AHey all, I am a longtime lurker finally deciding to start posting. I am currently just a hobby baker, doing free cakes for family and friends, however it is getting expensive and I would love to start a home based cake business (we lived in a state where it was illegal the whole time we lived there) It is legal where I live now and I fully intend to do this the right and legal way. I am just a bit overwhelmed with all the business red tape aspects of it. My current state requires a license and I guess that means I have to get a county license too. I know I also need to get inspected and take a class. I plan to get this going in early 2014 (it was pointless to me to start late this year since all licenses expire the end of the year) I don't have any real questions right now, just wanted to say hi and I have enjoyed all the helpful advice on this forum! I look forward to start contributing more as I get more serious about this as a business. So hi!
how awesome for you--hi yourself--yes it's definitely a journey experience to get going--not a one stop shopping event--
best wishes to you for a sweet new year
Congratulations on wanting and planning to do things the legal and right way! That's a sign that you will be a success!
Hi! I have done the same. My hobby was becoming expensive and I wanted to supplement and use all of the equipment I had purchased . Plus, people were asking for me to bake for them. It's fun, and if you start small you will learn quite a bit. I for one learned I intend to stay small. Have fun, it's a great business to have!
ACongrats GG! It's a lot of work! Hopefully you don't live in a state (like mine) that requires you to build a second kitchen or rent one :)
Use your local Health Department, they'll give you a booklet with checklists and resources.
AThanks everyone! smckinney07, I used to live in a state like that. But we moved earlier this year. My new state does license home bakers but you gotta get inspected and get the ok from the county and city, but I'm outside of city limits. It's just so much and it's a big commitment because none of that is free. So there is no "try it and see." Now that we moved, my old state made it legal to bake and sell from home. No licensing or red tape required! I have some luck I tell you haha.
AOh that is bad luck!
So you probably need a seperate water line, right? I don't know much about living in the country, odd considering I'm from a rural area.
I was able to get liscenced to sell at Vendor Fairs/Farmers Markets and designated spots like that (with only one initial inspection) but anything else I had to build a seperate commercial type kitchen. The rules are confusing!
Have you thought about renting a kitchen for so many hours a week? I looked at it as an investment, making additions to my home-rather then paying someone else. I took things so, I had to. I bought used equipment-check out auctions and restaraunts that have gone out of business. One or two items every so often.
AWell, we are on city water (we are just outside the city limits by maybe a mile). I think it's probably a good thing that we are outside the city limits because then I don't have to worry about city permits (more $$) in addition to county and state. If I lived on a well, I would have to pay to have it tested. This concerns me a little though because we get notices every couple of months or so that the city water is not up to standards. I'm not really sure what/if I want to know, since there's nothing I can do about it except have my water turned off, so I never pay much attention to the notices. Oddly enough we got those all the time in my old state too, so maybe substandard city water is normal? I am hoping the state would grant me a license anyway, but given our city's water issues, they may deny it. Also, we live on septic and it is up to my local health department to determine whether our septic system is adequate enough to handle a home bakery business. I have heard of some areas in my state denying home baker because the output from a home bakery business is too much for a septic system and even some sewer systems!
I have not heard of any denials in my city or county, however I have not heard of any success stories either. The cottage food act in my state is only about a year old so I have heard that even the government employees are still trying to figure it out (that was another reason I was waiting till 2014). I guess all I can do is go for it and see what happens!
AOh I forgot to add, if I do get licensed, I do need one initial inspection. Plus I need to allow the health department unrestricted access in the event of a food borne illness outbreak or in the case of a complaint against me. I understand the need for this, but I am a stay at home mom (a toddler and a preschooler). In addition to making OCCASIONAL cakes, I volunteer at church and my son's school, we go to play dates and bible studies. I do not keep regular hours and I am not home all the time. If I don't give them a key to my house and they show up unannounced (they have to do the inspection with one hour of a complaint or notice of a food borne illness outbreak) and no one is home to let them in, is that considered denied entry? (That is cause for revocation of license). I know I need to ask them about it but in some cases it seems unrealistic. And I don't like the idea of giving my house key to a stranger!
I am so homesick and want to move back anyways. This isn't helping. :-(
Yeah, I have thought a little about a commercial kitchen (my church has 3! And they are nice!) but I think it will be harder for me at least until my daughter starts school (hopefully preschool next school year) otherwise I would need to find someone to watch her. And there is probably almost as much red tape to get a commercial kitchen license too! I just think it would be fun because their kitchens are bigger, and nicer (granite, nicer and newer appliances, etc) than mine. We are dreaming of a kitchen upgrade in the next few years but it could happen sooner if I can increase our income!
