Everyone Loves My Cakes, Am I Good Enough To Open A Business

Business By Ldtx Updated 5 May 2011 , 6:21pm by littlecake

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Ldtx Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 3:43pm
post #1 of 16

I wanted some HONEST evaluations of my talent, so I thought I would post and see what is said. I LOVE decorating cakes, and started decorating cakes for my family and friends about 5 years ago. I am self taught, learned from trial and error and looking online. All my family and friends tell me I should open a business, and I am considering it, but don't know if I am really talented enough. There is SO much talent on here, I would love some of your opinions.
Thanks, Lesa

15 replies
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LisaPeps Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 4:30pm
post #2 of 16

The money makers in the cake industry are wedding cakes, I can only see one wedding cake in your pictures.

In my honest opinion, I think you need to practise more.

I noticed in the majority of your tiered cakes that the heights of the cake vary, especially in the toy story, teenage and flip flop cakes. You need to make sure each tier is the same height and are level.

I think you need to perfect covering cakes with fondant before starting up a business. A lot more brides ask for fondant cakes now. Your buttercream cakes are good though.

It's very easy for other people to say "You should so start a business", but they don't understand the process. Is it even feasible for you to drop everything and open a business within the next week, month, year? A lot of cake decorating business don't make a profit within the first year and some decorators don't give them self a wage in that year either.

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NerdyGirl Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 4:43pm
post #3 of 16

From a business angle, do you have the funds to get started? Have you checked with your local government about everything you'd need? Would you do it as a home business (is that legal where you are?) or a shop? Lots and LOTS of things you need to think about before starting a business. Cake skills are one facet of it.

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indydebi Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 4:56pm
post #4 of 16

opening a cake business is less about making cakes and more about knowing how to run a business.

As I describe it, you will need to know .....

- HR law
- purchasing
- inventory control
- logistics
- sales and marketing
- accounting .... lots and lots of bookkeeping and accounting
- how to deal with contractors, salesmen, etc (I had years of corporate background in this one! Its one of the most valuable skills!)
- any kind of management background at all
- financial planning and cash flow
- budget work

daily in shop duties will include .....
- cleaning
- dealing with irate customers
- handling phone calls, emails, walk-ins
- cleaning
- dealing with the "are you hiring?" and "would you like to buy this?" walk in questions
- how to say no to all of the donation requests
- did I mention cleaning?

Oh ... and at the end of the day, you might have a few minutes to actually work on a cake! icon_lol.gif

But seriously .... the question isn't are you talented enough on the cake side. The question is do you have any business experience and know anything about running a businss?

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WykdGud Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 4:57pm
post #5 of 16

I've seen better cakes, but I've also seen much worse (grocery store cakes) - so yes, I'd say you are definitely "good enough". But ask yourself if you really want to operate a business. Decorating cakes is fun and creative - running a business is tedious and stressful. If your business grows, you will be doing more ordering and bookkeeping than you will decorating.

Think about what you love about cake decorating - it all changes when you are doing it for a living and begin counting on that income and need to pay bills.

I LOVE cake decorating, but am about to take a huge leap into opening a bakery/cafe'. I've come to terms with the fact that I will be doing very little actual decorating since I need to be on top of everything else. It sucks.

If you love decorating and just want to earn some extra money, sometimes it's better just to work for someone else.

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jason_kraft Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 5:07pm
post #6 of 16

There are four main ways to open a legal cake business, listed in order from smallest to largest required up-front investment. All will require putting together a business plan first. It is not easy to run a business and you should be prepared to take a loss or break even for the first couple years...that said, it can be very rewarding if the business takes off.

1. Start a cake decorating business from home (this only works if you have a cottage food law in your state and you qualify for a home baking business)

2. Rent an incubator or commercial kitchen and bake your products there

3. Build your own commercial kitchen on our own property or renovate your house to include a commercial kitchen that meets local health dept requirements

4. Open a retail bakery with a storefront

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Bakingangel Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 5:07pm
post #7 of 16

Lesa, your cake gallery shows your creativeness and passion for cakes. My suggestion would be to fine tune your skills before taking such a big step. If you can, get Sharon Zambito's buttercream video and fondant video, or Jennifer Dontz's videos you'll find they will help you achieve that professional look. Their videos have been a blessing to me. They are reasonably priced and the professional tips are invaluable! Keep on Cakin! thumbs_up.gif

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Kitagrl Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 5:09pm
post #8 of 16

I think for a beginner your sculpting ability is above average! I'm sure your friends and family love having you make those for them! Your tiered cakes do need more practice but they are very cute.

