Taking The Plunge Advice Welcome

Business By Webake2gether Updated 1 Oct 2015 , 12:52pm by sweetpea1234

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Webake2gether Posted 30 Jul 2015 , 11:39pm
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My husband and I have decided  to put a commercial grade kitchen in our home finally. We listed our house hoping to move to another house with a better space for a kitchen but our house hasn't sold and there is NOTHING in our area we could have a kitchen put in. So two words come to mind Yay and Ahhhhh. I'm beyond excited but terrified at this huge decision. The process is confusing here in Illinois the laws are strict which is ok but it makes this seem impossible. 

Also I'm worried that I've not gained enough experience and skill to run a licensed commercial kitchen. Any advice or tips are beyond welcome. We've only been baking for about 8 months but people we don't know ask us all the time to do cakes and other baked goods(which we don't). So I know we'll have some orders but it's still a huge unknown. We've done drawings, giveaways and donations to get our products tasted and the unsolicited response is always "please let me know when I can order". I'm just scared and insecure I guess but I know this is what I want us to pursue. I'd love to hear from other bakers who've successfully added commercial kitchens in their homes and what their biggest challenges are (or were) and what the greatest rewards are (or have been). Thanks in advance :)

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Jinkies Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 12:41am
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No advice, just wanna say congrats!  I'm sure you'll do amazing things!

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DixieDooly Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 12:57am
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I can't offer any advice from having experience with a commercial kitchen in my home but we are in the process of pricing an addition to our home that will include a separate "hobby" kitchen for me. We have only built our home about six years ago and I am not looking forward to the hassle of construction again. Not that I am not accustomed to being around it since we are electrical contractors ourselves, but I am not excited about the mess all around me. I am excited to get myself in my new kitchen though!!!

Since I don't know anything about Illinois laws I cannot speak to that. I can say that by looking at the photos you have posted on here that you are off to a great start! It also sounds like you have been getting your product out there so I'm sure that will help boost your start up. May I also say that I admire the fact that you and your husband can work so closely together. We heard horror stories from others that had worked with their spouses but we have been doing this for almost 25 years and we still love working together. It is a great feeling to have the support of my closest ally on bad days and the good days.

I wish you so much success with what you have decided to do. If you feel this is something y'all truly want to do, then do it!!! There are no do overs in this life so take the chance if you can and be happy and love each other!!!

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Jedi Knight Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 5:04am
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You're taking the step from baking as a hobby to running a business. These are two completely different animals. 

Are you prepared?

Your first step, long before breaking ground, should to be a thorough and proper business plan.

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Pastrybaglady Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 7:23am
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Congrats!  I wish you both the best but I already know you're going to do great!

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kkmcmahan Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 10:31am
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Last year Illinois did relax their laws slightly in that you can sell cakes from you home (without the licensed kitchen) for up to $1K per month.  As the licensed kitchen is such a huge endeavor (which I dream of having someday but know I never will) you might want to consider starting your business on a small scale (to keep within the limits) and see how it goes.  I'm very excited for you and hope it all goes smoothly.  Good luck.

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Webake2gether Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 12:25pm
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@kkmcmahan  That law has not been adopted by most counties in Illinois. Which isn't a bad thing the law has many issues and most counties can't adopt it because it contradicts current ordinances. A lot of bakers think it's in place without checking first and find themselves getting cease and desist letters. Most of the confusion comes from the process our county has you go through nothing is clear an direct so wee done a lot of homework on the laws and requirements. It's getting all the ducks in a row in the right order thats challenging. 

@jedi Knight- We are getting prepared. We are focusing more now on the business side of this than the baking. We have the financial part covered, we are looking into an accountant, and we know how much we need to bake a month to cover our expenses and eventually make a profit. My husband is business oriented and is currently a director/manager of two service and parts departments at a car dealership so he is good with numbers and money. Would I say that we are completely prepared absolutely not we just decided to move forward this week. We plan to open for business January 2016 so taking 5 months to nail all the important stuff down. If you don't mind me asking what do you think the most important part of a business plan is? Is there anything we may have missed? 

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Webake2gether Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 12:39pm
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@DixieDooly  We love working side by side sure we have our moments (mostly me) where I can get a little snippy when I'm under pressure but we are ok with each other you know. At the end of everyday no matter what has happened we know we're alright. We are secure in our relationship and make a good team. This is something that as we grow older and our kids grow up well have this together. I know mushy mushy but we love each other and seem to have a knack of baking together. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words!!!