Did you end up renting a commercial kitchen or building your own?
Besides the Health Department to guide you, your area may have a Small Business Association that can help lead you.
ABatterupcake that is a great idea! I will look into that! Thank you.
I love your turtle
Hi! I'm in your spot right now! Set to open June 2014. I was licensed and legal years ago, but didn't get very far. I made exactly $43 profit that year (no income tax! woo hoo), because I quit amost as soon as I started (baby #2). Then we went broke and moved to a new city. Then I lost all my hard-earned inventory in a flood! I'm starting with nothing again, but what can ya do...
It's a lot different in my new town, but I'm muddling through one step at a time.
Congratulations and best wishes!
My best advice, take it slow, one step at a time, business can grow too fast, and then you will miss spending time with your kids and your family.
But if you want to do it, it can become a reality, and before you know it, you will have a real business!
Congratulations on you new baby! It will demand so much of you, you have no idea, just make sure you take good pictures of your creations, because after so much stress from a business, all you have are your beautiful pictures! and the satisfaction of knowing you created them. Good luck!
Thanks everyone! smckinney07, I used to live in a state like that. But we moved earlier this year. My new state does license home bakers but you gotta get inspected and get the ok from the county and city, but I'm outside of city limits. It's just so much and it's a big commitment because none of that is free. So there is no "try it and see." Now that we moved, my old state made it legal to bake and sell from home. No licensing or red tape required! I have some luck I tell you haha.
Actually, you're luckier than you realize. As a long as you're able to get licensed, you're much better off in a state that has some barrier to entry. In states with no barrier, bakeries are closing down and caking is becoming a business people can't support themselves with because when everybody can sell cakes without even taking a second to learn anything about the business side, the tendency is to undercharge by at least half. And no one can make a living when cakes don't sell for a fair price. I live in an "easy" state and would happily trade cottage food laws with you.
AI worked at the YMCA before I started out, they had a commercial kitchen I considered renting. I imagine the church's you refer to are already licensed, they typically have functions and serve food (I was one of the two people employed there that were required to have their ServSafe cert) they also make additional income renting their facilities out-at least that's how they utilize the facilities here.
It's a lot of work, there's more business involved then you'd think (I initially thought it would just be the fun parts that I enjoy), it's a big commitment, investment and the initial expenses are high either way you decide to go. I certainly don't want to deter you from it, just sharing my own experiences, and I still have a ways to go towards expanding and maintaing a successful business. It is also very rewarding.
In the end I decided against renting a kitchen, I looked at the addition to my home as more of an investment. I have a small child, working odd hours is the only way I can manage my household as well. Lugging and locking up supplies, restricted access to my workspace, leaving my work/supplies where someone could touch, just not something I'm comfortable with. I'd love a storefront someday.
I purchased used equipment from auctions, business going under, etc. which I stored and saved. I took things slower then others I'm sure.
As for the food b illness, most cottage laws restrict what we can serve-the risks are much lower, as long as your careful Im sure you'll be fine.
AThanks for the kind words and encouragement everyone! Howsweet I never looked at it that way before. Thank you for showing me the bright side. All I was able to see is the $$$$$ required by my state before I am allowed to make even a dime. And I have friends/family saying what if I can't make it back (is it worth going into more debt over) what if the market is not here (what if people aren't willing to pay big money for a cake when they can get something cheap from Walmart). The only way to find out is to try. And the only way to legally try is to pay upfront.... There are no small bakeries around that do custom cakes, so I don't know if people would be willing to pay a lot more for a custom cake because the current options are Walmart or the grocery store.... That is good as in limited competition but also bad because people are used to cheap cakes around here.
Thanks for the kind words and encouragement everyone! Howsweet I never looked at it that way before. Thank you for showing me the bright side. All I was able to see is the $$$$$ required by my state before I am allowed to make even a dime. And I have friends/family saying what if I can't make it back (is it worth going into more debt over) what if the market is not here (what if people aren't willing to pay big money for a cake when they can get something cheap from Walmart). The only way to find out is to try. And the only way to legally try is to pay upfront.... There are no small bakeries around that do custom cakes, so I don't know if people would be willing to pay a lot more for a custom cake because the current options are Walmart or the grocery store.... That is good as in limited competition but also bad because people are used to cheap cakes around here.
put some of the money into a market study--
had a friend with a beautiful well run, successful baking business--opened another shop across from a threatre figuring he'd get all the traffic from there--didn't happen--
market studies are invaluable --