I'm going to start a new topic, because the other one was confusing.
Let me be clear, that I'm not asking about the actual business side of the cake decorating business.
What I want to know is how do you know when you are good enough with the actual decorating to actually go ahead and start a small business?
I am so incredibly confused and conflicted on this one topic that I can't even form clear thoughts
How did you guys know it was time for you to take the plunge?
I'm not in business technically, although I do fill about 4 orders a week -- the customers write a check directly to my favorite charity.
I guess I knew I was "good enough" when people started telling me I should go into business!
Still, looking at the fabulous cakes here on CC, I think I'm not nearly talented enough . . . but, I still keep getting those 4 orders a week. I think my customers have never seen CC!!
I cannot speak for everyone here, but for me it took several factors. I've always done the family cakes and then friends started asking. So I've always done the cake as part of the gift from my hubby and me. Then the friends started refering me to people I didn't know and it became really expensive for me to keep doing it for free. At the the same time it became very clear to me at my job (DQ cake decorator and manager) that I was going to keep getting the short stick and treated badly. So I sat with hubby and we started planning it all out. I still work for DQ and still hate it everyday, but with this economy (and my giant dear of failing) I would never leave and throw everything on hopes and dreams. I know what I need to make every month in order for me to leave that rat hole so I pray that will happen in 2012.
HTH! Best of luck.
PS your cakes are beautiful!
When people (like me) look at your pics (which I just did) and tell you (which I am) that they would definitely be more than glad to pay you for your work (which I would if I lived closer), then I think you could safely assume you're ready.
Seriously, I have zero head for business, and questionable caking skills, but I do know quality and your work is unquestionably up to par.
I can so relate to your dilemma. Although I have been baking for years, I had only decorated my cakes with fruits, chocolate curls etc. Recently I decided to try my hand at actually decorating cakes. I have only done them for family & friends for free. They love them in both looks & taste and are encouraging me to try my own business. Like you I don't feel like I'm good enough because I see only the flaws. I think BOTH of us have to stop thinking like that. Your cakes are beautiful and I would gladly pay to have them at my party. Go for it!!
Your work looks really great. If you are getting orders on a regular basis or if you have to turn orders down because you have too many, it may be time to take the plunge. But make really sure the reason for your busyness is not under pricing. I knew I was "good" enough when I was making more doing cakes that a my "real" job. I knew I was "good" enough when I could decorate a cake and it looked as good as the picture in the book. Don't read too much in to that it was an old book.
Hope this helps and good luck.
I turn down orders all the time, but it's not because I'm too busy, it's because I'm scared of taking money for cakes and then loosing my house because of food allergies and lawsuits. I do have a contract to cover myself, but if it didn't hold up in court, it's my house and personal finances on the line.
I only make cakes for family and friends...I've made a few for friends of friends. This past year I've been making cakes for Showers (baby & bridal) and even my Boss's wedding. My husband is a wedding photographer, one of his customers asked me to make a cake for their rehersal dinner. Those are cakes I've taken money for, but generally I don't bake for money because legally I can't in NJ if I'm baking out of my house.
I'm very torn...which I think gives me my answer. I need to really sit down and practice to perfect my skills and gain & perfect new ones. I ordered a bunch of Dummy cakes this week and I'm going to practice practice practice until I feel more confident in myself.
If I were talking about a cupcake business I would be ready, I can do those all day with a blindfold and they would be perfect, I bake cupcakes for every birthday for my office, so I have TONS of time invested in practicing that.
I think I will aim for practicing from now until March and then check where I'm at and think about start my business then.
I have very high standards, and want to produce a product I'd be proud to buy myself. With every cake I do, I get closer to that goal, but I'm not fully there just yet.
When you have people wanting your cakes AND you are ready to devote a large portion of your time and money into it, you open up! I just opened and have never been happier! And my friends and family are happy that I can finally sell and make cakes legally. I have not had a lack of orders. They increase every day.
The thing is, you only get better by making more and more cakes. You would be amazed at how much people are impresses by even a simple design. The average person cannot make much more than a boxed cake and canned frosting and just love a "custom" made cake just for them!
If you know of someone with a licensed kitchen you might be able to work out some time to bake their kitchen. Could be the beginning of a collaboration. I had a licensed caterer friend that didn't do cakes and I got to use the kitchen. Or try an internship with an existing baker.
Keep practicing, watch dvd's, and how to books. I learned a lot of great tips on CC and youtube that made cake life easier and more efficient.
On the business end, (which you didn't ask advise for), you will have to keep putting yourself out there and stay on top of the trends. In addition to talent (which you already have) you will need clients and connections as you know. When you are ready to jump out there, make connections with party and event planners, florist, photographers, event rental equipment business, caterers who don't do cakes, and venues in your area. Show up with a sample cake and some business cards. That way you won't have gaps of income, which is the undoing on a lot of new businesses.
Above all believe in yourself and be brave.
RebelsLGB, your Leopard & Purple Bridal Shower Cupcakes are SO beautiful. I would pay $3-5 a pop for those!
I think my customers have never seen CC!!
You have a talent that's apparent. What you need to ask yourself is if that talent and the fun you're having now will translate into a business that will make you money? Doing some cakes on the side can be quite fun, but actually devoting yourself to it day in and day out to make a living can change your perspective.
I saw it with the owner of the bakery I worked for. She started out doing cakes illegally out of her house and when she came into an inheritance, she decided to open a small custom cake boutique. Thousands of dollars and several years later what she used to love doing became a chore. She didn't like the business part of things and she was hurrying through the decorating side of things...something she used to love. She had a thriving business but she was constantly at the shop pushing out orders. She was at a point where she was going to have to grow or get out. She got out. Sold all her stuff and I really have no idea what she is doing now but it is not cakes.
I personally have a passion for doing this...but I couldn't do it every day. And I don't want to feel like I HAVE to do a cake. I do it because I want to, when I want to.
I think if you really decide that this is what you want and you can make money at it THAT's when you know you're 'good enough'. But plan on working twice as hard as you think you will! If it sounds good to you then, that's when you should go for it.