I just legalized my kitchen but only do cakes for friends and family right now so I can make mistakes with few consequences. For those of you who started out this way, how long was it before you felt comfortable baking for the general public?
In my case, it was a long time - - I wouldn't do it until it was legal for me to do so. Even then, I was kind of pushed into it. Many people saw the cake I did for my dd's wedding and were very persistent. I don't think this is something you can truly prepare for - - even with the best research and the most extensive business plan, the actual doing can be scary.
One thing you need to keep in mind while you're only baking for friends and family is your pricing. If you're charging a minimal amount in order to gain the experience, that minimal amount is what will be expected later. Make sure the recipient knows the actual value of the cake and that you're only charging $XX for a limited time.
From the time I started cake decorating to the time I sold my first cake was about 2 years. But I also work full time so up until I started getting regular orders I didn't have a ton of time to practice.
Offer what you know. I was also pushed into it. I am by no means a decorator, but I sell my cakes. I'm a scratch baker that has customers insist I do celebration cakes. I am up front and tell them they have to pick a style that I can actually do. It works for me.
So I suggest just start. Don't worry about lower prices now. You can always offer those simpler cakes even when you get better and your portfolio get larger.
Maybe you could start out with some cupcakes or other desserts to make money while you perfect your skills. If you look at my site, hardly nobody orders the items that can be gotten from somewhere else. That was an eye-opener to me. I thought it would be cakes and cupcakes. So do what you know and start. I will bet even the pros like FromScratch and costumeczar still get better every year.
Congrats and keep at it. I went on to work with my cake baker and decorator teacher for almost 2 yrs while selling once I finished my course with her to family and friends. You will get better over time. Sell what you know you can do well. Every year your skills will improve with advice and knowledge from websites like this, Youtube and Cake books.