Newbie Here And I Gotta Admit...i'm Skeert!

Business By GeorgieP Updated 23 Jul 2010 , 6:32pm by CookieMeister

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GeorgieP Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 10:29pm
post #1 of 15

OK, so I've been "lurking" for a few days and reading all the interesting topics especially here in the cake decorating business forum. I've recently become VERY interested in cake decorating and baking in general and would like to think that in the future I may open my own business. BUT...after reading some of these posts I'm thinking it's a little scary out there.

There are misbehaved brides (I can't watch Bridezillas because, well, I have a strong desire to SHAKE some of them), there are people threatening to go over to the decorator's home to "collect" what they feel is a refund that is due them and there are people claiming that they don't want to pay for cakes -some as low as $65!!!- because there are numerous uh, "infractions", i.e. hair supposedly in the cake, sliding tiers (after riding in the backseats of the purchaser's cars), just to name a few.

So I have to ask-Is the cake decorating business a good business to get into for the most part? Are the customers described in these posts few and far between or are they more of the norm? I'm looking to make a career change. I am tired of desk jobs and want to try something completely new. Exactly how stressful is the cake business?

I thank you for all your input and information on these forums. In answering this post you don't have to "sugar coat" your answer. OK...maybe just a little! icon_smile.gif Thanks again!


14 replies
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All4Show Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 10:39pm
post #2 of 15

You will see I'm a newbie too. They have me absolutely depressed!!

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Apti Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 10:59pm
post #3 of 15

GeorgieP and All4Show,
Hello, fellow new cakers. I don't have the stress of worrying about a business because I'm retired, thank god.... I also live in California where you will be arrested and sent to Gitmo if you're caught making cakes in your home. The downside of this is that if I want to create really cool cakes, I have to do it for FREE!!!! AAAGH! There are as many depressing posts about hobby bakers doing cakes for free as there are about the business aspects.

However, Buck Up! Nearly every single problem encountered by people in the cake business that I've seen here (forget TV, that's totally staged for drama), is because the person in the cake business did not get a contract, did not get the money when the order was placed, delivered, etc., did not have a tried and true business formula that is followed every time. In other words, it is a business, not a hobby! A business is very expensive to plan and execute. Look up how many small businesses fail and you'll see that it's not just cakes. Historically, artistic people are the very worst business people.

Call a local junior college and ask for a student to do a marketing plan for you--they all have to do this before graduation and it is usually free. Good luck, y'all!

Don't quit your day jobs until you do a LOT of marketing research!

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kakeladi Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 10:59pm
post #4 of 15

How easily are you upset? How quickly do you get stressed?
Many of us find the bridezillas far and few between. But.......they *are* out there and you will have to learn how to deal with them.

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Rose_N_Crantz Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 11:58pm
post #5 of 15

I agree. All those shows make it seem that's the only type of bride out there. But there are 10 more great ones for each bad one.

Or just smart customers that realize they made a mistake and they'll just sleep in the bed they make.

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tesso Posted 18 Jul 2010 , 12:49am
post #6 of 15
Originally Posted by kakeladi

How easily are you upset? How quickly do you get stressed?
Many of us find the bridezillas far and few between. But.......they *are* out there and you will have to learn how to deal with them.

Amen sister!! and that summed it all up. Just let me add, you need to have a back bone in this business. You will have to stand up for yourself and your work. The good times definately out number the bad. Also you have to be able to think on you feet pretty fast, incase of cake accidents.

Only you will know if you can handle the good and the bad.

one more word of wisdom. DONT DO PERISHABLE FILLINGS IN JULY AND AUGUST!! what a nightmare they can be if you live in a hot climate.

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minicuppie Posted 18 Jul 2010 , 1:19pm
post #7 of 15

You don't have to worry about getting a "sugar coated" answer in the business forums. Straight up honest and sometimes *witchy...that's us!

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MyDiwa Posted 18 Jul 2010 , 7:09pm
post #8 of 15

I don't have a business and I likely won't, at least not for a while. I had a desk job that I hated more days than I enjoyed it and am now a SAHM. It would be great to have extra income but I've come to the realization that skill is not all that's needed to make this kind of business (all kinds really but particularly this one) work. I am a creative person and since discovering cake decorating I seriously thought about turning it into a replacement income stream.

