I am a new member; I am planning to start a homemade cake business.. I love cake decorating but I have limited experience if you would say.. Moreover, I really need your advice to start my business successfully..
How to make good portfolio and outstand among others?how to price my cakes?should My prices be lower than bakeries?and so on..
your adviced will be highly appreciated!
Hi Xeina! Welcome to Cake Central! Hope you have lots of fun here and learn loads! 8)
I'm not a very old or very experienced member myself, but I started a home-baking business 8 months ago, which is pretty recent, so I thought I could share my experience with you. I'm sure plenty of much more experienced members will give you their advice soon, but here are my 2 cents.
1. I think the very first thing you should do is check your skill set. You say you have limited experience - that's ok if you're good at what you do, but you should get as much practice as you can. At the very least, you should have a few tried and tested recipes, and sufficient practice of basic techniques. Preparing an order for a customer is not the time to experiment, and you won't have room for error.
2. Are customers willing to pay for your product? Most of us start out with friends and family telling us that we're so good and we should start a business. But family is biased, and friends are getting free cake, so compliments are easy to give. Try to get some impartial opinions. Maybe you could participate in some sort of community event and give away free samples. Bake sales and fairs are also a great place to set up a stall and see if people are willing to buy your product.
For me, I was only making cakes for family and neighbours at first, and they all loved them. But then an acquaintance of mine saw some of my pictures and asked me to make a cake for her daughter's birthday party. It was a huge party, lots of people I didn't know, and a lot of people asked about the cake and I generated interest from there. I still waited months before starting up, so that I could perfect my recipes and practice.
3. Check your market and your customer base: is there room for another cake decorator? Does your product match or exceed the level of other established businesses? Maybe you can offer something a little different to attract customers to a new business like yours. For example, I offer 2" high fondant cakes for customers who want only 4 or 5 servings, but still want a cake that doesn't look tiny. Not exactly ground breaking, but no one else in my area does that, so I get a few orders that way.
4. Find out the laws in your state/country about home businesses and get the required licenses. Make a business plan. Figure out exactly what your product is. Are you going to sell only baked goods, or are you willing to provide other services too, like flowers, balloons, etc. Are you going to deliver? Will you take a delivery charge? Calculate the costs of your recipes, materials, electricity, etc. as closely as you can to help you with pricing.
5. Pricing is a huge and confusing issue, but basically find out what the market prices are, and match them. Do not charge less! Not only are you going to make enemies, it really isn't worth it. I am telling you this from experience.
I started off charging about 10% less than my competition, planning to match their prices within a few months. I changed my mind after my first order. The FIRST order! I worked all night, produced a quality product, got rave reviews from my customer and other strangers who ate my cupcakes, and I barely made any money off of it. I was very, very sad that day, lol! And then I started getting customers who would haggle with me 5 dollars at a time. 180, no 175, no 170, and on and on. I didn't want to be the cheap cake lady, so I upped my prices and eventually got customers willing to pay.
If your product is good, then charge for it. As for store-front bakeries, I do charge less than them, but not by much, and only because of the mindset of my customer base. They would never pay a home baker as much as a bakery. I plan to change that with time.
6. Advertising. You need to get your name out in the community. Flyers, ads, pictures on Facebook. Customers will only come if they know about you.
7. PATIENCE. Patience is the most important thing to have. It took 2 months after I set up my Facebook page to get my first official order (the aforementioned cupcakes), and then nothing for another 2 months. But in that time, I kept baking, kept posting pictures, kept spreading the word, and eventually the orders started coming in. I'm still not super busy, but I've had at least 1 to 2 orders every week for the past 3 months, sometimes even 3. I think that's not too shabby for an 8 month old, lol!
I usually get a bunch of orders in one go, and then nothing for like 10 days, and then another bunch of orders, and so on. In my free time I practice new techniques.
The current issues I'm facing are delivery and costs. I don't offer home delivery, customers have to pick up their order from my house. But after a couple of customers ruined their cakes on their way home, I've decided to start delivering myself and I'm looking at different options for that. Plus I'm also looking for ways to lower my ingredient and material costs.
There are lots of threads in the forum chock full of good advice about starting a business, so I suggest you go through them as well.
Anyway, I'm so sorry for the huge essay! I hope I didn't bore you and was able to help you at all. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask me. As you can see, I love to share, lol!
Thank you for your replies!
@bakemeenchanted , how kind of you to spend time replying in details!I really need that as I'm worried about the challenges that I could face..it was very helpful!Thank you!
Actually, I'm planning to go back to my home country and start my business there so I'm very busy those days preparing for my leave as well as buying cake baking and decorating staff .. I can't wait until I get there and start baking and practicing; I believe I will be more confident this way..
I will read as much as possible from the cake central, and I really loved connecting with you :)))
@Xeina I'm very glad I could be of help! I was worried my giant wall of text would put you off, lol! If you need any more information, please feel free to contact me 8)
@costumeczar 's advice is also very important. It's best if you start off with charging the same as bakeries. I would if I could get away with it. But I'm sure you'll figure all of that out when you do your market research 8)
Yes, a specialized delivery service is also something I'm looking into. Hopefully it'll work out!
Best of luck to you too, with your move and with your business. Starting up is such an exciting time! Have fun with it
And @costumeczar, is it ok if I fan-girl a little that you approve of my post? You are such a legend, and I've learned so much from your posts!
Well, thank you, but I don't know about being a legend, that's a little much. I just enjoy telling people what to do, so giving out advice is right up my alley, hahaha!