Your business advice would totally depend on where you live. If you live in a state where its easy to work from home legally, for not a great expense, then you could get a license and keep doing it via word of mouth, increasing your skills.

If your state does not allow that, then I honestly do not think you are quite ready to open a bakery but I would keep decorating for friends and family to increase your skills, while also researching the things the above posters have mentioned about the business aspect of doing a cake shop.

Also watch a lot of YouTube videos about icing cakes, doing fondant, etc to increase those skills as well.

Good luck!

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tracycakes Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 5:11pm
post #9 of 16

Listen to IndyDebi. She has a wealth of knowledge. I've been open 1 1/2 years and so very little of my time is decorating. Cake decorating is fun but a business is, well, a business and you have to know so much more. Someone may be a great decorator and baker but unless they know how to run a business, it will fail.

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Ldtx Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 5:26pm
post #10 of 16

Thank you all for the tips and info. I work in retail and also have helped run a small business with my hubby so I know how hard it would be. I think I would rather work for someone and learn, and be able to create, too. I live out in the country, and we only have Wal-mart out here for cakes. I would Love to find a bakery to work at to perfect my skills and learn. Thanks again for your input and I will keep on bakingthumbs_up.gif

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jenmat Posted 23 Apr 2011 , 7:33pm
post #11 of 16

Like everyone else is saying, its not about being good enough at cakes, its about understanding the craziness that can come with opening a bakery.

Am I good enough? Probably, for my area at least. But I am NOT good enough to open a "real" bakery. Why? Because I look at all the OTHER things that I would have to do (manage employees, accounting, and all the other stuff Indy mentioned), and I KNOW I'm not quite crazy enough or educated enough, or free enough (i have a little one) to manage that yet. Maybe someday I'll have the stones to do it.

BUT if you can put in a home commercial kitchen or bake legally from home, then by all means, that allows you to take the time to develop skills and of course you are good enough to do that.

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tokazodo Posted 24 Apr 2011 , 2:08am
post #12 of 16

Ldtx, the only thing I would add is to be passionate about your business. There will be bad days. And on those bad days, you may have tears of exhaustion and frustration running down your cheeks, as you lock the door to your bakery for the evening. It's going to be the passion, which brings you back the next day, to do it all over again.

If this is how you truly feel then I say go for it with all your might. It's the stuff our country was built upon. Emigrants came from other countries and made their dreams come true this way, so can we!

You have a natural talent towards cake decorating and you need to keep going with.

Good Luck to you!

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johnson6ofus Posted 24 Apr 2011 , 4:03am
post #13 of 16

My sis is a fine doctor. Insists on having "her own" practice (independent business).... bankrupt 3 times, and she is only 55... I bet a few more are coming.

It's not her "doctoring", it is her lack of business sense and ability and desire to deal with that list of junk indydebi posted.

Sounds like you have some experience / exposure with the business end--- but---- it's different "when it's all you".

Cute stuff in the gallery!

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mombabytiger Posted 1 May 2011 , 5:18am
post #14 of 16

Judging from your pics, I would have to say that you are not ready to open a business. (I assume you would prefer honesty). Aside from the other suggestions - get Sharon's DVD's - I would practice on small cakes with simple design elements and learn to perfect them. Do a 6-in round, cover with fondant perfectly - no bumps or buckling. Put one perfectly made gumpaste flower on the top. Do a simple fondant ribbon border on the bottom. Now photograph from all angles and look for imperfections. Keep doing this until you don't see any imperfections. The second time you do it will be easier, and so on. If you are going to pipe writing, practice over and over. Just sit and pipe straight lines and scrolls until you are extremely comfortable when picking up that bag.
Cake decorating is a collection of skills. Each one needs to be mastered. You're off to a great start, though!

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RussellsCakes Posted 3 May 2011 , 4:03am
post #15 of 16

ldtx, is your screen name implying you are in TX? if so, what part?

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littlecake Posted 5 May 2011 , 6:21pm
post #16 of 16

i think you are good enough, the big question is are you fast enough, you gotta make a lot of cakes to pay the rent.

ha ha indy about the cleaning!

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