Questions About Starting A Business

Business By AgBaker Updated 17 Dec 2013 , 5:07pm by howsweet

AgBaker Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 5:43am
post #1 of 11

Hello all!!

 

I am currently enrolled in a French pastry school and will graduate in summer.  I am also working part time at a bakery to get more experience and exposure.  I do not have any experience in the food industry but would love to have an established pastry business some day.  How do I go about it?  I guess what I am trying to ask is-how do I start selling my product if I do not have a store front?  I plan to rent commercial kitchens (until I can modify my kitchen to comply with the state laws).  Who do I sell to? How do I get contracts?  How do I get wholesale business? 

 

And to be very honest-I am not even sure what kinds of pastries/products I should be selling.  I know for sure that I will not be doing custom cakes (as of now-as I still need tonnes of decorating practice).  If I were not to do wedding and birthday cakes-what other products can be sold without a store front? 

 

I think now I am babbling and am all over the place.  I am really confused as to how to start.  I would love to get some direction from the experienced folks out here so that hopefully I can start something on my own by the end of next year. 

 

P.S: As I read my post I realized that I sound like I have no experience what so ever-and that is true-but I would like to learn so that I can be a successful baker and business one day!  

 

Thanks!!!!

10 replies
jason_kraft Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 6:30am
post #2 of 11

AThe best place to start is a business plan, you can find free templates and guidance at http://bplans.com. Competitive analysis and market research in your local area will help you determine supply and demand for different types of products at different price points. You may find it helpful to take business classes (marketing, operations, accounting, etc.) if you don't have a background in this sort of thing.

If your local market is still healthy and hasn't been ruined by unlicensed bakeries and underpricing, I would recommend continuing to practice until you are confident enough to make saleable custom cakes. If you don't have a storefront and can't offer custom cakes your options would be very limited.

You may also want to check out the Starting a Business link in my signature below for a more high-level summary of the steps involved. Good luck!

MimiFix Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 4:19pm
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

... If you don't have a storefront and can't offer custom cakes your options would be very limited.

 

Most of Jason's advice is usually sound. But I don't agree with the above statement. Custom cake is not the entire world of baked goods. Most of my students do not have a storefront. They bake and sell a variety of goods and sell either retail through farmers' markets or wholesale to area stores.

ellavanilla Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 4:49pm
post #4 of 11

You need to figure out what you would love to do, IMO. Perhaps its custom cakes, maybe not. Maybe beautiful breads, or French Macarons, or rugulech. there's a store in my hometown that only bakes coconut macaroons. They have customers out the door. So I would suggest you find your bliss first, and then write a business plan. 

 

It can be short and sweet at first. Especially if you need to get more training, or raise money, but definitely write something down. 

 

Explore your options by finding a SCORE mentor from the small business administration. They are retired business professionals who help develop your plans with you. 

jason_kraft Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 5:04pm
post #5 of 11

A

Original message sent by MimiFix

Most of Jason's advice is usually sound. But I don't agree with the above statement. [I]Custom cake[/I] is not the entire world of baked goods. Most of my students do not have a storefront. They bake and sell a variety of goods and sell either retail through farmers' markets or wholesale to area stores.

It depends on the area...wholesale can be tough to break into unless you can provide a competitive advantage (price or value) over the existing products a retailer sells, and the most desirable farmer's markets may have long waiting lists (and may not run the whole year). The research you do for your business plan will help you determine whether or not these strategies can be viable.

howsweet Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 7:33pm
post #6 of 11

AMost of the successful shops I've seen that sell french pastries, cheese cake, cookies also operate as a cafe with sandwiches soups, coffee etc.

howsweet Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 7:35pm
post #7 of 11

AAnd that's still risky, I can think of about 1 that's survived for every 2 that haven't.

AgBaker Posted 17 Dec 2013 , 5:04am
post #8 of 11

Thank you all for your input.  It breaks my heart to read that 1 out of 2 bakeries shut down.  But it is so true.  I do not want to be that business which closes down just one year after opening.  And hence am trying to do all my research well in advance while saving money for a business.

 

Jason mentioned making custom cakes else my options would be limited.  And I think he may be correct.  I interviewed at a high end French bakery in town a few months back and the owner mentioned that their main source of income was custom and wedding cakes.  This bakery has amazing product but still it has to depend on custom cakes to stay in business.  So while I am trying to find my niche maybe I should also start working on my decorating skills as well. 

MimiFix Posted 17 Dec 2013 , 12:33pm
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by AgBaker 
 

Thank you all for your input.  It breaks my heart to read that 1 out of 2 bakeries shut down. 

 

AgBaker, the failure rate for food businesses is far higher than 50%. howsweet did not give you a statistic but simply wrote that she can, "think of about 1 that's survived for every 2 that haven't." What if someone posted that as far as they knew, 9 out of 10 pastry shops were doing well?

 

CC members are willing to give their opinions but I would never base my goal on someone's personal opinion. Nor on the anonymous cheers of the people here who invest no money in someone else's dream.  

embersmom Posted 17 Dec 2013 , 3:41pm
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix 
 

 

AgBaker, the failure rate for food businesses is far higher than 50%. howsweet did not give you a statistic but simply wrote that she can, "think of about 1 that's survived for every 2 that haven't." What if someone posted that as far as they knew, 9 out of 10 pastry shops were doing well?

 

CC members are willing to give their opinions but I would never base my goal on someone's personal opinion. Nor on the anonymous cheers of the people here who invest no money in someone else's dream.  


It's a very, very tough business, sad to say :nodding:  My advice would be to start small.  We have a local small storefront bakery that's been in business for roughly 10 years, even though there are many retail storefronts in the area which specialize in custom cakes.  The owner has made a name for herself concentrating on small pastries, cookies, and cupcakes as well as coffee and tea.  I think it was very prudent of her to go that route rather than trying to compete with the cakes because she doesn't have their overhead nor the labor (she's a one-person shop).  Just a thought.  Again, as Jason said, whatever route you decide will depend on what's already established in your area and what the market rate is for baked goods, meaning how much people would be willing to pay for them.

 

There are other home bakers in my area who concentrate on wholesale.  We have a couple of upscale stores in the area which carry their goods.  One of them does custom cakes -- she has a couple of dummies on display -- and the store plays intermediary between her and the potential customer.  She must be doing business because she's been there for awhile and the dummies are changed regularly.  Again, just another thought.

howsweet Posted 17 Dec 2013 , 5:07pm
post #11 of 11

Quote:

Originally Posted by MimiFix 
 

 

AgBaker, the failure rate for food businesses is far higher than 50%. howsweet did not give you a statistic but simply wrote that she can, "think of about 1 that's survived for every 2 that haven't." What if someone posted that as far as they knew, 9 out of 10 pastry shops were doing well?

 

CC members are willing to give their opinions but I would never base my goal on someone's personal opinion. Nor on the anonymous cheers of the people here who invest no money in someone else's dream.  


Thanks, Mimi. That's so well put about the "anonymous cheers of the people here who invest no money in someone else's dream".

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