored quickly. However, since you've enjoyed baking since you were a kid, of course this could work for you.
Warning: there are a lot of not fun parts in running any business - just read any thread that begins with the word "Venting" and you will find some of the challenges you may face: local health dept. rules, unhappy/unreasonable clients and maybe even a cakewreck - gasp!
Be realistic about the business end, as has been stated - there are many bakers suddenly entering the field. I think it is wise to continue your other job search while learning and practicing - you have the energy to do both. Do you have the commitment?

cheatize Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 6:02am
post #4 of 16

You are lucky to live in a state with a cottage law. Starting business will be fairly simple. What will not be simple is preparing for and actually running the business. I suggest that while you are taking decorating courses you also create a business plan and then a marketing plan, etc.... It will take some time and a lot of research, but it will help to prepare you to stay in business long-term.

SweetDreams98 Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 7:01am
post #5 of 16

I realize that business knowledge is of the utmost importance. I am still staying the course with my education and taking some business classes to boot. I am not expecting anything to happen over night, that would be very naive of me. Luckily I have family and a great boyfriend whom are all ready to back me and be a support system. I am definitely up for the task of taking business as well as decorating classes; those are musts. Although I am rather ADD (diagnosed in fact) this is something that has been of interest to me throughout my life. I feel as though there are some things that you are made to do and this seems to be one of them. I appreciate the input!

SweetDreams98 Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 7:07am
post #6 of 16

just a side note...I've never gotten bored quickly with something I was passionate about. I've been involved with horses and shown since 2. I started showing at the National level at 13. I held down my previous job for 4 years before the company closed and as for my failed marriage...there were extenuating circumstances which I will not get into. I am very driven and motivated...I'm just setting the record straight I've never been one to jump ship on something I'm motivated for.

Spuddysmom Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 2:00pm
post #7 of 16

[quote="SweetDreams98"] Although I am rather ADD (diagnosed in fact) quote]

Yes, that was sort of obvious from the intitial post.
The last person I worked for was also diagnosed with Adult ADD, so I observed some of the unique challenges you face in running a business. You can succeed in business, but try to be realistic and listen to those who know you best and love you.
You will be able to do things that amaze others with your energy/drive, like taking on a huge order and staying up all night to finish, etc. and you will constantly enjoy new challenges, trying new techniques so your product will always be up-to-date, maybe even cutting edge - the part you have to watch out for is:
1) your relationships with family and friends and
2) the boring business part - that is where you can lose everything financially.
You can succeed in business but, like everything, there is a cost. Look to the people who love you and listen to them, who knows, maybe one of them can help you out with the essential boring parts of business - if so, treat that person VERY well.

Stephy42088 Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 2:12pm
post #8 of 16

You have gotton very good advice so far, running the business is the most challenging by far. Talk to your local Score office and SBA people, they can give you a lot of great advice. Be prepared for this to take off and have a game plan ready. It is essential to plan, plan, plan!

I also have been very involved with horses in my life. I showed Quarter Horses for quite a long time but boarded at a barn that showed Arabians....they are beautiful horses. icon_smile.gif

SweetDreams98 Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 7:09pm
post #9 of 16

Thanks for the advice, I plan on taking it to heart. I know the business aspect will be important and luckily I do have several friends and family members who are quite business savvy and willing to help! The ADD does help with creativity, and yes, boring business details can make me want to pull my hair out but over the years I've developed a system for beating that...absolute organization. I have to or it's a lost cause. Stephy...that's awesome that you were involved in horses as well! We usually go to Quarter Horse Congress for the shopping icon_lol.gif
For now I'm absolutely going to keep up on my decorating skills, experimenting with flavors and check in on some information for local businesses. I'm thinking that fall semester I may pepper my course load with some business classes along side all the psych classes as well!
Again thank you all for the advice!

GinnyK Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 7:34pm
post #10 of 16

You might also check out your local community college. The CC often provides classes in business, and sometimes it's as specific as "starting your own business," "keeping books for your own small business," etc. They're cheap tuition, too,

SweetDreams98 Posted 29 Apr 2011 , 11:47pm
post #11 of 16

Yeah my mom is actually a Dean at our local college so I definitely have connections with finding out which classes will be of help, when she found out I was interested, she was thoroughly supportive but immediately told me that I need to start taking some business classes haha

tokazodo Posted 30 Apr 2011 , 12:29am
post #12 of 16

"Find something you love to do, and you will never work a day in your life"

Be passionate about it. Life is a learning process.
As far as the Adult ADD goes...
I've worked with special need children for the past 15 years. Many of them, ADD/ADHD.
The ADD/ADHD kids show some of the most remarkable artistic talent.
God didn't make us all to be Doctor's and Lawyers.
He made some of us to be artists! We see things differently then others.
Follow your heart....

SweetDreams98 Posted 30 Apr 2011 , 12:39am
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tokazodo

"Find something you love to do, and you will never work a day in your life"

Be passionate about it. Life is a learning process.
As far as the Adult ADD goes...
I've worked with special need children for the past 15 years. Many of them, ADD/ADHD.
The ADD/ADHD kids show some of the most remarkable artistic talent.
God didn't make us all to be Doctor's and Lawyers.
He made some of us to be artists! We see things differently then others.
Follow your heart....




Thank you...that's how I feel as well. I've been a psych major for what seems to be forever. I still want to pursue my education with that but I have always needed an artistic outlet in my life. I try to use the ADD as an advantage, it helps me to think outside the box which was a great blessing at my previous job. After the company closed down though, the economy hasn't been conducive to quickly finding another job. Like I said, I always wanted to get more serious about baking but always had a full time job and college to take up most my time (let alone taking care of my horse). Anything worth having takes work!

sugarandstuff Posted 30 Apr 2011 , 1:10am
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tokazodo

"Find something you love to do, and you will never work a day in your life"

Be passionate about it. Life is a learning process.
As far as the Adult ADD goes...
I've worked with special need children for the past 15 years. Many of them, ADD/ADHD.
The ADD/ADHD kids show some of the most remarkable artistic talent.
God didn't make us all to be Doctor's and Lawyers.
He made some of us to be artists! We see things differently then others.
Follow your heart....




Amen thumbs_up.gif

Candice56 Posted 30 Apr 2011 , 1:30am
post #15 of 16

tokazodo your words of wisdom to SweetDreams98 well said. thumbs_up.gif

VaBelle Posted 30 Apr 2011 , 2:06am
post #16 of 16

Since you said you just signed up for some decorating classes, I'm assuming you're new to the decorating part. If this is the case, hit the tutorials on her as well as the rest of the Internet and start practicing, practicing, practicing. I bought a couple cake dummies and use them to practice on so I don't have to make a cake every time I want to try something new. I would also suggest trying to make 3 - 5 different cakes (multiple tiers) in one weekend to see how you handle the volume. I know for me personally the one time I did two big cakes in one weekend, I about lost it. I have a little one running around so it limits my time. So while I have those friends and family members who say I should start my own business, I know I can't handle any volume right now and of course they'd never be willing to pay. I have very cheap family and friends LOLicon_smile.gif

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