Having been on here for a little while, I've realized I would be miserable and my misery would have nothing to do with bridezillas for the most part.
- I would have to wear many hats (manager, accountant, marketer, creative director, baker, decorator, client liason etc). I don't do that well.
- I would have looooong hours and that goes against what I really want which is to be able to make my own hours and be home when my children are home as they grow up.
- Cakes take a reaaaally long time to create and depending on the amount of detail, it can get stressful if you have a lot on your plate at the time and you end up not enjoying it.
- I would have to invest a decent amount of money and deal with a looooot of red tape to open my business.
- I won't turn a profit for a looong time

Basically, I realized that I enjoy making cakes every now and then, I'd love to make extra money somehow, but the reality is that I don't have enough of a passion for it to drive me enough to get through everything I'd need to get through to make my business work. The people that have succeeded in this business you can tell from their tone that their love and passion for this runs deep and they have the "b.lls" it takes to do this.

So I guess the question is what is your motivation other than the money and do you have what it takes to see it through?

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costumeczar Posted 18 Jul 2010 , 9:49pm
post #9 of 15

1. You won't get rich doing cakes.
2. If you do want to make any money with a cake business you need to run it like a business, not a fun hobby.
3. Because it's not a fun hobby if it's a business.
4. Most clients are fine, but they're clients, not friends, and you can't take anything personally. I comparison shop for things, and so do they.
5. Did I say it's not a fun hobby if it's a business?
6. Don't believe everything you read online. There's lots of business advice out there, but it's not all good. Someone saying "My cousin's best friend's mother used to work for the health department, and she thinks I don't need an inspection" is not good business advice.
7. There's an upside and a downside of running any business on your own, and you have to be realistic about it.
8. You will kill any desire that you have for eating cake in your free time if you have a successful cake business. Potato chips are a different story icon_wink.gif

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hsmomma Posted 19 Jul 2010 , 12:04am
post #10 of 15

customeczar~ How TRUE!!!! I make so many cakes that I don't often find myself feeling like sitting down eating any. I live and breathe cakes...especially this time of year...when I'm looking for a treat, I don't even think of cake!

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CoutureCake Posted 19 Jul 2010 , 4:58am
post #11 of 15

LOL.. I don't hardly eat cake anymore - it's a job hazard... my 5yo has been a bonafide cake snob since the age of 2.5 - she literally won't eat a cake unless it's delish...

Seriously my rec' to you would be to take a job working for someone else as a baker/decorator.. It's MUCH less stressful and at the end of the week you're guaranteed a paycheck if you show up. In the ownership role, you really need to have the funding in place BEFORE you even think to open up shop. Also, the baking/decorating is the EASY part of owning a BUSINESS. The advantage of being the business owner is that you get to choose which 120-140 hours you want to work in a week. You've got to consider other areas of your life that will be impacted by being a BUSINESS owner... Things like not getting the weekends off because that's when most people host events. You can't just take the day off because someone springs an invitation to a picnic. Then comes pricing.. You've got to charge enough to cover expenses and pay yourself. A licensed kitchen is NOT cheap, but it can be done. The key is purchasing some components used and knowing when not to purchase used (Fridge/freezer)... Most of all, you want to do things like that without going into debt or relying on the bank.. If you have to take out a loan you're not going to be able to afford the first three years in business while you're getting your name and reputation established..

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GeorgieP Posted 20 Jul 2010 , 5:24pm
post #12 of 15

Thanks to all who responded. Your advice is appreciated! icon_biggrin.gif

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_christina_ Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 8:30pm
post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by hsmomma

customeczar~ How TRUE!!!! I make so many cakes that I don't often find myself feeling like sitting down eating any. I live and breathe cakes...especially this time of year...when I'm looking for a treat, I don't even think of cake!

I wish this were true for me!! Then maybe I could lose the extra baby weight that's sticking around. But no, I have to be one of those who never gets tired of cake...!

And I completely agree that once it becomes a business, it is not a fun hobby. I worked at a large production bakery and I often found myself hating to go in on certain days. Some days were great (those that were slow and your could breathe) others were downright awful (those where you were on your feet 11 hours straight without a lunch or break and only went to the bathroom once all day). Yup...the life of a food business is HARD!

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tavyheather Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 8:43pm
post #14 of 15

LOL, I guess it's great that I don't like cake, then! OOPS! did I just say that out loud? CRAP!

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CookieMeister Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 6:32pm
post #15 of 15

Bakeries have one of the highest failure rates of any industry. People go into it for the love of baking and decorating, but - an important thing to remember is it's a business. If you're not marketing-savvy, if you can't handle confrontation from customers, and if you don't understand cash flow, overhead, cost of labor, cost of goods sold, you need to educate yourself before trying this venture. Not to be wholly discouraging, but that's really what it boils down to.

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