Do I Take The Plunge And Start My Own Business?

Business By Lana26 Updated 15 Nov 2018 , 2:09am by SandraSmiley

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Lana26 Posted 8 Nov 2018 , 9:54pm
post #1 of 34

I started making cakes for my children’s birthday’s a couple of years ago and have done the odd cake for friends and family, you can see some of them in my gallery. I’m currently a stay at home Mum but will be looking for work once my daughter starts full time school next year.  I’ve had a few people tell me that I should sell my cakes but I’m not sure I’d make enough money to make it worth it. I live in the UK and know there are a lot of people in just my small town that do this so I’m wondering if it’s worth the risk. I’d have to charge more than the basic £40-£60 that most people expect in this area because it does take me so long to make them. I know there are some amazingly talented cake decorators on here so just wanted some advice really on if it’s worth it. 

33 replies
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SandraSmiley Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 4:21pm
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Personally, I would not even consider it.  It is hard to make a living wage making cakes.  I prefer to work at a regular job and do the cakes as a side line or hobby.  That being said, I was retired before I started decorating cakes, but that makes my advise that much more valid.  I do only the occasional cake for a client and it is mega stressful and time consuming and that is before the horror of delivery.  If you become dependent upon cakes for your livelihood, it is possible that the stress would take away the joy.  This is entirely my own thinking and may not apply to you at all.  I guess you have to go with your gut.

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-K8memphis Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 6:17pm
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i don't think anyone can make much money at it -- but it's kinda fun if you're not too serious about it --

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jchuck Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 9:36pm
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Lana26

It is extremely difficult to make a living as a cake decorator full time. Long, loooooooooong hours, for very little pay. I have a good friend who is a professional cake decorator, over 40 years. When she started, there just weren’t any out of your home decorators. Just local bakeries that made cakes. Over the last 10 years, everybody and there Mother has become a cake decorator. Some good, very good, mediocre, and some bad, and some, very bad. Many unlicensed..no food/hygiene certification, no insurance. This is very difficult to compete against. Especially when you’re paying out for certification/insurance, and others aren’t. Plus many of these decorators use the cheapest ingredients they can buy to create there cakes. Which my friend certainly doesn’t.  My friend has pretty much semi retired, making only cakes for loyal customers. All these “on every corner” decorators have cut into my decorator friends business. Many with ridiculous prices she not only can’t match, but wouldn’t try. There would be no profit at all. Add in taking care of your children, household etc. Decorating when children are sleeping (if you’re lucky), or late into the wee hours of the night when all the family are in bed. Will there be stress between your spouse/partner and you with added responsibility on there part. Or will they help with the added responsibility of your cake business?? What about being busy ALL SUMMER, with possible wedding cakes?? No vacation with the family because you’re tied to your cakes, delivering on weekends. Ditto for holiday cakes. 

Now of course , these are all scenarios that may or may not happen. Having your own business, regardless of what it is, is hard, hard work. Most don’t turn a profit until 3-7 years in, depending on the business.  If you’re determined, you have to do your homework. Know your market. Create a business plan. How much to set up your business? Will you have to borrow money? Much to consider. I’m not trying to be a downer, and spoil your dreams. Having your own business sounds fun and adventurous. I’m one who likes to be realistic, investigative and check out the facts. Making sure I’m making an intelligent decision based on good information.

Good luck on your decision.

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kakeladi Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 9:53pm
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Along with what has already been mentioned about the only way one could (if then!) , make a living off decorating is to become THE BEST! in sculpted &/or very, very fancy cakes costing over $1,000s in price.   

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kakeladi Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 9:55pm
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Well I wasn't qujite done typing when I hit send :)   There is a t.v. show on here in the state now  - titled something like 'outragous cakes/ featuring many British bakers.  They NEVER quote prices except this a.m. one announcer mentioned one costing over $2,700. 

