MustangMollie Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 3:13pm
post #1 of

So I'm new to cake decorating, but I absolutely love it. I'm a hobbyist and had no intention of going pro, but my husband suggested it as it would allow me the flexibility to stay home with our young children and  still work part time and bring in some money.

 

My first step is to check with the regulatory boards to make sure that I can in fact bake from home. Aside from that, I've been doing a lot of the Craftsy classes on cake decorating and I've been practicing a lot. I'm also going to go to Planet Cake for a course or two (I requested this as my birthday present before I ever thought of turning pro).

 

You guys have been there and done that. What would you have done differently? What are your favourite brands? What tools could you not live without?

 

This week I'm doing a colour study in fondant (I have a visual arts background). I'll share my results as soon as they're done.

 

Thanks in advance for your help :)

38 replies
sixinarow Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 5:43pm
post #2 of

AMy biggest mistake was to under estimate the cost of starting up a business. I knew the cost of licenses &insurance (I'm a home based bakery also) but besides the cost of those "major" things, I under estimated the TIME and expense that all the "business" stuff takes. Business cards & logo, website design, domain names, cost & hosting fees, contract, advertising, fb business page...all the not fun stuff. If I could go back, I would put more $$ aside for those things. Work on those things a little bit at a time, in addition to honing decorating skills & perfecting recipes. Also - learn how to photograph your cakes (natural light, no flash, background &floor to compliment the cake) before you launch so it doesn't seem overwhelming. It'll be worth the time you put into it, first impressions are really important! Good luck & congratulations for doing your research before you start --you will be glad you did! (And so will your clients!)

vgcea Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 6:55pm
post #3 of

AYep, those little expenses can add up fast. I too was so focused on the big stuff (mostly money related) but totally underestimated how much time it takes to do the work of owning a business. Staying on top of the paperwork is a big one too so I'm not overwhelmed come tax time.

I would set aside more time than you think you would need to set up the business. For the first month or so I barely baked. I was on the phone mailing forms, calling, verifying, faxing the bank, secretary of state's office, county office, insurance broker. Setting up a website alone took almost 2 months with numerous calls and multiple edits (silly me, I thought hiring a pro to do the job would mean one less thing to worry about. Wrong).

jason_kraft Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 8:10pm
post #4 of

ACheck out the Starting a Business link in my signature.

BrandisBaked Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 8:13pm
post #5 of

A

Original message sent by jason_kraft

Check out the Starting a Business link in my signature.

Isn't this kind of like spam?

jason_kraft Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 8:24pm
post #6 of

A

Original message sent by BrandisBaked

Isn't this kind of like spam?

Nope. According to Heath we are allowed to mention signature links if the link is to on-topic content, but we are not allowed to actually post the link itself in the body of the post.

BrandisBaked Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 8:26pm
post #7 of

AStill seems kind of spammy and too much like self-promotion than actually helping someone.

Oh well...:roll:

jason_kraft Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 8:34pm
post #8 of

ATo expand on my earlier post, the "Starting a Business" article I wrote outlines twelve aspects involved in starting a new food service business. The article discusses general points at a high level and can be applied to businesses in any country.

As mentioned above by the two on-topic posters there is a lot more involved here in terms of time and money than many people think...once you factor in the overhead of running the business you will probably end up doubling the time commitment over just baking and decorating.

Norasmom Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 8:43pm
post #9 of

How much business are you planning to do?  A lot depends on that factor alone.  

BrandisBaked Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 8:50pm

AWhat I would have done differently: Not purchased to many impulse items that I will only use once - or in some cases, not at all.

Make sure you are really going to use an expensive item before buying, and find out what the return policy is before ordering in case it doesn't work as you thought or as it was advertised.

MustangMollie Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 9:45pm

AThanks so much everyone! Your responses have been so helpful!!!

To start with I'll only take in 2 cakes a week and if that fits well ill think about gradually increasing. I'm planning to purchase a kitchen aid mixer this week. I just body a pasta machine but I'll see if I can return it and buy the kitchen aid attachment instead. I'd also like to get a sheeter but when dies rid become necessary? Cakes over 10"? Ill also get shine more cake pans (um really interested to hear which brands are your favorite), cake stands, and some block out curtains to use as photographic backdrops. I already have a goldish campaign one so I'm thinking I'll get black; white, & maybe silver. Is also like to get new counter tops ... maybe granite. I'll get quotes in that this week. Right now I just have regular counter tops and they're looking like they could do with replacing in the next 6 months or so.

MustangMollie Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 9:47pm

AOmg so sorry about all the typos. Auto correct is doing my head in.

BrandisBaked Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 9:53pm

AWhy do you need new countertops?

MustangMollie Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 11:10pm

AWell I don't NEED me counter tops but they could do with replacing in the next 6 months or so. I think they're as old as the house (20 years) and the previous owners did slight damage in some areas. They are starting to look worn and the paint is wearing off around the edges, especially near the sink. I figure if they need replacing anyway I'd rather go with some type of songs as it will be easier to roll out fondant and pastry dough. I already have a bit of a following for pies and cheesecakes :)

kikiandkyle Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 11:18pm

AI don't know how old your kids are but if they're still home with you all day don't count on being able to do too much during the day!

BrandisBaked Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 11:21pm

AIf I'm doing something at home, I don't use my countertops - I have "The Mat" that I use on my kitchen table. My table is much larger and easier to work on than my countertops - plus, I don't have to clean powdered sugar from in the crease between the counter and the backsplash. :D

costumeczar Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 12:18am

Quote:

Originally Posted by kikiandkyle 

I don't know how old your kids are but if they're still home with you all day don't count on being able to do too much during the day!

