Hi everyone! I'm really excited about starting my new home based baking business. I've been looking for about a year and half now,since I had my first lil one,to start my own little money maker.I've been bouncing around not sure what to do. For a while now,I've been looking in to the baking business since I love baking anyway and have gone through some heavy research before making up my mind.There is heck alot to learn but I'm sure I'll get there. I have a few questions(of course) for all those home based and new recent biz owners.
How did your first cake turn out? Do you bake out of your own regular kitchen/oven?About how much did you need to invest to start your baking?Have you caught on to all these decorating techniques and ideas quick or has it been hard?Do you think that you can make a living out of this and not just side money?If so,how long before you do? AND,when you started,how many people did you have supporting you?
I have many more but first these,and then when I remember the rest,I'll be posting
Thanks in advance
I'm in Colorado, so until very recently we didn't even have a chance of being able to cook legally from home (there is a law pending that would change that). So I had to rent a kitchen space, get insurance, pay for a retail food license, get a sales tax license, etc. I don't know the law in your location, but you will have to do at least some of this. You'll need to get a sales tax license for instance, and you may still have to have pay for a food license. But the good news is your startup costs should definitely be less! Since I have a commercial kitchen, I had to learn to use the convection oven -- that was an experience in itself. I know all the quirks of my home oven, but I wasted A LOT of cake getting used to their oven. With a home-based business you would just use your own oven. I guess if you grew (and had the room) you could eventually add another oven, but I would get going first, so you keep your initial costs low.
This was a passion/hobby for me long before I rented a kitchen, and I still have a full time "real" job so I spent quite a bit of money on new tools, classes, videos...fun stuff! If you are doing this as a serious business looking to turn a profit, you would want to watch those types of expenses a lot more carefully than I did. That said, any new skill takes practice, practice, practice. I wouldn't wait for a first cake to try something. Start piping on cookie sheets, make fondant figures just because, cover dummy cakes in fondant, if you don't have dummy cakes - cover cake pans. If there is a technique you want to offer customers - practice it a lot. The one lesson I learned -- Murphy is alive and well. If something can go wrong, it probably will! For your first SEVERAL cakes give yourself plenty of time. Once, I broke a whole layer because I tried to stack it while it was too fresh out of the oven -- I have to remake the whole tier!
How fast you catch on to techniques is really personal and will depend on your background, experience, interest level, natural talent, steady hands, ... But my advice is definitely practice first, advertise later.
I think you can make a living at this, but to do so you have to approach this as a business, not a hobby that can earn you a little extra cash. You need to make sure you are in a market that can support you, that you are positioning yourself in your market in an effective way, that you are properly funded so that you can do the advertising necessary to grow to the size you need in order to support your financial requirements, etc. How many people you need supporting you will be very dependent on how much product you need to make. I will argue that if you are married, you will need the support of your spouse (at least moral support), but otherwise, it can be as small as just you, or include others if you have the work (and your cottage law allows you to have employees). If you want to make a profit, you need to approach this as a business, do your market research, write a business plan, advertise appropriately, and make sure you have the funding you need to really make a go.
Hopefully that helps -- I wish you luck!
Wow! Very informative. Thanks Natalie. Well,I do live in Fl so it is under the Cottage Food Law. But one thing I don't know is if I need to be insured since obviously I don't need a license to operate. I haven't found anything on this but I guess I'll keep looking.
I am married,and I have his and my mom's support which is awesome. They both tell me how I CAN do this and how it will turn out great. So basically,I'm just praying I catch on asap because I do intend on making this a full time business if I start out on the right foot.
Thanks so much for the idea of just practicing,even without a cake. I had not thought of that. I can just buy the ingredients to make fondant and buttercream and just try getting better,on the decorating and the ingredients too.
I appreciate your reply Natalie,you really gave me a great push and now I'm on making a list of supplies and ingredients for my first few tries.
Many cottage food laws don't require insurance, but even if it is not required you might want to check into it anyway. In this sue-happy society, it can't hurt to have product liability insurance which protects you from claims that you made someone sick for instance. Given the type of goods, it is highly unlikely that you would make someone sick, but that doesn't necessarily stop someone from claiming it. Given the low risk, this type of insurance is not usually over the top expensive and may be worth the peace of mind.
Also, since you will now be running a business out of your home, check with your agent on your homeowner's policy. If you were to have a kitchen fire, and they found out about your business, they may not be required to pay the claim if you do not have the business on your policy. All this varies by company, policy, and state but it is worth at least checking into.
I'm definitely looking into this