@Pastrybaglady  & @Jinkies  Thanks for the kind words!! I only hope we continue to grow and improve and have masterpieces like so many on here :)

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Snowflakebunny23 Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 4:07pm
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I would say a business plan is important and the biggest part of it should be customer research.  Don't get me the wrong way but I had lots of people saying 'oh, I'd love to order from you' then when they do get in touch, they jaw-drop at the price and it's thanks, but no thanks.  All I'm trying to say is to make sure that you have enough customers in your area who can and will pay the prices you will have to charge to support your business and your family.  The laws in the UK are significantly more flexible than in the US.  It's virtually free to sell cakes from your home yet I highly doubt I could afford to support myself with cakes.  There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of cake decorators out there driving down prices and customers are not seeing it.  I'm not trying to be a kill joy, but it's a big investment for you!

Only other big thing would be marketing and what it actually effective.  Focus on where you will spend your marketing budget (and make sure you have a way of measuring which method is successful).  I know some people do flyer drops at wedding shows but I've never bothered with them...because when I was planning my wedding, I just chucked them all away so figured the brides would probably do the same.  

All said and done, I am rather jealous!  I would LOVE to have a crack at a commercial kitchen and wish you all the very best of luck in your new venture :-)

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Webake2gether Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 4:56pm
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@Snowflakebunny23  You are not a killjoy at all!!! I said advice welcome and I greatly appreciate the input. As far as the market we have a base price list in place (not advertised of course) but we have another commercial kitchen baker that has guided us along the way and has asked us to be a reference baker she could send her clients to when she is unable to take their orders. We actually have the same pricing as her and she is booked solid. Her clients have already contacted us and are aware of the costs. This is not to sound arrogant because we have a lot learn and our work is still being perfected but if you seen some of the cakes people buy here and what they pay for it you would be shocked. We have a great market of clients for custom cakes, cupcakes, speciality cakes and cookies but a lot of bakers who unfortunately do mediocre work at best. The other baker who has taken Us under her wing is very confident in our work and she is amazing. Our target market would be special occasion cakes and cupcakes. They are popular here. My husband is also very good at marketing (he's a man who wears many hats lol) that's also something he has a role in at his current job. We've found here word of mouth is the best form of advertisement. 

Our city has a population of 100,000+ with several higher income suburbs closely by. I know none of that guarantees our success and I'm terrified of the risks involved but I don't know if I could live myself if I don't at least try. Also I tell people our prices will be more than other bakers in our area because we will be licensed and inspected. It's a gamble :)

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staceyfarmer21 Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 5:12pm
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Good luck! From UK! reach for the stars! And have faith in yourself and your product x x

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johnson6ofus Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 5:54pm
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"Seen" you around lots on the forums--- good for you! Learning from others mistakes and not only taking off, but stomping on the rose colored glasses. :) You have read (I assume) about contracts and getting $$$ up front, about the inevitable group that will try to bully you for a refund, about the endless requests for donations, about character infringement, about complying with local laws......and then, the actual cake.

I personally cannot stress enough the friends issue of "open a bakery", "this is the best" that turns into whispers behind your back of "She had the nerve to tell me it was $100!". 

You sound better though out and researched than 99% of folks. All I can say is best of luck!

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jgifford Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 8:54pm
post #13 of 69

I think this is great!!! You two seem to really have your feet on the ground with a good grasp of reality.  And you do beautiful work, too.  My husband and I have worked together for years and it can be done.  It's a good thing I'm a bottomless pit of patience.  Yeah, right.

You have your pricing in place - - great!

Have a good lawyer-approved contract.

Make sure you know your recipes frontwards and backwards.

You need to drip confidence (just short of having attitude) and don't let them see you sweat.  As far as the customers know, they absolutely can't come up with anything you haven't handled before. 

And don't be afraid to say "NO".

We wish you all the best. 

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Webake2gether Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 1:42pm
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@johnson6ofus  I had a response all typed out on my phone and hit the back arrow and lost it lol. It's funny you mentioned charities because we decided that we would only do 3 a year with a standard donation for each. We've already done 2 this year. I don't mind being charitable but that will not be beneficial for us as a business to constantly do donated work. I am actually a realist and my husband is sensible not to mention business smart so no rose colored glasses for us :) I've read and read on the infringement laws. contacted the city for the building inspector, city zoning law, health department, I know how to get my business tax Id number through our state and federal tax ID number as well, the plumber came Friday and we have an electrician coming this coming week as well. We are researching equipment now trying to a good deal on some pre-owned commercial grade appliances. I never thought I would be excited over kitchen appliances haha!

@jgifford  Thanks for the kind words about our work we only hope to get better and better!! I appreciate the advice about the confidence I am really insecure when it comes to what people will think about our work and if they'll like it or hate it. I know how to say no really well I won't do something I don't want to (ask my husband lol). Oh and thanks for the tip on a lawyer approved contract I know an awesome lawyer as well so I'll be contacting him soon too. 

@staceyfarmer21  Thanks for the encouragement its greatly appreciated!!