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jchuck Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 10:27pm
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Well kakeladi what you posted is true and sorta untrue at the same time. Yes, if you’re cakes are amazingly crafted, high end, etc. you could do very well. Ok, but the reality is you gotta find that market. And some decorators have moved from where they lived to find that market. Example...Clare Ptak moving from USA to a trendy part of London. Nicholas Lodge moving from UK to NY city. Of course, even doing that is a big risk. Hoping to tap into the big spenders market. Getting big enough to have the luxury of having staff to help in your business.  There is a well known decorator who just literally threw in the towel. An absolutely amazingly awesome decorator. When she sat down and figured out what she was actually making as opposed to the hours an hours and hours creating, missing holidays, time with children, husband, other family and friends...it just didn’t add up. Not just financially, which of course is important, but physically and emotionally. She became strictly a hobby baker with occasional seller. She’s blissfully happy. Actually enjoying the cakey creativity. 

 Oh, and I forgot to mention in my previous post something about my cake decorating friend. That if her husband hadn’t had an amazing job with benefits,  she couldn’t have survived. Especially during lean times with very few care orders. And her husband was an amazing help. Making buttercream, cleaning up for her, making dinner... Helping with almost all her cake deliveries. One rare fella I can tell you. That is very much not the case with most women in the cake decorating business. 

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-K8memphis Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 10:51pm
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nick lodge is in georgia --


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SandraSmiley Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 11:23pm
post #9 of 34

Yes, we get to claim Nicholas Lodge as a transplanted Southern boy.  He is in Atlanta and he mostly teaches.


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jchuck Posted 9 Nov 2018 , 11:53pm
post #10 of 34

Oops Kate & Sandra....you're right. I stand corrected. N L is in Georgia. I was thinking of Ron Ben Israel. Who of course moved from Israel, via visits/stays in many countries along the way.  R B I is still actively creating cakes, as well as teaching. Unlike N L who, as you say, mostly teaches.

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-K8memphis Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 12:40am
post #11 of 34

but that's why if you are a good sculptor or wedding cake maker -- if you did one a week -- or two a month -- that's good dough -- if you add a bunch of low line cakes -- easy peasy quarter sheets and small rounds that you can bake with the bigger orders and just pop out -- then you will make the right kind of money -- you need to be concise with your flavors -- if you do everything custom you'll never find your grove -- you'll always be flailing, testing recipes & techniques -- get your flavors down -- your high end decor -- your lower end -- find your rhythm -- but keep it fun -- making a living wage? probably not -- adding to the family budget -- sure

it's something to dabble in -- not something that would convince a mortgage company to take a chance on you kwim

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-K8memphis Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 12:51am
post #12 of 34

rbi is a retired dancer -- who knew?

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SandraSmiley Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 12:56am
post #13 of 34

You are spot on, -K8memphis!  I do the occasional, usually big and fancy, cake and the money is a sweet bonus and it is a lot of fun for me.  But as a profession????  It is too hard!  I would rather remodel houses, which is not much harder physically and a lot less stressful.

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-K8memphis Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 1:29am
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a little off topic -- but just speaking of doing an occasional cake job -- i might be able to get to doing a little bit of cake work -- maybe -- i'm a little (a lot) premature here but i am on some new supplements and i'm off the prescription meds for ra because the side effects were getting to me -- but with all this rain and the weather changes  usually this time of year i would be hugging my heating pad for dear life and curled up on the giant recliner in a fetal position for the next four months -- but i am fine and if i keep getting better -- the sky's the limit -- we'll see -- i am quite premature though but i'm ready too blush

sandra, you remodel houses? wow cool

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SandraSmiley Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 3:53am
post #15 of 34

I am so happy your new regiment is working for you Kate!  I've had enough joint pain from bursitis, tendonitis and impingement syndrome to appreciate what you are saying about being curled into a fetal position.  I actually thing working on sugar pieces is what started the problems because I was standing for hours and hours day after day and my body was not used to it.  Good thing you didn't get rid of all those cake toys!!

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jchuck Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 4:16am
post #16 of 34

How lovely Kate your regimen is working. Be nice to able to be caking again. And Kate, no, Sandra doesn’t renovate/remodel  houses. She was just being facetious. 

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SandraSmiley Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 5:13am
post #17 of 34

I'm sorry, I forgot that question.

Yes, June, I am afraid I did used to remodel houses.  Mike and I had rental property and we did some pretty extensive remodels.  My sister and I completely rebuilt our mom's bathroom, from the floor joists up.  The last project we did was build two new cat houses.  It is almost beyond my poor hands anymore, but we still do a little here and there.  Mike once gave me a cement mixer for Christmas and another time brought me a battery powdered reciprocating saw as a "just because I love you" present.  I am really a feminine, dainty thing, lol!