 

I'd second this. You'll get a lot more done when they're in school or they're older. I have two kids who are teenagers now, and I started my home-based business when they were 1 and 4. I'd advise keeping it to one cake a week at first until you see how you manage with kids around if yours are younger. The one piece of advice I'd have in terms of business is to NOT feel like you have to take every piece of business that comes along. Most people who are starting out will think that they need to say yes to every person who asks for a cake, but that can swamp you really fast.

 

Also, I'll throw my hat into the read my blog circle. I've been writing it for the last 4 years (Hey, my blog-i-versary is tomorrow! :-)). I write about home-based business topics and general cake stuff.

kikiandkyle Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 12:42am

ADefinitely read costumeczar's blog, there is so much useful information on there.

MustangMollie Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 1:24am

AWhat is "the mat?" The guy at my local sugar at store told me to just roll fondant on my kitchen counter. I tried using a pastry matt because it has the size guides but it was so lightweight that it was all over the counter and very frustrating.

MustangMollie Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 1:27am

AMy kids are 9, 7, 2, and 7 months. I don't get any baking or decorating done during the day, I normally wake up before everyone else or start on cakes after all the kids are in bed. I was baking from about 8:30 until midnight last night. We ate going to put the two year old in day care one or two days a week though so that should give me a bit of time during the day.

MustangMollie Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 1:29am

AThanks costumeczar, sounds like really good advice! I can't wait to read your big. And happy anniversary!

BrandisBaked Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 1:45am

Ahttp://www.amazon.com/30-Inch-Fondant-Mat-Cover/dp/B005GWBL8W

MustangMollie Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 2:54am

AThanks for the link Brandis! The may doesn't move around when you roll fondant?

BrandisBaked Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 3:09am

AI haven't had any problems with it. Some people like it, some people don't. I also have a blue fondant mat (don't know what the name of that one is) that I also like as well, but it's just a single sheet and I really use it mostly to roll out sugar cookies.

MustangMollie Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 5:24am

AThanks again! I like the idea of rolling fondant at the kitchen table instead. I'll order one of those mats and are how it goes.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 10:22am

ALots of really great advice on this thread.

A few things not mentioned: Market research: I know this sounds silly, but I know lots of people who have friends & family tell them they should start a business. They mean well, but don't know what the heck they are saying. Find someone in your area throwing a dinner party or one of those buy my crap parties. Offer to supply dessert (with condition). After everyone oohs & ahs & raves about it, ask how much they would spend. This will help you recognize your target audience.

Building a business takes time. I was we'll into my second year before I made a true profit. If you are looking to bring in some extra cash, find a faster start up. Your initial start up will include: license, insurance, ingredients, a second refrigerator (cakes absorb odors!), boxes, cake drums, business cards, oh the list grows!

When I started my own business, baby Jacob was about 6 months. He was still taking 2 45 minute naps a day. Those were perfect opportunities for me. You have to e really great at time management! Now that he's 2, it's essential that I know my limits and maximize the moments. I'm very lucky to have a husband with a flexible schedule.

Know your limits. Don't exceed them. Under promise & over deliver. I do ONE wedding per weekend.

I know this has been very long. I had a lot to say. I truly want to be encouraging. I also know there are great bakers/decorators who happen to be terrible business people. Be honest with yourself & evaluate your skills. What is your motivation? Do you need to partner with someone who has skills you lack? What are your real obstacles and can you overcome them?

Knowledge is power! Once you are armed with knowing what exactly you want to do, some realistic goals, & some market research, you'll be on your way to neon a success.

costumeczar Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 10:44am

A

Original message sent by DeliciousDesserts

one of those buy my crap parties. .

Hahahahahahahaha! That made my day.

Excellent advice in the rest of your post, too.:-)

Stitches Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 12:56pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts 

Lots of really great advice on this thread.

A few things not mentioned:
Market research: I know this sounds silly, but I know lots of people who have friends & family tell them they should start a business. They mean well, but don't know what the heck they are saying. Find someone in your area throwing a dinner party or one of those buy my crap parties. Offer to supply dessert (with condition). After everyone oohs & ahs & raves about it, ask how much they would spend. This will help you recognize your target audience.

Building a business takes time. I was we'll into my second year before I made a true profit. If you are looking to bring in some extra cash, find a faster start up. Your initial start up will include: license, insurance, ingredients, a second refrigerator (cakes absorb odors!), boxes, cake drums, business cards, oh the list grows!

When I started my own business, baby Jacob was about 6 months. He was still taking 2 45 minute naps a day. Those were perfect opportunities for me. You have to e really great at time management! Now that he's 2, it's essential that I know my limits and maximize the moments. I'm very lucky to have a husband with a flexible schedule.

Know your limits. Don't exceed them. Under promise & over deliver. I do ONE wedding per weekend.

I know this has been very long. I had a lot to say. I truly want to be encouraging. I also know there are great bakers/decorators who happen to be terrible business people. Be honest with yourself & evaluate your skills. What is your motivation? Do you need to partner with someone who has skills you lack? What are your real obstacles and can you overcome them?

Knowledge is power! Once you are armed with knowing what exactly you want to do, some realistic goals, & some market research, you'll be on your way to neon a success.

 

Ditto, nice post!

Kathy107 Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 8:36pm

About the Mat - Does it make pop marks (craters) on your fondant?  Does it get sticky/greasy?  Thanks.

BrandisBaked Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 8:45pm

AI think it depends on your fondant and what you are using to roll it out with. The mat itself works great.

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