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Webake2gether Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 8:30pm
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Just thought I'd give you all a quick update while I sit down for the first time all week lol. City zoning is good, plumbing inspector cleared us for construction, we have an awesome plumber and all our plumbing is in the exact area we needed it to be, electrician only has to add an outlet for the fridge and install 3 lights in their existing spot, we are able to do some of the work ourselves and actually may open a whole lot sooner. The only issue we are having is finding equipment within our price range that isn't hundreds of miles away. Still some legal stuff to do as well but this has all fallen into place wonderfully feels like a dream :) 

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jgifford Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 8:53pm
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Sounds like everything is working out - - like it was meant to be?  Hmmmmmm.  Congratulations and best wishes for your new business.  If you were a little closer, I'd bring you a cake for your grand opening.

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Webake2gether Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 9:22pm
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@jgifford  Awe thanks!! 6 months ago we were so far from the possibility and to be this close as things just falling into place is soooo amazing. Honestly I think it's because we didn't rush 6 months ago and instead took our time. I kept saying if it's meant to happen it will all work out. I'm content with waiting until the right time. And it all just sort of happened naturally. I'm not as stressed as I was when I first posted and I'm looking forward to breaking ground so I speak :) I'm trying to figure out a good promotional way to celebrate our grand opening. Any suggestions? We will be delivery only so I can't have an actual "opening". 

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DixieDooly Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 9:26pm
post #18 of 69

Are you going to be charging for delivery?

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-K8memphis Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 9:32pm
post #19 of 69

jg, what a sweet touch to want to bake them a cake --

i'm just real happy for you guys -- making dreams come true one cupcake at a time --

sending my best to yous!

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jgifford Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 9:33pm
post #20 of 69

We'll have you so many suggestions going by the time you open you'll have business out your ears.  At the moment I'm thinking a 4-pack sampler of cupcakes with different flavors to go with your first 12 or so orders. We'll give it some thought.

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Pastrybaglady Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 9:38pm
post #21 of 69

Oh pleeeeease post pictures of your kitchen when it's done, I love that stuff!

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DixieDooly Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 9:56pm
post #22 of 69

I was thinking about free delivery if you charge for it, or like jgifford suggested some sort of cupcake sampling.  Or a discount coupon good towards their next order?  You know like order a cake then get like10% off your next order?

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Webake2gether Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 1:00am
post #23 of 69

Oh my goodness you guys are so awesome!! I'll take a picture of the space and show you the before and will definitely share the in progress and finished pictures. It was just this week confirmed that we will be delivery only so I'll probably just add it in my prices  and tell my customer this price includes delivery instead of making it an additional charge on the price list.  Although we've not discussed this in depth. This is moving so quickly we may have to take our sanitation license class online instead of attending the classes. 

Also I was thinking something along the lines of cupcakes (great minds think alike on here lol) because I can seriously make hundreds of them really easily. I can't wait to bake for the first time in our kitchen. I wished I could bake some for all of you!!! I've learned so much from all of you gosh this site really helped me be realistic and get prepared for all this. I'm waiting on my husband and his band to get done practicing so I can go take a picture of the kitchen side lol. I'm excited to share the journey with you all :) 

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littlejewel Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 3:30am
post #24 of 69

I'm excited for you. I have no advice.  Before the cupcake law the only option we  had in Illinois for baking at home was to have a kitchen separate. I am lucky that my health department and county board said the comply with the cupcake law.  I  can definitely.relate to.feeling like you. don't have enough experience. I have only done cakes for a few friends.  Are you going to have a website? I wonder if you could offer a groupon as a grand opening to let the public get.comfortable with your business. I can't wait to see your kitchen.

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DixieDooly Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 3:57am
post #25 of 69

Same for me, please post pictures so we can see your progress.  I am so excited for you and wish you the best success!!!

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Webake2gether Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 12:29pm
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Webake2gether Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 12:34pm
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The first picture shows the wall where the fridge and convection oven will go the other picture with the window is the area where the 3 compartment sink will go also the hand sink will be located on a wall to the right of the 3 comp. sink. It is all open space so we will have our stainless steel tables set up in the space in picture 3. We will have modest size equipment of course but I think it will do. The mixer will most likely go on the wall with the window or possibly between the fridge and convection oven.  Sorry the pictures turned sideways. This was a challenge just to get them posted from my phone lol. I am finally seeing what it could be. We sold our furniture yesterday and our sewer line was traced so the tape on the carpet shows where my plumbing will go for the floor drain and sink. I am over the moon excited I can't wait to rip carpet out and take baseboards down even though we just put them in last year lol. 

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Webake2gether Posted 16 Aug 2015 , 7:40pm
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55d0e734937ee.jpeg55d0e73574e62.jpegDemo is about half done :)

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DixieDooly Posted 16 Aug 2015 , 8:37pm
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Great progress! I'll bet you are excited!!!

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jgifford Posted 16 Aug 2015 , 8:55pm
post #30 of 69

Wow!  In the middle of demo and it's that clean!  I've seen restaurant kitchens that never got to that level. Can't wait to see it all done.

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