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jchuck Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 5:17am
post #18 of 34

Well, Well, whada ya know about that. You were a Reno queen. I let Steve do the renovations, I just do the clean up..

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SandraSmiley Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 5:24am
post #19 of 34

This was putting shingles on one of the cat houses, a couple of years ago.Do I Take The Plunge And Start My Own Business?

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jchuck Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 5:30am
post #20 of 34

Look at you gi!! I never learned to use power tools. My niece  can handle all this stuff. She had her husband teach her. Designing,  building, closely relate to cake design.

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SandraSmiley Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 5:35am
post #21 of 34

I think that is why I like it, June.  It is just another way to express creativity.  Mike and I were remodeling a pretty rundown house that we had just purchased as a rental.  We were nearing completion and more and more of the folks who lived in the neighborhood started stopping by to see the renovation.  We were told over and over that the house had never been that beautiful, even when it was new.  It is very satisfying work.  One of my favorite things to do is trim, base boards, crown molding, door and window facings, don't know why.

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jchuck Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 5:42am
post #22 of 34

Post should have said..you go GIRL, no gi. Wasn’t wearing reading glasses!! Oh my, definitely not my thing.  Using a mitre box, all that measuring and cutting. I can handle hammer and nails, painting, wallpaper, that’s about it.  Give me a glue gun and a project, and I’m on it. 

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-K8memphis Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 1:06pm
post #23 of 34

june and sandra thank you

how cool, sandra -- yeah back in the 80's as a pro decorator i would carry a stool into work with me because i could no longer stand like that either -- i've been ergonomically minded/centered ever since --

but i've done some things like put in a floor or two -- but that's about all -- those cat houses are way cool -- i can only imagine the satisfied feeling of building something like that -- and i've purchased instructions on how to build adirondack chairs a couple times -- ha!


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jchuck Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 1:17pm
post #24 of 34

Closest to “building” I’ve come to Kate is refinishing furniture. I just did a huge piece in my family room. Unfortunately silly me forgot to take a “before” picture!! Turned out really well.

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-K8memphis Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 2:53pm
post #25 of 34

+1

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SandraSmiley Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 6:04pm
post #26 of 34

Refinishing furniture is hard work!  I've done a few pieces and uphostered one recliner, which I will NEVER do again!  Kate, here is a picture of one of the cat houses finished.  There are three of them, one with two rooms, all fenced and heated. They do have doors, but we keep them open when it is hot outside.  The kitties love them.Do I Take The Plunge And Start My Own Business?

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-K8memphis Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 9:35pm
post #27 of 34

oh wow -- those are way cool! i know your kitties love them

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kakeladi Posted 10 Nov 2018 , 10:30pm
post #28 of 34

Wow this post has gotten way off topic : )  But......it's so nice to see the pix and hear about all of us doing odd things.    I tried to make a b'day cake yesterday.   Didn't turn out totally awful but no where near what I can really do.   I just don't have the equipment any more to make something nice.   Just like I can not fight fires any more like I did in my 30s nor make wall plaques as I did in my 30s -50s.  Wish I could post some pix but don't know how using a public computer :( 

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Bmarco Posted 14 Nov 2018 , 4:24pm
post #29 of 34

I have to agree... I work full time and will do the occasional cake for friends/family.  Every.single.time I say that I'm never doing it again because it takes HOURS, it's crazy stressful, delivery pushes me over the edge, and I always end up with having made approximately $0.17 per hour (with three kids who claim that I ignored them to do "another stupid cake") - Oh, and I always end up working all day, getting the kids to bed by 9 pm and then starting the baking portion of the evening...until 4am.  Then have to get up at 6am, get the kids off to school and go back to a full day at work.  LOL.    But, then I do it again because in the end, I do end up loving the finished product. 



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jchuck Posted 14 Nov 2018 , 7:44pm
post #30 of 34

Well Bmarco right now your young..so you bounce back. But eventually doing on a regular basis you would burn out. Always difficult to find work life balance. 

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